Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year 2023

"New Years" is more than just a new calendar being hung on the wall or a flip of the page from one month to another. Whether you buy into the idea of resolutions or not, it is the chance for a new start. School years can be like that for teachers and students. New jobs can serve that purpose too--though they do not fall on the annual timetable like a calendar or school year.

The changing of the guard of a new calendar and a new year has the hint of hope of all that lies ahead. Things that have yet to happen are somewhere in front of you, destined to be. New innovation, inventions, ideas, and inspirations lie ahead. A new year, full of new opportunities and experiences, are the biggest promise of possibilities we have. 

What will your new year have in store for you? 

Only time will tell....and of course it will be what you make it!

Happy 2023!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Grist's 23 Predictions for 2023

The week between Christmas and New Year, Week #52 of the year, has long held the tradition of being dedicated in media and magazines to that transitioning to the new year. All of the achievements, accomplishments, awards, and kudos that have happened locally, nationally, even globally are celebrated. As are the tragic losses we've had the past year. (Oh, Betty White, we miss you!) Additionally, it starts gearing up to the preparations and predications of what all may happen in the new year.

Given that, I have fallen in love with Grist's 23 Predictions for 2023 and now is the perfect time to share it.

For those of you who don't know about Grift, it's a nonprofit, environmentally-oriented media organizatiton whose goal is to strive for a better, more just and climate conscious world since 1999. They focus on climate change solutions and innovation, with the goal to bring down emissions by 2030.

Their 23 Predictions for 2023 article is a combination of innovation and forecasts for the upcoming year by 23 climate and environmental justice specialists. The key areas they looked at: 

With the US passing its climate legislation ("Inflation Reduction Act") in August, $369 billion will go toward cutting emissions and helping at-risk climate-vulnerable communities. Additionally, November's COP27 made some historic moves toward global climate justice. 

Here's an overview of the 23 predictions by category--you can always learn more at Grist's 23 Predictions for 2023 by clicking the "Read More" buttons under each expert and their prediction.

This past year had 47% of the United States facing one of the worst droughts in over 1,000 years. Water security is paramount!

1). "Western states must find common ground managing the Colorado River"
Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University

2). "Nature-based solutions and Indigenous input will make 2023 a turning point"
Felicia Marcus, attorney, founding member of Water Policy Group, and visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West program

3). "Data-driven technology will shape how we use water"
Newsha Ajami, hydrologist and chief development officer for research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area

Through healthy ecosystems (especially marine, forest and wetland which hold carbon dioxide) aid against the blow of climate change. We need to use nature to help us fight the destruction we have caused.

4). "2023 will bring more environmental threats — and more money for solutions"
Tarik Benmarhnia, environmental epidemiologist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography

5). "Wetlands (finally) get the attention they deserve"
Eric W. Sanderson, senior ecologist at Wildlife Conservation Society

6). "Reforestation will uplift frontline communities"
Michael French, forester and director of operations at Green Forests Work

Politics & Policy 
Life after the midterm elections in November placed a lot of environmentally-friendly governors and other legislators as the winners of their race. The year ahead will see where we are with those promises of eco-justice and initiatives. 

7). "A new EPA office could mean additional protections for vulnerable communities"
Catherine Coleman Flowers, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice; vice chair of the White House EJ Advisory Council

8). "The midterm results will drive progress at the state and local levels"
Leah Stokes, political scientist and professor of environmental politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara

9). "Bipartisanship and pragmatism will shape climate policies"
Quill Robinson, vice president of governmental affairs at American Conservation Coalition

10). "Activists will pressure the U.S. to ‘walk the talk’ after COP27"
Adrien Salazar, policy director at Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

11). "SCOTUS will complicate, but not thwart, national EJ initiatives"
Emily Hammond, energy and environmental law professor at George Washington University Law School

Mitigation & Adaptation 
Over time, climate disasters (like wildfires, heatwaves, and hurricanes) have been intensifying. 2022 had many record breaking floods, record breaking heat days, record number of wildfires in the past ten years, and catastrophic hurricanes. This trend has been happening in 90% of the United States over the last ten years, so these climate disaster reports are not "new news." Where we go from here will be important.

