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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Say It Loud, Say it Proud: Plastic Bag Free Day 7/3/2015

'Tis the season, in good ole USA to be readying for that red-white-and-blue day, Independence Day. A day of freedom...as well as festivities, BBQ's, pool time & picnics, fun, frivolity, and fireworks. Hamburgers, hotdogs, & apple pie.

In order to plan for such yummy kind of fun, you need to go shopping.  Grocery stores do well, no doubt, here in this week before the 4th of July.  Think about your 4th fun prep, or even your last supermarket run.  If you are like me, you came home with a bunch of bags of food and a sundry of other household goods.

Ask yourself:  Are you a paper, plastic, or reusable bag kind of person?

Well, the push this week, especially Friday, July 3rd, to go plastic bag free.  Grab your reusable bags and get thee to the store, loaded and ready to go shopping.  Why?  The reasons are numerous (many of which are detailed in the infographic below, as well over at the International Bag Free Day website.  My favorite plastic bag fact happens to be that plastic bags, which take potentially 1000 years to biodegrade, have a typical life span of about 25 minutes of use--from store to door.  That's a lot of lifetime of waste for the minutes of convenience they provide.

For more resources, check out Plastic Bag Free's Resources.

So your challenge:  can you embrace the freedom of the Fourth of July, and go plastic bag free this holiday?  I think you can!  So, armed with knowledge, your next stop should be your grocery store.  Shop 'til you drop for your Independence Day extravaganza, bringing in your own bags, so you can come out without the additional plastic waste!  Then picnic and party on in style!

For more resources as to how to have an additionally eco-friendly 4th of July, check out Sprout's 2014 post on the subject.



Images from:  http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2013/12/independence-day-parade-P.jpeg; http://blog.sproutwatches.com/index.php/2014/06/how-to-have-a-eco-friendly-4th-of-july/; infographic from http://newhope360.com/blog/infographic-cost-plastic-bag; Bag Free World Logo http://www.plasticbagfreeday.org/

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bill Nye, Emojis, & Climate Change! Oh My!!

It really doesn't get much better than this:  It's like the ├╝ber Reese's Peanut Butter cup where a whole lot of great tastes taste great together!!

Working with GE, Bill Nye (yes, "the Science Guy") has begun a web science series.... with a little help from his Emoji friends. First tackle: holograms. Second tackle:  Climate Change.  (It's real, we can use those words, Florida & Wisconsin & other climate denier states.  Just because you don't want to believe it doesn't mean it goes away!)



This is all a part of the bigger idea that Bill Nye & GE have co-constructed.  #EmojiScience is a 5-part series that will (as Jeff Beer says in his Fast Company article) "hit on topics like energy efficiency, mapping the mind, and materials science, in which recent discoveries show serious potential to impact the world."

Also featured on the EmojiScience website is the "Emoji Table of Experiments."  Might just be what the doctor ordered to spice up your child's summer for those blissful moments of boredom when true creativity & exploration happen!





Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPqd20tdncg and can also be found at http://emojiscience.com/
Emoji Periodic Table from 
http://www.fastcocreate.com/3039715/ge-drops-some-social-science-with-the-periodic-table-of-emojis

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The States of Climate Change Denial


I thought only Florida & Wisconsin were the bad guys.  The ne'er-do-well states that this year have forbidden the words "climate change" and "global warning."

My new realization:  But wait!  There's more!

What the....?!?

While Florida is definitely getting the bad rap in the news this year, Wisconsin has followed along--but it hasn't gotten as much media attention as Florida did.  (For a humorous, but not fully appropriate video for the kiddos in the room, check out Jon Stewart's very snarky mocking of Florida's banning of the terminology.)

As this infographic shows, Florida & Wisconsin aren't alone:


Luckily for the climate change deniers and politicians out there:  
Only 97% of climate scientists agree:
"Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position." ~Quoted directly from NASA.gov
It's leaving me to want to make some snarky, mocking comments of my own!!


Calvin & Hobbes Image from http://jokideo.com/its-not-denial/; States map from http://www.vocativ.com/usa/us-politics/places-that-would-like-to-ban-the-phrase-climate-change/; Jon Stewart pic from http://bluenationreview.com/daily-show-climate-change/ 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy Summer Solstice

There's something magical about that first day of summer  The longest day of the year.  "Longest," of course theoretically givent it's the day of most daylight in the Northern Hemisphere.  Coming right after school gets out for the summer, it's well at the beginning of all there is ahead for those lazy days of summer!

