Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Food For Thought, The Return Trip

June 4th, 2010 just as schools were getting ready to get out, First Lady Michelle Obama called together a battalion of chefs to get them on board her "Let's Move!" campaign to fight for healthier food in schools and to work to lower childhood obesity.  Anyone can notice through a simple walk through Wal-mart or a nearby amusement park that obesity is on the rise, both for young and old.  

Michelle Obama has made "Let's Move!" a very personal project (http://www.letsmove.gov/).  So too has Chef Ann Cooper, who perhaps was at the June 4th White House event.  After reading "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children" by Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes, I see Ann Cooper as the American version of the United Kingdom's Jamie Oliver (of ABC TV's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution").  


Starting her own revolution,  Chef Ann has made it her personal mission to advocate for children and to turn the lunchrooms into "culinary classrooms." On her website (http://www.chefann.com/), you can sign up for her newsletter as well as get ideas how to "up" the bar on your own school cafeteria's healthy-factor. Included in the links and resources, she also has past menus from different schools she's been involved with transforming.  If you're looking for some solid information and a load of healthy lunchtime recipes, this books is one to read

If you are wanting to do a little more than merely reading a book and changing your eating habits, here's your chance to do something. Let's Move! has teamed up with GOOD (a worldwide network of "individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward." as quoted from http://www.good.is/pages/whatIsGood).  Through this teaming, there's a nationwide contest inviting people around the country to design an "infographic" poster to help raise awareness on the issue of childhood obesity.  By creating a visually-informative poster such as this, Let's Move! and GOOD are looking for someone to encapsulate not only the state of over-eating in America, but also what we can do as parents, educators, and tax payers to promote a solution to this epidemic.  

For more information about this infographic contest, which ends July 6th, 2010, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/06/25/create-infographic-about-childhood-obesity-epidemic or http://www.good.is/post/project-create-an-infographic-about-childhood-obesity Winners will be announced July 20th, and will be showcased at both http://www.good.is/, www.LetsMove.gov, and the White House blog at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog

Whether you get to work creating your infographic or not, it's all definitely good "food for thought!"

Photo from First Lady Michelle Obama's June 2010 Facebook photo album with this caption: "First Lady Michelle Obama addresses hundreds of chefs from around the country during a “Let’s Move!” event on the South Lawn of the White House, June 4, 2010. The First Lady called on chefs to get involved by adopting a school and working with teachers, parents, school nutritionists and administrators to help educate kids about food and nutrition." ~Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Monday, June 28, 2010

Being Green, Both Home & On Holiday

Cincinnati Zoo...check.   Kings Island...check.  30,000 steps on the pedometer over the last 2 days....check.  Wiped out kids....check!  Good times had by all....check!  All signs of a great vacation!!

I saw this link on Earth Hour's Facebook posting today, and it rings true with what I've been thinking and noticing a lot during this li'l family vacation of ours.  To read the whole article "Britons 'More Ecological at Home'," click the title above or go to AOL's UK news page http://news.aol.co.uk/environment-news/britons-more-ecological-at-home/article/20100627052517179398737 .

The gist of the article is that at least in the UK, as gung ho as people are about recycling in their homes, they slack off on holiday.  I've gotta say:  I see it here, in middle America with myself...and it bums me out!  It isn't for lack of trying, it's for lack of true opportunity!  

As I have previously written this week, the hotel industry (at least where we've been) is great on their breakfast fronts, but lacking in their recycling (and worse yet with their Styrofoam consumption).  There's nothing available in my hotels to even attempt recycling.  At one we stayed at a few days, I posed the question of "If I were to want to recycle, where would I do it or take it."  The clerk didn't know.  I did do a quick glance at www.earth911.org to try to remedy it myself, but even that proved minimally helpful not knowing the area.  So I'm an environmentally slacking activist.  Moment of pride, let me tell you.

At both the Cincinnati Zoo and Kings Island, I was impressed with the green recycle containers throughout with round-cut openings for both bottles and cans, yet there was nothing for the massive amounts of plates (happily paper not Styrofoam), paper boxes, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, and more.  Ironically too, the Zoo had these wonderful sustainable napkins they were publicly touting, but it seemed a little lost with the overflowing trash cans, and multitudes of ketchup packets and such.  The Zoo did have green bins labeled for cell phones to donate in order to protect gorilla habitats.  The Zoo also has a sections on their website about conservation & "going green," detailing how they are harvesting wind with their wind turbine. (See http://www.cincinnatizoo.org/earth/green.html to learn more about their turbines, and go to http://www.cincinnatizoo.org/earth/default.html for tips about "being green.")  So the commitment is there, I was just hoping for more.
It reminds me once again how spoiled I am, living in Anne Arundel County, Maryland because they literally recycle EVERYTHING. They make it easy with one-bin collection, and simple in its inclusion of all paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass products.   More counties, municipalities, communities need to follow suit.  (To learn more about AA County recycling, go to http://www.recyclemoreoften.com/.)  Of course, there's the double edge sword of making it mandatory so more people take part (= governmental involvement = noise by many)...but without an overriding program (or maybe a wave of social activism), will it ever happen? 

