Saturday, March 31, 2012

Unleashing the Beast, One Hour At a Time

The bipartisanship beast, that is.   The "us" versus "them" mentality.  The "You say 'YES,' so I say 'NO'" folks.   The "You say 'po-tay-to,' therefore I say 'po-tah-to' peeps.   All of this rigid bipartisanship is making me say "blah bah blah!"

I shouldn't be surprised, as it's not a foreign entity, especially  not in politics, and clearly not during an election year (particularly this one).   It's even not a surprise in the realm of environmentalism--treehuggers versus tree-cutters, big oil versus clean energy, the "Story of Stuff" over-consumption versus consumerism and materialism. US versus THEM.

Given all of that, is it any surprise that Earth Hour 2012 would be any different?  The point of Earth Hour is to be part of the global movement to show pride and preservation in our planet and to bring awareness to the issue of depleting resources, "conservationalism," and climate change.  The latest and greatest to counter Earth Hour's vision of turning off the lights for an hour from 8:30 to 9:30 pm the last Saturday night in March is "Human Achievement Hour."   Running concurrently with Earth Hour, the creators are encouraging people to do just the opposite: to purposely leave ON the lights to praise all the inventions that have gotten us to where we are now.  Similarly, while they are promoting individualism as a way to blast, what they call "government coercion." 

"Human Achievement Hour" is the brainchild of Competitive Enterprise Institute.  Feeling that Earth Hour's platform is to "vote with your light switch," they felt a true vote needed another choice.

Their big pitch from their website: 
"To celebrate Human Achievement Hour, participants need only to spend the hour from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on March 26 enjoying the benefits of capitalism and human innovation: Gather with friends in the warmth of a heated home, watch television, take a hot shower, drink a beer, call a loved one on the phone, or listen to music."
Oh brother.

Let me see if I have this right:  Team "Human Achievement Hour" is sending high praise to all the folks who go forth wildly, wastefully, using the most non-renewable resources.  Yeah, that makes sense down the line!  Let's all use up a ton of energy purposely!  Let's leave on all the appliances and lights to ratchet up our electricity bill.  While we are doing it, let's adopt fat slovenly habits so we can sit there, surfing the net, and becoming more of a nation of obesity! Good idea!

Don't get me wrong... I love the Internet!  Thomas Edison was clever as can be to bring some light into the world.  (Heck, I wrote a massive research paper about him in the 4th grade, singing his praises then, and singing them now.)  I'm a big fan of the TV and/or the DVR if and when there is quality television on.  And don't even get me started about the love affair I have with my iPad and iPhone! But seriously, do we need to sing high praises to these achievements by turning them all on simultaneously?  Can we not love achievements AND (beware, this is the crazy part) adore a clean, healthy, planet, trying to secure the longevity of its resources?   Do we NEED every light on in the house to say "thank you, Thomas Alva Edison?"
As I told a friend of mine:  I think on this gray morning, with lights on, in front of the computer paying bills, surrounded by my movie-playing iPad, my smart phone, with my calculator and Diet Coke nearby, I'm already 'celebrating' Human Achievement Hour.  I celebrate it daily.  Since when do we have to choose between planet and progress?  I thought we lived in a world with both.  By turning off my lights tonight for Earth Hour, I have approximately 8,759 hours left in the year ahead to use lights and electronics any way I see fit. 

Sanity and balance, people!  Whatever happened to "moderation in all things?"  In this bipartisan world where people are becoming so polarized that they only see black or only see white, they are forgetting that by living on the ends of the spectrum, they are missing all the shades in between.   Life IS in the middle.   Life IS in the gray.   Truthfully, the sooner we all come to see that and try to adopt a "meet ya in the middle" mentality, the better off we all will be.... politically, peacefully, planetarily!

Banner photo from my buddy's FB Page, adapted from' Black and white/Earth addition picture from; Scrabble pic from;

Monday, March 26, 2012

On the Edge of Earth Hour: Saturday, March 31, 2012

An hour is a mere 60 minutes or 3,600 seconds.  In the grand scheme, it is not a massive amount of time, especially if presented with a favorable activity.  Yet, if well-placed, and synchronized, it can become a very powerful statement.  Earth Hour is the perfect example of that. 

From their video, the Earth Hour video text does a good job of summing up the power of an hour:
It started with an idea.
An idea that became a symbol.
A symbol that became a movement.
A movement that unites people to protect our planet.
135 countries.
5251 cities and towns.
1.8 billion people reached.
How will you go beyond the hour?