12). "People will hold governments accountable"
Njoki Mwarumba, assistant professor of emergency management and disaster preparedness at the University of Nebraska

13). "Communities will drive a bottom-up transformation in renewables"
Arturo Massol-DeyΓ‘, executive director of Casa Pueblo

14). "We need to be open to the possibility of relocation"
Auroop R. Ganguly, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University

15). "We must make bold moves towards resilience"
Maxwell Alejandro Frost, representative-elect for Florida’s 10th congressional district and the first member of Gen Z elected to Congress

Part of the money from the Inflation Reduction Act is slated toward innovation in clean and green energy. It supports tax credits and incentives. Likewise, it supports creating circular "cradle to grave" to maximize resources.

16). "The IRA will supercharge a circular, domestic EV supply chain"
Alexis Georgeson, vice president of government relations and communications at Redwood Materials

17). "Tribes will lead the next phase of the EV transition"
Robert Blake, executive director of Native Sun Community Power Development

18). "American homes will electrify faster than ever"
Sam Calisch, head of special projects at Rewiring America

19). "The mining required for clean energy will create new EJ battles"
Jade Begay, climate justice campaign director at NDN Collective

After seeing companies and business models that have successfully prioritized sustainability, it has shifted what is possible in the business world....while other companies have backed away. What lessons can we take away from 2022's successes to promote greater sustainability in the business world?

20). "Underrepresented founders will get the funding they deserve"
Destana Herring, associate at Regeneration.VC

21). "Brands will find new ways to generate revenue from their used products"
Nellie Cohen, director of circular business models at sustainability consultancy Anthesis

22). "Investors will zoom in on climate and impact"
Alyssa Stankiewicz, associate director of sustainability research at Morningstar

23). "Companies will need to show they are taking the climate crisis seriously"
Corley Kenna, head of communications and policy at Patagonia

Saturday, December 24, 2022

May the Season Delight Your Heart

December is such a flurry. Holiday parties. Shopping for people you care for. Decorating your home with lights or other adornments tied to your traditions. Attending seasonal shows, holiday plays, or musical events. Readying for Winter Breaks from school, including final projects and exam season for many high school and college students. Baking cookies and preparing for feasts. Gathering with friends and friends. Traveling from one celebration to another. 

It is a busy and full month, regardless of the holiday and traditions you celebrate.

Whether you are ending your holiday traditions or just getting geared up, may this time bring you peace, love, hope, joy, gratitude, rich memories, and time with the people you care for.

Images created by

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Cost of Christmas

Inflation has been a bit of an economic buzz word this past year. 

An interesting way to take a peek at inflation is to look at life through song. A seasonal song. 

PNC Bank makes it easy.

Every year, for the last 39 years, PNC updates their PNC Price Index website where they price the items in the song "The 12 Days of Christmas."

Now that we are within those last 12 days until Christmas, it's the perfect time not check it out.

Read and overview about this year's numbers by checking out PNC's Insight article.

Then be sure to see which of the items from the song are up, what items are down, (and what one item annually irks me!) by checking out the PNC Price Index.

It'll make you feel better about your own Christmas expenditures and budget!

Also, be sure to check out my 2018 and 2020 posts on the subject and ways I've used it in the classroom (and how I've included Hanukkah too).

Image from the PNC Price Index:

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Choose Your Own Holiday Adventure Here in the Final Countdown

The final countdown is on. Christmas (December 25), Hanukkah (December 18-26), and the 7 days of Kwanzaa (starting December 26) are all right around the corner. With the final few days ahead (depending on your holiday), time is dwindling & you may feel more "scurried and hurried" than "holly and jolly." 

Where are you with everything? 
Did you shop til you drop, hitting up Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, or do you still need to run out? 

Think of this post as a "Choose Your Own Holiday Adventure" for what you need right now.

