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