Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Tree-mendous Benefits to Trees

One of the things I personally like about Facebook is that I follow a number of environmental and edtech sites. Given that, I am exposed to a lot of ideas from a lot of sources. Footpath Foundation shared this infographic created by Greenpeace. Definitely makes you understand why we have treehuggers out there--trees give us a wealth of benefits. 

Image from created by Greenpeace.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Google Arts & Culture Experiments

I've been doing some investigating around Google Arts & Culture. Not surprising given it's connection to Google, there is definitely a wealth there!!

One of the really interesting parts of the Google Arts & Culture world is their Experiments, which is self-labeled as "the crossroads of art and technology, created by Artists and Creative Coders." 

Currently, there are 80 Arts & Culture experiments [though, at this writing, there are 1605 Google Experiments total on a wider scope than just the Arts & Culture Collection]. Of these, here are a few that have environmental tie-ins. You definitely could get lost here, spending a lot of time exploring each one!

🎨 Voices for Change--A Global Goals World -- A 3D virtual experience to learn about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Goals. Mixed in are 1500 voices and comments from people from 60 countries.

🎨  Pollinator Pathmaker -- Design a garden that's a pollinator's dream. When you finish, you get a certificate of authenticity along with planting instruction to bring to you own backyard.

🎨 Cold-Flux -- Discover what can happen to our polar icecaps as global temperatures rise.

🎨 Medusae -- Data visualization that shows what happens to jellyfish populations when water temperatures rise and acidify, and those waters are overfished.

🎨 The Lagoon -- A visual collage to show you what can happen to a coastal city as water rises.

🎨 Climate Change Impact Filter -- Hundreds of pictures and a sliding scale to raise or lower temperature show you what can happen to 62 species (plus human-created items) if our global temperature rises.

🎨 Plastic Air -- With microplastics in the air, unseen, this gives you an opportunity to see what you can't see but are breathing in.

🎨 Coastline Parodox Filter -- Take a look at actual and predicted global sea level rising due to the effects of climate change.

🎨 Diving into an Acidifying Ocean -- Interactive data visualization that shows the effect of warming oceans on marine life.

🎨 Timelines -- With the help of drone footage over two glaciers in Switzerlandand Google Earth, take a look at the glacial retreat over the last 140 years.

🎨 What We Eat -- Data visualizations of what you eat and the carbon footprint it holds.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Power of Music & Nature

This is one of the many beautiful stories that came out of the pandemic. I didn't hear about it at the time, but read about it in Jane Goodall's latest book written with Douglas Abrams: The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times (part of the Global Icons Series). [More on that book in a future post.] It showcases the power of music and nature.

In June of 2020, at Barcelona's El Liceu Opera House, the string quartet live-streamed a concert. Performing Puccini's Crisantemi (Italian for "chrysanthemums"), the quartet In the thick of the pandemic, no people were allowed in, however there was only standing room available as every seat was filled with plants donated from a local nursery. 2,292 to be exact. The video is beautiful, hearing the music wrap around its colorful, cholorphyl-filled audience. Then what a gift for these musically infused plants to be given to Spanish healthcare workers who were enmeshed with patients struck with Covid-19.  Visionary Artistic visionary Eugenio Ampudia created this idea to bring music to the online world of folks in lockdown while also gearing at the importance of both music to support plant growth and how both nature and music can positively influence our mental health.

Bravo and standing ovations to all.

Video from; image created at 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Six Americas

When I was reading Katherine Hayhoe's book Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World, I was struck by her chapter on the "Six Americas of Global Warming." This comes from the Yale Program of Climate Change Communication. Rather than Americans being merely binary as climate believers or climate deniers, there are really six different vantage points. They are pictured here:

The delineation is as such:
  • Alarmed--Climate change believers who feel it is here now as an urgent, human--created threat and are taking action as they can.
  • Concerned--People see it as a serious threat, but not immediate, therefor they give it less priority.
  • Cautious--Folks who are on the fence and haven't made up their mind about if it is happening, human-created, or a serious concern.
  • Disengaged--People who don't care, know little (if anything) about it, and are not interested in learning about it.
  • Doubtful--They do not consider it serious or even happening, or they may feel it is all part of t he natural planetary cycle.
  • Dismissive--People who do not believe climate change is "a thing," and they see it as a hoax or a conspiracy theory.
Yale's website has some impressive data visualizations as well as a video detailing each of the six perspectives and how they have changed over time. This infographic from their website shows where the numbers are per category.

Katherine Hayhoe referenced this information in her conversation about finding common ground to talk with others about climate change. (See my A Trio of Hope Messengers post for more about that.) She said that if you share why climate change is important to you based on what you know about your discussion-mate, you can help them to see why they might want to care. In relation to the Six Americas, you actually have the ability to reach others as long as they are in any of the categories except Dismissive. Dismissives are die hard in their disbelief of climate change. Your stories or experiences, no matter how compelling they are, won't reach them.

