Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Story of Water: Who Controls The Way We Drink?

I've long been a fan of Annie Leonard and the Story of Stuff. Her "stuff" has been a frequent highlight here at GTG. Annie & the Story of Stuff Team have a new video out:  "The Story of Water: Who Controls The Way We Drink?" which takes a look at the privatization of water systems, and why that's actually NOT a good thing.

Water is that one thing we all need--and it's one thing that can be hard to come by, depending on what population you are a part of. The book "Thirst" by Scott Harrison instantly comes to mind. So too does the saying "water water everywhere and not a drop to drink." We've got this marble-esque blue planet (which definitely brings to mind #bluemind), yet the percentage of potable water on this planet is a problem given the majority of our water being housed in salty oceans.

Additionally, anytime a system is privatized, it has done so for a reason; namely--for a company to make a profit. This could get (and in the past many times, has gotten) in the way of doing things in an environmentally healthy way--for both us (as humans) and our planet. This also can become enmeshed in economic issues, leading things to fall on one side or the other of the dividing line of between the "haves" and the "have nots."

The Story of Water: Who Controls The Way We Drink goes into more of this. The video is narrated by Baltimore's Mayor, Bernard Young. As stated on the Story of Water's page, Baltimore is "the first major city in the United States to ban certain forms of water privatization, setting a new standard for public water protection that other cities can aspire to follow." Way to go, Baltimore, my nearby neighbor!!



Images from https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/06/17/story-water-new-video-story-stuff-team-delivers-short-beautiful-smackdown-water and https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/drink-up-our-tap-water-quality-in-fairfax-county/; Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04jTleV0gK0

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father’s Day


This seamed like the perfect sentiment for Father’s Day. May yours be a wonderful one, honoring and celebrating all the importance men in your life—including all you Dads out there!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Biophilic Design

What is biophilic design? Architect Amanda Sturgeon tells us here in this TEDMED Talk. Discussing elements of green building and design elements to craft sustainable spaces, she talks about how using this "love of life" biophilic design strategy to bring the outdoors in, which brings our happiness, health, and creativity out! What a great way to "rewild," architecturally speaking!
"First we shape our buildings, then our buildings shape us."   ~Winston Churchill
 
Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAmbZCtNC9Um, image created at Canva.com


Saturday, June 8, 2019

NASCAR & Vegan aren't two words that usually go together. But they do when you look at Leilani Mรผnter & her motto:









Leilani's short story: she was born Feb. 18, 1974, she was a biology major from the University of California San Diego, an environmental activist & a vegan, a lover of fast driving and scuba diving, a race car driver (not just any driver, but one of the top 10 female drivers of the world AND in 2007 the world's first carbon neutral driver AND in 2014 the first person to drive oil free in her Telsa Model X AND the first person to power her pit crew using 100% solar).

In addition to all of that (from her website):
"She sits on the board of three non-profits: Oceanic Preservation Society, Empowered by Light, and EarthxFilm. Leilani is also an ambassador for Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project and a patron of Population Matters. Leilani was featured in the 2015 documentary film Racing Extinction. Leilani wants our future to be a cleaner and kinder world."
For the long story on Leilani, check out her bio on her website as well as the story of what got her from a biology graduate to a race car driver.



Using her platform as a racer, she's able to reach a multitude of people on issues such as climate change, renewable and clean energy, and oceanic health. She's spoken on Capital Hill and took part in the 2015 environmental documentary Racing Extinction. She also knows a little bit about what it is to be a leading female in a male-centric sport.


Leilani's Links page is lengthy, with a list of partner and friend organizations she supports and documentaries she recommends. This is a great place to go if you are looking for environmental documentaries to watch.

As of this writing, she still also has a link on her website to VegNation, the apparel store she founded using 100% solar and environmentally friendly materials. However, VegNation has the note: "Next shipment date is Jan 7. Once our current inventory is gone, we will be shutting down VegNation." So, it might be your last opportunity to shop on her site!


Video from https://youtu.be/WKRvQVzskpg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULJV8aCVKl8

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

World Environment Day: June 5, 2019 #BeatAirPollution

As a "knower-of-random-dates" and a sometimes-perceived "knower of useless pieces of knowledge"... June 5 is not only during my kids' first week of summer, but it's also World Environment Day. It's often an annual blog post here! 
World Environment Day was introduced back in 1972. On December 15th of that yearit was designated by the General Assembly that June 5th would be known as an annual day where "world-wide activities reaffirming their [the United Nations'] concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness and to pursuing the determination expressed at the Conference." Likewise, they adopted the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). World Environment Day's first celebration was held in 1974, each year with a different environmental focus. 