This voluntary hour of "lights out" started the last Saturday of March in 2007 in Sydney Australia.  Each year it has grown exponentially.  The simple statement of turning out your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm in your time zone is a voluntary, globally collaborative "show of action" in support of  the environment.  Is an hour of lights out going to save our planet?  No. But the commitment toward our planet and the spirit of global union both show how many individuals doing a small thing can transform into something massive!

So make a "date in the darkness" this Saturday night from 8:30--9:30 pm with your candles or for moonlit walks.  Make memories, and make a statement!

To learn more about Earth Hour from a "Green Team Gazette" perspective, here are some great places to visit: 
--Earth Hour Archives on Green Team Gazette

--On Feb 16th, 2011, I testified at the Annapolis Maryland House of Delegates in front of the Health and Government Committee to put into MD law Earth Hour as a legal MD Commemorative Day.  (Sadly, House Bill 223 did not pass.)

Earth Hour Official Websites:
--Global Earth Hour Website
--USA's Earth Hour Website
--Earth Hour's You Tube Channel
--Earth Hour on Twitter
--Earth Hour on Facebook
--World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour Page

Go Beyond the Hour
--Eager for more?  Is 60 minutes not enough? Check out the "I Will If You Will" Challenge where you can view others' challenges to help protect the Earth...or make one of your own!

Earth Hour banner from, video from

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome to World Water Day 2012

Welcome to World Water Day:  a United Nations celebrated day of the environment, celebrating aspects of freshwater sustainability.  Held annually every March 22nd, it's a great day to focus on the renewable yet overused resource of fresh water. 
Check out this informative video from the UN World Water Day site to learn more--especially how food production, consumption, and choice is tied to our water supply!

For a boatload of 4 more videos, a multitude of printable posters, and a number of educational materials, click here to visit the UN World Water Day 2012 Website.

For links to World Water Day Resources of "Days Gone By," click here.
Click this link to read more about World Water Day from the Green Team Gazette archives.

Images and videos from

Monday, March 19, 2012

World Water Day: March 22nd, 2012

Every week (Tuesday, to be specific) we do dictation in my class for our Eagle Cove School Monthly portfolios.  We do so (as a school) to practice handwriting, spelling, phonics, attentive listening skills, and more.  It can be about anything:  a seasonal poem, spelling word sentences, a social studies concept, something along the lines of a "green" theme... the sky is the limit.  This week, we are opting to go green.  I'm tying it in with this Thursday's World Water Day

Learn along with us as we do our dictation:
World Water day is every year
On March 22nd.  It is
Really an important day because a
Lot of people get
Diseases from their local

Water.  It can even cause death.
A million women and
Their children walk
Each day over 3.5 miles to
Reach water that might be

Dirty.  Sadly, 1 in 8 people do not have
Access to clean water globally.
You do!  Don't take water for granted!

To learn more about World Water Day, here are some great resources:

World Water Day photos from,

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Ahh... The Wearin' o'the Green!!

Here we are again, tipping our hats at this ever-so-green time of year.

Here's a collection of sites where the focus is on all things green, both Irish-ly and environmentally speaking! May they be the pot o'gold at the end of your rainbow!

From the GTG Archives:
Arts & Crafts:
Celebrating Green:
Living Green:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
~ an old, Irish blessing

Sláinte this St. Patty's Day!

Images from, and,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pre St. Patty's Day

Here's a li'l leprechaun "luck o'the Irish" on the cusp of St. Patty's day to get you in the mood for celebrating the wearing o'the greenness!

10 Green Initiatives to Take for St. Paddy’s Day

Pic from

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2nd Annual Parade of Earth Heroes

It's that time o'year again when yes, the birds are tweeting, the trees are budding, the flowers are popping, and spring is in the air.  But... that is NOT all!  'Tis also the season of my class' environmental biographies and the eco-parade of environmental leaders.
Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals (Earth Heroes Series)Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean (Earth Heroes Series)Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness

I love these 3 books from the Earth Heroes Series: Champion of the Ocean and Champions of Wildlife (both by Carol and Bruce Malnor) and Champion of the Ocean (by Fran Hodgkins).  They are fabulous and I have written about them in the past:
This year's Earth Hero Parade and powerful biographies included the following environmental leaders (as poignantly written by my ECS 3rd graders--kudos to my clever writers!!!):
Wangari Maathai: "Wangari fought for equal pay for women.... She began planting trees in her own yard.  This was called the Green Belt Movement... She was a great environmentalist.  I hope she will go down in history."

