Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Caring For Mother Nature--One Beach At A Time

As a teacher, I have all of these summer projects on my to-do list--many of them having to do with
home improvements. Anything from decluttering to downright overhaul. Most days, reading a good book, writing a blog post, hanging in the backyard pool, or binge watching the latest show get in the way. (Perhaps I need to work on my willpower and motivation!)

Certainly, here is an inspiration we all can take to heart. It will perhaps make you question "what are YOU doing?" Seventy-year-old Pat Smith, equal parts environmentalist and grandmother, took on a personal and planetary mission: to clean one beach a week for all of 2018. It's amazing what a difference one person can do!

This video gives both Pat Smith's story, showcasing her efforts, as well as helping to inspire

 

Her plan for 2019: spreading the word about the perils of plastic. Do we really need that plastic grocery bag or drinking straw? She's inspired some of her local eateries to move beyond the plastic straw.

Hats off to Pat Smith. What can you do today to follow in her footsteps at creating a cleaner community where you live?




Image from https://quotefancy.com/quote/841971/John-F-Kennedy-One-person-can-make-a-difference-and-everyone-should-try; video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfxck2TXA3I

Saturday, July 13, 2019

5th Grade Digital Citizenship

In my role as Lower School Technology Specialist, I often think of myself akin to a grandparent. I go into each classroom, and I get to bring the goodies (the iPads or Chromebooks), impart some wisdom, offer some support (to both the teachers & students), and create a lot of engagement and fun along the way. I have a different relationship with students than their homeroom teachers... just like children have a different relationship with their grandparents than they do their mom or dad. It's an additional dedicated in-class"Tech Time," outside of our weekly 45 minute Technology Class [which I teach half the grades K-5, and my colleague, our Lower School IT guy, teaches the other].

With our Fifth Grade students, at some point during the last 4 years, we've done a focused 6-8 week digital citizenship unit. Largely, this is due to the fact that our 6th Grade program in the Middle School is a 1-1 iPad program. We want to help prepare our students given they will have a loaned device for their school work all year long. But, one does not simply have an iPad for schoolwork--texting and other parts of mobile lifestyle (aka social media) go with that as well. Likewise, by Middle School, many of our students also have phones, despite a growing trend of Wait Until Eighth [Grade]. Of course, many students in our population do seem to get mobile phones for their 5th grade promotion (if not before that age). Likewise, even without a phone, many of our 5th grade students also have access on family devices or iPods. Just as student acquisition has fallen earlier each year over my last 4 years as Tech Specialist, we found the need to do this unit earlier in the school year than in the Spring, where we have previously taught this unit.

One of our opening activities.
Below is the modified presentation I created for our Board of Trustees, detailing our Digital Citizenship 5th grade curriculum. Now, as a Common Sense Media Educator (and fervent learner & researcher digital mindfulness), sometimes it feels like all roads lead to digital citizenship. I certainly felt that during the Common Sense Media Digital Well Being Conference in DC this past April.

My plans for the upcoming fall is to continue on the presentation circuit (one I'm not always comfy with, but you grow in that discomfort, they always say). I plan to hold a Lower School parent forum on this subject. It certainly seems like this is a challenge to all of us parents these days--largely because technology is tricky for us to navigate too! I'll keep you posted how this plan materializes!



Grandparent image from https://legacyconnection.org/15-ideas-grandparent-gift/; all others from my Digital Citizenship presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1cVOllCisSfmOAXO0kXqdJiEjTO_rGlTU2U3_E11Abtg/edit?usp=sharing

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Greta Thunburg

I saw this drawing on Facebook and I was haunted by it.
The artist: Rick Frausto and it is part of his Visual Activism series. He's got a number of drawings where he has included quotes that make you think. You can find and purchase many of his pieces from that series (as well as some of his other works) here

His philosophy: 
"My process is about change, growth, discovery, transformation, and continuously expanding my vision of what is possible. Through my work, I strive to contribute to a shift in consciousness that leans towards a more balanced, harmonious and awakened world."
This particular drawing of his, of Greta Thunberg, reminded me of another image: Time Magazine's May 27, 2019 cover of Greta.

This 16-year-old Swedish activist has become a quietly outspoken symbol, addressing the importance of climate change to the world. What started as her own personal Friday school strikes to share her message at the age of 15, which led to Fridays for Future, and ultimately brought about the mid-March Youth Climate March. It's estimated that 1.4 million people took park in that in well over 100 countries. She has spoken to the United Nations COP24 Climate Summit in December 2018, and she's a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She's somewhat reminiscent of 13-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki and her speech at the Rio Summit in 1992.

It's worth hearing from Greta in her own words, and crossing our fingers that she becomes the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner this October 11th!