Here's an interesting map from USA Today of just how many hours of sunlight we had in a variety of American cities last year, Summer Solstice 2014:

To learn a little bit more about Summer Solstice, check out these links:




Summer Solstice Pic from  http://c.files.bbci.co.uk/47F5/production/_83712481_summersolstice.jpg; Map from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/06/20/summer-solstice-explained-sun-earth/10887737/

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Today: That Time to be Reflective in TeacherLandia

There are always a few pivotal times of the year when we humans tend to get introspective and reflective.
  • Birthdays (especially the decades & milestones ones!)
  • New Years ("Old Lang Syne" can always do that to you.)
  • And for the student and teacher:  the end of the school year!
Today was my last day of school (which means last day of teacher meetings, packing up, and end of the year luncheon).  It was a lovely day (with amazing food) paying humorous homage and honored tributes to those folks who are retiring or moving on.

It was a day of happy dance ("Woohoo! Summer ahead!") and a day of reflection.

Today was the last day of my 22nd and a half year of teaching. (Yes, there's a "half" and it's a story for another day.  Along those lines, this whole 22.5 thing elicits the punch-in-the-gut feeling of "How on God's green Earth have I been teaching that long!")

Today was the last day of the first year at my current school.  I survived being a newbie!  I never would have been here had my previous school not closed.

Today was the last day of the first year I have ever been "a special" versus "a homeroom teacher."  (There are definite things I miss in setting up the routines and camaraderie of my own classroom, but definitely perks as well.)

Today marks my last day of school, after teaching in 6 schools total, in 3 different states.

Today is my official start to summer.  Complete with goals of both relaxation, accomplishment, parenting, blogging, learning, environmental visions, and health on the horizon.  And pool time.  Definitely pool time!

Today I reflect over my years of teaching, and my many schools, and I feel an enormous sense of gratitude. I have been fortunate enough to be in 6 truly dynamic schools.  Public and private, with mentors every step of the way. People I love, adore, and treasure. Amazing teachers, amazing people.  I have learned and grown and made incredible friends along the way.  I have refined my craft, found new interests, and sharpened new talents as I have trekked along.  I have met phenomenal people.  This year I was in a situation to have many of my former colleagues embarking upon "the new," and I have seen how lucky I really truly am. Public & private & then some.

Today I am blessed.

Today I sit at the cusp of 2 and a half months of summer ahead.  What I do with it is up to me!

May you be faced with the same challenge, whether you work or not, whether you are a teacher or not, whether you have the summer off or not....it's still your summer.  Go forth and make it amazing.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Glass: Where Sand, Limestone, Soda Ash, & Heat Unite = Glass Is Life

In my reflections on seeing Celine Cousteau speak earlier this spring, I started bouncing around internet--which is where moments of magical connection often happens.  From there I found the "Glass is Life" website and Celine Cousteau's PSA for them as spokesperson.  I was instantly washed back to seeing her in person, as so much of this message is her message.

Fitting that I am writing this on what would be her grandfather, Jacques Cousteau's 105th birthday!  (born: June 11, 1910)



In a world where waterways seem to become more polluted daily by plastic waste, and containers seem chemical-bound through the BPA-leaching of plastic, glass (along with stainless steel) is a viable and vital option.  Glass Is Life is glass manufacturer's O-I Inc's 4-pronged environmental and health platform of the merits of glass:  taste, quality, sustainability, and health.  Each prong on the Glass Is Life website has a short video like Cousteau's above that sing glass' praises as the purest packaging material, made only from sand, limestone, soda ash & heat unite.

Be sure to check out O-I's 5 minute video on the making of glass.

Then go raise your glass, feeling good about what you are reusing and what resources you are saving.
"Glass says quality all by itself. It’s the only packaging material that people are inspired to save, re-use, collect and display. Smooth or rough, blue, green, black, or iridescent, glass comes in a wide variety of textures, shapes and colors. It’s beautiful. It’s memorable. It’s iconic."   ~From the Glass Is Life website.