So for now, I'm banking on the wave, hoping more people join the bandwagon.  In doing so, it proves that one person CAN and DOES make a difference, which in turn will make it become easier when we're away from home to do what we need to do. 

Images from
http://kingsislandinsider.blogspot.com/2009/02/kings-islands-eiffel-tower-regal.html, http://cincinnati.com/blogs/onevoice/2010/01/27/avondal/, and http://www.recyclemoreoften.com/ .

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Pleathora of Polystyrene

Hotel living....Ahhhh...I've forgotten!  Clearly that means I'm way overdue for a vacation, and it's been far too long since I've basked in the glory of a few nights away!

Hotels these days give you a lot of amenities...the best of which is breakfast in the morning!  Today, I was living that life, getting up early enough to partake in quite a tasty complimentary breakfast of both warm and cold foods.

And yet...the satisfaction was not quite there as I sat at my table with my yummy breakfast before me, with my table littered with plastic wrap from my plastic cutlery, with my styrofoam (or "polystyrene," if you're a purist) plates.  A gaze around the dining area brought these things into focus:  styrofoam plates, bowls, cups, and clam-shell take-away containers.  Plastic cups, "silver"ware (wrapped in plastic wrap), and tubs.  Individual wrapped (in either paper, plastic, or both) peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar (of all varieties), honey, and jams.  

And the pièce de résistance:  plastic wrapped WHOLE apples.  Seriously?!?  We're compromising the Gulf with oil drilling in part to wrap apples???  Unbelievable!!

In all this, there was no surprise that there was nowhere to deposit my banana peel...even I get that composting is a little hard core, especially for someplace like a business or hotel.  But explain to me about the lack of recycling.  That one I don't get.  In today's world, shouldn't that be second nature by now?  Especially for the biggies--cans, plastic bottles, and paper?  But to have nothing available...truthfully, I find that irresponsible.  

Yet, even if there was a recycling bin, the styrofoam (or polystyrene) with the #6 emblazoned on the back in the chasing triangle recycle symbol is a bit of a misnomer--though I'd even almost call it a "bait and switch."  Styrofoam is hard to recycle and most facilities wash their hands of it.  Most people don't realize this because there is a recycling symbol on it.  That symbol is essentially useless except for the few specialty places that take it.  Add in, polystyrene never biodegrades (not that much does anyway in a packed landfill, but I digress).  Those styrofoam pieces will be here forever--in a landfill, or worse yet, whipped away by the wind to a water stream which ultimately takes it to one of the 5 oceanic Garbage Patches to further pollute our oceans and harm our marine wildlife. 

The unfortunate part of this all is that all of the above observations were made after I was already hijacked.  With a full day of traveling ahead, two hungry kids in tow, and the immediate plan of "It's breakfast time," how am I to just walk away mid-process?  Yes, I can plan better for the future, but at this point, I'm stuck (or left dealing with the wrath of hungry munchkins).  The landfill is now bigger thanks to me.  It left me cringing while I ate because I didn't have a better plan.  

For the future, I can envision a stocked bag with reusable kitchenware items (perhaps in part purchased at the Goodwill Superstore around the corner from my house), with some dish soap & towels thrown in to wash up afterwords so that it all can become part of our car travel luggage.  How easy would it be to throw that in the car, take it to our complementary morning breakfast, do a little self-serve on our own wares, and a quickie clean-up afterward?  It certainly would help start my day with a li'l less planetary guilt, and set good examples for my children.  

But wait!  Another image comes to mind.  One of this exact picnic-y bag my folks had in the 1970s when I was a kid and we were on a family vacation.  A little silverware caddy, a tote--all in one.  Here it is, we had what we needed (and need now!) in an age before the disposable "planet-trashing" era.  Irony....once again--a return to the simplicity of the past (along with my old Snoopy lunchbox and thermos) seems to be the answer. 

To find out if there's anywhere near you where they recycle polystyrene-styrofoam-#6 plastic, click the title above or go to http://earth911.com/recycling/plastic/number-6-plastic-polystyrene/

Picture from http://byebyeproblem.com/?p=476

For added irony:  Perhaps you too will find the humor in that I was taking all of this "breakfast styrofoam scenery" in while simultaneously wearing my "Recycle Electronic Waste" t-shirt.  I just shake my head.A Pleathora of Polystyrene

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Reads: Operation Redwood


"Activism" has been the GTG theme lately, so I thought I'd follow suit, but in a slightly different way.  