Do you need to attack the wrap? Here are some eco-friendly ways to wrap those presents of yours that are still all stockpiled in their shopping bags or shipping boxes.
Do you need to center and destress, seeing the real reason of the season and step away from the more, more more...check these out:
Do you need to still need to gather some gifts for a few folks? Consider these possibilities:
Wherever you are with your holiday season, take some time this last week to stop and think about what you need, who is important in your life, and make time for those. Additionally, make some time for sitting and taking in the moment of this time of the year, putting the frenzy aside!

Image created at

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

CNN Heroes 2022

This past Sunday, Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa hosted the now-annual "CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute." This year marks the 16th year that everyday heroes have been honored for their humanitarian achievements for making the world a better place. 

In a world filled with too-often every-day-bad news, having a program dedicating 2 hours to sharing good news, triumphs, and movement to better the world, warms the heart. It goes to show that everyday people ARE indeed our heroes and the change makers we need. It is the everyday inspiration that we need, and the holiday season is the perfect time for this to air. 

The alphabetical list below is the top 10 CNN Heroes from 2022 and their innovative ideas, from CNN's Press Room site.

πŸ’› Carie Broecker, Peace of Mind Dog Rescue  [from Pacific Grove, CA] -- Creating volunteer services for elderly dog and their owners who are struggling to care for their pets with dignity by helping them in their own homes, or finding the pets new long-lasting homes.

πŸ’› Richard Casper, CreatiVets  [from Nashville, TN] -- Offering combat veterans emotional support and therapy through creative art, music, songwriting, storytelling, and healing through his own experience as a former Marine in Iraq. 

πŸ’› Nelly Cheboi, TechLit Africa  [from Mogotio, Kenya & Shabbona, IL] -- Stemming from her Kenyan, poverty experience, she pairs her passion of computer science to provide tech skills on upccycled computers to slice the cycle of poverty for others through education. 

πŸ’› Nora El-Khouri Spencer, Hope Renovations  [from Carrboro, NC] -- Breaking gender boundaries by providing training in the construction field for women, non-binary, and gender-queer individuals, and using those skills to help modify homes to make them more safe for seniors.

πŸ’› Tyrique Glasgow, Young Chances Foundation  [from Philadelphia, PA] -- Growing from his own 5 year incarceration from drugs and building his community by creating a center to prove safe opportunities for his neighborhood. Through education, resources, youth programs, and support, he builds and lifts his community up. 

πŸ’› Teresa Gray, Mobile Medics International  [from Anchorage, AK] -- Working as a paramedic and nurse to get volunteer medics where they are needed for care and support for those encountering natural disasters and humanitarian situations.

πŸ’› Meymuna Hussein-Cattan, The Tiyya Foundation  [from Santa Ana, CA] -- Supporting refugees and asylum seekers to help them transition to American life, sharing their culture and their food through her LA restaurant "Flavors from Afar."

πŸ’› Aidan Reilly, The Farmlink Project  [from Santa Ana, CA] -- Created a nationwide web of volunteers to address food waste and insecurity, redirecting excess food from farms to people in need.

πŸ’› Debra Vines, The Answer Inc  [from Maywood, IL] -- Provides underserved minority families of children and adults on the autism spectrum with assistive services and education.

πŸ’› Bobby Wilson, Metro Atlanta Urban Farm  [from Atlanta, GA] -- Educating, feeding, and healing his community in ways to grow and prepare their own healthy food.

While all 10 of these individuals were recognized as the top ten CNN heroes, overall CNN Hero of the year this year went to Nelly Cheboi based on viewer voting. 

Suburu backed the voting and donations to each cause. If any of these inspire you, you too may donate to any of these individuals and their causes. To learn more, check out the CNN Hero Website, where you can also nominate heroes for 2023. It is worth checking out your television provider to see if you can catch the December 11th, 2022 program On Demand.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Down to Earth w/Zac Efron Season 2

As I'm home recovering from a 2nd surgery this year, I'm faced with a lot of reading and TV time, once again. 