Celine Cousteau pic from http://www.glassislife.com/



Friday, June 5, 2015

Casting Away with Celine Cousteau on World Environment Day

June 5th annually is World Environment Day.  Given that, this post seemed to be ideally timed!

In the middle of April, we were privileged to get an early Earth Day present--Celine Cousteau was part of a lecture series at our school--a free presentation for the greater community.

Cousteau, you may be asking yourself--gee, that sounds familiar. Of course it does.  Granddaughter to the infamous oceanographer Jacques Yves Cousteau & daughter to filmmaker/ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, Celine comes from quite the aquatic family line.  An explorer and communicator herself, Celine spoke about bringing the stories from the field and being the megaphone who put the message into story form--a form that people can truly here and understand.

In the hour that she spoke, to the oldest in the room, and in stories even my 3rd grader could relate to, there were many take-aways.  My favorites (written as quotes, but mainly paraphrased as I was writing fast and furiously) are here below.  As you can tell, there were a lot of take-aways.  Things I'm still thinking of more than a month and change later.
  • "I'm a communicator, it's what I do.  I do 'storytelling.'"
  • My grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, is known for his time on the Calypso.  Yet he was a smart leader.  He surrounded himself with people who enabled him to be who was.  It takes a whole group of people to make it happen so that he could do what he did.  He was the front man, but by no means the only one."
  • "Be excellent at what you are and what you can do."
  • "What we do with and for our children stays with them.  You don't know what inspires them and leads them to who they will ultimately become."
  • "You do need the bad to appreciate the good.  Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of pollution around the world. What can we individually do to help it."
  • "Change only comes with action and action comes from the heart."
  • "Education is responsibility, and you can't take that knowledge away. Likewise, once you have the knowledge, you cannot ignore it.  It is part of your life."" 
  • "Change your mindset by changing the way you see yourself in the world.  We are all connected.  Once you see that, it's hard to not care about what's going on around you."
  • "You are not apart from nature, you are 'A PART' of nature."
  • "We need to be rethinking what we think.  Pause amidst the automaticity."
  • "I can't save the world, but I can do my part."
  • "I want to live a life with purpose, not just merely exist."
  • "We are all part of the human tribe.  Over time, we are losing a sense of community--but also building it in other ways, through social media."My tribe is my family.   My 3 year old son deserves to have a mom who says I did everything I could do.  But we all also need balance. How much good can I do if I'm not there?  What are we sacrificing? I need to be there for my son and my family too."

Portrait Image from http://yachtworldheroes.com/?p=725; group photo from my camera (April 2015).

Monday, June 1, 2015

Putting An End to Poverty Infographic

As I mentioned last time, infographics are embedded in my world at every turn these days.  Here's an interesting one that invites you to take a stand, and raise your hand, and take a hard look at what you can do to power down poverty.


Infographic from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/10/10/ending-poverty-is-within-our-reach?CID=EXT_TWBN_D_EXT

Friday, May 29, 2015

African Endangered Species Infographic

I've been doing some research as of late on infographics for a summer professional workshop I'll be presenting at school.  There are some really amazing ones out there.  Here's a great one I found on Endangered Species over at Pinfographics.



Monday, May 25, 2015

Earth Day Family Maker Night 2015

A few weeks ago, at the start of May, I went to a Maryland Educational Technology retreat.  While there, one of the Keynotes, Danielle Martin, shared this image in her presentation which served as a wonderful wrap up to the conference where so much of the focus was on "The Maker Movement."


At our school, we are not new to the "Maker Movement," as it has been a theme for our year.  We have been inspiring creativity and innovation with STEM & STEAM challenges.  Our "Computer Lab" has been transformed with new furniture in invite a more open, new mindset; it is now known as "The Maker Lab."  No longer are students merely learning how to format Word documents, create Power Points, and learn keyboarding.  Yes, that is a part, but much of that integration is happening in the classroom (and why I have my current position).  They are also learning introductory coding, how to create multi-dimensional objects through 123D Design for the 3D printer, and how conductive playdoh works.  Yes, these are elementary students.