Image from http://time.com/collection-post/5584902/greta-thunberg-next-generation-leaders/ and https://rickfrausto.com/products/greta-thunberg-drawing-6-x-9
Videos from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8g0zmDvxRw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAmmUIEsN9A&t=75s

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Upcycled Dog Toys

We have a rowdy and rambunctious dog that lives with us. He's mouthy--both when it comes to noise (obnoxious barking) and chewing. At times he can be sweet--but that's usually when he's sleeping, or tired. We have a backyard pool that he loves (he is a Portuguese Water Dog) and is a major fan of chasing the tennis ball or some other toy. Those are about the 2 only ways we can wear him out.

I was at Target the other day and got him a little nylon floating Frisbee, thinking that this could make for extended fun, combining his love of fetch with his love of the pool.

That Frisbee seriously lasted less than 3 days. There may be a smidge of life left in it, but not much. Now I have another something that's going to wind up in a landfill.

Clearly, I ran across this resource from 1MillionWomen.com about 3 days late: do it yourself dogger toys. The material of choice: old T-shirts. It makes perfect sense. Who doesn't have an extra, old T-shirt (or 20) laying around? [It reminded me of the braided jump rope I made years ago out of "plarn" (aka: plastic yarn made out of plastic grocery bags).]

What I really liked about the 1Million Women article was their emphasis on how clothing waste "wears" on our environment (pun intended). Especially in the era where everyone is "Marie Kondo-ing" and clearing out all the clothing that is not "sparking joy" in their closets after decades of trying to stay with the fashion trends, fashion waste is a huge thing. Additionally, the water that's sucked into the creation of  cotton clothing makes huge demands on our water supply--especially when some areas are experiencing droughts while other areas struggle with clean drinking water. Makes you wonder if that water is being well-purposed. Upcycling also has a greater value than even donating those old clothes to charities. By repurposing your T-shirts or other clothing, not only have you given your pup a little bit of entertainment, you're saving yourself some money and keeping things from getting dumped.

To make your own dog toys, check out these two sites for directions--your fur-buddy will thank you for it:

All the pictures from my own trusty camera.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Footloose & Fancy Free--Sans Shoes

Ahh... freedom.
Not American nor patriotic freedom.
(Though so important for Independence Day!)
Not freedom of speech... or incarceration...
or religious freedom.

All of these are vital, American, human freedoms we all should have every single day. But, I'm talking about a different kind of freedom. I'm talking about kick-off-those-sneakers freedom. Free-from-the-bondage-of-high-heels kind of freedom. Lose your Cinderella slippers and get your toes in the sand or feel the softness of the grass underfoot.

(I think Zac Brown Band has a song that goes a little something like that.)

Those are all the summertime thoughts that swirled ahead when I ran across Mother Nature Network's article by Christian Cotroneo "Why Not Wearing Shoes Does a Body Good." He details Nature Journal's study about how calloused (or "well-seasoned") feet are better for you than your shoes, which truly have desensitized your feet while also changing the way we walk. Flashback here to having a gravel end to my driveway as a kid and how THAT feels... or the flash-forward from there as a parent walking over Legos hidden in the carpet. Ouch with a side of ouch! But, we lose a little bit of foot-to-brain communication with a life of shoes. Granted, we aren't needing that same level of environmental neural connection that we may have needed back in the cave days... but another way the evolution of man-made items have changed the man (and woman)!

Given it's summer time, it's certainly the season to try life barefooted sometimes. In fact, the concepts of grounding (or earthing) are becoming both an environmental, health/wellness, and personal energy trend. It's a way to induce calm and reduce stress. Not to mention, a good way to start working on both your rewilding and your nature deficit disorder!

Like I said, it's summer & the Fourth of July is upon us! What better time is there to celebrate freedoms! The timing couldn't be better! May your 4th be footloose & fancy free, no shoes needed. Use the freedom to build up that sensory experience and a callous or two along the way.


Freedom image from https://leadingwithtrust.com/2015/07/12/5-freedom-fostering-ways-to-develop-high-performing-teams/, screenshot from https://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/not-wearing-shoes-callus-study, quote image created on Canva.com

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Climate Collaboration

Refreshing, in this world of "fake news" and major partisanship (not even just politically) to see collaboration in action. Especially when it come to comes to combating science denial with factual information.

This headline from the Tampa Bay Times earlier this week made my day:
"Florida Newsrooms Band Together To Cover the Effects of Climate Change." From Mark Katches' article:
"A group of Florida newsrooms have banded together to cover climate change. The Tampa Bay Times will be joining the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media to produce stories about the issue. Other media partners are sure to come aboard. The initial partners have already begun to share stories and ideas. Topics the media partnership will explore include the dangers of increasingly destructive hurricanes, the effects on native species and the impacts to the economy. We’ll also probe what lies ahead for coastal towns and cities jeopardized by rising sea levels."
It makes sense on a lot of levels.

1. Florida, as a peninsula, has a lot riding on the rising waters that climate change brings.

2. 40% of hurricanes hit Florida. Since hurricanes form over warm waters, rising oceanic temperatures is a cause of increased hurricanes.

3. The photo shows two levels of blue, showing how much of Florida's land is 0-10 meters (32.8 feet) above sea level. Approximately 2.4 million people are within 4 feet above sea level.