One of my binge-watching shows last time was Zac Efron's "Down to Earth," Season 1

Well, the second season of this Netflix series is out! This season, "Down to Earth" happens Down Under. Australia.

Back in business with wellness expert Darin Olien, Zac and the show continue to check out sustainable living. What began for Zac as a surfing trip in Australia morphed into Season 2 when Zac got stuck there due to Covid lockdown.

Some of my favorite parts included the educational animated shorts that teach about certain concepts on a very any-age-friendly, eco-friendly way. Additionally, it goes without saying that the scenery is amazing as well. Australia always has that exotic feel, and this show is no different. It is interesting to see the environmental issues that are unique (for example: koala populations) and those that are universal (wildfires, energy conservation, and more). 

The episode lineup is as follows:

1: Habitat Conservation
2: Regenerative Agricuture
3: Great Barrier Reef
4: Torres Strait
5: Waste
6: Wildfire
7: Aboriginal Voices
8: Eco Inovators

After soaking in these 8 episodes, you walk away with a greater appreciation of the planet, getting to be arm-chair tourists. Additionally, you grow your environmental stewardship by learning along the way.

Image from, video from, map from

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Plastic Man in Senegal

A picture often speaks louder than words. 

That is what environmental activist Modou Fall is hoping for. And from the look of the foreground and surrounding area, plastic trash and pollution are certainly a problem, as seen here on Yarakh Beach in Dakar, Senegal. 

For over a decade, Modou has been traveling around West Africa to spotlight the pollution and environmental problem we are facing... and making sure he's remembered as he goes in his awareness uniform. Having founded the organization "Clean Senegal," Modou educates others on the peril of plastic pollution and its global impact. He goes by the name "Plastic Man." His plastic inspired uniform (which he has repeatedly stated is not a "costume") takes after Kankurang, a Senegalese cultural icon who protects the land, donned in woven grasses, protecting its people from evil spirits. He feels that by teaching others to protect the environment, he  has many of the same roles to the local people.

To read more about Modou, check out this article in the New York Times or see these pictures over at The Guardian.

Image from

Saturday, December 3, 2022

52 Clutter Free Gifts

'Tis the season to be shopping... or at least that's what one would have you to think from anywhere from mid-November through the December holiday season. 

I was recently telling my college-aged daughter about my long-standing, complicated relationship with Christmas. It's a swirly mix of a full calendar events, to-do lists, and a bounty of extra preparations in an already run-around schedule. Then there's the commercialism and expense, the wants and needs, the environmental demands in more, more more STUFF...all combined with the "happiest time of the year." I feel this phrase can be a misnomer of heightened expectations, especially as you get older and people you love are no longer here. High expectations can also easily lead to disappointments as reality and human frailty and flaws are at play. There can be a lot of pressure at this time of the year: the perfect gift, the perfect dinner, the perfect family events. In the mix, sometimes the true meaning of the season gets lost in the frenzy and stress. At times, it can make me perfectly Grinchly. 

With all of that, I found myself apologizing to my daughter about my grinchly-ness because even on the cusp of total adulthood, she adores the season and all that goes with it. It's not my job to sprinkle my mixed feelings like snow in a snowglobe and dash her delight.

One thing that helps me to take a look at the gifts--both in my requests and in the ones I give. I know I'm fortunate and I really don't "need" more "stuff." My needs are fulfilled, with the exception of needing more time with the people I love. And when it comes to "wants," more and more, post-Covid in particular, I'm finding the wants also involve shared time over stuff. Time and togetherness are certainly clutter free. Perhaps this is why this list of 52 Clutter Free Gifts really spoke to me. 

May it serve some inspiration for you too, and help center you this season in the true meaning of the holidays.