It's summer time and the living is easy..so here's a good pick for anyone looking for a summer read.  "Operation Redwood" by S. Terrell French takes you to the great outdoors.  The Redwood Forest of California to be exact.   This 2010 Green Earth Book Award winner for children's fiction is geared more for the "tween" set of 9--14; however, as a teacher, I'm always reading these kinds of books.  Truthfully, I thought it made a thought-provoking read for adults as well.

The plot takes 12-year old Julian Carter-Li from his corporate-minded uncle's office & home to a polar opposite environment: a redwood grove where he meets Robin and her family in California.  There Julian gets an education about the beauty and wonder of the redwood forests, and sees the majesty of an area of which is facing a potential future of logging and destruction.   

It is here that Julian & Robin plot and plan "Operation Redwood" to try to save the grove of ancient trees. 

An online visit to http://www.operationredwood.com/  will bring you to resources galore.  You'll find:
  • a link to an interactive map of redwood forests;
  • a chance to read a snippet from the book;
  • links on the website (and mentions in the book) to Julia Butterfly Hill, nicknamed Luna, who lived in a redwood for 2 years to protest deforestation;
  • a great biography about Maryland's own S. Terrell French and her experiences growing up in the outdoors, going to Sidwell Friends School, Harvard & Berkley Law School, & the books she has most enjoyed reading.
  • the "Games & Resources" tab with loads of links;
  • a "Teacher Resources" tab that has some great teaching ideas as to how to use this book in the classroom. (One link takes you to http://education.savetheredwoods.org/kit/learn.html where there are even more downloadable lesson plans.) 
Or simply, take time to read and enjoy this book this summer, preferably in a hammock under the shade of one of your own local, leafy green trees.

To see the list of past Green Earth Book Award winning books to put on your summer reading list, go to http://www.newtonmarascofoundation.org/programs/a_ge_pw.cfm .

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Activism at Any Age

Clearly, there's no limit to what one person can do...more importantly, there's no age limit either. 

At 82 years old, Jean Hill (longterm resident of Concord, Massachusetts) is a go-getter.   After a conversation with her grandson about the Pacific Garbage Patch, she became a woman on a mission. This conversation led to some activism, and eventually a proposal.  But not just any proposal--one which passed in a town meeting:  a ban on plastic water bottles.  As a result, starting January 1st, 2011 Concord, Massachusetts will become the first locale that has outwardly banned these dastardly decanters! 

Of course the bottled beverage business is operating and countering with their own boycotts, so we shall see what actually happens, come January 1st.  But, it is democracy in action!

Best quotes from the article are from Ms. Hill herself:

1. “We’re trashing our planet, all because of greed.”
2.  “I’m going to work until I drop on this,” she said. “If you believe in something, you have to persist and you have to have a thick skin.” 
Click on the title above or go to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/us/23water.html?src=sch&pagewanted=all to read about Jean Hill and her role in making Concord, MA the first plastic water bottle banned state. You'll find out all about it here in the New York Times article "Where Thoreau Lived, Crusade Over Bottles." Don't forget to watch the "Battle Over the Bottle" video too!

Great article, NY Times! Way to go, Ms. Hill!!

Photo from
http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/06/23/us/23water2_337-395.html.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In the Immortal Words of Planet Green: "Humans + Ocean Currents = Trash Vortex"

Planet Green To the Rescue!   Well....if only it were that easy!  

And what are they rescuing us from?  They're putting the concept of the Pacific Garbage Patch into clear and easy to understand terms:  the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all.  Unfortunately for the planet, it's heavy on the later two of those 3 adjectives!  


Detailed in this article you'll find out all about The Pacific Garbage Patch (also called the "Trash Vortex," "Toxic Soup," "The Eastern Garbage Patch," and a myriad of other names).  It was the Pacific Garbage Patch that inspired David de Rothschild to build the PlastikiNow on it's last leg across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, the Plastiki is a boat crafted out of 12,500 plastic bottles, which is nearing both it's 100th day at sea and also it's final destination.  Designed to show the importance of reusing and re-purposing materials, the Plastiki and crew purposely trekked through the center of the Pacific Garbage Patch to draw attention to the fact that we've got a pretty wretched mess of plastic waste swirling about out there. 

So, in the immortal words of Planet Green:  "Humans + Ocean Currents = Trash Vortex." One of the stats from the Planet 100 video near the bottom of the article:  Humans dispose of 185 pounds of plastic a year...most of which isn't recycled.  185 pounds?!  That's just a few pounds shy of the 191 pounds that was the average weight of the American male in 2002 (according to http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/healthcare/a/tallbutfat.htm)!  We are throwing away our own weight (if not more) in plastic....plastic which never completely breaks down nor goes away!  This has become the price of our throw away society. 