This Earth Day, we combined the Maker Movement with a slice of environmentalism.  The task put forth to the children was to use the Design Process to create an at-home, "Family Maker Night" creation (as a family team), making something with Earth Day in mind, through creativity and upcycling. Then, students were to bring both their project in as well as their reflection sheet of how their family worked through the challenge.

The results?  Pretty fabulous.  The tables were filled with a sundry of homemade items.  Class projects were also displayed:  3rd graders had a table of pioneer settlements. 5th graders created interactive games using MaKey Makeys, where they programmed cardboard creations to perform with the help of laptops & the online programming website Scratch).  Kindergartners used iPads & the ReadWriteThink app Timeline to document the Lego building of world structures in the vision of Lego Sculpturist Nathan Sawaya.

To get a taste of what Earth Day looked like in our neck of the woods, check out this Smilebox. Additionally, click here for the Flickr Page of even more--78 more--marvelous pictures from our Earth Day Maker Night.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Free digital slideshow customized with Smilebox


"I am a Maker" photo from a snapshot of my conference, but also found here: http://philippe.ameline.free.fr/wordpress/?p=1215

Additional pictures from my own camera and put into a Smilebox video presentation. http://play.smilebox.com/SpreadMoreHappy/4e4449314f4459344e5442384f4459334d5459784e773d3d0d0a

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy World Turtle Day 2015

You say "to-may-toe," I say "to-mah-toe."
You say "turtle," I say "chelonian" (which sounds remarkably like "colonian").

I don't, but I could.   Especially on World Turtle Day:  May 23rd annually.

World Turtle Day originally hatched in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue (which itself began in 1990).  Given that turtles and tortoises have a number of threats--mostly human instigated--raising awareness is always a good thing.  Threats include:
  • exotic food trade
  • illegal pet trade
  • habitat destruction
  • climate change
  • bycatch from fisheries
  • consumption of marine debris
According to NOAA, all seven world species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered.

To enhance your inside information about turtles & tortoises:

1.  Watch this 2 and a half minute video from The Guardian.
2. Read a good turtle book. My favorite? Turtles in My Sandbox, by Jennifer Keats Curtis. You will find some engaging activities to go along with this book from the publisher Sylvan Dell

3. Check out ARKive.org to learn more about animals of any species--especially if you are curious about their conservation status (vulnerable, critical, or endangered). Here with these links, you are a mere click away from creating your own archive of chelonian knowledge at ARKive:
4. For Lesson Plans, World Turtle Day or any other day, check out the following links:
5. Looking for ways to help out our shelled reptilian friends? Huffington Post's "World Turtle Day" article lists some ideas for what you can do to help.


-World Turtle Day Photos from https://www.facebook.com/WorldTurtleDay
-Chelonian definition a screenshot from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/chelonian
-Video from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2015/may/22/world-turtle-day-barrier-reef-preservation-tourism-queensland-video

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Ahead: Red, White, Blue & Green

Memorial Day:  A solemn day of celebration & remembrance of the many men and women who fought for our freedoms, rights, and American privileges.  We are lucky to have had those people who dedicated their lives to us.

Memorial Day Weekend:  In addition to this day of honoring our soldiers and freedom fighters, it also somewhat serves as the universal start to summer.  Just ask Phineas & Ferb (& then sing it with me):


(Don't get me started on how we are only a mere matter of weeks away from the June 12th, series finale of possibly the greatest cartoon out there for old and young alike! I'm not sure the world is ready for a world without Phineas & Ferb, but I digress).

So you might not be building a roller coaster in your backyard, and your inner-Doufenshmirtz might not be planning the next -inator....but you might be more knee-deep in graduation season, grabbing a bathing suit for the first weekend of the pool opening, heading out camping, or planning a tasty BBQ.

Believe it or not, you can do it all in a "green" sort of way, without going the way of a mega Phineas & Ferb style creation.  With a little inspiration from TreeHugger's "9 Tips for Zero Waste Entertaining This Summer," here are some thing you can do:

  • Invest in some stainless steel straws (check out our Mai Tai welcome to the weekend.  I got mine from Amazon.com).
  • Go real & reusable versus paper or plastic (for plates, cups, cutlery, table cloths & more).
  • Ditch the single serve sodas & waters.  Especially if you are on your back patio, a pitcher of ice cold water, juice, or sun tea can be quite yummy.
  • Make your kabobs with metal skewers, or invest in reusable mini ones to replace your wooden toothpicks.  
  • Use evites versus printed invitations.
  • Do a beach or campsite clean-up while out and about on your ventures.
  • Don't forget to set up your recycling center for anything you may need.  Definitely keep it trash-free if you must branch outside of glass & stainless steel/real!
  • Compost your leftovers and food scraps.
  • Think outside the box, be creative, and come up with your own eco-friendly ways to go about having a zero-waste celebration.

