Saturday, July 29, 2023

Ocean Elders

In Native American cultures and tribal communities, the elders are known for their widsom. They are the revered older members of the tribe that brings knowledge, sage advice, patience, honor, and expertise.

It was from that mentality merged with The Seventh Generation Principle (based on the Iroquois Great Law of Peace--which also served as the model for the US Constitution) that the Ocean Elders was created. From their website: 

I view them sort of like the Marvel Marine Superheroes or the Eco Avengers, who are here to help save the oceanic day! At the very least, here to LEAD the way. The list of people involved--the Ocean Elders--reads like a "who's who" of the environmental world... which is where I think I get the superhero vibe. It's an impressive list of likeminded leaders.  You can find links to the bios of each of these elders here.
  • H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco: Explorer, Environmentalist
  • Richard Bailey: Founder, The Brando, Tetiaroa Society, & Blue Climate Initiative
  • Sir Richard Branson: Founder & Chairman, Virgin Group & Founder, Virgin Unite
  • Jackson Browne: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Environmentalist
  • James Cameron: Founder, CAMERON Companies & Founder, Avatar Alliance Foundation
  • Dr. Rita Colwell: Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland & Johns Hopkins University
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau: President & Chairman, Ocean Futures Society, Explorer, Film Producer
  • Dr. Wade Davis: BC Leadership Chair in Cultures & Ecosystems at Risk, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Sylvia A. Earle: President & Chairman, Mission Blue: The Sylvia Earle Alliance, Oceanographer
  • Dr. Jane Goodall: Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace
  • Graeme Kelleher: Former Chairman & CEO, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • Sven Lindblad: Conservationist, Explorer, Founder & Co-Chair, Lindblad Expeditions
  • Gerry Lopez: “Mr. Pipeline,” Surfer, Shaper, Actor, Yogi
  • H.M. Queen Noor of Jordan: International Public Servant, Founder, King Hussein Foundation
  • Catherine A. Novelli: Former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, & the Environment
  • Dr. Frederik Paulsen: Explorer & Chairman, Ferring Pharmaceuticals
  • Prof. Bertrand Piccard: Explorer & Chair of the Solar Impulse Foundation
  • President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr.: Former President, Republic of Palau
  • David E. Shaw: Managing Partner, Black Point Group LP & Co-Chair, Aspen Institute High Seas Initiative
  • Nainoa Thompson: Master Navigator & President, Polynesian Voyaging Society
  • Ted Turner: Chairman, Turner Enterprises, Inc. Founding Funder of UN Foundation Founder of CNN & TBS
  • Captain Don Walsh: Oceanographer & President International Maritime Incorporated
  • Bob Weir: Founding Member, Grateful Dead, Environmental Advocate, UN Goodwill Ambassador
  • Ocean Elders Emeritus 
    • Sheila Watt-Cloutier: Environmental, Cultural & Human Rights Advocate
    • Neil Young: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Activist, Humanitarian
    • José María Figueres: Former President, Costa Rica & Co-Chair, Global Ocean Commission
  • In Memoriam
    • Dr. Walter Munk: Emeritus, Institute of Geophysics & Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    • Dr. E.O. Wilson: University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
The inspiration for Ocean Elders began in April 2010 on the Mission Blue voyage. This trip had more than 100 scientists, business and philanthropic leaders and long-time/big-name entertainers going to the Galapagos Islands to support Dr. Sylvia Earle's TED Wish to garner protecting the ocean. By combining both a base of experts in the field along with social and business/governmental leaders, their mission could move farther and faster. These Ocean Elders, much like tribal elders, serve as the voice of ocean and environmental conservation. 

Some of the their big projects include being involved with the following: Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition, Cuba's Marine Ecosystems, Half-Earth Project, Hope Spots, Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, Monaco Explorations, Palau Pledge, Roots and Shoots, & 1,000 Solutions to Protect the Planet. You can learn more about each one on their Showcase page.

May we all be the wise ones.
May we listen to these leaders.
May we learn from their voices of advocacy, sustainability, and our future.
May we all learn to be stewards, protecting our oceans.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Cowabunga Creativity Over At Canva

I've been a longtime fan and user of Canva and have written about it a time or two. And I will adamantly say: things are always getting better over there. 

Earlier this summer I took a PD class at my school taught by a colleague all about creating dynamic visual presentations. No surprise: Canva was a featured tool. In addition to discussing Canva's modifiable templates for presentations, graphic organizers and more, there is a bounty for teachers. Their Canva For Education feature is downright amazing for educators.

During the work portion of our PD, I got the opportunity to play around with Canva's AI element "Magic Design." Using this built-in AI tool, presentations nearly write themselves, complete with content and graphics, giving you a few templates from which to choose. Beyond that, you can tweak the verbiage, the font, the images and more. I was able to create this presentation in about 15 minutes for my upper elementary graphic design elective, modifying the text with just a simple AI prompt that I typed in.

The Elements of Design: Funtography by Vicki Dabrowka

Canva has a wealth of design tutorials and tools on their site on all topics. Using Magic Design to Create a Presentation includes a detailed explanation and video on how to use Magic Design.

