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 M√ľnter & 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!