Images from 
Memorial Day:  http://dfwcore.org/when-is-memorial-day-weekend-2015-date-calendar.html 
Phineas & Ferb: http://phineasandferb.wikia.com/wiki/File:104_Days.jpg
Mai Tai pic taken from my back yard, and put in the Motivational Poster app--complete with reusable stainless steel straw.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Perils of Plastic

Pathetic Plastic & Evil Styrofoam.  Ask my 3rd grader what I hate, and he'll come up with one or the other.

It's amazing too, regarding plastic, as it is everywhere.  A trip to the grocery story will confirm it. I've gone off before on plastic wrapped apples & bananas.

The following video (of the same name) from It's A Plastic World does an interesting and thorough job of showcasing just how prevalent plastic is

 

Additionally, here's a startling article from One Green Planet I just ran across further indicating the perils of plastic.  It's headline says it all:
700 Marine Species Might Go Extinct Because of Plastic Pollution. Here Are 5 Ways You Can Help!
Some of the highlights:
  • The EPA has indicated 32 tons of plastic waste are created a year.          (32 tons?!  Plastic is light, so the vast bulk of that is hard to wrap your mind around!)
  • Only 9% of that is recovered.
  • All known specials of sea turtles and half the sea bird species have had run-ins with plastic (either entanglement or ingestion).
The upshot...a continued course could lead to extinction of multiple species AND toxicity on our dinner table.  But, I like that this article adds some ideas to help turn that around.  Small things each one of us can do to take action from moving to reusable, non-plastic alternatives, taking our own bags to ward off using items like plastic backs which were created to be discarded, and moving away from both synthetic fibers and microbeaded products.  By using our spending dollar as the decision maker, we can make a difference.  


For some more good ideas, check out this "Plastic Detox" poster:



Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Infographic Chronicling Our Recycling Habits

I posed the question the other day as to why on Earth (in this day and age) is it that we don't recycle more?

Apparently, there's an infographic on that.  Click here for a zoomable version of this from Good.is.

Bottom line:  It's lack of good knowledge.  So go forth and educate yourself and others so we can go forth and do Anne Arundel County's motto:  "Recycle More Often."


Infographic a screenshot from http://awesome.good.is/infographics/infographic-why-don-t-americans-recycle/351

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Recover Brothers Recycling Videos

It's 2015, and by now it should be a no-brainer to recycle.  Unfortunately, "should" is the operative Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the goal is 50% recycling, yet overall, the county is at 44% (up from years past where it was in the upper 30's percent).  This is somewhat promising, yet ask yourself how you'd feel about a score of 44% or 50% on a test.
word, and it's still not happening.

In a neat interactive over at the AA Co's "Recycle More Often" website shows some of what is still landing over at the landfill.  Along with that is the number 26% --which is the reported amount of what the county citizens could move over to their recycle bins.

Additionally, their Sesame-Street-esque video series of "The Recover Brothers" puts it into plain and simple terms:






Video from http://www.recyclemoreoften.com/video_2014.php and https://youtu.be/CUOW7hqFd-s

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Story of Microbeads

Annie Leonard from the "Story of Stuff" Project does it again,  She and her team of  activists & illustrators from Free Range Studios have created another in her series of "Story of Stuff" videos.

This time, her focus in on the tiniest of pesky tiny things:  microbeads.  What on Earth are microbeads, you ask? The technical term is polyethylene microspheres, but you know them as the little plastic grit in lotions, face cleansers, exfoliants, makeup, toothpaste, and more.  And, much like the other "Story of's..." we learn they were purposely made to go away and be thrown away. Watch here:



After watching "The Story of Microbeads," you can take it a step further and take action to "ban the bead" with the help of their informational website by learning more there, and also by sending (or modifying) their templated letter to your Senator.