This year's theme: #BeatAirPollution. The reason: 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air. From the Climate & Clean Air Coalition: "approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution, with about 4 million of these deaths occurring in Asia-Pacific."

You may not have realized it, but a campaign has been underway since May 24th of this year, running through today's World Environment Day, urging people to join the "Mask Challenge." From their website, here are some things you can do:













To give you more of a hint about World Environment Day, check out their 2017 #CleanSeas focus and how one day can indeed make a difference! May we be able to do the same this year with #BeatAirPollution!


World Environment Day logo from http://www.aaee.org.au/event/world-environment-day-2019/
#BeatAirPollution from http://webtv.un.org/d/watch/world-environment-day-2019-mask-challenge/6042745643001/?term=?term&lan=english#CleanSeas video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTeXOF_9j_k&list=PLZ4sOGXTWw8GNZglk8F_fubpnmH2jvhTc&index=2, screenshots from https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/get-involved/world-environment-day-mask-challenge

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Make Way For Ducklings

Mama Duck is a smart cookie. For the 5 years I've been teaching at my current school, a majority of these years she's decided every spring to lay her eggs in a secure, small courtyard within the walls of our building. Add on, she's got a history that is longer than mine at the school. Two years, she also made our campus her egg-laying home, however she branded out, once outside the Fifth Grade classroom (NOT a great plan, as it led to the Great American Duck Rescue of 2017 as the nest was right next to a drainage pipe, leading to a resident drainage pond). Last year, I think Mama Duck made her home on campus again, but near a more open water retention ditch.

The beauty of the safe confines of the courtyard is that is is protected from the predators that abound... 4 legged critters and larger birds. (We have osprey and an eagle that nests nearby.)

Add to that, Mama Duck, when she settles into the courtyard, gets a little Bed and Breakfast service all summer long by the Business Manager and our Admin staff at school.

Like I said, she's one smart cookie.

Well, this week, we discovered not only was Mama Duck back, but she  was not alone. To the tune of 11 darling ducklings! There's nothing like watching Mother Nature in action, in nature... except maybe Preschoolers to 5th graders, noses at the window, looking outside, in awe of the duckling darlings!




Pictures from my camera!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rewilding--The Missing Piece of the Personal & Planetary Puzzle

The books I read often shape the posts I write here. My latest: Marc Bekoff's 2014 book Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence. Marc Bekoff might not be a household name, but he's got a litany of credentials: Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, scientist, ethologist, behavioral ecologist, author (of 31 books and 1000+ articles), and a person who's made his life mission one to study animal ethics and human behavior.

The premise of this book is to reconsider our relationship between human and nonhuman animal species through the lens of compassion (which, in turn, begets compassion). "Rewilding" as a mindset shift... and I will say, it took some getting used to considering animals as "nonhuman animals" (for we, too, as humans, are animals). In both the videos below, both Marc & George Monbiot give two similar definitions to each other of rewilding and their impact to both the planet and ourselves as individuals.

Rewilding (as related to people) is closely tied to getting us more in touch with nature, countering nature deficit disorder and "solastagia" (the antithesis of nostalgia--a feeling of stress and loss to our changing environment).

It is through compassion that "we might begin to undo the alienation and fragmentation that currently defines our damaged relationship to the natural world. Compassion will also help us heal our damaged, alienated and fragmented relationships with each other" (page 4).  [That sentence alone reminds me of our current relations with each other on a multitude of topics, all front and center on the current news cycle.] We have lost track of our connection and empathy for others and nature. We have been "unwilding," where we have "eroded our relationships with nature and other beings" (page 35). We need to get back in touch with nature.





I feel like Marc Bekoff and George Monbiot (see below) would be great friends--and make fascinating guests at a dinner party with Richard Louv, Florence Williams, and Wallace J. Nichols.

Major takeaways:
  • We're encouraged to be activists,  not "slacktivists." Even small acts add up when put together.
  • We are born biophiliacs, with the love of nature inside of us.
  • Interconnectedness and interdependence is not just human to human--the greater animal world is tied to that.
  • The "8 P's" of Rewilding include being "proactive, positive, persistent, patient, peaceful, practical, powerful, and passionate" (page 72).
  • We need to get our kids outside--at home AND at school. Recess alone is not enough.
  • "Ecocide is suicide"(page 148).
On that note, I'm closing my laptop (though I was reading and writing outside today) and heading to a local woods with the kids and the dog.

