Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tempestry: A Temperature Tapestry

I'm very crafty, but I don't knit or a crochet. But I'm very visual & love the use of the yarn arts to tell a story.

It is from this place that The Tempestry Project began.

What is a tempestry? It's essentially a temperature tapestry of 365 rows to showcase the daily temperature for a year. The creators of this project set a defined color spectrum to universalize the palette to coordinate with temperatures ranging from -30°F to 120°F. Hotter temperatures are showcased with reds, whereas blues and greens represent the colder temperatures. The statistical data of temperatures comes from NOAA. By doing multiple years and multiple tempestries of the same city, you can see the change in climate over time when you lay them side by side. It becomes a graph made of fibers--helping to visualize the data. It also becomes obvious (as seen in this next photo below) that our planet is indeed heating up due to climate change. Science is like that--the data is right there!

2 Tempestries by Staci Perry (Very Pink Knits)
Climate Data for Austin, TX: 1900 and 2017.

Here are some places to learn more about Tempestry:

Banner from The Tempestry Project's Facebook page; images from and

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Kraft Heinz's Sustainability Goals for Packaging

2025 is surprisingly not that far away, when you think of it in the grand scheme of things. 7 years. That's virtually around the corner--especially for this kid, who was born in the in the last 1960s!

The 7 year goal for Kraft Heinz Company is to continue to "go green," moreso than ever before with 100% of their "packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025." What that looks like, however, is yet to be seen as they are still crafting what their packaging will look like. But, a positive plan for our planet and its sustainability is always a good thing!! There's a great "Now This" video that details the complexities of recycling the foil packets here.

Cheers to the future of our fries, and more importantly, our ketchup!! (As the Mother Nature Network put it--this could be "the new straw" when it comes to environmental responsibility!)

Check out their Sustainability page to learn even more about the Kraft Heinz Company and their commitment toward environmental stewardship.

Image from

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Mount Everest-Sized Trash Problem

When we think of Mount Everest, we think of bold adventurers, daring men and women with
amazing stamina, and undeniable perseverance, strength, and fortitude--out there in nature, battling the extreme elements

We don't think of these climbers as anti-environmentalists. And yet, all of these adventurers are leaving a lot behind in their quest to reach the top and follow in the footprints of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay--the first two to reach the summit in 1953.

With the warming temperatures from climate change, snow is melting, revealing an assortment of other items left behind during the 55+ years of trekking. Add in the growing tourist trend of mountain adventurers, the trash is growing, not shrinking.

Innovators & entrepreneurs... looks like here's an environmental challenge of monumental size to tackle!

Video from; image from

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Thames Plastic Project: Future Dust

With environmentalism, we talk a lot about footprints:  carbon footprint, plastic footprint. water footprint. It all relates to usage... and usually it's too much.

Art always has a way of making the story tell so much more, and helps us visualize the reality of a situation.

Such is true with the Thames Plastic Project Installation, Future Dust.

Maria Arceo, the Spanish artist and creator of this project, lives in London. Much of her work is inspired by the human-nature relationship, and our footprint upon the earth. She's always been drawn to archaeology and oceanography, and her works reflect that, with much of her medium being the remnants of what we have left behind. From her website bio:
"Her latest line of work utilises discarded plastic objects collected from various locations in the Thames. Her sculptures with these plastics are virtual ‘Time capsules’ preserved and displayed as visual evidence of the long-term properties of these polymers."

The project started 2 years ago in September of 2016 to help clean the tidal area of London's Thames River of plastic marine debris. In addition to cleaning (by way of handpicking the trash along the shoreline), the materials were color-sorted and became the building materials for the installation. Along the way, the scientific information about how plastics photodegrade in the sun (as well as the overall environmental impact of marine debris) is highlighted to all patrons. For more on the Thames Project's research on plastics, click here.

Check out the Thames Plastic Project website to learn more. Be sure to check out their gallery to get a full view of the project.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Plant Snap App

While we were in California this summer, my husband, who has a far greener thumb than I, became curious about the many plants that were in the courtyard of one of our hotels. Naturally, being on the other coast from where we live, the plants were different--built more for the dry climate of the San Francisco Bay area.

I, of course, had no information. Our conversation led to: "There's got to be an app for that." In the early days of apps, I knew there was one app that we had used it a time or two when we were doing some of our Maryland Park Quest activities--but I had never had great success with it. My husband started doing some digging, and what do you know--there was indeed something newer with high ratings of success: PlantSnap. He downloaded it, and I started hearing all about the African lily, the lavender, and the raspberry blackberries.

It made perfect sense to adopt a techie-approach while in Silicon Valley, the heart of innovation. It also was great to have a full database at our disposal while being out and about in the world. Now that we're home, I'm sure we'll put it to good use here too!

Job well done, Eric Ralls (Founder & CEO of PlantSnap and For those of you who want to deepen the shade of green of your thumb, PlantSnap's Blog also has some excellent information and articles! Plus, be sure to check out the videos below.