For more "Story of'..." videos, be sure to check out all of these:

The Story of Stuff (Dec 2007)
The Story of Change (July 2012)
The Story of Solutions (Oct. 2013)


The "Story of Stuff:  Microbeads" video is from http://storyofstuff.org/movies/lets-ban-the-bead/; The penny/microbead pic is from http://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/313157701/why-those-tiny-microbeads-in-soap-may-pose-problem-for-great-lakes (another great article, in and of itself!)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

PBS's Loop Scoops & the Sphinx Tackle Garbage

It's been around the block awhile now, but PBS's "Loop Scoops" are a series of shorts that are designed to help you think about all of your "stuff" and how it affects both you AND the environment.  Perhaps it's not a surprise that "Story of Stuff" creator Annie Leonard is the Content Director.  She definitely has opinions on "stuff."

Here, the Loop Scoops & the Sphinx tackle "Garbage:"



For some other great kid-friendly, eco-friendly & insightful websites, check out the Loop Scoops resources.



Video from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c5cnM_TdHw;  Loop Scoops banner from http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/lpsc/ (where you can find links to many other great, thought-provoking videos about the "stuff" in your life!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Sit Back Chat with President Obama & Bill Nye The Science Guy

It's Earth Day, and you're the President.  What do you do?  Well, sit back and chat with Bill Nye the Science Guy, of course!

And where do you do it?  The Everglades.  Duh!

Topics du jour:  
  • The magic window to get "nature under your skin," grab a "life long passion (for anything),"  & "science in your blood & excited" is age 10.  Do it by then, and you've got'em hooked!!
  • Bill Nye's view on being a patriot.  Obama's questions on why schools aren't more successful in getting kids excited about STEM topics:  Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math.
To watch all 6 minutes of this brain trust, watch it below, or click here.




Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Really Paying Attention: Outdoors & In a World That's Gone Haywire

Despite already reaching my daily goal of 10,000 steps, I'm walking circles around the soccer field during my daughter's practice, begrudgingly giving the dog some exercise.

Yet as I walk circles tonight, I find my mood shifting.

When I get past my own lethargy, and really pay attention, I notice that it is truly a lovely night. The weather is quite mild and it seems spring has finally sprung. Black squirrels are romping through the woods where just last week, I saw a deer.  People of all sizes and ages are running about, engaged in their sports: my soccer girls are zipping across the field, lacrosse gents are running stamina drills, both wee ones and adults are playing baseball on both ends of the athletic complex. The swings are filled, and the whole area is abuzz not only with the freshness of spring, but also the innocence of youth.  It is as it should be, and the dog and I are maximizing our number of steps, and soaking it all in.

Yet meanwhile, not terribly far from here at all, riots, violence, & destruction abound in Baltimore. There is no springtime innocence or freshness there now, thanks to people who feel such a lack of respect that they turned a peaceful protest on its edge, destroying their own neighbors & neighborhoods. They created fires and then sabotaged the extinguishing efforts by slicing hose lines of water sources. People who will never grasp resolution at this rate due to the violence begetting just more violence. More than once has Martin Luther King, Jr been mentioned, and I literally see him shaking his head in my head, ashamed in Heaven of the horrible waste & mess people are making of Maryland's Baltimore.

I believe it's more than a racial issue: it's an American issue. Americans are turning on their fellow Americans. It's a senseless waste by unthinking people.

I also am ashamed that all this local self-inflicted destruction has led to such unsafe and scary
circumstances.  Stupidity-induced circumstances. Needless drama that has eclipsed the natural disaster and destruction of the Nepalese earthquake. THAT is a true disaster. (Well, Baltimore is unfortunately disastrous now too--but that is all man-made and could have been prevented through the choice of many.) Nepal, on the other hand, was blindsided. At last count there were over 5,000 deaths with the potential of 10,000.  Saddening and tragic.

In both places, there are innocents who have fallen in harms way. And thankfully, there are generous people in both situations who are working mightily to offer help and support. Rebuilding will be necessary in both places. But both of these situations aren't the same. One was preventable, if people would have been governed far more by love and kindness than hatred. When I think of all of this, I am ashamed of how it makes us look to the rest of the world--as Americans, turning on ourselves. What the people of Nepal would do to have such frivolous choice--and I am sure it wouldn't be to choose purposeful destruction.