For more follow-up on Marc Bekoff and rewilding, check out his website and read his post on Wildlands Network.

 Videos from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8M3OCGSxxc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rZzHkpyPkc, Image from Amazon.com and https://quotefancy.com/quote/61653/John-Muir-One-touch-of-nature-makes-the-whole-world-kin

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Water Walk Experiment

Water and walking... two things we take for granted. When combined, it amounts to what 14 million women and 3 million children do every day (for 30 minutes or more) to access clean water.

This social experiment really helps to put it all into perspective:

 

Here are some past posts that tie to the importance of clean water! It doesn't need to be World Water Day to make this a priority or a focus--it just so happens to be that's a lot of when I wrote about it!

Video from https://www.facebook.com/ajplusenglish/videos/1043829469091893/

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Break Up--It's Not Me, It's You

When teaching my 5th graders about PSA's and what exactly a Public Service Announcement is, I ran across this (and later the second & third one).

Might be time for all of us to have a break up or two!!






Videos from https://youtu.be/YsRjgraJfA8 anhttps://youtu.be/-DEc16dEMns and https://youtu.be/76YtUwwW-LI, image from http://ceec.ca/post/lets-break-up-with-single-use-plastic/

Saturday, May 18, 2019

John Oliver: For the Climate Awareness Win

Sometimes you just need to laugh... in order to not cry. Our late night comedians know how to do this well.

In a very "not safe for work or in the presence of small kids" sort of way, John Oliver nails things once again last week (on May 12th) Climate change, the "Green New Deal," carbon pricing/emissions, oh my! Not to mention, he brings in Bill Nye to help him bring it all home later in the episode. (Bill Nye is always for the win! Even when he's fired up [quite literally] and cursing.)

"It's just science everyone," John Oliver states. Yes, yes that's true.

For more on science-concerns right now that American voters should have on their radar, read this article and the 9 bullet-points of scientific & environmental neglect.

And then, there's this. Always this:

Image result for regardless of whether you believe in science it's true, neil degrasse
 
Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDcro7dPqpA, photo from http://www.lovethispic.com/image/227430/every-time-you-find-some-humour-in-a-difficult-situation,-you-win and https://warosu.org/sci/thread/9134322

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Endangered Species Day--May 17, 2019

The 3rd Friday in May (aka: THIS FRIDAY, May 17th) brings us another annual environmental day: Endangered Species Day. This video gives you a snapshot on why it's important. Then investigate some of the links below for some resources to learn more.




Resources:

The IUCN Red List
Created in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species
is the place to go see where exactly we are when it comes to critically endangered species and our planet's biodiversity. Conservationist will appreciate all the facts here as they work to create policy change and decisions. Be sure to click the "Advanced" button to zero in on specific search criterion.

National Wildlife Federation
Come here for a quick overview of the specifics behind Endangered Species Day. You will also get some good ideas on how to take action, especially with some tweet suggestions and photo banners to spread the work via social media! A couple clicks in can give you a link to:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
More resources including podcasts & transcripts of these including an overview, the reasons for species decline, species recovery, and how you can help

OneKindPlanet.org's Top 10 Most Endangered Animals
There, you can see gorgeous pictures of these 10 and learn more about each one... and maybe learn about a new animal or two!

Arkive.org
Arkive.org has been my favorite go-to place for "all things species" for the last 8 years or so. They had copious amounts (over 100,0000) of wonderful photos, videos, and even animal cams (not to mention information about all elements of habitat, needs, threatened level, and more).  I was saddened to see that due to lack of funds, they had to close down this portal in February 2019.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

13 Ocean Heroes Fighting to Save Our Seas

I ran across the article "13 Ocean Heroes Fighting to Save Our Seas" by Lauren Paige Kennedy on "Coastal Living's" website, and it was too good not to share. You must visit it to learn more about these ocean lovers & heroes! I love the slideshow Kennedy created with information about teaching of these individuals, plus there's a link per slide to more in depth interviews with each person or duo (which I've linked you to below).

There, you'll find these people and all the good work they are doing for our oceans:


Images from Lauren Paige Kennedy's article (http://www.coastalliving.com/lifestyle/the-environment/ocean-heroes), as compiled on PicCollage EDU

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Sesame Street: Device Free Dinner

In my last post, I discussed my all-day affair early April at Common Sense Media's Truth About
Tech: Solutions for Digital Well-Being Conference in DC.

They closed the conference with some familiar faces--those on Sesame Street. What a great way to tie together Sesame Street's 50th anniversary and Common Sense's #DeviceFreeDinner campaign!