Check out Planet Green's eye-opening article: "The Pacific Garbage Patch Explained."  While you're there, see the up-close map of the gyres and currents (pictured above), click on the slideshows (including some rather disgusting ones of items they've found in the innards of sea birds). Also check out the videos about what's going on with this swirling plastic dervish at http://planetgreen.discovery.com/travel-outdoors/the-pacific-garbage-patch-explained.html. (Don't miss Charles Moore's TED talk! or the Planet 100 video near the end)  It all truly falls in the category of "Must See Eco-TV."
 
The next logical step after viewing the videos and reading Planet Green's info--go take the Plastiki Pledge to do your part to eliminate plastics, go to http://myplastiki.com/ to take action. And for goodness sakes, don't just step over that trash on the ground that will ultimately find a storm drain, a stream, a waterway, an ocean, and finally the belly of marine wildlife. Do your part!

Plastiki poster from http://www.theplastiki.com/whatisplastiki/

Monday, June 21, 2010

2 Degrees of BP

If you've been paying any attention, a week ago in my June 14th write up, I was talking about the 1990's Conversation Sensation:  "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."  In case you forgot, the basic premise is that any 2 people can be connected through 6 (or fewer) links. It truly is amazing the number of connections that are out there!

With me, what started out as a soliloquy on acronyms for BP led to Kevin Bacon, which in turn led to another discovery.  That discovery was (aptly named) http://www.sixdegrees.org/.  Started in 2007 by Kevin Bacon, he took the Six Degrees concept mentioned above and purposely applied it to giving.  According to the website, this charitable organization is
"social networking with a social conscience.  Through this web site, you can support your favorite charities by donating or creating fundraising badges — as well as check out the favorite causes of other people, including celebrities."
Partnering with Network for Good, Hanes, Parade Magazine and the Case Foundation, Sixdegrees.org has been involved with granting hundreds of thousands of dollars
 to a multitude of charities.

But, it doesn't stop there.  It also serves as a place anyone can go to donate money.  You've got 3 options:
  1. You can purchase a GOOD CARD ~ If you're tired of giving "things" that can get lost by the wayside, ends up being something that no one wants, or (worse yet) winds up in a landfill, there's always the gift card route.  But, rather than be a certificate to a restaurant or local store, it's the gift of charity.  Any one of 1.2 million charities in fact.  Load it with your amount, and then your friends can go to Network for Good to redeem it at the charity of their choice. 
  2. Set up MONTHLY GIVING ~ Again, going with the idea that "small gifts matter" you can arrange a recurring donation through Network for Good's "Giving Cart" (as opposed to the typical online store front's "shopping cart."). It's as easy as 1-2-3:  create your profile, and click "Donate Now," and it'll store your donation history and the frequency & amount with which you'd like to donated.
  3. Create a CHARITY BADGE ~ With this, you can raise awareness and moola for the cause of your choice.  Whether you share it on a blog, web page, Facebook, or beyond, you can advertise and inspire others to take part in giving to a greater good.  Add a photo, video, personal story of why this cause is important to you, and set it where you hope others will see it.  Your badge also tracks the donations you've raised.  It's a great way to share your message and take action simultaneously.  Plus, you can track some of your favorite celebrities and see their charity badges and what they are into.
To see a video with Kevin Bacon discussing the beauty of Sixdegrees.org, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kRtZoQCWwg.

You can also catch a CBS segment & interview with Kevin Bacon on The Early Show at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPB8L_sFMaM

To start taking action, go to http://www.sixdegrees.org/.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Long & The Short of It ~ Happy Summer Solstice

June 21st...Summer Solstice!  
The longest "day" of the year.  
The first day of summer.  

The day when we have the maximum hours of sunlight due to the Earth's placement in it's orbit and the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer at noon.  In Latin, "solstice" stands for "the sun stands still" which is exactly what it feels like when you are 4 or 8 and have so much time for outdoor fun, even well past what was bedtime during the school year.  In fact, to the average 4 or 8 year old, the scientific details mean little.  What's more important is that it's the first day of summer, and the hours of sunlight ahead make it feel like the best day of the year!!  

Take time today to celebrate solar power and the energy that the sun gives to you today!  Stay up late, hang out outside, and then top it off by catching some lightning bugs when the sun finally decides to set! 

Solar power at its finest!!   Happy 1st day o'summer!

To find out a bit more about Daylight Appreciation Day and some great facts about harnessing solar energy through solar tubes and more, click on the title above, or go to http://nationaldaylightday.com/

Picture from http://www.eumetsat.int/groups/ops/documents/image/img_news_solstice_scheme.gif

Friday, June 18, 2010

Park Quest #3 ~ Gunpowder Falls

All Aboard!!!  Those were the words once heard at the Monkton Railway Station in Monkton, MD (just north of Baltimore).  This once-railroad track is a now-turned hiking trail, and Gunpowder Falls is now one of the stops on the 2010 Park Quest brigade of 24 state parks involved in this year's Park Quest.  
With this being only my 3rd MD Park Quest this summer, we're still relative "newbies."  But this one was especially fun for my kids as we followed the clues to look for hidden boxes (the size of bird nests) that held the treasure du jour:  stampers to indicate on our quest sheet that yes, "X" does indeed mark the spot.