Roger Payne: "Roger released an album called "Songs of the Humpback Whales" in 1970.... Roger still needs people to believe in whales. This is why Roger Payne is an Earth Hero."

Jane Goodall: "Jane was an amazing Earth Hero.... She saved the chimps... She was a United Nations Messenger of Peace... She has done a lot of things in her life we should be proud of, and we should be thankful for her."

Theodore Roosevelt:  "The biggest thing he did was to become the 26th president... He thought it was very important to protect the environment.  That is why Teddy Roosevelt was a good Earth Hero."

William Beebe:  "He was one of the first people to go underwater in a bathysphyere.  He loved learning about ocean animals and sharing that information with others."

Ronald "R.D." Lawrence: "He loved the outdoors...  He was helpful in getting the Endangered Species Act passed.... I liked Ron because he studied and took care of wolves."

Eugenie Clark:
"She was the first person to study the megamouth shark... She is still living today, and she is doing many things to help the ocean and help us learn about sharks."

Archie Carr: "He learned so much about sea turtles... He published ten books on turtles and nature.... Archie Carr helped the sea turtles of the world."

Tierney Thys:  "Tierney studied ocean sunfish for over 10 years.  She knew they weren't just a 'big floppy fish'... She is important because she did a lot for the environment by connecting people all over the world to her sunfish research and to oceanography."

 Art pictures from my classroom, book images from

Sunday, March 11, 2012

E-Wasting Away In Mobile-RitaVille

I am in countdown mode.  It is T-minus-10 days until I am eligible for a new cell phone.  Since my current phone has been acting funky and frustrating for at least 6 months... so, what I once previously loved, is now no longer my friend.  I'm giddy with excitement and ready to move forth with new-to-me technology.

Of course, it comes at a price (both literally and environmentally).  This e-waste infographic below does a great job of detailing exactly how much!  Plus, it showcases the importance of repurposing, recycling, or selling your old device.  Personally, I'm eager for the day when there's a "buy back" (or a "return back") program where the manufacturer builds that in with the creation and pricing of new devices.  It seems especially important here in this age where the newest "latest greatest" item is out-dated before the "new car smell" (so to speak) is even worn off!  Additionally, it feels like it should be a corporate responsibility to handle the overwhelming rate of this growing environmental problem of e-waste. Time and technology will tell!
The Growing E-Waste Epidemic [Infographic]
Infographic via:, the Industry Leader for Refurbished Servers
iPhone pic from

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Livin' Life in the Dojo

As I've mentioned before, as the year progresses, I'm trying out more and more finds in the edtech world.  At the DC EdCamp I attended in January, one discovery was Class Dojo.  Class Dojo is an online behavior management tool that's pretty darn cool.  My class loves it, and they are eager to earn "delights" and steer clear of any "dings."

As I was in the early stages of trying it out, I was in need of some tech assistance.  Email conversations led to some Skyping with one of the three head Class Dojo-ians.  Next thing you know, I was invited to be a guest blogger--you just never know where Skype may take you. 

That blog post posted on Monday!

To check out my "thumbs up" review of Class Dojo, check out my "Class Dojo Delights and Dings" post over on the Class Dojo blog site. 

To catch a sneak preview of how it starts, read on!

Class Dojo logo & pics from (The Positive and Negative behaviors are the ones I have designed and am using in my class). Class Dojo Acrostic written by me and posted on the Class Dojo Website.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Saw The Lorax, And I Speak For The Trees

Yesterday my 2 cherubs and I went to see "The Lorax." I was sporting my "Love the Earth" t-shirt and in the mood to hug a truffula tree.  Being the "green" schoolers that we all are, my kids were excited beyond belief.  Additionally, I was thrilled that there was now another movie out there in addition to Big Miracle (which I loved) that had a strong environmental message for children.  I wanted to LOVE it.  I wanted it to be "THE BEST MOVIE EVER!"  I wanted it to be THE beacon of environmentalism and get everyone to change their ways.  I wanted it to be the recommended "If you only see one movie in your lifetime, this should be it!!"

