Saturday, August 24, 2019

When Recycling, Art, & Environmental Education Meet

The White Tailed Deer. I was about 10 when the state of Illinois children voted for the white tailed deer as the state animal in 1980. I still remember that! (I don't, however, remember what else was in the running or on the ballot!)


I was reminded of that as I happened on this wire recycling-encased white tailed deer art installation and combined environmental education this past summer. This intriguing art-eco education piece is located at Outdoor Adventure, a mini golf-ropes courses-batting cages center in my hometown Decatur, Illinois. Clearly the art speaks for itself and definitely makes you think twice before tossing your trash about. We need more of these in all of our communities to raise awareness about how each one of us can definitely make a difference!

I loved too how the recycling-encaged deer was surrounded by these raingardens, a natural landscaping element designed to tackle stormwater runoff.

To take a peek Decatur's unusual space-saving Outlook Adventure's rope's course, check out this video:


Photos from my camera. Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0S28vFj3nc

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Community In Action: Restoring a Creek

It's always good seeing community in action, coming together for a common good.

Here's a local neighborhood and their environmental stewardship at Cattail Creek and the restoration work they did. The 7 minute video (produced by Underwood & Associates) highlights some environmental education along with showing some pretty amazing before and after shots.


The Underwood & Associates' YouTube page has some other phenomenal videos of other environmental restoration projects they have been involved in. It's very heartwarming to see people and their positive eco-pursuits in action!

Video from https://youtu.be/0-YHkYdbb0M; Art created using canvas.com

Saturday, August 17, 2019

#JOMO

In our tech-centric, social media world, #FOMO is a thing we've all come to understand. For those who don't know what FOMO is, it's "Fear of Missing Out." We all seen (and probably fallen victim to) the sanitized & sometimes scripted social media posts of fun, adventure, excitement, or the perfect moment. It makes you want to be there, and it puts you in a position of comparison, often times feeling like you aren't measuring up. A definite downside of social media.

But what if... WHAT IF... there's a flip side to the FOMO coin? A possible cure for the anxiety-producing FOMO What about #JOMO? A not-so-common hashtag, and perhaps an unfamiliar term. What is JOMO?
The Joy of Missing Out!
It's the FOMO foil--the counter side of the coin. It's a perspective shift, centered in a mindful approach of being right exactly where you are. It puts you in YOUR moment. Here's the JOMO manifesto, as created by Christina Crook and you can learn more on her JOMO website:


It's a purposeful way of unplugging, of being more in the moment and less connected to our phones first. It's a way of connecting more with real people, with nature and being more mindful -- both generally & digitally mindful! It's a way to truly be alive and with the ones you love. It's also an escape of FOMO, because you aren't even engaging in that comparison-style way of thinking.

Sounds to me like a more purposeful and pleasant way to be. It also sounds like gratitude is a good way to get you there. May we all have more JOMO in our lives, especially here in our last sweet days of summer!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

E-STEM = Eco Education + STEM

In the world of innovation, it only makes sense that STEM and environmentalism pair together in the classroom. Sometimes called E-STEM, this pairing of eco-education and the science, technology, engineering, and math fields fits just as nicely as STEAM (A = Art) or STEEM (The additional E is Entrepreneurship). Given the breadth of environmentalism, it's more than just the "science." It's going to be the innovation that "stems" from the all the STEM subjects combined that will solve our world's problems!

Check out these E-STEM resources for a wealth of learning ideas to marry this dynamic duo:
Image created at Canva.com

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Flittering Fireflies

I'm sitting outside on my patio (a frequent writing spot), pondering nature, summertime, and the start of dusk. Given the time of evening, memories flood back of being a barefoot kid in Illinois, running through the soft grass of the back yard, with a lidded glass jar in hand. That lid had a good 8-10 holes punched in it with an ice pick. (I don't even have an ice pick as an adult.) My jar had a bed of that grass at a bottom, sometimes an additional stick, or a rock, or a cap full of water at the bottom to serve as a little watering trough. Things to make it home-y.

The intended apartment dwellers for this little glass suite?  Fireflies.


Quintessential childhood at its best! My kids right now are too old to take too much pleasure in this childhood classic, but they've had their fair share of firefly hunting in the past. Probably not as much over the years as I had back in the day, being a product of the '70s. Sadly these days, probably more kids trade in nature's flittering firefly lights for flashing lights on handheld devices. But the magic is still there in those little night-lighting lightning bugs.

At least for a little bit. Firefly numbers are indeed flittering and are on the decline. Between light pollution (which gets in the way of natural darkness/best canvas to see these little guys AND gets in the way of how they communicate with each other). Additionally, the decline in the health of their environments & habitats hasn't helped. Water pollutants affect the water health where the lighting bug lifecycle starts. Plus, growing cities interfere with the availability of natural space. From the Fireflyers International Network website:
"Fireflies are bio-indicators of the health of the environment and are declining across the world as a result of degradation and loss of suitable habitat, pollution of river and water systems, increased use of pesticides in agro-ecosystems, non-regulated commercial harvesting and increased ecological light pollution in areas of human habitation. The decline of fireflies is a cause for concern and reflects the global trend of increasing biodiversity loss."
Check out the following for some more firefly facts:
Unfortunately my timing on lightning bugs is late this year, given we missed the 2nd annual World Firefly Day this year: July 6-7 (overnight, for obvious illuminating reasons!).