With idyllic temperatures, low humidity, and flat terrain, what could be better?  Maybe doing it all by bike as it is a perfect bike trail, but that would have kept us from finding the minuscule frogs hopping about, and the 2 deer--one of which stopped to intently stare at us.  A healthy organic lunch at the quaint old-timey deli across the street was the perfect touch.  

All aboard, indeed!!

To learn more about Maryland's Park Quest visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/parkquest/ or click on the title above.

Picture from our day's adventures!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15th ~ Happy Global Wind Day

Pull out the date book, here's one we almost missed.  June 15th is Global Wind Day.  European Wind Energy Association began this event last year, and this year marks the 2nd annual appearance on the Eco-Events calendar. 

Most certainly, in the wake of the BP Debacle, we can see the need for sustainable, renewable energy sources...of which oil is clearly not.  [Unless, of course, you want to label petroleum as "a sustainable and lasting problem" ~ I still have images from yesterday's BP research of oil-soaked birds that is breaking my heart!]  Global Wind Day is here to help bring awareness to the power that surrounds us daily. 

At http://www.globalwindday.org/ you will find an interactive on how wind turbines work, links and FAQ's about wind energy, and a link to their videos on their Youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/EWEAvideos).  You'll also find a world-wide map of GWDay events occurring today.  Who knows--one might be right nearby!

Along my clicking through the events map, I found a link to Horizon Wind Energy (http://www.horizonwind.com/about/ftkc/linksreferences.aspx).  Among the wealth of information there, a particular perk to educators is their "For Teachers, Kids, & Consumers" section.  Not only will you find information galore, but other great "Links and References" as well as "Curriculum Suggestions" for students of all ages.  In fact, many of the events on the Global Wind Day Map are visits to wind farms, a majority of which have links to their site.  There's lots to check out!

Given all this new info, maybe while you're marking your calendar, you need to schedule in some time to go out and do something to celebrate that relies on wind power:  fly a kite, go sailing, or simply relax and let the wind blow your hair out of your face!

Image from http://www.globalwindday.org/

Monday, June 14, 2010

1 Degree of BP

In the 1990's there was a run-away conversation game called "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon"...where you tried to make a connection between any person (celebrity or not) and Kevin Bacon in as few connections as possible. The basic premise was that you could most certainly do it in 6 steps or less. 

Seems the sad sorry game these days could be the B.P. Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill from the Deepwater Horizon's drilling rig explosion on April 20th, 2010.  Worldwide headlines seem to be playing the "BP Abbreviation Game"--what's the most appropriate B.P. abbreviation to encapsulate the BP debacle.
Lately "BP" could stand for an assundry of things: Bad Press; Botched Politics; B'oiling-mad People; Beastly Pollution; Big Problem, Bothersome & Pathetic, Back Peddle, Beyond Patience, Brilliant Propaganda, Bottomless Pit, Biodiversity Perdition, Bureaucratic Pursuit, Beyond Petroleum, Bye-bye Planet.

Here we are, approaching 2 months later, and we still have this horrific situation down in the Gulf of Mexico.  BP is dabbling in corrective attempts with limited to nil results.  People are getting antsy and wanting to do
"something" about the oil spill..but what??  

