Saturday, March 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

I'll be taking part, will you?

Images from and
Video from

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Our Planetary Plastic Pollution Problem

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

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

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

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

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

Images from and and and 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The View From Above

They say that you gain perspective from looking at the big picture... it's akin to your vantage point from an airplane:

As a creature of sleep, I don't see as many sunrises as I'd like. I certainly don't see many aboard a plane, with the horizon shoulder level. In fact I know this was my first sunrise from a 10-seater plane.

I watched the sun peak it's yellow-gold sphere over the horizon while taxiing... it's amazing how fast that fiery ball rises.

Once in air, feeling the warmth on my face from the sun rising on my window to the right, I was seeing aerial vistas that certainly give you perspective.
Flat lands of the Midwest.
Farmlands of bounty, readying for Spring planting.
Wind farms as far as the eye could see.
5 wind farms total along the trip, & hundreds of wind turbines by the time the trip to Chicago was completed. Spinning slowly in the wind du jour, as far as the eye could see. Standing tall and proud doing their daily sun salutations.

Aerially, the view struck me with awe. It also left me proud, as I saw this Midwest home that I love as a symbol of what our country could and should be. What our planet could be.

America could lead--if we wanted to. Unfortunately it feels like we are enmeshed in a Marty McFly Throwback (from Back to the Future I for you young'uns). Some would rather us be back there, to where Marty travels, back in the 1950s.

It led me to think of our technological timeline (not hard for a Lower School Tech Specialist who lives in a land where innovation is always in the foreground of my job.) To be in this little 10-seater plane, sitting RIGHT behind the pilots in that first row, and thankful for where technology has brought us over time. We can cross states in a matter of hours, versus the dozen hours it takes me to drive. It reminds me too of my real and virtual visits to Computer History Museum and where we've been over the last 2000 years. Seeing the 20+ dials, gizmos, gears, and navigational gadgets--while defying gravity--it puts it into perspective of how far we have come, thanks to technology.

Even more so when looking below at the landscape and knowing what's below in farming, industry, transportation, and businesses (in all those tiny buildings below.) Even more so as I entered the suburbs and then city limits of Chicago, seeing 1-2 inch building that tower above you when walking on the sidewalks below them... all beside the vast Lake Michigan.

I marvel at life here in 2019.

Likewise, I smile as I think of the precious cargo I'm transporting on this trip: my circa late-'80s prom dress as a joke for my soon-to-be-prom-going daughter. (An antebellum dress I know that she won't wear, but was so typical, back in the day.) I found myself pondering the changes and advancements over the years from the my-prom to her-prom span. I can project forward and marvel in amazement as to what the world has in store between her prom and my one-day/some-day granddaughter's prom. So many things we have yet to even imagine.

As educators, we are preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist. That statistic whispers (or screams) the words of Thomas Friedman's book Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. It's exciting ahead--despite how exponentially-fast the world seems to be spinning and catapulting forward.

It's ironic too, that the observation and inspiration for this blog post stems from both the novelty of being 1 of 5 people (along with the 2 pilots) on a 10-seater plane (while sitting directly behind those pilots), with a literal bird's eye view out the front window of the plane, feeling like I'm right there in the cockpit. Moreover, this all came after "powering down" my phone completely.

It's in the quiet that the magic happens. The dichotomy of the rectified world comes in the fact that it is only in powering down do we look up.

Who knew that seeing a total of 5 wind farms from overhead would make me wax so philosophical? No matter, I'm grateful for the magical insight it gave me under the warmth of the rising sun.

Sunrise prop image from my camera and all other photos from , and

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Happy 1st Day o'Spring

Ah, the first day o'Spring is upon us: March 20, 2019. Spring Equinox.

From this point on, days get longer than the night. Why? Because the sun is directly over the equator and will be shifting (due to our planetary tilt) so that the sun shines and aligns more directly over the Northern (versus Southern) Hemisphere. While this all happens, Fall descends on the Southern Hemisphere. Warmth is on the way for those of us north of the Equator.

And who knew: it happens on the same day as the "Super Worm Moon"--apparently, for the first time in 19 years! And... our last "super moon" of the year.
"According to National Geographic, on March 20, the Super Worm Moon will be 223,309 miles from Earth at 3:45 p.m. EST, making it especially close to the planet. Then, at 9:43 p.m. EST, the moon will reach its full phase and appear 14 percent larger and 12 percent brighter than usual."
What are you going to do to celebrate the start of spring?