While Magic Design is pretty darn amazing, there's still so much more you can do using Canva and its latest supercharged elements. 

Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers is one of my go-to websites for the latest in edtech. These are 3 of my many favorite posts of his regarding Canva:

Two other really amazing resources I have found include the following:

Once you discover Canva, you won't be able to stay away!!

Image created at; Presentation created at link:

Saturday, July 22, 2023

World Blue Mind Day: July 23rd

I love days that are dedicated to the environment. I sporadically write about them (you can click my "environmental days" GTG tag). There's even a whole online digital calendar of days dedicated to it at TerGo's Eco Calendar.

One day that didn't make the TerGo eco-calendar is tomorrow/July 23rd (annually)'s World Blue Mind Day. 

World Blue Mind Day....not to be confused with World Water Day--Annually March 22nd--the United Nations observance created in 1993 that raises awareness about the global water and sanitation crisis.

Likewise, not to be confused by World Ocean Day--Annually June 8th--another United Nations designated day (since 2008) which works to enlighten and engage the public and policymakers about the importance of tending our global oceans for a healthier climate.

Obviously, both of these days are important on their own eco-standing!

World Blue Mind Day was created in 2014 by Wallace J. Nichols with the publication of his book "Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do." It is one of my top 10 favorite books of all time, and I am certainly a fan of the philosophy and science and wellbeing behind the book. Likewise, I gravitate toward water and have written about #BlueMind many times.

The point and purpose of World Blue Mind Day annually is to "soak" up the physical, mental, and spirtual benefits of being in and around water. Wallace J. Nichols says it best here in this short video: 

You can find World Blue Mind Day & Wallace J. Nichol's discussion board event here on Facebook.

For a list of "100 Ways to Practice Blue Mind for Life, Wherever You Are," check out this open post on Wallace J. Nichols' Patreon page. Then, indulge in 1 or 99 of them (or somewhere in between). 

What are you going to do this World Blue Mind Day?

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Plastic Free July

It's July. What's your plastic intake looking like?

If you are participating in the Plastic Free July movement/challenge, you numbers are looking low and impressive.

But even if you aren't, today may be a good day to try. 

12 years ago, in 2011, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz started this movement with some colleagues in her local Western Australian Government. Just like Earth Hour, which also began in Australia, this movement has grown through the years as a way to bring about awareness of not only what we use, but also the power of our purchasing dollars and our voice. Change always seems to hit the loudest when it starts hitting companies in their pocketbooks and wallets!! By using less plastic at the front end, we help eliminate it in our waste streams and landscapes. 

In 2017 Rebecca Prince-Ruiz created The Plastic Free Foundation and you can check out her Plastic Free July website.  This video shows the impact of Plastic Free July 2022.

Whether you read about it last year here on GTG, have been a long time pursuer of less plastic, or are just wanting to start today, it certainly is never to late!

Things you can do today:

It doesn't matter that it's the middle of July. What matters is that you start. What's your step towards a plastic free lifestyle?

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Record Heat Waves

Dorothy, we aren't in Kansas anymore. 

Well, actually you may be, but these days--this year--it's proving to be hotter than ever before as record heats are hitting everywhere.

About a week and a half ago, we were going through the height of the heat wave where I live. There were days that I swear it felt like the humidity was actually killing me. Well, that might be slight hyperbole. 

Last summer about this time I was indoors a lot due to recovering from knee surgery, I didn't feel the intensity of heat, nor the personal intensity of not having my backyard pool. (It had since gone to the above-ground-pool graveyard due to rust and death). This summer, it's hurting not having "my happy place."

But, news reports are telling me it wasn't just me. Though, truthfully, I'm not sure that's a good thing! 

Headlines as of late:

I've seen different numbers for that last data point of the Earth's highest EVER recorded temperatures--anywhwhere from "at least 100,000 years" to hotter than anytime in 125,000 years," and certainly more than our recorded data.

Makes sense why I was feeling it! And we have a history of hot here in our recent past, according to the Climate Change Guide website:

So now what? I always go back to the idea of "hope" being a verb. With all these records listed out there, maybe NOW is the time for political leaders to listen. It's time for all of us to take action. Innovation to the rescue. What can we all do to shift the needle--both literally and figuratively?

In the meantime, if it's hot where you are: stay hydrated and keep cool in the peak heat hours in the middle of the day. If you can't where you live, find a cool place like a library or other public space. You can always check out for heat and health related tools and information. Additionally check out the CDC's Beat the Heat infographic.

Title image created with, top 10 global chart image from

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Set Your US Sights On the Northern Lights: July 12 & 13, 2023

Given a solar storm is on the horizon for Wednesday & Thursday, July 12th and 13th, the news has been buzzing about the possibility of the northern lights being visible in parts of about 17 states and Canada. According to Time Magazine's article "How You Can See the Northern Lights This Week Across the U.S," those states include those in the northern half of the United States (listed here alphabetically): Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Vermont. Depending on where you live will indicate where and when you may see them.