4. Florida's population of 21.6 million continues to grow, as it has for decades. The land mass isn't! More homes on land that's not much above sea level leads to a lot of problems for a lot of people if you waters continue to rise.
5. More reporters--working together, sharing resources--can cover more news and spread the word farther, going into greater depth.
6. Given in 2018 we got a total of about 142 minutes (2 hours and 22 minutes) of broadcast time on major news shows, we need more information brought to the public about the realities and science of climate change. Kudos to my former home of Florida for doing just that!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Hogwarts... Always. For the Win, Environmentally Speaking!

Last year I got bit by the Harry Potter bug... HARD.
And I came out changed.

After 25 years of teaching, with a classroom library to rival the school library... I had never read any of the Harry Potter books. Not when they first came out. Not after having them in my classrooms. Not after watching copious numbers of kids read them over the years. I never watched any of the movies, despite their popularity, because they were never “my genre.”

But last year that changed after we booked a trip to Orlando over Spring Break, with plans to hit Universal Studios hard. My son had been reading them and was up to book 5, and about a week before we left, our family binged #1-6 of the Harry Potter movies. It was really pretty cool, watching one a night, and watching the kids grow and the storyline continue over.

Then, after spending the week at Universal... I was totally and completely in awe. We were in Diagon Alley. We had butter beer in Hogsmeade (I will say, I won't drink that again). We waved our wands and rode the train. I came home with a book contest with my son to read #7 so we could watch the last 2 movies. I've read the entire series, several books more than once. The illustrated editions are my favorite!! There were things that happened in the series that even 20 years of it being out in the movies and spoilers galore online that were still totally new twists and shocking to me. I'm not sure how I managed to live under that rock so long!! But transformation is complete, and I am a true and total Potterhead fanatic at this point, just going to show that you always can change.

Along my Hogwarts journey, I always gravitated towards Ginny Weasley's spunk and fire as she grew. She was kind of my gal. Given that, I got all warm and fuzzy when I learned Bonnie Wright (who played Ginny) was an environmentalist! Again, it would seem as I'm a little late to the party, as she's been an environmental activist for awhile.

Bonnie's anti-plastic and marine debris campaigns speak close to my heart, much like her character of Ginny does as well. No, I'm not an avid surfer like she is. But that connection to the ocean makes it make sense that this issue would speak to her heart. She's not only raising awareness of the amount of plastic in our oceans right now, she's also heavily involved in encouraging kids to upcycle their toys as a way to reduce waste. Additionally, in March of this year she worked with Greenpeace UK as one of their ocean ambassadors researching micro plastic levels. She's also been to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, with petition in hand of over 500,000 signatures, to urge them away from from single use plastics. She also backed TREE AID this past World Environment Day. TREE AID is a reforesting program that works to transform the deforested drylands of Africa, which in turn will turn the tables on poverty. (To learn more about this program, check it out here.)

She's also been known to write a time or two:
Along my research of Bonnie Wright's travels, I also discovered that a few other Hogwarts alums have an environmental slant:
  • Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) is an avid women's rights activist and a sustainable fashion trendsetter. (Some call this an "ethically curated wardrobe.")
  • Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) is a vegan activist who sees both compassion and veganism as the way to heal our planet.
...Leading me, like Severus Snape to say to say of my Hogwarts love: "Always!"


Pictures from https://www.pngkit.com/view/u2r5y3i1r5t4o0a9_l-borders-rolled-harry-potter-harry-potter-logo/https://www.peacefuldumpling.com/bonnie-wrighthttp://www.mugglenet.com/2019/06/bonnie-wright-oceans-ambassador/, https://www.playbuzz.com/hermionejeangranger12/text-group-hermione-luna-ginny, and my camera.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Solstice 2019

Summer Solstice--June 21, 2019. The longest day of the year. 
The first official day of summer (though everyone's already out of school, 
soaking up the summer days). 
That point of official slow down, at least mentally, 
because you know you are at maximum daylight hours. 
The pinnacle of the peak of summer daytime hours, 
and the slow descent comes from here. 

This Summer Solstice, spend some time outdoors, making memories. 
Not sure where to start or what to do, try one of these ideas on for size:
  • Get up early to watch the sun rise. 
  • Stay up late to watch the sun settle on the horizon.
  • Catch fireflies.
  • Go for a picnic at dusk.
  • Have a bonfire--with or without marshmallows or S'mores.
  • Sit outside.
  • Toast the sunset with your favorite beverage.
  • Dip your toes in a beach, a stream, a lake, a river.
  • Go for a sunset swim.
  • Meditate.
  • Spend time with love ones on a walk, on a hike, on a blanket under a tree, on your patio, on the water.
  • Enjoy it outdoors.



Images from https://mani-mala.com/summer-solstice/ and https://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/130/590x/summer-solstice-rituals-how-to-celebrate-start-of-summer-1141626.jpg?r=1560879721037

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

When Vegan Meets NASCAR

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