-Plan an evening picnic?
-Go on a long walk?
-Stand an egg on its end?
-Look for signs of Spring?
-Plant something?
-Eat healthy?
-Renew your resolutions?
-Unplug and step away from your tech?
-Set your table with some flowers?
-Camp out on the patio with a good book?
-Plan ways to get in your 1000 Hours Outdoors for the year?
-Set your sights to the sky to see the Super Worm Moon?
-Night time moonlight hide and seek?
-Have an evening bonfire?
-Make plans to celebrate Earth Hour coming up? (March 30th, 8:30-9:30 pm in your time zone)

I'd love to hear what you choose to do. Whatever it is--enjoy the warm spring winds that are coming your way.

Images from and

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Happy St. Patrick's Day Season!

St. Patrick's Day Season has spoken to me through the years in a variety of ways. 

Sometimes it's "go green" (in an eco-sort of way). 

Sometimes it's taken the flavor of green tea (just had my 2nd anniversary DietCoke-free, on the green tea bandwagon). 

Sometimes it has come in a more edtech sort of way--as in going green with green screens!! 

No matter how you celebrate it this year, may you have the luck o'the Irish and green be your favorite color!!

Image created at Canva.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Earth Hour 2019

Earth Hour is around the bend-- just over 2 weeks away! It's one of my favorite "environmental holidays." Why?

1. I love the grass roots growth element of it.

2. I'm energized by its expansion over time, from Sydney, Australia alone in 2007 to an exponential fire burst of every country being involved in just a few short years--most recently, over 180 of the 195 world countries and territories.

3. It's like a virtual "wave" across the globe, in your time zone on Saturday, March 30th, from 8:30-9:30 pm, where your lights go out and you keep passing the (extinguished) torch! In doing so, you are messaging the world that climate change and our planet Earth are important!

4. You can make a small yet powerful statement in your time zone, giving an hour to "unplug," which then ties to the tech-side of GTG.

5. It's a positive event. A non-partisan, taking-action kind of way of raising awareness. You can do it it a big or small way, and be part of a global movement. This feels good, making your voice heard.

6. I've been taking part in Earth Hour since the 3rd one, in 2009 (including speaking to the Maryland House of Delegates Health & Government Operations Committee in 2011. By this point, it's now a time-honored tradition!!

Earth Hour has a slew of resources--here are some handy links to help you out.

Looking at the latest reports over the last few months, general consensus puts us at a dozen years away from being at the tipping point. (Need to verify that stat? Check out these resources on climate change to verify why it is indeed important):

The New York Times (2-14-19): Skipping School to Save the Earth (March 15th is the next school skip day)


Earth Hour banner and poster from, video from

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Are You In the "Loop?"

This morning, as I was washing my hair, I came to the last drop of conditioner. It happens. The bottle's empty and into the recycle bin it goes. (Where hopefully, I'm not just wishcycling, and it actually ends up getting recycled... which is especially important after reading this highly disturbing article from The Atlantic (3/3/19) "Is This the End of Recycling?")

But what if there was another way? A way to replenish my conditioner without making waste!!

That way may indeed be "on the way!"

Tom Szaky, Terracycle's CEO & founder, is taking the idea of "eliminating waste" one step further with the creation of The Loop.

What is the Loop? It's a circular versus linear way of doing things--meaning the packaging goes back to the company to be refilled. The idea of waste is truly eliminated. These two videos showcase it better than words!

From their press release on January 24, 2019 at the World Economic Forum, there's a lot of corporate buy in! Here are the companies involved:
The idea for Loop was founded at the World Economic Forum by TerraCycle and consumer product companies Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Company, The Body Shop, Coca-ColaEuropean Partners, Mondelēz International, Danone, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lesieur, BIC, Beiersdorf, RB,People Against Dirty, Nature’s Path, Thousand Fell, Greenhouse, Grilliance, Burlap & Barrel Single OriginSpices, Reinberger Nut Butter, CoZie and Preserve. 

Pilot programs are starting this spring in both New York City metro area and Paris. This could certainly turn shopping and packaging into a whole new ball game! To learn more, be sure to read GreenBiz's article "Loop’s Launch Brings Reusable Packaging to the World’s Biggest Brands"

Szaky also has a new book out: The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular. Mine should arrive tomorrow!