I found comfort in this, seeing it as far more promising than I had imagined by news stories of climate deniers. I also see it as encompassing the vantage points in perceived science deniers or even Covid deniers. The principles apply in both of those sets of views too. It's comforting because there are only 8% of the population that is so dogmatic with this issue, viewing climate change in the "hoax" department--meaning, that there's potential to reach the other 92%! 

Additionally, it shows a radical shift to the collective concern about climate change. That is what it takes to shift the balance in conversations, legislation, and activism!!

To learn more, check out Yale's "Global Warming's Six America's" video.

Images from

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Nature-Inspired Valentine's Day

"Love, exciting and new....Come aboard, we're expecting you...." 

The theme song that fills my brain every Valentine's Day. The song is indeed a theme song--from the 1977-1986 hit TV show "The Love Boat" (an hour-long rom-com television show for those of you for whom this may have been a bit before your time).

As cupids and images of pink and red float about this "happy heart" holiday, maybe you can get some inspiration from nature this week. Here are a handful of sites with all sorts of Valentine's crafts and card ideas, all stemming from nature or natural items you can find outdoors. Fill you own heart with love of all the planet has to offer while you share forward your love for others.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Week filled with love!

Image created at

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Trio of Messengers of Hope

This fall and winter among the slew of books I've been reading, I read the three of these books--all of which made a powerful impact on me:
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the similarities by titles alone to know that they all are tied to hope in the time of climate change. On top of a pandemic (as well as deeply partisan politics and racial injustice), it is indeed is a difficult time to find hope. As authors and environmentalists, these three women (along with Douglas Abrams) had a daunting task as their main thesis. 

For me, the three books acted as different pieces of a puzzle, working together to build a larger picture. All three had ties to the pandemic and Covid--sometimes explicitly, and sometimes in more subtle ways. Additionally, I see parallels in the work to eradicate Covid as well as turning around the trajectory of climate change. Collectively, I needed all three, and I saw them as companion pieces. 

Within each of these books, the general sentiment that signs loudly is that hope comes from taking action. If we all do what we can, it is through all of our collective, individual acts that we make a difference. Even if our own small actions "feel like a drop in the ocean," (as Douglas Abrams said to Jane Goodall in their interview/conversational style book). However, Jane Goodall countered it with this quote: "But millions of drops actually make the ocean," [Book of Hope, p. 134]. Jane Goodall referenced multiple hope studies along with these four reasons for hope: "the amazing human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of youth, and the indomitable human spirit," [Book of Hope, p. 35].

Katherine Hayhoe is both a climate scientist and a Christian from Texas--sometimes a dichotomous combination in our polarized world these days. She also speaks of the importance in taking action. Thought individual acts and working with others in the community, it perpetuates a cycle of action and support. "It's like knocking over the first domino: action eventually changes us all," [Saving Us, p. 205]. 

Given the title of Emily Ehlers book, hope is a verb. It's active--not wishful thinking not "just something you have; its something you do," [Hope is a Verb, p. 10]. Her book, full of art and a font that feels like you've stepped into her handwritten journal, makes it almost like a graphic novel. Perhaps some of the power comes from these visuals, one of which included this quote that also speaks to action: "We change and innovate when we have no other choice. What if we are about to step into a golden era where everything changes?" [Hope is a Verb, p. 51]. She goes on to say "Hope is not about closing your eyes to the world's problems and wishing they would disappear. It's about imaging a brighter future and then taking steps, no matter how small, to make that vision a reality," [Hope is a Verb, p. 146].

One of the pieces that I feel was powerfully similar in all three books was the concept of stories. Jane Goodall's book was a collection of stories about people she has met in her 8 decades and how their experiences have shaped all she knows and believes in as an environmentalist. She talks about how stories serve to move people more than data-driven statistics (which can often serve to be isolating or overwhelming). One of Katherine Hayhoe's biggest premises in her book is in the power of stories to connect with someone with opposing views. In doing so, then you can find common ground and can really begin to not only hear but also understand and appreciate each other. "Study after study has shown that sharing our personal and lived experiences is far more compelling that reeling off distant facts....Tell them why you care about climate change and others might too," [Saving Us, p. 19]. Emily Ehlers also shares the importance of storytelling by elaborating about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk "The Danger of the Single Story." It is through the stories that we can see different perspectives and work to connect across the divides.

After reading all 3 books, I still struggle with hope sometimes when I watch the news--whether its about climate change, Covid, the angry world of toxic politics, or systemic injustice. But, as all 3 books explain, "hope" is an active job. At our most recent Baltimore Speaker Series event, political journalist Mara Liasson said "vote for everything and run for something"--meaning get involved in being part of the solution and part of the change. 

