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January 2014 Archives

...or, what bug sex, blue-eyed babies, and a big glass of milk can teach us about human evolution and its role in our present and our future

True confession: when you are a writer, sometimes you get an assignment that makes you hold your head and groan. Which is pretty much what I did when I heard the word "paleofantasy." The idea of paleo-anything made me want to weep tears of done-to-death.

But then, however, I sat down with Dr. Marlene Zuk, author of Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live and instructor for the upcoming short course Paleofantasy: Our Evolutionary Past and Future (Feb. 25), and realized that every once in a while, those initial assumptions about an assignment are wrong.

Marlene.JPGFor one, this "paleo-" topic has nothing to do with telling me how horrible my diet is or how I should give up jogging and take up some sort of activity where I sling a 80-pound, oddly shaped basket of lead around my waist and do wind sprints because it's more like the cavemen's form of exercise.

"It isn't a diet book," she says. "And it's not going to be a 'diet' course. It's not a how-to guide for eating, exercise, parenting, or anything like that--despite what the people who write online reviews without reading the book would have you think," she continues with a smile.

Unique program demonstrates how investing in our relationships with animals can help restore what is often lost in a technology-driven world

She soothes ragged nerves at Boynton Health Services on the Minneapolis campus. She calms pre-finals anxiety and provides a well-deserved study break at the Magrath Library in St. Paul. She cultivates a fanatical following on Twitter.

No, she's not a doctor, professor, or celebrity advice guru. She's Woodstock, a registered therapy chicken, and she's here to rekindle people's connection to the natural world.tanya and woodstock.jpg

Woodstock, along with several canine, feline, and even lagomorphic friends, is a part of the Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which offers therapeutic human-animal connections.

AAI is a part of a larger movement, Nature-Based Therapeutics (NBT), which focuses on the healing power of nature through interactions with plants, animals, and natural landscapes, and will be the focus of the upcoming LearningLife Saturday Morning Seminar, Natural Connections: Understanding Our Relationships with Animals. (Feb. 22).