I decided to look it up as I only had a cursory knowledge of what this light wave show was all about. I learned that actually, this phenomenon of beauty is actually the result of a storm of energized sun particles hitting the Earth, which is mainly protected by our planetary magnet field--except at the poles. This quote from's article "Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis): What They Are & How to See Them" (by Stefanie Walden and Daisy Dobrijevic) had a great tagline: 
"The northern lights are an atmospheric phenomenon that's regarded as the Holy Grail of skywatching."
This video from The Brain Stuff Show tells even more, including some mythology and also how it was named "aurora borealis" by Galileo Galilei in 1619.

According to Time Magazine's article, here's the best way to see the aurora borealis:
  • 10 pm to 2 am in your local time zone.
  • Find a north-facing view without a lot of skyline, homes, or tree clutter in the way. (Higher ground may help with this.) However, lights could come from any direction.
  • The further you are from light pollution of city lights the better.
  • Weather and clouds could block visibility.

Can't get enough? Read more by checking out these articles:

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Southern Wildlife

We recently vacationed "down south." Nature is a bit different down there. It's wilder and bigger than this midwest-raised girl experienced, that's for sure. The swampland brings about its own wildlife with palms and Spanish moss and creatures all of its own. Having lived about 6 years in Tampa-area (many years ago), I first learned that there. Exotic and large birds like herons and egrets were common... as were larger turtles and alligators and snakes I wasn't used to. They all felt so prehistoric in comparison to the wildlife I was used to from my childhood.

A lot of bike riding this trip brought about a lot of opportunities to check out nature. My sightings this trip reiterated that wild and wonderful (and slightly still-startling) sense of nature included:

  • Blue heron
  • Hawk
  • Baby gator
  • Turtles
  • Armadillo
  • Sand dollars ("feet-plucked" from the sand while in the ocean)
  • Pelicans & other seabirds fishing in the ocean (another thing you don't find in Middle America)

It was a good reminder of how important it is to travel and see new things. Even just a handful of states away, the wildlife is different. The culture is different. The tastes of local food, the customs, and vernacular and more.... Wandering around and getting lost was a great way to soak it all in, and unplug along the way. Opening your eyes and mind to new experiences should always be welcome!

Image created using PicEdu with my own photos.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Mixed Messages

We've recently returned from a US beach vacation at a popular beach destination. It definitely got my #BlueMind on with time hearing the waves hit the shore, frolicking in the water while the tides coming in, and also having relaxing pool time when I wanted a lower key, less sandy, close to "home" place to hang out.

We stayed in a condo situation, so we would walk to the local grocery store to get some provisions to have some meals at home. Given that, we produced trash and recycling.  

It was here I started to noticed the mixed messages in the community:

There was no recycling. And sadly, the bulk of our waste was plastic. Yet we had one option--the trash chute. 

How is this possible in a community where all of this is in place:

  • Environmental tourism was definitely key with the beach, kayaking, boating, biking, and other outdoor adventures.
  • Everywhere we went, there were notifications about being aware of nesting sea turtles--encouraging beach patrons to turn off lights at night, using red-light flashlights so as not to confuse the turtles, not disturbing any nests that are found, and filling holes on the beach for safe passage.
  • The clerk at the grocery store, as she was packing our items in a paper bag, said that they hadn't used plastic bags in this county for approx 5 years.
  • Several of the restaurants we went to had either no straws or paper straws. One of the cafes we went to had in their menu that they were plastic-straw-free since 2016.
  • Beach messaging was highly dedicated to leaving no trace behind.

I don't understand how there can still be such mixed messages here in 2023 in a community that is seemingly so eco-friendly. Yes, perhaps it is on the establishment where we stayed that there was no recycling. But, there also a lot of plastic cup consumption at the beach bars we visited. Again, glass at the beach (along with the potential of inebriated patrons) don't mix. But yet, that's also a lot of plastic waste. Were they recycling? That I don't know.

Sadly, it's the world in which we live in. Add in, we are completely greenwashed in that recycling will solve the problem. Yet according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), globally, only 9% of plastic is recycled--which is better than the 4% of plastics that are recycled in the U.S. In the US, 73% of plastics land in the landfill. 

How are we still here in 2023. 

I have no answers, other than in part it starts in the stores and with production, and certainly ends in consumption (which has "quadrupled in the last 30 years"). That, and of course, the idea that we can--and should--do better!

Innovators! We need you to solve our problems! What can we do to have fewer mixed messages--not only the beach, but everywhere!

Image created at

Saturday, July 1, 2023

11 Outdoor Adventures to Have This 4th of July Weekend

July 4th weekend is here! Trying to figure out what to do? Here are 11 ideas on some outdoor adventures (because 11 is the perfect number mathematically, given the holiday's date: 7/4....7 + 4 = 11!) 

Who's to say you need to do just one?! Whatever you do, have a fun one and see if you can get outdoors!

For 39 more ideas on how to spend the weekend, check out Erin Cavoto's article "50 Fun Things to Do on July 4th to Keep the Whole Family Entertained" from The Pioneer Woman's website which inspired today's post and imagry!

Image created from