Image from The Art of Simple FB page and created by

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Dial Down Your Eco-Anxiety

Climate change concern, especially in the era of crazy, polarized politics, can lead to eco-anxiety. What exactly is that? Eco-Anxiety is the nerve-racking mix of worriness, nervousness, uncertainty, and other levels of distress that come about due to being aware of our planetary environmental issues. Sometimes it falls in the category of hyper-focus or overthinking... and sometimes it comes from having an overly sensitive and caring heart. But, it's hard to leave your empathy behind when you care about the planet and feel helpless or hopeless about what to do with the growing environmental concerns.
I ran across this Intersectional Environmentalist post, which inspired me to create this visual below on May it serve you well if you are inspired to take to journal writing, which is always a good way to deal with emotions. 
Eco Anxiety by Vicki Dabrowka

For more reading on the subject of eco-anxiety and what you can do to help yourself out, check out these articles:
Additionally, here are some times when I've alluded to eco-anxiety in the past here on GTG:
If you are finding yourself completely overwhelmed or distraught with climate/environmental anxiety, please seek help through loved ones or trained mental health professionals

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Benefits of Birds

There are a lot of sayings and idioms that involve birds: 
  • Like a duck to water
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Free as a bird
  • Birds eye view
And these are just a few. [For more, check out The Spruce's article Bird Idioms Explained.]

But the fact that they impact our language so much pays tribute to how readily available our flying feathered friends are. 

And lucky for us...birds do not just influence our language. They apparently serve our mind, body and spirit! Mary Jo DiLonardo addressed this fact in her 11/9/2022 Treehugger article "Seeing or Hearing Birds Is Good for Well-Being"

Researcher Ryan Hammoud (from King's College in London) led the study, finding that having birds in our sights or sound-space can actually provide positive emotional benefits for up to 8 hours. His goal in his research: to use the information for combining health, urban design, and city plannning. Hammoud noted that there has been a lot of studies focusing around the healthy impacts of Vitamin N--Nature, but not specifically centered on birds. (Vitamin FF--Feathered Friends?? πŸ˜‰) 

Using the app Urban Mind, his experiments focused on 1,292 people who completed almost 27,000 assessments, surveys, and follow up questions. Three times a day, these experiment participants were asked questions about their proximity to birds as well as their current emotions--both positive ones (like self-assured, joyful, relaxed) and negative ones (like apprehension, overwhelm, and detached). Additionally, they took data on participants' diaagnosed mental health conditions. Researchers wanted to determine if there was any correlation between the birds and their mental well-being.

Results showed that regardless of diagnosis of mental health, all participants showed a positive spike in their emotional state when birds were factored in (regardless of other environmental stimuli)--sometimes lasting up to 8 hours. This was the first evidentiary study to prove that both the songbirds' melodies and watching them in fanciful flight or simply dining at the bird feeder. It also provided scientific confirmation that the biodiversity that surrounds us when we are out in nature (the flora, the fauna, and the feathered) all are part of that Vitamin N. [Go here to read the entire scientific report of the study.]

Additionally, this scientific study supports the efforts of and their pursuit to protect bird populations. According to their statistics, we no longer have 1 of every 4 birds we had in 1970. This species loss we now know also has a significant impact on our mental health (particularly depression). By raising conservation efforts when it comes to birds, we also--once again--are giving ourselves and our planet the gift of health.

My husband and I joke about how the older we get, the more bird feeders and birdhouses we seem to be acquiring. Little did we know we were just being proactive about our mental health! That's definitely "something to crow about," and may just be the key to being "happy as a lark."

* Bonus: Want to bring more nature sounds into your life to help create some calm while you "get your ducks in a row?" Check out this 3 hour soundtrack of bird songs from Acerting Arts on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Hope & Happy Thanksgiving

Given a little Halloween frightfest at the hospital this year (aka: scheduled surgery), I've been back to being laid up with more "wintering" and recovery happening at home. 

What does that mean for me? A lot of sleeping, reading, some TV binging, and repeating... once again. 

The timing of it is such that it has hit a lot of holidays: starting with Halloween, then spanning my Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the return being hopefully at the start of the new year. 

I did this purposefully to take advantages of the Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, because ahhh... the calendar as decided by the teacher's school year!