Video from and and; photo & logo from

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hometown Hot, Over The Years

It's no surprise to anyone that great content comes from the New York Times. This September, they created an interesting interactive entitled "How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?" It's premise: to showcase how "human-induced climate change" (their words!) has caused a rise over time in the number of above-90°F days.

It's amazing how much factual data and science can tell you.

I did it for my hometown of Decatur, Illinois (along with a half dozen other cities including where I now live in Maryland) and found it somewhat shocking to see the data and trends. (It was especially noticeable here on a 90°F day as I sit and type this in the shade of my patio umbrella.) More information and projection is revealed as you continue to scroll down. Every city I did showed the same basic upwards trend, though the numbers differed significantly the closer to the equator the city fell.

This interactive would also be an excellent teaching tool for students, giving them a variety of cities to investigate.

You need to go to the New York Times interactive (click here) and plug in some of your favorite cities, hometown and otherwise. To see the data is remarkable. To see the projected numbers for when you are 80 years old might startle you. No matter what, it will cause you to take pause.

Images are screenshots from my data placed within this interactive:

Saturday, September 8, 2018

1000 Hours Outside: Revisited

At the start of the summer, I wrote about 1000 Hours Outside, an environmental trend to get yourself outdoors and in nature that may hours over the course of the year. From there I did the seasonal math (250 hours per season), and was inspired to see what I could accomplish this summer. 250 hours felt a tad intimidating, so I lowered my goal number to 200 hours outdoors, feeling that was an attainable goal, and would feel like a good accomplishment, especially for a teacher on summer vacation.

Dedicating one empty square per month on my monthly paper calendar, I adopted a simple system of tally marks, as it didn't matter so much what the count was per day for me. Being on summer vacation without the usual calendar rat-race that the school year brings, it was pretty easy to maintain, or even think back to the day before if I got a little behind in my tracking.

Now that the three full months have passed, I can do my summer accounting.  I exceeded my expectations:

I surpassed my 200 hours, and even my stretch goal of 250 hours, reaching a grand total of 269 hours.

What did I do outdoors? Vacationing in California helped, where I racked up 52 hours alone: basking in the weather, hugging redwoods, biking the Golden Gate Bridge, and visiting wine country. I walked local trails with our dog or friends, tried paddle boarding for the first time, did a little volunteering with Chesapeake Bay Foundation, went boating with friends, ate outside either at home or restaurant patios, or went to outdoor events. And largely, I hung out in my own back yard--in my proverbial happy place (my pool), but also sitting out reading, hanging with my family, or even writing blog posts such as this.

My take-aways from this little experiment:

  • Vitamin D...and Vitamin N (Nature) is addictive. Maybe it was the competitive nature of just keeping track, maybe it was all the experiences (many of them new), or maybe it was just the soaking up of the sun, the air, and even the humidity at times. It affected my happiness, my sense of calm, my sense of adventure... which I'm sure, in turn, affected my family! I feel as though this was one of my best summers ever... and I've had some pretty great summers. In fact, as I think back, it's the outdoor adventures of years past that always come back to mind.
  • I noticed my start of June (when I was still in school or attending end of the year teacher meetings) and the end of August (when I was back to business), my hours dwindled. Clearly this is going to be harder to maintain once we're back to "business as usual" this fall. However, I noticed almost a sense of withdrawal this end-of-August on those days when I was indoors too much. My surplus of hours outdoors had become a necessity! I need to remember that school work can also be done on my back patio... or outdoor breaks or adventures may be what this girl needs!
  • We had a very rainy spring as well as some major rain mid-July. (My bedroom ceiling has sadly taken notice as well!) That limited my July counts. Likewise, all this rain also raised the mosquito count in Maryland!! At one report, I heard we were 3 times higher than normal for mosquitoes! "Luckily" I'm a mosquito magnet, and even with the use of some heavy-duty bug spray, those pesky critters kept finding me. At times that also drove me to insane itching and the great indoors.  More than I would have liked, some evenings! [Spoiler alert: Mosquitoes are very sensitive to the environment, and the more temperatures raise and hurricanes hit, the more mosquitoes--including disease-carrying ones--are on the rise. Insert here: #ClimateChangeIs Real.]
  • I also noticed: the more I'm outside, the less I'm surfing social media. It especially helps since I've deleted Facebook from my phone. I can still get there if I'm willing to jump through the login hoops, but usually it's just not even worth it to go there. Yes, my iPad comes outside with me from time to time and I can still be on FB while outdoors...but even that in general has been less. Maybe too, the politics of all (that still are so bipartisanly central to FB), have left a bad taste behind. I'm going to continue to face this battle as well! Perhaps this too contributes to Bullet Point #1 above!
It's now September. What I'm going to officially deem as Fall. My September "Hours Outside" block is already labeled in my calendar, with tally marks already marked . I'm writing this outside and I'm going to bask in the pool while I still can, so at the end of the day I'll be making more tallies. Do I think I'll hit 200 or 250 by the end of November...maybe, since Fall is beautiful and festivals and better temperatures/humidity levels abound. We'll see. I know for sure that Winter will be my worst. Now that I have a 6 year history of being a Florida girl, the cold kills me. But, may all of this be inspiration to get outdoors--and a reminder of how good it feels when I get there!