So as I walk my circles around the field, I am past my initial exhaustion and desire to not be here. Instead, I am grateful for the simplicity of the green fields, and the laughter of the children that are here...and wish all of that could extend locally, nationally, and globally.

To assist with Nepal, Time Magazine offers 6 charities to check out, and a friend of mine also suggested ShelterBox USA.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day 2015

As a person who has come to travel the path o'green (the one that has nothing to do with the Blarney Stone), Earth Day is a favorite holiday of mine.  Earth Days in school are particularly fun because you see these little human sponges just soaking in the knowledge.  They "get" it.  They see it.  They innately see the importance of talking about saving the environment & its resources. The environment a lot of time is the place that holds kids' play places (even in this TV-tech realm), their animals, the places they want to be barefoot outside in.  The place where their curiosity is ripe, and the place where hands-on learning just comes naturally.  Naturally in nature...naturally, of course.

Today at my school, we had a pretty neat (& new) event called the "Earth Day Family Maker Night."  It was a fabulous night of invention, upcycling, reusing, creating, & celebrating Earth Day.  It's something definitely worth sharing, and will be featured here sometime soon.  Additionally, a week ago, we had Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, come to campus as part of a commemorative lecture series. That's another dynamic eco-piece I'm eager to write about as it was fascinating.

But for tonight, this most sacred of environmental holidays, I'm wanting to pay tribute to the most greenest of schools I've ever known, a school that holds many a memory, but yet unfortunately is now a memory itself.  Tonight, I'm honoring the 8-year MD "Green" School Eagle Cove, which closed its doors the last time last June, shortly after its final 5th grade Graduation.  Eagle Cove School was a place where "Earth Day" was not a just day, but a week, an annual event, & a lot of fun.
It was the place:
  • Where Earth Day musicals happened every year as created by our amazingly creative science & music teachers;
  •  Where a marvelous musician named Linda Richards came every year & brought her talent to our troops to create eco-parodies and a fabulous musical show (that was often held outdoors, river-side);
  • Where children's book writer and environmentalist Jennifer Keats Curtis always came and shared her writing wisdom with our young learners;
  • Where solar car races happened, birdhouses were put up, vegetables were planted in the greenhouse, animals were introduced to us, and we might even get a bit wet in the campus-side river;
  • Where we all were outdoors, doing so much, and kids were learning to become young naturalists and young activists.
Cheers to Eagle Cove, and my school family and friends.  Click here to relive some of the mighty memories of ECS's Earth Days & Weeks over the last several years.



"Happy Earth Day" 2015 pic created using the "Pic Collage" app; ECS farewell faculty pic from http://www.pasadenavoice.com/school-youth/community-says-farewell-eagle-cove-school, ECS "Dive Deep & Fly High" from http://ecsgreen.weebly.com/

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Love Mike Rowe--Taking on Pollution

Part of most days (perhaps more than I'd like to admit to) is spent dabbling around on Facebook. Checking out my little CyberTribe through social media, seeing what everyone is up to.  It's there also that I follow a lot of environmental and educational peeps, and other folks or organizations that I like and believe in.  It was here, tonight, that I ran across Mike Rowe.  No, I don't know him, but I follow him, and I generally really like his no-nonsense way of looking at and addressing things.

Today did not disappoint.  Over on Mike Rowe's Facebook page, this is how Mike's post started, and this is where I got drawn in:  
     "A couple of weeks ago, I was stuck in traffic on Lombard Street, desperate to get across the Golden Gate Bridge for a meeting I was doomed to miss. As I quietly cursed the faceless bureaucrat who approved road work during rush hour, the guy in front of me threw an empty Big Gulp out the passenger window. I watched the giant cup bounce around the street, roll into the curb, and come to rest on the grate of a storm drain. The guy was driving a Prius, and the irony was just too much to bear.
I hopped out of my car, retrieved the trash, and approached his vehicle. Squatting on the pavement, I addressed the gentleman from the passenger side. “Hi there!” I said, grinning my best gameshow host grin. “I think the wind blew this giant cup out of your environmentally friendly vehicle. Here you go....”
From there came 13 more short paragraphs on how this insensitive Prius driver polluted the world, and how perhaps every one piece of garbage out there inspires others to be equally careless and thoughtless, dumping on our world.