Be sure to check out their Device Free Dinner YouTube playlist of other videos in this series!



Screenshot and video from https://youtu.be/SMBPY3oqPys

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Common Sense Media Digital Well-Being Conference

Anyone who has been around GTG for awhile knows I'm doing a personal quest this past year on the good, the bad, and the ugly of screen time. I've long had a love-hate relationship--it's my job, it's my hobby, it's how I write this blog, it's in my house and soaked in with my kids. At times, I'm very good with disconnected, and other times it can be my own personal wrestle-fest. (True confession: last night I "got in trouble" while watching a movie with the family here at home, as I was too sucked into my phone simultaneously.)

It's tricky, being the adult and parenting tech, when we adults are human too. We all can get sucked into the dopamine rush akin to the slot machine mentality of "likes" on social media, or return texts, or busy trying to see what we're missing out on (#FOMO). It takes a lot of education and also a decent amount of willpower to redirect our efforts.

Luckily, there are organizations such as Common Sense Media, and I was privileged to be able to attend their April 4th Truth About Tech Conference in DC at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies. We had a full day.

The conference opened the conference with this video:



The day was packed, 9am-5pm with sessions 30-45 minute sessions running all day long. It was a live-streamed event, so the exciting thing is you can go see what I saw on the Common Sense Media YouTube playlist. My favorites were Common Sense Media's CEO Jim Steyer's opening comments, Massachusetts' Senator Ed Markey's Opening Remarks about legislation they are working on, Obama's US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy's comments on connection and social relations under the lens of technology, and March For Our Lives Co-Founder Cameron Kaskey's commentary on his experience and using technology to build a movement.

Cameron Kaskey with
moderator Elizabeth Galicia
Of course, you might have your own personal favorites.

I encourage you to check out their playlist so you too can build up your wealth of information on this very important topic.

To learn more, you also can check out Common Sense Media's portal on Digital Well-Being for more resources.

Additionally, I'm looking forward to live-streaming Common Sense Media's Designing for Our Future: Solutions for Digital Well-Being May 29th Silicon Valley Tech Conference, held at the Computer History Museum in combination with Stanford's d.school.
Jim Steyer with Dr. Vivek Murthy

Video from https://youtu.be/sJFO6SjtR3w; images from my camera, screenshot of the agenda from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/livestream-april-2019 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Bicylcing Recyling!

I love it when innovation is in action.

In the Netherlands, where a million bikes are discarded every year. To solve that problem, Roetz-Bikes is redrafting them into custom bikes.

Given that, the wheels on the bike aren't the only thing that's circular. So is the system of design, use, done, recycle, and recreate. This is what the world needs more of! A closed loop system! An innovative sustainable plan to help out our planet by repurposing materials!




video from https://www.facebook.com/1MillionWomen/videos/388308018663740/ and image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC8B2D_w7eM

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Nature's Alarm Clock

The sound of a Canadian goose was my alarm clock this morning (supposing that the honking call is we have this here). The open windows and freshness of spring led to crisp morning air whisper-tickling my skin. Accompanying that was the shifting sunbeam on my face, working its way up and through the slats of my blinds.

Disclosure: I am not a morning person nor do I typically wake up well or easily. Rather I’m a creature of sleep who loves my bed. Always have been. I don’t pounce up, ready to face the world. Rather I wake up tired, wanting to pull the covers over my head, craving more sleep, wanting a good two hours or more. (And this is a girl who has read Shawn Stevenson’s book Sleep Smarter and has purposely tried to go to bed earlier having learned the importance and value of sleep for our health and well-being.)

I know that my slow-to-wake side comes from more than my innate craving for the quiet of the house at the end of the nigh after all go to bed. It’s more than the second wind of creativity I can get in the evening. A lot probably comes from being a working mom with a to-do list that grows faster than it can get all crossed off. Maybe too it’s because I’ve yet to craft that morning routine where that first hour is deliciously mine. Instead, especially on work days, I’m too busy for a morning routine because I’m preoccupied with hitting the snooze button a number of times. Then I’m too busy scurrying around getting ready and organized to get out of the house...frequently running tight on time, hoping not to be late. Clearly we aren’t perfect beings, we have our flaws, and this is among mine.

But I digress—and return to the moment.

Another sunbeam is hitting that sweet spot in the blind, landing it directly on my face. I notice the blessed blue skies and the peeks of green on the trees (almost like a silhouette) through those slats as well. I start to count bird songs I hear, wishing I were more skilled with my identification skills.