Can we say high expectations, anyone?  I must admit, I sat there and watched it with trepidation.  I had high hopes, and I had heard some very good reviews from some of my good friends (aka: reliable sources) who saw it and loved it.  Yet I'd heard many reviews from the left, the right, and the middle saying it was perhaps not enough "eco," yet too much "other," leaving everyone a little high, dry, and disappointed.  Yes, I sat there and watched it with trepidation, which probably isn't ever the best vantage point.

My verdict:  It was cute. Period. End of sentence.  As an environmental educator, I'm disappointed in that response, but that's where I land every time I try to land somewhere else. There were definitely parts I really liked, and there were parts I really wanted to like but... Eh.  The opening song and the final scenes/song were great, and perhaps my favorite. The movie also had a well-placed text of the very poignant quote: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

 I also really found smirk-worthy humor in the selling of O'Hare's bottled air, and the commentary that apparently anyone would want to buy something in plastic bottles.  My kids definitely saw the similarities to the 5-gallon "air jugs" and how they are remarkably reminiscent of 5-gallon water bottles.  Not a thinly-veiled comparison at all!! 

I will say, I definitely give thumbs up to Discover The Forest, for using the Lorax to speak for the trees.  By clicking the titled link, you'll get a slew of outdoor activities to get yourself out there and reasons to "care a whole awful lot."  Thumbs up too for Universal delivering it on Dr. Seuss's 108th birthday on March 2nd.  That was a nice tribute to the author du jour.  Definite kudos to Ted Wells 4th Graders for getting "The Lorax" movie site to ramp up their green offerings. And, most certainly, thumbs up to the book and its revitalization in stores.  Dr. Seuss had his finger on the pulse back in 1971 so very well!

Thumbs down to the Mazda CX-5 advertisement, with their "Truffala Tree Approval Rating" and using the Lorax to sell cars.  Somehow, I don't think Dr. Seuss or the Lorax would go for that commercialism, materialism, or the factory pollution that would be made creating said-Truffala-Tree-approved-automobile.  Same-same for IHOP's Lorax-inspired cuisine line.  And there's more, which the Green Mom in the Burbs detail in their blog article: "I am the Lorax, I Speak for the Merchandisers."

I think what I'll truly need to do is watch it again, in the comfort of my home, when it comes out on video. Knowing what to expect, without taking in any curiosities, fear factors, or expectations, I think I'll be able to have a clearer vision and perhaps a better view. Do I recommend it?  Yes, I do. Remember: It was cute. It most certainly has a good message.  It gets people thinking, hopefully...which is always a good thing.

Lorax "Explore Nature" poster from, Book photo from,  Discover the Forest PSA from

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not Quite Making the Grade

Nobody likes seeing a D- on a completed project or their report card.  Nobody!  The reason, which is obvious: We all know how close to an F that really is.  Given that fact, it was a sad discovery at last weekend's Eagle Cove School/Magothy River Association Bake Sale in Pasadena to see that a D- is the grade scored by the Magothy River (which is right outside the ECS campus).  Ouch! 

The score, as assessed annually by the Magothy River Association's "Magothy River Index," was officially a 22%.... a far cry difference from the A scoring 80--100%.   The score was derived from these 3 factors:  water clarity, dissolved oxygen, and SAV's (submerged aquatic vegetation).  It's a cyclical relationship:  the SAV's need the proper water clarity to grow, and marine wildlife needs a sufficient level of dissolved oxygen to maintain life. 
I suppose the good news is that we scored the same percentage (and same D-) as in 2010, but when you look at our whopping 45% in 2006 (which is merely an average C), we are most certainly going the wrong direction.  Additionally, 2011 broke another record--record low salinity.  Why does that matter?  It causes a high oyster mortality rate.  Why are oysters important?  Ask any current or former 3rd grader at ECS (since they do oyster studies in 3rd grade science), and they'll tell you that oysters filter the water, which then in turn helps improve water clarity. 

To learn more (and to go into more detail), click here to check out the Magothy River Index for 2011. Click this link to see the entire health report card of the Chesapeake Bay.  Sad but true, not much better.

So, clearly, this is the bad news, but as I posted on the GTG Facebook page earlier this week, this video below projects the good news (along with some great inspiration) for restoring the Chesapeake Bay.  Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley has a Bay Restoration plan in place to improve the Bay by 2025.  Let's cross our fingers that Maryland citizens and governmental officials can make that goal a sustainable reality here in the next 13 years!

Map from, Video from!