Friday, May 31, 2013

Transforming Boston's Schoolyards

How the schoolyards ended up as asphalt fields is anyone's guess (and having worked on many schoolyards in L.A. that were blighted with the same problem, my guess would be money, but I could be wrong)........ That they have been transformed into rich, diverse and exciting places to play and learn is just fantastic and I applaud all involved.

This video should be shown to every school district that doesn't prioritize or recognize the importance of the outdoors and recess.

Truly an amazing initiative.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ludwick Marishane: A bath without water


Find more information here.

Mount Gorongosa and E.O. Wilson

In the upcoming edition of the National Geographic magazine, there is an article by E.O. Wilson, acclaimed scientist and author of The Future of Life (among many other publications) about how he worked with Gorongosa National Park to save biodiversity and help the communities living there to increase their living standards.

I love the fact that Professor Wilson used the local children to help find species by collecting whatever they could find. In fact there are many things that was astounding about this story, that local men and women plant trees every day to rebuild their lost forest, that generous people donate to their charity so that they can plant the trees and that they are saving an area that could be one of the most ecologically diverse in the world.

Check out the blog post on the Gorongosa National Parks website.


Another excellent column by George Monbiot about the State of Nature report released by the RSPB (among others) that I blogged about last week.

The current EU laws into farming practices is astounding and probably something the average citizen has no clue about. I won't paraphrase here, only urge you to check out the full article instead.

I'm on board, it's time to rewild.

(Oh, and I've wishlisted his forthcoming book, Feral.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Arianna Huffington

On the subject of commencement speeches, Arianna Huffington recently addressed the graduates of Smith College with some profound observations and advice.

"At the moment, our society’s notion of success is largely composed of two parts: money and power. In fact, success, money and power have practically become synonymous.

But it’s time for a third metric, beyond money and power — one founded on well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back. Money and power by themselves are a two-legged stool — you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over. And more and more people, very successful people, are toppling over. Basically, success the way we’ve defined it is no longer sustainable. It’s no longer sustainable for human beings or for societies. To live the lives we want, and not just the ones we settle for, the ones society defines as successful, we need to include the third metric."

Excellent stuff.

Via Brainpickings.

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was an American writer and his commencement speech for the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005 is doing the rounds again, thanks to the wonders of the internet and a new short movie using his audio and called This is Water.

I have read it and watched the new movie and what I was struck by was how far reaching his words are. For me they talk of not just our surroundings, as in people, but our environment, our connection with nature and the importance it plays in our lives. But maybe that's the genius of his words. They speak to different people in different ways.

So, please read it and make up your own mind and in the meantime I will continue to try and remember to look out the window and marvel at all the birds that come and feed from my bird feeder, to go for a walk in the forest and notice how the light hits the new beech leaves and to not give into social conditioning and cut my lawn because if I leave it to go wild it will help feed the bees.

State of Nature in the UK

The big news yesterday was the report released by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in conjunction with 24 other wildlife organistaions, that "60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether."

It was launched by Sir David Attenborough who also wrote the foreword:

"The islands that make up the United Kingdom are home to a wonderful range of wildlife that is dear to us all. From the hill-walker marvelling at an eagle soaring overhead, to a child enthralled by a ladybird on their fingertip, we can all wonder at the variety of life around us.

However, even the most casual of observers may have noticed that all is not well.

They may have noticed the loss of butterflies from a favourite walk, the disappearance of sparrows from their garden, or the absence of the colourful wildflower meadows of their youth. To gain a true picture of the balance of our nature, we require a broad and objective assessment of the best available evidence, and that is what we have in this ground-breaking State of Nature report.

This important document provides a stark warning: far more species are declining than increasing in the UK, including many of our most treasured species. Alarmingly, a large number of them are threatened with extinction.

The causes are varied, but most are ultimately due to the way we are using our land and seas and their natural resources, often with little regard for the wildlife with which we share them.

The impact on plants and animals has been profound.

Although this report highlights what we have lost, and what we are still losing, it also gives examples of how we – as individuals, organisations, governments – can work together to stop this loss, and bring back nature where it has been lost. These examples should give us hope and inspiration.

We should also take encouragement from the report itself; it is heartening to see so many organisations coming together to provide a single voice, stating loud and clear what is happening to our wildlife.

This partnership, backed by a combined membership of millions and enabled by the heroic efforts of thousands of volunteer recorders, provides a powerful force to bring the UK’s nature back to its former glory."

I know that I live in Denmark but I think that the problems in the UK are not dissimilar to the rest of Europe or even the world. To think that I might not be able to look out my window and see these little guys above (the Great Tit) is tragic. Check here if you want to get involved.

The report is here.  (link to pdf file)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hill Holt Wood

And while on the subject of 14 -19 year olds (see previous post on Studio Schools) here is a really inspiring enterprise in England, Hill Holt Wood.

They call themselves a community woodland and state on their website: "Hill Holt Wood operates in the community to provide a wide range of different services, from education and training to 14-19 year olds, adult education courses in the woodland, countryside and forestry management to the provision of “green space” at our other sites for those suffering from mental health issues."

And that is just a small part of what they offer there. Check out their website to find out more.

Studio Schools

This short video by Geoff Mulgan is worth watching. It's about the Studio Schools in the UK.

They focus on addressing "the growing gap between the skills and knowledge that young people require to succeed, and those that the current education system provides. Studio Schools pioneer a bold new approach to learning which includes teaching through enterprise projects and real work."

For anyone who remembers how boring school was when it came to parrot fashion learning, this is a breath of fresh air.

And while we're on the subject of Geoff Mulgan, check out this fascinating talk over at the RSA he did recently, about his new book "The Locust and the Bee".

Friday, May 17, 2013

Green Box

This wonderful project is doing the rounds, so I feel like joining in. Called Green Box and designed by Act Romegialli Architects, it is a small camouflaged garage for a private residence.

After just looking at yet another urban project (this one is about to start construction in the centre of Copenhagen and I'm mentioning no names but it's a big one), with not a tree/nature in sight and unfortunately typical of all ego architecture..... this project seriously speaks to me.

Via Colossal.

There's No Tomorrow (peak oil, energy, growth & the future)

I was a little unsure whether to post this or not, as I felt quite depressed after watching it.... but it's an interesting video and worth watching.

So, I'll walk to the shops today, instead of taking the car and get my act together to buy that push-pull lawnmower instead of using the gas mower we inherited with the house. See, something positive came out of it.

Massive Flannel Moth Caterpillar

One of the weirdest and most wonderful caterpillars I've ever seen..... aka  Megalopygidae. Or this.

Found via The Kid Should See This.

Monday, May 13, 2013

John Legend and his Show Me Campaign

I'm a big fan of John Legend. He has started a nonprofit organization that fights poverty, called Show Me from his song of the same name.

"Believing that equal access to quality education is the civil rights issue of our time, the Show Me Campaign fights for education reform in the United States. In Africa, Show Me works with Millennium Promise to provide clean water, health care, education and other basic tools that break the cycle of poverty."

Big fan......

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Via Dolorosa

A sobering column by George Monbiot about climate change.

"The problem is simply stated: the power of the fossil fuel companies is too great. Among those who seek and obtain high office are people characterised by a complete absence of empathy or scruples, who will take money or instructions from any corporation or billionaire who offers them, and then defend those interests against the current and future prospects of humanity."

Sir Ken Robinson

A new and fan..... bloomin'...... tastic talk on TED. Oh happy day!