Well, there are places out there, from donations to petitions to "go out and take action" spots where you can get involved.  
  • Donate to the National Resources Defense Council, http://www.nrdc.org/ . While on their website, take the time to see the 5 minute video from Robert Redford entitled "The Fix" about the significant impact this spill.  However, given that the NRDC is multi-faceted, donation money is not solely focused on the oil spill.
From their website:  "NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science and the support of 1.3 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.....Worth Magazine has named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities, and the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau reports that NRDC meets its highest standards for accountability and use of donor funds.....The New York Times calls us "One of the nation's most powerful environmental groups." The National Journal says we're "A credible and forceful advocate for stringent environmental protection."
From the NWF website:  "Where Does Your Money Go?  The money donated to the National Wildlife Federation through response to the oil spill will support the following efforts:  1.  Development and deployment of the National Wildlife Federation's Gulf Coast Surveillance Teams, a volunteer network that is being organized to monitor the coast for wildlife impacted by the oil spill. Beyond the initial surveillance needed, this effort will then shift to long term volunteer restoration programs.  2.  Restoration of vulnerable nesting and breeding grounds, as well as other delicate ecosystems found throughout the Gulf Coast for water birds, sea turtles and other animals.  3.  Public education about the oil spill and its impacts on wildlife, including our online efforts at www.nwf.org/oilspill and informing the press and others about the impacts the oil spill is having on coastal communities and wildlife.  4.  Policy work at the national and state level to support restoration of habitat in the Gulf Coast and better protection of our waters and coastlines."
  • The Audubon Society is also doing a lot given the impact of the spill on our watery, feathered friends.  They too are taking donations: http://www.audubon.org/
From the Audubon site: "The Gulf oil spill is an unprecedented catastrophe for people and nature of the region. Audubon mobilized quickly to help birds like this pelican and for the environment it shares with us as soon as the toxic slick began spreading toward vulnerable wildlife and habitats. Now, as the crisis continues to deepen, we need your help. Our Volunteer Response Center is already in touch with more than 20,000 people eager to help with efforts from Florida to Texas. Your support will help fund Audubon’s work to aid birds already suffering the oil’s deadly effects; to protect now-unharmed wildlife in the path of spill, and to meet the long-term challenge of restoring a devastated Gulf of Mexico ecosystem."
From their website:  "Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation. Our offices in North America, Central America, South America and Europe work together on a limited number of strategic, directed campaigns to achieve measurable outcomes that will help return our oceans to former levels of abundance. We believe in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions. Our scientists work closely with our teams of economists, lawyers and advocates to achieve tangible results for the oceans."
So we're at a crossroads...that place between being disgusted by the news, and the age-old question:  "So what are you going to do about it?"  Idly sitting there and either putting your head in the sand or just griping about it are 2 pretty useless activities.  

So...what are YOU going to do about it?

For more information from BP to keep track on what they are doing to attempt to solve their major malfunction, go to www.BP.com/GulfOfMexicoResponse or
http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

 
Thanks to Heather & Global Snark for doing the lion-share of legwork on this and for sharing!!!

Pictures from (
6 degrees logo) www.sixdegrees.org  and http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/bp.jpg

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lazy River

An invitation to hang in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley is a hard one to pass up.  Especially when it comes with five acres of wooded wonderland, an elevated cabin, running water & everyday amenities, and a fire ring to rival that of the Tribal Council.   Add in a vista view that's a wall of trees and a branch of the Shenandoah River that's virtually a hop, skip, and a jump away!   A wade-able, shady, water spot just perfect for skipping the smooth stones we found under our toes....all under our noses! 

Blue birds...cardinals...yellow finches...baby bunnies....frogs....lightning bugs galore...and even the occasional pesky hornet and leech.  But those latter two were small prices to pay for the pocket of peace, the quiet, and the serenity in the surrounding nature.

Water parks all over the country have their versions of the "Lazy River Ride," where you hop in the inner tube and meander through the waterway following the moving current.  Well, being in the 8-seater "Green Monster" inner tube we deposited up-river, took a mere-theme-park-ride to new levels.  We were lazily floating an hour or so down a branch of the Shenandoah to our cabin's river bank.  There's nothing like being at total liberty of the wind and the water speed, floating along--relaxation at it's finest.  No Disney or Kings Island "Lazy River" can compare.  Not only did we have the best lunch spot in the area, but add in the laughter and frolicking of 3 munchkins---especially when going over the mini river-set waterfalls... priceless!!
 
Moreso too when you add in bonfire s'mores and our triumvirate of lightning bug catchers.  After such an active day in the mountain air, sleep enveloped us all.  Something magical definitely happens in the mountains. 
But I also know that in places, the river still runs deep, and though I've floated it in these places, it hasn't revealed itself in such obvious ways. I know that it might be months—years, even—before I understand what it has to teach me. I still need to give myself over to the flow and pattern and rhythm of it to learn its lessons and hear its messages. The river is inside me now, I know, and I need only wait and see where the current takes me, and what lies beneath it. — (Jeff Wallach, What the River Says)
To learn more about the Shenandoah Valley and it's surroundings, click the title above or visit http://www.visitshenandoah.org/ 

Photo:  our river-bank view during a glorious sunset!
Special thanks to Renee & Bernadette for sharing your li'l spot in the woods with us this weekend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#17 Green Team Gazette Summer 2010


The 92 Days of Summer!!   Welcome to summer and to the Summer 2010's Green Team Gazette!  Click the title above, or go to http://www.gics.org/Green%20Team%20Gazettes/Green%20Team%20Gazette%20Summer%202010.pdf

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Seas The Day" ~ World Ocean Day


Mark another one on the calendar....another annual eco-holiday, that is.  Or rather, eco-awareness day. 
Today = June 8th = World Ocean Day

A relatively new date on the United Nations' Environmental holidays, World Ocean Day is truly only celebrating it's second birthday.  Brainchild of the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, World Ocean Day came to the calendar just last year on June 8th, 2009. 