One of the many books I read during this span of time was Hope: A User's Manual by MaryAnn McKibben Dana. I got it for a friend of mine who is troubled by the global climate crisis and how we always seem to miss our mark. As can happen with climate conversations, the level of doom and gloom can get you down. 

I wanted to give my friend "hope." Given "hope" has been a frequent theme in my own book choices, I felt I could use another dose of it myself, and got myself a copy as well.

The thing I really liked about this book (and something that made it fascinating to be reading it while sequestered at home during election season earlier this month), is that it referenced hope through the lens of so many things. 

Included in this list: elections, insurrections, social justice, systemic racism, climate change, pandemic pandemonium, and more. Many of these things are the exact concepts that (over the last half dozen years) still feel so heavy on me. Hope: A User's Manual met my post-hospitalization-hibernation well. I utilized this time to sleep, recover, and reflect on it all along with many other things. The author admitted early on the mere writing of the book, during the pandemic, was an attempt to "write herself back into a sense of hope" [p. 11]. 

I needed that book too.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana paints hope as different than optimism, toxic positivity, pithy platitudes, gaslighting, perfectionism, or over-romanticized nigglings and notions. 

Instead, hope is a "muscle to be exercised" [p. 22]. 

It is active not passive. 

It sometimes is quiet, and sometimes it gains fire from an anger that burns within. 

It can sometimes stem from joy and laughter and play. 

It can often times be uncomfortable--but we don't grow through comfort. 

It is a story we cultivate. 

It's the micro-movements we make. 

It's the breaths that stablize us. 

It's the beauty in nature that surrounds us. 

It's the small beacon of light on a dark day. 

It's the hard things that don't get fixed quickly or sometimes even in our generation, but that improve over time. 

It's the collective good fight to create a better world. 

It is grace, compassion, self-kindness, and perseverance. 

To me, hope has a lot of the same power as gratitude.

Gratitude is what alters your perspective toward what you have, not what you need. It can inspire you to give to those who need appreciation. It can lead you to give to grow your thankful heart.

May you have a Thanksgiving holiday filled with gratitude, friendship, countless blessings, and hope

Photos from, from the same website gallery: Slide 5Slide 2Slide 12Slide 16Slide 21slide 22Slide 25Slide 29Slide 32; Banner created at

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Take Time to Sit & Watch

Maybe because it's starting to get late in the fall season...

Or, maybe because the beauty of autumn and the color spectrum of leaves always causes me to take pause...

Or, maybe because I simply have leaves on my mind (see my last post)....

This image and quote combination from 1000 Hours really spoke to me.

Save time this season for more of this:

Image from

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Reaching 8 Billion

Yesterday (Tuesday, November 15th, 2022) was the Day of 8 Billion. It was the day we, as a planet, reached the global milestone of 8 billion (with a "B") people. This feat took only 12 years to go from 7 billion (in 2010) to 8 billion.

Ever since yesterday when I heard the news of it being 8 Billion Day, I've periodically checked in on WorldOMeter's website. It shows the current population numbers in live time, with numbers changing by the second. It's amazing to see the incredible jump from this time today versus the same time yesterday!

Watching the trajectory historically as we gain each additional billion is fascinating. The graph below--as well as the data in the chart I made--were from Population Education's website and their post by Marian Starkey [July 6, 2022] entitled "8 Billion and Growing: World Population Milestones Throughout History." Both data visualizations are eye-opening and jaw-dropping when you think of how that rate has increased over time. The startling point too is how flat the line on the graph was for population growth from year 0 to 1800 (which you can see on the graph shown here).

While it's looking like United Nation projections don't have us hitting 9 million until 2037 (15 years, a bit of a bigger jump than what we just saw between 7 and 8 billion), there clearly are ramifications across almost every field of study and interest. Of course, there are the environmental impacts of an ever-crowding planet. Technology and medicine have made it possible to have fuller, richer, healthier, and longer lives. Growing population means we need to have the resources available for us to live here on our planet as well as to provide us with food for all of these growing people. 