Who knew! But that just means there's time to mark the calendar and plan ahead for next year!!

In the meantime, maybe it's time to go catch (or count) a few fireflies!!


Image from https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/lightning-bugs-june-bugs-and-sweet-tea and https://rvanews.com/etc/catching-lightning-bugs-jar/62103; screenshot from https://fireflyersinternational.net/world-firefly-day

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Forest Bathing

One day this summer, I team-taught a class to a half-dozen of my colleagues entitled "A Walk On the Wild Side." The purpose? To encourage teachers to look for classroom cures for nature deficit disorder by creating ways to use the outdoors as a curricular tie in.


We started at the Upper School campus with some activities along the nature trail as well as sharing some different ways to engage kids outdoors, then biked the trail the 3 miles to Lower School--picnic lunching and geocaching along the way, and ended with an outdoor scavenger hunt and work times at the Lower School.

We started by sharing Florence Williams' book Nature Fix and this video trailer for the book:



One of the concepts we briefly discussed was also in the Nature Fix book: Forest Bathing. No, it's not a soak in the tub, but rather a different kind of immersion. By placing yourself purposefully in the middle of the woods, therapeutic effects abound. And it's science backed, by Japanese doctor, researcher, & forest medicine specialist Qing Li. He's also written the book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness. Forest bathing (or Shinrin-Yoku) is quite popular in Japan, where Dr. Li lives. It's not a new concept either, having been around since the early 1980s.

To learn even more about forest bathing, I'd suggest checking out these resources--but most of all, I'd encourage a good old fashioned walk in the woods!

Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwQkTuhId-o; "Walk on the Wild Side" art created at canva.com, "May the Forest Be With You" from http://upnorthkcarisma.com/quote-may-the-forest-be-with-you/, & other pics from my phone from the outdoor education workshop I taught.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Minimalism Meets Environmentalism

Minimalism, like mindfulness, are on the move and trending a lot over the last several years. I just recently watched the Netflix show "Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things." It was striking. Here's the trailer:



Both minimalism and mindfulness make so much sense in our over-busy, over-filled, over-tech, over-stuff world! It's not a surprise to see them trending. Don't we all want to declutter--both our brains and our homes? For our homes, you certainly can see the general environmental benefits.

Shortly after watching this documentary, I ran across this video from The Whole Happy Life which pairs minimalism and the environments. It gives you some good ideas of minimalistic ways to save some money, cut down on your spending, and help the environment along the way! Makes sense for so many reasons!

What are you going to minimalism on this month?



videos from https://youtu.be/0Co1Iptd4p4 and https://youtu.be/sN9FrJ23mk0

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tackling Invasive Plants

I've written before about how my kids' quest for community service hours have led us out on environmental adventures. (Check out here and here for a trip down memory lane from last summer). Summer is certainly a great time to try to nail out those hours... and often time it becomes a family affair. We've tackled a few different types of community service this summer including sandwich making for the homeless and taking part in Operation Welcome Home for returning military. 
I will say, the biggest, physically hardest, and certainly sweatiest thing we have done was at a local park where we spent the morning tackling the invasive Japanese Wisteria & Oriental Bittersweet. The information sheet below is from the park about how to spot Japanese Wisteria. Use it to see if you have this strangulating plant is in your backyard. As for the Oriental Bittersweet, think thorny vining rose branch, twisting through the plants! Ouch! Luckily we heeded the request to wear long pants and bring work gloves, despite the 90+ degree heat and all the sweat that ensued! 

It was startling to learn that the park had been overrun with the Japanese Wisteria after just one plant was planted (and went to seed)--over 25 years ago! Equally startling, after the 2 and a half hours of clearing the vines & filling bags of the remnants (along with a dozen or more other volunteers), we really only attacked one small part of the trail. Remarkable to think of the man power that would be needed to cover the miles of trail throughout the park.

Despite the achy muscles the next day, it actually did feel good to get outside, work up a lot of sweat equity, and get out some aggression on these nasty space invaders. It's worth watching your local parks to see what kinds of volunteer opportunities are available in your community! I'd love to hear about it!


Info sheets from Downs Park and pictures compiled using the Pic Collage app and our family photos.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

STEMinism: The Documentary

Earlier this spring, I had the opportunity to view a dynamic documentary created by 2 high school seniors: Annie Bennett & Caroline Krall. Their film: STEMinism. It was presented along with 2 other amazing student-created fellowship films that night.

The infancy of Annie & Caroline's film came as a by-product of the Severn School Fellows Program and their senior Fellows project. This is a program that has inspired a decade's worth of students to do a deeper dive about a topic individuals are passionate about. Much like Google's 20% Time or the educational trend of Genius Hour, the purpose is to "expand intellectual curiosity."