I love the early days of spring where all of this is fresh and new, truly waking us up from winter. Hyperaware of it all— in part because we are so grateful winter has finally passed. (My affinity for winter is quite similar to my love of my morning extraction from bed!!)

A sneeze and nose twitxh surprises me, making me aware too of the miscroscopic pollen that is also wafting through my windows on the blowing breeze I feel. But I almost welcome it given it’s a necessary side effect of the beautifully flowered trees that dot my neighborhood and serve as pollination stations for the bees. All good things necessary in this wonderful world of ours.

I’m struck that I’m having an eco-mindfulness moment. And I’m struck that perhaps this indeed is the best way to start the day—filled with a bounty of love. Reminiscent of Earth Day, and the fact that every day should be celebrated as such.

My intention: to go forward through the day maintaining this level of eco-awareness and gratitude, thanking Spring for fully springing.

My hope: I start tomorrow with this same morning mindset! Maybe the new leaves of Spring may help me turn over a new leaf of my own!

Photos from my camera.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Blue Mind: The Book

Fitting that on World Water Day (March 22nd) I wrapped up Wallace J. Nichol's Book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. (It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have a 5 hour layover between flights!)

Fitting too, to share these thoughts during Earth Week!

In reading this book (which came recommended from a colleague at school), it made me realize why I love my pool so. Now that Spring has sprung and the warming has begun, I've got some of my neighborhood hot spots and watering holes on my mind. Also, I have a greater intention to get there more often.



Here are some take aways from this brain-based, research-backed book on the effects of water on the brain and body... and the science of happiness:

๐Ÿ’งThe key questions of the book: “What is water? Why are we humans so enthralled by water? Why is this question so obvious and important, yet so hard to adequately answer?” ( page xviii)

๐Ÿ’ง“The name for this human-water connection: Blue Mind, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peaceful, unity, and a sense of general satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from to color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion.” (page 6) Some of those "words" that have infiltrated our vocabulary: Times when we are 'in the flow' of creativity; when we have 'waves of emotions;' we can feel like 'fish out of water' when we are uncomfortable; or we might have a 'sea of questions.' There's a million of them!

๐Ÿ’งThe opposite of Blue Mind? Red Mind. A more attention-to-detail, stress-driven, anxiety-fear-anger-ridden mind. The mind that lives in this age of instant-global-connection, hyper-aware, tech-driven world that has us always overstimulated, over-stressed, over-screened. The exact reason why we need to let go of multitasking and spend more time being digitally mindful. Just like in Florence Williams' book Nature Fix (which this is a great companion piece for), being in nature (near water particularly with Blue Mind) gives our frontal lobe a break and helps equalize our emotions and build our empathy. Empathy--what connects us to all things (and perhaps what is missing when it comes to the polarized political world in which we all are living--and needing to disconnect from!)

๐Ÿ’งWhich of these lists sounds better and more helpful?
  1. Nature Immersion therapy, Spa Bathing, Hydrotherapy, Eco Therapy, and Wilderness Therapy
  2. “Monkey mind. Toxic stress. Chronic stress. Stress overload. Directed attention fatigue. Mental fatigue.” (page 140)
๐Ÿ’ง“What if your doctor handed you a prescription for stress or ill health that read, ‘Take 2 waves, a beach walk, and some flowing river, and call me in the morning?’” (page 141)

๐Ÿ’งWater has power. It is a basic human need. As Americans, we use 80-100 gallons a day. Yet we know that approx 1 in 10 people in the world don't have access to clean water. (Roughly 663 million!) Our bodies are made up of 78% water. Water energizes us via hydration, water splashed on our face, or even just our proximity to it. If climate change doesn't get addressed, the waters will rise and coastal communities will be in danger.

๐Ÿ’งWater is also a 5-senses experience:
  • See: Light takes on a new look when playing on water.
  • Taste & Smell: You can smell and taste the saltiness near ocean water or smell the freshness after a good rain. Smells can also trigger memories.
  • Sound: I can hear it now: the waterfalls, the swish of waves, even the trickling of water in a stream or the rain hitting the wind.
  • Feel: We feel like we weigh less in water and we notice it in our buoyancy. Water exercise or aquatherapy is highly beneficial due to this. I know my aging knees certainly are much more capable in the pool than on land these days! Additionally, between the water pressure, the flotation sensation, and all of the above--our senses tend to come more alive in or near the water! 
๐Ÿ’งThere are 3 perspectives when it comes to people and nature:
  1. Egocentric is when you put yourself at the center and only can see what nature can do for you personally.
  2. Anthropogenic is when you broaden from the self and consider everyone, but more "how nature serves humanities needs and desires." (page 250)
  3. Biocentric is when you see "humanity as part of nature, rather than separate." (p. 250) It broadens the perspective to help you realize that you are part of something bigger than yourself. By connecting with nature or water, you become not only more engaged and attentive, but also more invested. You begin to care... which leads to empathy and an emotional drive to take care of it so you can share it with others. 
๐Ÿ’ง“Being in nature quiets my mind, and out of that quietness is where the real art happens." ~ Sculptor David Eisenhower (page 223)