Photos from my camera using the LiPix photo collage app.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Summer Sendoff & Back To School

As a teacher, the end of summer is always a cross between bittersweet and melancholy, yet with the hint of excitement to come. It's an odd combination. Parents may feel it to a degree with their kids going up to that next grade level, showing off that unauthorized growth that always seems to come whether we want it to or not.

But there's something about being a teacher and having that 8-10 weeks off in the summer. It's that time for a breathe-er, where you aren't bringing stacks of papers home to grade on the couch extending your 8 hour work day to upwards of 10-12+. There's no lesson planning, no report card writing, no substitute plans to come up with if your own child gets sick at 2 in the morning. No Professional Development meetings to attend or standards and objectives to meet.

Teacher schedules during the school year aren't like regular 9-5 jobs where you can go home and
leave it for another day. Yes, I understand most 9-5'ers don't have this level of vacation time, nor am I trying to say being a teacher is more stressful than other jobs. But due to the juggling nature of being the expert on either many subjects or grade levels, and the phone calls or emails to/from parents, the deep concerns for the social/emotional/academic progress of each child in your classroom crew... they can be exhausting. Summer brings about breathing space! It's why the summer is so therapeutic, relaxing, and necessary to teachers.  Of course, as the wind down of summer comes, so does the Pinterest searching for bulletin boards or the writing of new curricular units for the year ahead. Perhaps there's been a workshop or two, or even a professional read for those back to school meetings. A teacher's mind doesn't slow down for very long. Insert the excitement and the joy of our profession here!

According to the news feeds of Facebook, the first day photos are up and still coming! Some of my friends' kids returned to school mid August, while many ahead are not returning until this week, right after Labor Day. Teachers, of course, don't just start on that first day of school! Our students returned Wednesday, August 29th... which makes for a wonderful way to toe-dip into the start of school. 3 days with students, 3 days off due to Labor Day, a 4 day week, then into a more regular schedule. We all (teachers and students alike) are tired after those first three days!

As has been my GTG tradition, I often bid farewell to the summer, but send forth well-wishes for a
great year ahead to the teachers out there. I know how hard we all work, I know the dichotomy between the feelings of loss with the excitement ahead.

May this year be your best yet. 
May your students feel all your care and concern for them. 
May your colleagues and family members be a rock-solid support for any rough days ahead. 
May you always remember you are scultping our future citizens and leaders,
Cheers to a wonderful year!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Climate Change Vacation Education

If you've been paying any attention at all, you know the last handful of posts have been highlighting different elements of my summer trip to Silicon Valley and the Greater San Francisco Area. Between the edtech and eco arenas of Green Team Gazette, there's been a lot from that trip that's been relevant!

Twice when we were biking in San Francisco, leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge, we encountered educational conversations along the way about climate change. Both were striking and very telling. The first was outside the Warming Hut--a planned stop along the way to provide bikers or hikers with restrooms, a cafe, and a souvenir shop. Bikes galore were parked, and there we encountered this globe statue, with the following plaque. Clearly it was not accidental. Here is a wealth of resources from the Institute at the Golden Gate that highlight the use of National Park as educational sources.

Text: "Spread the Word" Global warming must become part of our culture's political and social consciousness. Al Gore has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for drawing the world's attention to the dangers of global warming. His efforts to spread the word about climate change in the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, have reached millions of people.

At the Climate Project, 1,000 lecturers are being trained to present a scientific slide show on global warming to hundreds of thousands more people around the world. You too can help. Whether you're at the gym, a PTA meeting, a cocktail party, or a business meeting--speak up for saving the environment.

Artist: Vance Williams, "Spread the Word." Sponsor: Crate and Barrell

The view

Secondarily, as we continued along, we hit Fort Point, the fort right at the base of the bridge. Again, the placards were telling. Climate change is real, and it is a real concern that I wish our current adminsitration and EPA valued.

Text:  Measure for Sea Level:  This pole marks projected future sea levels and storm surge levels. Rising waters could dismantle this venerable fortress.  
17' --  Projected high tide in 2300 plus storm surge
12' --  projected high tide in 2300
11' --  Elevation of parking lot
8' --  Projected high tide in 2100 plus storm surge
5' --  Current storm surge plus wave pile-up
3' --  Projected high tide in 2100
0' --  Average high tide in 2000
-1' --  Average high tide in 1865, the year Fort Point was completed

Photos from our adventures along the way, and our cameras!