Perhaps just in time, too.   With the Plastiki in the Pacific Ocean (our favorite catamaran made of 12,500 plastic water bottles...the same one traveling past the Eastern Garbage Patch that's twice the size of Texas)..... and the BP/Bad Press Oil Spill debacle that's still growing and unresolved in the Gulf of Mexico....it begs the questions:  Could there be a better time to pay tribute to the water that encircles our planet?

For more details on World Ocean Day, click the title above, or check out http://www.theoceanproject.org/wod/ .   A definite stopping spot is at the "Take Action for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill" link.  Likewise, be sure to check out the "Celebrate with Dr. Seuss" link, take the "Seven Seas" pledge, or just simply get ideas galore!!  

Just because June 8th comes once a year doesn't mean that you only have to celebrate World Ocean Day this one day.  Spread it out, make a commitment, and go have fun enjoying and celebrating our 4 (or 5, depending on how you count it!) favorite oceans!! 

Picture from http://www.oceanconservancy.org/images/content/pagebuilder/26725.jpg

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Re-Purposing the "Li'l Black Dress"

From the 1920's "It Girl" actress Clara Bow...to Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly in the 1961 movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's"....to perhaps every 20-something to 80-something year old in America today, the "little black dress" is a staple in many-a-closet.  Dress it up, dress it down, it'll take you anywhere.  If it's classic enough, it'll be with you for a lifetime!

That's precisely the premise of Sheena Matheiken's "The Uniform Project."  But with a twist.  1 year.  365 days.  1 little black dress (well...okay, for laundry's sake, 7 identical black dresses.)  A tunic-style dress that can be worn with the buttons in the front or back, open or closed.  Then add in lots and lots...and lots...of accessories.  Mostly vintage, hand-me-downs, or creative inspirations & inventions of her own.  From May 2009 to May 2010 she daily reinvented her uniform...and took photographic proof of it while it happened.  One outfit, 365  different looks!  Must see TV at it's finest--you most definitely MUST watch the video book of snapshots:   http://www.theuniformproject.com/

Her goal:  Creating a uniform for herself to showcase sustainable fashion, but at a price--to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation, and educational movement in India that helps kids in need get the finances for their own school uniforms & other educational expenses.  A mere $360 finances a child in India's schooling for a year.  From The Uniform Project's donation page,  here's the rest of the facts:
"Today, there are 7.5 million Indian children that never get to attend school.  The Indian government spends an average of $360 on each child's schooling, 80% of whom drop out before reaching the 10th grade.  Akanksha has vowed to spend the same amount on every child in the slums--not a penny more, not a penny less--to afford them a better, more holistic education.  The money raised from this project will go toward funding Akanksha's new schools in Mumbai and Pune.  To learn more, visit www.akanksha.org."  ~ Quoted from http://www.theuniformproject.com/home/donate.html
 To date, Sheena & The Uniform Project crew have raised $95,206, putting 264 kids in school.  Amazing.  And dressed to the 9's as she did it, showing us all how easy, affordable, and eco-friendly outfitting ourselves can be!!

Find the Uniform Project also on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/uniformproject?ref=search&v=wall

Picture from http://www.theuniformproject.com/home/about.html
Special thanks to Constantinople for sharing the link & sending forth the inspiration!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hello World Environment Day!


June 5th is a day of pretty big happenings all over.  The long-awaited United Nations World Environment Day 2010 has arrived...and happenings in Rwanda are huge.  

Gisele Bundchen, international supermodel & spokesperson for UNEP's WED2010, has several public service videos out, like the "Attitude Manual" pictured above.  A visit to  http://www.unep.org/wed/2010/english/celebratewed.asp or a YouTube search will help you find the handful of them.  Do be sure to go to the link above, and check out the "Attitude Manual."  Also at that site, there are some great ideas on how you can take action and be a part of something big, regardless how small your actions might feel.  As was stated by Laura Kang, our Eagle Cove School head of school, in her graduation address just yesterday to the 5th grade class:  "Always remember, small actions do indeed make a difference!"  Also, don't forget to catch WED2010's Blog Contest Winner Tuesday Phillip's twitter commentary at http://twitter.com/tuesdayleigh

Along the lines of WED2010, there are 2 other big eco-events occurring.  In Maryland, June 5th is the first of 3 free fishing day (where no license is needed, regardless you age).  The point of this is to encourage families to get outside, to help kids to embrace the great outdoors, and to see new vistas that might be right in their own backyards.  Anglers make great environmentalists as they'll be active to work for healthy waters to give longevity to their hobby of choice--fishing--and to keep the fish in those waters nice and healthy!!   Go to http://dnr.maryland.gov/dnrnews/pressrelease2010/060410a.asp to get the rundown on Maryland's 3 free fishing days:  June 5, June 12 and July 4, 2010.