It can become easy to get overwhelmed by it all and want to run and put our head under the cover, but nothing will happen from there for sure. Even Jane Goodall admitted to having hard moments--but she still has hope. Seeing that, is what causes me to breathe more deeply. I find it comforting that Jane Goodall (just like Katherine Hayhoe and Emily Ehlers) still takes pause in the fighting spirit and determination of others who are taking a stand. Jane Goodall takes comfort and delights in seeing young activists step up as future leaders--she sees the power in active hope and engagement. "Without hope, all is lost. It is a crucial survival trait that has sustained our species from the time of our Stone Age ancestors....Hope is contagious. Your actions will inspire others," [Book of Hope, p. xiv].

What can you do today that will inspire others and cultivate hope?

Image created at using book art from Video from, Quote arts created using and book quotes from the 3 authors.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Women in Innovation

The Smithsonian is known for its exceptional level of education--whether the museums in Washington, DC or their online counterparts. They know how to take learning to the next level.

One of the many ways it is doing that is by bringing the education to you in your homes and schools through their Poster Exhibitions. By going to their SITES Community website, you can order free print or digital content in their Poster Exhibitions to use as educational resources. They currently have an array of 13 different Poster Exhibitions to investigate.

The one I just ordered is their Picturing Women Inventors Poster Exhibition. It comes with 8 printed posters and educational material to go with it. Additionally, they have the posters available immediately with their digital download. I love that the inventors cross a variety of fields and showcase some amazing women. Women's History Month may be March, but these women are worth celebrating all year round!

Image acquired from 

It's Olympics Season

Olympic frenzy has hit the world! It is Olympics Season!

This year's Winter Olympics are in Beijing and underway, running from February 4th to the 20th.

Here are some ways to bring the Olympics into your classroom to capitalize on the excitement!

Image screenshot from Miss Hecht's Olympics Bitmoji Board; Video from

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

An Evening With Walter Isaacson

When you are a bit of an info-junkie, love at first sight comes in funny ways. It struck me in the pre-pandemic days when I was gifted a ticket to the Baltimore Speaker Series from a colleague to go see John Kerry. Her plans changed for the evening, opening up their ticket, making for a delightful evening for my husband and I to go to a beautiful venue and spend an hour or more listening to John Kerry talk on a multitude of topics. He is a fascinatingly brilliant man with a vast array of stories and experiences as well as an abundance of knowledge. Now, of course, he is ou first United States Special Presidential Envoy for the Climate.

The pandemic turned us all into homebodies for a good year and a half, but the Speaker series was always calling our names in the background...and now, mid-season tickets are ours for this year.

The first session we had tickets to this year was on January 11th. The speaker that night was historian, professor, and author Walter Isaacson. His curriculum vitae was extensive, being a former editor of Time Magazine, former CEO of CNN, and Fellow at the Aspen Institute (among other things).

As the author of what's come to be known as "The Genius Biographies," Isaacson knows a little bit about "genius," and the focus of his evening was the distillation of lessons learned from the many geniuses he has researched or interviewed and written about. And he should know since he's written books on Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Henry Kissinger, Jennifer Doudna (co-inventor of CRISPR and gene editing) and more.

As Walter Isaacson spoke throughout the evening, you came to see that "being smart" isn't enough. There are boatloads smart people out there.  But there's an extra "something" that makes "the greats" great. 

They have a sense of higher purpose and they push to see what they can do to push humanity forward. Additionally, what's key to inspiring creative and innovative, genius-level thinking are elements that innovators (and often entrepreneurs) have...YET, we all have it in us to do these exact things! Many of the these traits we nurture in our children; however, the true gift of genius is to never lose these gifts. We should spend our lifetime cultivating and curating the following to grow and enrich our lives:
  • Be passionately, playfully, obsessively curious--for his own sake.
  • Think outside of the box.
  • Be more observant.
  • Have a passion for your perfection, bringing beauty to what is important.
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
  • Have some humility.
  • Creativity is a team sport and innovation is a collaborative act.
  • Focus on the shared values, for they are greater than the ones that polarize us.
  • Celebrate the diversity that makes collaboration work
  • Gratitude is vital.
It reminded me of one of the ideals I hold most true: it will take innovation to solve our environmental issues. The same is true when it comes to social and environmental justice. It will take those with genius to "think different" (as Steve Jobs was known to say) to create the solutions necessary. 

Yet genius can be within all of our grasps. Continuing the love of learning and being open to possibilities are all part of the process. I love how we all have the power and potential inside us to do this exact thing!

Information junkies, for the win!

Book images from, other pictures from my camera.