๐Ÿ’ง"The real voyage of discovery consists not so much in seeking new territory, but possibly in having new sets of eyes." ~ Marcel Proust (page 269)

๐Ÿ’ง“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~ John Burroughs (page 84)


Rereading this list and thinking about my blue mind, it's made me realize just how much of an aquaphile I really am! No wonder we gravitated toward a water-oriented vacation for this summer ahead! ๐Ÿ’ง


Images from https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Mind-Surprising-Healthier-Connected/dp/0316252115 and video from https://youtu.be/2ANB5nDW9q8

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Earth Day

Jane Goodall always strikes me as the Mother of Earth Day. Perhaps it stems from her having an April birthday, and seeing her years ago right around Earth Day. Her dedication to our planet throughout the course of her lifetime adds to this as well, I'm sure.

In honor of Earth Day Monday, take 6 minutes out of your day to watch this, to be inspired to do something for our big beautiful world.



Here are some ideas below if you need a little help getting started this weekend being an environmental steward. Take a friend or your with you!

๐ŸŒŽ Unplug from those devices and do something outside.
๐ŸŒŽ Plan a picnic, a bike ride, a hike, a walk in the park, or time outdoors in. your 
        own backyard!
๐ŸŒŽ Clean a stream, a park, or a community area.
๐ŸŒŽ Shop at a local market, bring your own bag, or don't go shopping at all to use 
        less resources.
๐ŸŒŽ Plant a tree, plant a garden, plant a seed of hope!
๐ŸŒŽ Visit an outdoor festival or an Earth Day event.
๐ŸŒŽ Pass on the plastic bag, the plastic straw, the plastic cups, and plastic utensils.
๐ŸŒŽ Step up your recycling, composting, water usage, or home energy reduction 
        plan.
๐ŸŒŽ Educate yourself or others, write letters to your leaders, make posters for 
        your neighborhood, or share forward eco facts on your social media.
๐ŸŒŽ Volunteer to help out an environmental organization, a community service, or 
        your neighbors.
๐ŸŒŽ Donate to an environmental cause that you believe in.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Eco-Mindfulness

Mindfulness is quite en vogue right now. All the podcasts I listen have both hosts and their guests (many of them leaders in their field or entrepreneurs) that talk of their morning routines that morning routines that help shape their day and promote their productivity. 96% of those morning routines have elements of meditation or gratitude in them. Both of these are mindfulness practices. A good friend of mine is a life coach and she swears by mindful practices and has even brought it into our Lower School with great success. (Check out Karin Mitchell Coaching).

As for me, I get glimmers of mindfulness—like when I went on a college visit exploration trip with my family. I found myself very “in the moment” a lot of the time: soaking up the setting, experiencing new things, and looking with fresh eyes. Seeing the first glimmers of Spring, down south (earlier than our “at home” sights) it was refreshingly striking and I found myself really absorbing my surroundings.

Typically though, I wrestle with being in the moment. I'm always trying to investigate new ideas, do "one more thing," check off something on my to-do list... or even mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Apple News.

Yet it was in reading Cheryl Leutjen’s book “Love Earth Now: The Power is Doing One Thing Every Day” that I couldn’t get past the introduction without being struck by the term “eco-mindful.”

I also highly related to the intro alone as an environmentalist. This quote struck a chord, as I too “attempt to navigate the fine line between eco-mindfulness and eco-madness.” Watching the news reports about plastic pollution, the growing effects of climate change, environmental laws that seem to be going backwards rather than forwards, the arguments from science deniers and politicians who clearly need to take a science class or two—it can be overwhelming and often times downright depressing.

But science minded Cheryl Leutjen embraces her own discomfort with mindful practices to be just that. Additionally, she does it with humor. To inspire mindful moments both “with nature” and in thinking about the environment, it's important to do small actions to make your eco-vote heard. We all can do that whether we are voting via our decisions, our wallet, or our actions & examples—especially to our own children.