STEMinism is a short documentary "about the causes, realities, and effects of the modern divide between men and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics." Watching the 36 minute movie, you see the issues women face--not only in the STEM field, but also in the workforce in general.

The women interviewed range from a High School Chemistry Teacher/Department Chair, Founder/Owner of a Tech Company, National Cancer Institute Program Director and former Epidemiology & Biostatistics Professor, Aerospace Engineer, Genetic Toxicology/Cytogenetics expert & current Chief of Intramural Diversity Workforce Branch at National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health Community & Scientific Programs expert, Program Executive & Space Technologist/Engineer at NASA, retired Astronomer from the United States Naval Academy, and NASA Climate Scientist. It's a pretty impressive and powerful panel of experts!

Watching their video, you are struck by the inequity between genders within the STEM field. You are hit with how stereotypes affect school subjects & stress levels, especially for girls during their education--both historically and even today. You are able to picture "the girl aisle" and "the boy aisle" in your local toystore and the need for gender-neutral toys. You are reminded how the wage gap is still at play. You are also a bit blown away that this was created by two talented women during their senior year of high school!



To learn more:
  • Click the link see a photo gallery of inspirational women in STEM from Annie & Caroline's website. 
  • Visit Caroline & Annie's STEMinism website where they documented their purpose, process, planning, and end goals. 
"What If..." image from https://www.usd232.org/Page/5376, photos image created with Canva.com using Annie Bennett & Caroline Krall's photos from their "About Us" page from their website: https://severnfellow19krallbennett.weebly.com/about-us.html; Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8QH60QKKkE (and also their website)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Common Sense Media's Designing Our Futures Conference

The Common Sense Media conversation on technology continued on May 29th in Silicon Valley--at the Computer History Museum, as a matter of fact. The Designing Our Futures Conference served as the companion piece to their April 4th Digital Well Being Conference in Washington, DC.

Here is their Opening Video:

  

The agenda for the day was as follows:



The idea of building a "healthier technology ecosystem" is one that has captured my interest for some time now. It clearly reaches beyond our homes, schools, and communities. By having the first conference in our nations' capital (where laws are created) and this companion piece held in Silicon Valley (where the technology is created), the message has been sent to both industry and leaders that it's time to take a look at the changing family culture in order "to identify solutions that could move us closer to a digital world that works better for all of us."

For Common Sense Media's entire playlist of 10 videos based on their agenda above, live-streamed from the day, click here.

Video from https://youtu.be/SoSQwuYv9n0; Screenshot & Agenda copied and pasted into a word document and screenshot to include here from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/designing-for-our-future-2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Repurpose. Repreve

Recently got together with my brother--no easy feat given we live about 7 states away. But he and his son were on a guys trip filled with baseball & battlefield (and a couple other boy stops along they way), and made their way to Gettysburg for a day trip (which isn't far from us). As he is want to do, he often passes forward eco-finds for me, because he knows I have this here li'l eco blog.

His latest find one came by way of his wardrobe, as he handed over the following 2 tags (front and back):

This, of course, let me to a little bit of research and digging, because I wanted to find out more about this very cool brand.

Surprisingly enough, you can't find much on Joseph Abboud's website about the "Joe: Just One Earth" Brand. (I love the symbolic nature of both the name, the acronym, and the logo.) This surprises me as I think he's want to put something like that on his website if he's going to have it on his tags. But I digress.

You do get more on the Men's Warehouse write ups with his clothing made by the Repreve fabric:
"This stylish sport shirt has a subtle check pattern. It's woven with Repreve®, a recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. Repreve® is one of the most certified, earth-friendly fibers available. High-quality, recycled polyester yarns are made from 100% recycled materials, including post-consumer plastic bottles, pre-consumer industrial waste or a hybrid blend of both. Help conserve energy and natural resources with recycling and the use of recycled products."
So, my brother's short sleeve button up shirt was made with approximately 5 up cycled plastic bottles. That's pretty cool.

Where it starts getting even more interesting is on the Repreve website. Their running tally board had swiftly moving counter with 16.6+ billion bottles recycled when I last looked. They have a pretty extensive sustainability commentary on their Discover page, including an excellent video that is not on their YouTube Channel (different from the one listed below).

Here's a little bit about how it works--and why it should incentivize all of us to make sure our recycled bottles are indeed RECYCLED!!


I was going to list the brands that use Repreve, but their alphabetical list is way too long. There's about 71 brands that use them, many you'll recognize!! Check it out yourself. We should all shop accordingly!  They also pride themselves in their Performance Technology. You can also shop directly on their website.

From their website alone, you can tell their commitment to sustainability, driven by innovation, to help make a "reprieve on the planet." Imagine the world we'd have if more companies followed suit! It gives you some inspirational hope for people out there, committing to solving problems!

Tag montage from my tag pics & created at Canva.com; Logo from https://repreve.com/news/unifi-announces-inaugural-champions-of-sustainability; video from https://youtu.be/YqzL6ttn988

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