But wait!  That's not all!! There's more!  June 5th is also National Trails Day.  President Ronald Reagan helped orchestrate this annual event through his President's Commission on American Outdoors.  This 1987 report promoted getting outside and getting on the move.  What evolved was National Trails Day, which first started in 1993.  With 200,000 miles of trails winding through parks and cities galore, Americans have mucho opportunity to get out in the great outdoors and explore, relax, unwind, be inspired, exercise and be educated.  June 5th becomes a good kick off day, here at the start of summer, to get yourself outdoors and get moving. To learn more, check out http://www.americanhiking.org/NTD.aspx.

So....It's June 5th....how are you going to spend your day celebrating your planet?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

World Environment Day is On the Way


This upcoming Saturday, June 5th...World Environment Day.  

Rwanda, the host country, is set to sync with the United Nations Environment Programme to celebrate the 38th annual World Environment Day as a day of global action.  With this year's theme being the UN International Year of Biodiversity, it's perfect in that Rwanda is the one of the Africa's most biologically diverse places on the planet.  Tuesday Phillips, winner of the UNEP blogging contest, will be posting commentary this week about her experiences in Rwanda!
The whole gist of World Environment Day is that by all of us taking actions in little ways, it can lead to huge change.  Encouraging "political attention and action," the book "Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who are Helping to Protect our Planet" by Harriet Rohmer follows the same premise as WED's mission.

The stories in this book are interesting--for adults and youth alike.  You start to see that simple, yet focused visions, of individuals coalesce and take fire, becoming something bigger than oneself.  

In this book, you will meet these dozen environ-heroes:
  1. Will Allen, Founder of Growing Power Community Food Center--bringing gardening into the urban center)
  2. Kelydra Welcker, Student Chemist, Environmental Scientist, Inventor--cleaning polluted water)
  3. Omar Freilla, Founder, ReBuilders Source--turning one man's waste into another's riches!
  4. Derby Tewa, Solar Electrician--bringing solar light to her reservation
  5. Margie Richard, Activist & Former Middle School Teacher--fighting the oil company to make a difference
  6. John Todd, Inventor, Engineer, Designer--cleaning water for the community
  7. Alex Lin, Teen who Helped write Rhode Island's E-Waste Law--keeping today's technology from becoming the trash of tomorrow
  8. Julia "Judy" Bonds, Community Activist, Coal River Mountain Watch--moving from coal energy to wind energy
  9. El Hijo Del Santo, Champion Masked Wrestler--being the celebrity voice of environment
  10. Barry Guillot, Middle School Science Teacher--protecting the Louisiana wetlands with the help of his students
  11. Sarah James, Spokesperson, Gwich'in Indian People of Alaska & Canada--speaking for her people by saving the porcupine river caribou
  12. Erica Fernandez, Student and Environmental Activist--speaking out against environmental hazards in her community
At the end of the book, there's a call to action asking, "What is your own environmental vision for the future?  And how could you get started now?   A percentage of the sale of this book goes to the Natural Resources Defense Council.  It's the heart of WED2010: Activism in Action. 

Plus, I've got to say...to be reading a bulk of this book while camping....priceless! 
"We must work with nature instead of fighting it."  ~ John Todd, Inventor
Places to get busy visiting: 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A-Questing We Will Go--#1 & #2

A questing we will go....
A questing we will go....
High & lo through Maryland we go,
A questing we will go!!
Running from May 29th to September 6th, 2010, Maryland Department of Natural Resources are running their Park Quest.  Through this, 24 Maryland State Parks are anxiously awaiting you if you are one of the 750 families who signed up mid-May for this third season of Maryland's outdoor adventures. 

Team Dabrowka has signed up.  We made the deadline & are one of 750 family teams!   We have our Park Quest Passport in hand!  Our family is ready & raring to go, approaching the hiking, biking, fishing, GPS-ing, letterboxing quests ahead of us this summer.  With free entrance into the parks for "questers," MD Parks & Rec have got a good thing going.  Themed as "Making a Family a Team," they're promoting family adventures, the "No Child Left Inside" act, an opportunity to connect with the outside world, a chance to see new sights, and good times!!  

This Memorial Day weekend, Team Dabrowka and our "rival buddies" family team trekked out into the woods....even with both families afflicted with war-torn, camping-injured ankles in tow.  We hit up Cunningham Falls State Park & South Mountain's Washington Monument (not "the" DC Washington Monument). We found our clues, learned some history, waded through ice-cold rushing water in the proverbial "babbling brook," and had a fun family day together.  Who could ask for more????

To learn more about MD's Park Quest (which is also on Facebook)....go to http://www.dnr.state.md.us/parkquest/ or click the title above!

Picture from http://www.dnr.state.md.us/parkquest/