But, as only Mike Rowe can do, he spun this tale of evil into a story of good.  He offered up a sneak preview of his latest episode of "Somebody's Gotta Do It" on CNN, which airs tonight at 9 pm EST. Tonight he highlights Chad Pregracke, who was 2013's CNN Hero of the Year award winner.  Founder of Living Lands & Water, Chad has been featured over here at GTG in the past.  Chad is a modern day super hero, or akin to the tall tale hero Mike Fink, keelboater extraordinaire.  Perhaps the only difference being that Chad Pregracke trades in Mike Fink's keelboat for a barge or even something smaller, and works to clean up waterways with a variety of volunteers and a mountain of might.  

As always, Mike Rowe champions the good guys.  The ones who deserve it.
As well they should.

So on that note, I leave you to go set my DVR to check out Chad & Mike.  Along with that, I leave you with some parting words from Mike Rowe's facebook page:


Monday, April 13, 2015

Noah Gru Challenges You to See Through His 6 Year Old Eyes & His 3 Minute White House Student Film Fest Video

I marvel at the fact that we are living in a world where currently 2 states (Florida and Wisconsin) have declared it null and void to mention the words "climate" and "change" together.  I'm not really sure, given our constitution and that "right to free speech" thing how that is even possible.  It is a subject that thoroughly makes me shake my head.  I'm so glad that by not mentioning it, people think it just seems to go away.  

Yes, Sheldon, that's sarcasm!  Ei yie yie yie yie!

Well luckily, all is not lost, and there is still vision and wisdom out in the world.  6 year old Noah Gru knows differently.

That's right, I said 6 years old!

Noah & his family submitted a 3 minute film to the White House Student Film Festival, for students grades K--12.  That film was one of the 15 chose to screen at the White House...with Noah being the youngest one in the bunch.  Here is his film, followed by the CBS news commentary clip on the same subject.





Out of the mouths of babes.  Way to go, Noah.  If a 6 year old can "get" it, why can't politicians and others?!  We need to take care of what we have, while we still have it.

To read more about it, check out Upworthy.


Big Bang pic of Sheldon, Leonard, & Sarcasm from http://pixshark.com/sarcasm-sign-big-bang-theory.htm

Obama image from http://www.upworthy.com/this-6-year-olds-film-was-so-important-president-obama-showed-it-at-the-white-house?c=ufb1

 Noah Gru's film from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2y8_UDrGjQ; News Video from CBS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88rcSWG_HgU

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Movin' & Groovin' at the White House Easter Egg Roll 2015

It's definitely off topic, but a great memory all the same. Or maybe not--as it was a great way to spend the day outside, taking part in Michelle Obama's Let's Move movement.

This year we got the opportunity to
participate in the 137th White House Easter Egg Roll.

Part of the beauty of living in the greater Baltimore-Washington corridor is that there's a lot of history all around.  Add in a lot of opportunity.  When this year's White House Easter Egg lottery "rolled" around, we, like many Americans, put in our name. And, like 35,000 people, got picked for one of the 5 daily 2-hour timed sessions to participate.  For us, it was the 2:30--4:30 pm time slot, which made for the perfect opportunity this past Monday to leisurely ride the metro in and get where we needed to officially wait in line to get in.

Unfortunately, we didn't see anyone famous or presidential, nor did we get to dance with Michelle Obama to "Uptown Funk.".  Additionally, the kids were bummed to not see the First Pups Bo and Sunny (luckily though, they had the cardboard cutouts). But the day was beautiful and we couldn't ask for a greater way to be out in the day. We were doing our best to "do what Michelle Obama would do:" getting exercise in a #GimmeFive way, in the great outdoors.


To see some of the official highlights of the day, 

For some historic pics of Egg Rolls of days gone by, 

Lastly, click this link to watch Live With Kelly and Michael at the 



Photos of mine from Easter Monday 2015, in the LiPix app.  Easter Egg logo from https://www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

May your Easter be filled with hope, renewal, love, newness, dreams, & potential! 

Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, & new life.                            ~ Janine di Giovanni
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow. ~ Robert H. Schuller