Fitting: I was reading all of this, and thinking all of this, while sitting outside. Doing so, I was feeling the shadow-to-sun-ratio above shift, leaving me more and more in the warming sunbeam of early Spring. That alone made me grin back to the sun. In my basking moment, I was struck by a bird call I wasn’t accustomed to, so I started visually scanning my surroundings. I finally locked on a remarkable blue jay hiding noisily in a nearby bush. A rare sighting for me. My blue jay pulled me in to just stop and watch him, preening in the sun much like myself. I wasn't digital-scrolling mindlessly. I stopped reading and just was there, in that moment, in nature.

And... I was richer for the experience!

May you find many moments of eco-mindfulness this Spring, especially with Earth Day on the way!


Images: Book from https://www.amazon.com/s?k=love+earth&ref=nb_sb_noss_2, "Eco-Mindfulness" was created by me at canva.com, and the cherry blossoms from my camera.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Earth Day is on the Way

During an Earth Day lesson this week this week with first graders,  I told them that Earth Day was my favorite holiday. I left out the part about my teaching experience at previous school that was รผber environmental. I also left out the part about writing an eco blog for the past 9+ years. But they got the impassioned point, none the less, and who knows, maybe they could guess the rest.

Earth Day, just like your birthday, is annually on April 22nd. This year, Earth Day turns 49. The 2019 theme: Protect Our Species.

For teachers, Earth Day is ripe for lesson plans and curricular tie-ins at every level. Here's a collection of resources for you if you are still looking for something for the next week or so ahead. (Though, one could argue, environmentalism can and should be taught all year long!)

๐ŸŒŽ Earth Day Network
This is your first stop on Earth Day, from the source. Their mission: "To work year round to solve climate change, to end plastic pollution, to protect endangered species, and to broaden, educate, and activate the environmental movement across the globe."

There, you'll find a wealth of toolkits & background information for teachers and groups including:
  • Organizers' Toolkit
  • Primer & Action Toolkit
  • Teach In Toolkit 
  • Climate Education Toolkit
  • Mobilize U: Campus Teach In
  • Cities & Leaders Toolkit
  • Faith Leaders
Likewise, you can take part in Billion Acts of Green and other campaigns. You can also test your knowledge (or your students') with a variety of Earth Day quizzes including the following: 
  • Protect Our Species Quiz
  • Climate Change Quiz
  • Oceans and Plastic Pollution Quiz
  • Earth Day Environmental Literacy Quiz
  • Deforestation and Biodiversity Quiz
  • Clean Energy Quiz
๐ŸŒŽ Climate Change Resources for Students and Teachers from Common Sense Media

๐ŸŒŽ Ecology and Environmental Science Apps, Games, and Websites from Common Sense Media


๐ŸŒŽ We Are Teachers Website's 12 Meaningful Earth Day Activities for Every Grade

๐ŸŒŽAlso, if you teach using Seesaw Digital Portfolios/Learning Journal, be sure to browse the Seesaw Activity Library for "Earth Month in Elementary" section for approximately 100 Earth Day related student activities.

๐ŸŒŽ And... if you still can't get enough, there's always the GTG Archives of Earth Day Activities


Images from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/why-and-when-is-international-mother-earth-day-celebrated.html and https://billboardinsider.com/threatened-species-displayed-across-the-us-for-earth-day/

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Compost Cab


For those of you who have been around awhile, you know I'm a fan of composting. Sadly though, I had to bid adieu to composting. Seems our compost was becoming a fine French Restaurant for all the neighborhood critters...which was not our backyard plan at all! All still perils of the closing the the greenest school in America, now almost 5 years ago!

If I lived closer to Washington, DC, I'd be sure to be in touch with Compost Cab. They could bring about the trifecta: tackle my food scraps while satisfying my environmental desire to compost... all the while without catering to the critter cafe. Yes! I could once again (to modify their tagline) be a Waste Zero Hero!

Created in 2010 by Jeremy Brosowsky and a production of Agricity, Compost Cab's mission is to help "urban agriculture thrive." Not only does it center around local, homegrown food, but it helps work to reduce waste by using that food waste to create soil!

Watch this video to learn a little more about Brosowsky & Compost Cab:


Compost Cab provides its clients with a bin for food scraps. A key component: "If it grows, it goes" (in the bin). They weekly come by to collect your compost, leaving another bin bag for your following week. Your big takeaways (as they take away your compost) is that you are reducing what's carted away to the landfill, you're helping to create soil at Engaged Community Offshoots in College Park, MD, providing great soil for local farms or community gardens.

Compost Cab also has an Education component. They will bring their "Compost Academy" and curriculum to your school to teach kids how to compost, perform "waste audits" of the school, or bring their services to your school.