To learn more about the Day of 8 Billion and how 8 billion people impact our planet, check out these sites:

  • "How Big Is a Billion" benchmarks from Population Education so you can begin to wrap your head around just how big IS 8 billion??!
  • Click this GTG archived link from back in February of 2015 (way back when there were only 7.3 billion people) to see Population Education's 7 minute map-animated video of population over time from 0 to current day and projected to 2050
  • Also from February 2015 and my "Framing Education Around Population" post about Population Education, find the map of what countries would look like if their land mass matched their population.
  • Population Riddles you can use in class with to get your students math minds bending around these really big numbers.

Intro image from graph from; chart created from data on, video from

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Mighty Leaf Mosaics

The winds and rain whirled powerfully around the last 2 nights from the aftermath of Hurricane Nicole making her way up the Atlantic Coast. Watching as the leaves whipped by my window, it reminded me of something beautiful I saw earlier in the week on social media.

Every year, it's a welcome surprise how beautiful leaves are as they light our landscape on fire with their changing reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and purples. Yet, Nikola Faller has shown how those leaves can be repurposed again into a different kind of art. Annually and autumnly Nikola Faller, an academic sculptor and land artist from Osijek, Croatia creates amazing works of art that are perfect for drone photography. Designing a pattern then raking leaves into shape, Faller creates colorful, amazing, earthy mosaics. Leaves and rakes (and perhaps even a well-placed leaf blower) serve as the medium he uses to create these mosaics. The grassy ground acts as his green canvas. His museums are local parks nearby, and he showcases his work on his Slama.Land.Art Instagram page.

Off-season, with no leaves in sight, his canvases are beaches with his art meticulously drawn in the sand... or straw-based art after harvest. To find more images that are specifically fall-focused, check out's article entitled "Artist Creates Art from Falling Leaves."

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Begley-Cohen Test

The word "test" is one of those words that instinctively ramps up the anxiety levels and beads of sweat.

Luckily, the Begley-Cohen Test isn't that kind of test. Instead, it is patterned off of the Bechdel-Wallace Test which measures female representation in film and television. 

The Begley and Cohen of test namesake are environmentalist and actor Ed Begley Jr. and Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. The point of the Begley-Cohen Test is to analyze media for their use of single-use plastic. A movie or show passes the test if no single-use plastics are shown OR if they are shown, they are portrayed as problematic and discuss the environmental matter. 

Not only is their goal to "flip the script on plastics," but there is another section of the Plastic Pollution Coalition website with their media blitz campaign entitled "Flip the Script on Plastics." They want to normalize that plastics don't just magically disappear into the abyss, but that it's a real overuse on fossil fuels and petroleum to make plastic that then endangers our wildlife. 

On this website, members of the entertainment industry are invited and encouraged to sign the pledge to rethink both their usage and the use of plastics on the sets and in storylines. 

Also on the site are resources about plastic pollution and real world solutions.

The Begley-Cohen Test was introduced on social media and on the Plastic Pollution Coalition blog on October 6, 2022. With it being a new investigation just a month old, following these hashtags are the ones to follow: 

Video from and image from and

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Maps, Maps, and More Maps

As an elementary teacher, sometimes a good map to use in the classroom is about as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman. The world of Google is great, but the billions of possibilities when searching is like trying to land that needle in that haystack.

Therefore, landing on the following tweet by Brendan O'Sullivan was like finding the Holy Grail of maps as he pointed to Laura Pellegrino's curated Google file of well over 100 mapping blackline masters.

This is a must-have for anyone who teaches or anyone who ever needs a map! πŸŒ

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Happy Halloween Weekend

'Tis that season for all things wickedly wonderful this Halloween weekend. May yours be safe, fun, and memorable!

Image created on

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Plastic-Free Fall

As a follow-up to my last post, here in the glory, color-filled days of fall, here is a poignant little video I ran across on Instagram. Created by the Plastic Pollution Coalition, this video reminds you how some of the best things of fall are both financially free AND plastic free. How many can you cross off your list as autumnally-accomplished this fall?

Instagram post from from and clipart from