I've always been a fan of Terracycle...and they may just have outdone themselves with their newest venture, Loop. Can't wait to see it come to life!

Video from; List of companies involved & "How It Works" piece from The Loop's January 24, 2019 press release:; The Loop logo from

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Metaphorically Speaking: Head in the Clouds--Nature Versus "Network"

I'm searching for the right metaphor....

Am I a magnet that is constantly pulled toward (or pushing against) the dichotomy of nature, technology (or innovation), and unplugging...  or a pendulum swinging between them?

Am I hosting the perpetual internal tug-of-war between them all?

Or is my head stuck in a cloud--a simultaneous dual cloud that has meaning both in nature and the network?

[As an aside...In doing my metaphorical search, I ran across both the above image and the Star-Wars-themed podcast Metaphors Be With You, where episode #5 is indeed Nature Vs Technology (the latter of which makes the image even more humorous). With technology, you can find anything... except perhaps my perfect metaphor!]

Back to the question at hand and where my boomerang keeps bringing me back to: digital distraction. Or maybe the better term is "digital well-being." It's feeling a little like when you are looking to buy a new car--you see 100 car commercials. They're everywhere. The same is happening to me. All roads lead to this wrestle-fest between inside, outside, and upside down (technologically speaking). To unplug or not to unplug.... or rather WHEN to unplug.

However, why am I surprised? Especially when a majority of the items I follow online are heavy in all of the categories above. It actually is JUST like my car commercial scenario above!

This school year I have found myself on a quest... as a teacher, a parent, and as a consumer of tech information. My pursuit in finding the balance between being tech-i-fied & unplugged has led me to numerous books, articles, events (including a Social Media evening hosted by a local school, presented by their School Resource Officer), and more. Immersion--including the good, the bad, and the ugly!

In doing all of this research, here's the short list of what I've found.
(Perhaps a longer one will follow in a future post.)

1.  My numbers on my iPhone & iPad Screentime iOS feature are improving. (Awareness does wonders)! Android has their own version called "Digital Wellbeing."

2.  Nature is the key to solving the problems (which has been the topic of conversation a lot lately here at GTG).

3.  Tech is tied to our relationships, our self-esteem, our mental health, our overall health, and more. 

4.  There certainly is a difference between consumption versus creation when it comes to tech. The latter is certainly the better. A mindful approach is best--constantly ask yourself "How am I using my tech?" And, if you are using it in a brain-numbing, junk-food sort of way, maybe it's time to step away!

5.  "Joint media engagement" and being a "media mediator (or mentor)" were two concepts I really liked in relation to family. It brings you all together as a team, versus the "monitor & surveillance" concept that feels more "us versus them" (meaning parents versus kids) within the family.

6.  There are some really scary social media apps out there--some I hadn't even heard of, and the list is always changing. Have open conversations with your kids & with their phones about what apps they are using and what they get out of these apps. Analyze together if they fit with your family values and talk about the pros and cons.

7.  I like the concept of "Enjoy screens; not too much; mostly together" from Anya Kamenetz's The Art of Screen Time.

8.  We all need to be reading this research and adopting more time outside, more time unplugging! 

To follow my path (aka, to read my bibliography), check out my list below. May they offer you some insight and self-awareness as well.



Final Thoughts:

I will say, despite all my findings, I'm still conflicted. Implementation is hard. In part, because it goes back to my "love-hate" relationship with technology. Also because it's really led me to take a deep look at how much tech has infiltrated both my own and my family's life. Additionally, I know all my people aren't at the same place of buy-in (largely because they haven't read the same tall stack of books I have.)  I think my hardest part is finding the right approach. I certainly don't want to cut off the kids cold turkey like a dictator and cause the rebellion. Yet, it is difficult to find the right tone for the conversation without it coming across like a lecture. (We all know how much kids love those!) For instance, I like Andy Crouch's idea in The Tech-Wise Family of unplugging one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year.... but again, putting it into practice without it feeling like a punishment is a slippery slope. 

And of course, I suppose I would need to follow my own directives. 😊 

Our goal as parents is to ready our kids for the real world. We need to help them learn to be self-sufficient and to self-manage these devices. But no one said it was going to be easy, that's for sure! Perhaps, as I continue to wrestle with this, Sherry Turkle's books might next on my list to help continue my navigation! (Sherry has been referenced in almost every one of the books above!)
Speaking of conversation...I'm sure this is a conversation I will continue!