Compost Cab has two goals: make it easier for people to compost, and easier for urban agriculture to thrive. They achieve these two goals by providing home and commercial composting services, and by partnering with urban farms and community gardens to build soil in the city.

To learn more about composting, check out their websites Resources, click here.

Additionally, learn more here at this Washington Post article from a couple of years ago or The Department of Energy & Environment's 2016 District Sustainability Award Winner Case Study: Compost Cab


Images: screenshot of Agricity from http://agricity.net; photo and logo from https://compostcab.com/mission/ and https://compostcab.com/#community; Video from https://youtu.be/pwSKRrrmTGw

Saturday, April 6, 2019

What's In Your Kitchen Sink For Clean Up?

We all have kitchens, and they all need attention & cleaning.

Watching this video created by 1 Million Women, (which I found on the Unf**k The World Facebook page) it struck me how little we think about the hidden places disposable plastic resides.

It's here that we made environmental decisions with our dollars. The fixes shared are so simple--and more economical! Our consumer mentality has had people creating items and marketing, letting us know "we need these" in order to maintain our life. Do we? If we all pared down and simplified, we'd have more money in our banks and live a cleaner, less wasteful life. May that be a vision for us all here in 2019!

 


Video from https://www.facebook.com/1MillionWomen/videos/440439903029942/
photo from https://startsomegood.com/1millionwomenapp

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Waste Not, Want Not

I love Sir David Attenborough. A wise voice in our world today.
His message--one we all need to hear: let's not waste.


Here are some great resources to help you lead a less wasteful life....the perfect follow up to my post last week and with Earth Day ahead, April 22nd.

Huffington Post's "How To Stop Being Wasteful This Year Once And For All"
There are 10 great items on the list to help you make the most of sustainable practices around your house!

Kathryn Kellogg's website: Going Zero Waste
Lots of good ideas here... including her April 2019 book release: 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste

National Waste & Recycling Association's "Fascinating Facts About Waste & Recycling"
Here you'll see a super 2-page infographic!


Video from https://www.facebook.com/sbsnews/videos/397621647649854/ 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Earth Hour Tonight: March 30th 8:30--9:30 pm Your Time Zone


Tonight is the night to turn off our lights. Only for an hour. Earth Hour 2019.

March 30th, 8:30--9:30 in your own time zone.

Are you planning a bonfire, a picnic (either by candlelight in your living room or in your back yard), or a night hike? A board game or a candlit dinner party? An artsy event or time in meditation?  Unplugging and observing nature, or just going to bed early?

Whatever you do, turn off those non-essential lights (porch & patio lights too) to be a part of this global movement. Doing so shows your commitment to our planet, your fight against climate change, and your desire to take action. To learn more, click here.

I'll be taking part, will you?


Images from https://www.earthreminder.com/earth-hour-2019/ and
Video from https://youtu.be/wKwhuQ9bmIE

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Our Planetary Plastic Pollution Problem

I was recently at the airport, spending copious amounts of time scrolling through Facebook while waiting for my flight. While doing so, I was struck by the number of posts along the scrolling all about plastic pollution.

Now I will say, for full disclosure, I do follow a lot of environmental organizations an Facebook, so it isn't a surprise I'd happen on these types of posts. But, I also follow news and other organizations too... along with edtech and educational groups. So I follow a lot about a lot. Given that, I was struck that there was far more on this one topic of environmentalism than usual.

It feels like the situation with China no longer taking our plastic (as it's done for over 2 decades) is really starting to take traction. Sometimes it takes a crisis situation to really help open our eyes. (We have all certainly seen that in many ways--take the horrific mosque attack in New Zealand and how that was pivotal for making a change in their gun laws.)

As long as China was taking all our trash over the years, we could bury our head in the sand. Case and point: why have I been writing about the overabundance of pollution (among other things) for nearly 10 years? During all that time, there was no real headway. Now with onset of  plastic bag bans, straw bans, and systems having to overhaul their recycling programs due to there being nowhere else for it to go, perhaps now... NOW is the time to make a positive move. For that, we should be both hopeful and thankful as it is long overdue!

To check our some of the articles that were poignantly striking me, check out my list below:

Images from https://www.cawrecycles.org/recycling-news/3p93l3t3k8plh8tctw6a23y4t5fjsz and https://storyofstuff.org and https://www.facebook.com/punksagainstlittering/ and http://www.golfian.com/plastic-pollution-by-numbers-thrown-away35-billion-plastic-water-bottles-a-year-in-the-us/