Monday, March 31, 2014

UN releases Climate Change assessment study

A UN panel has released the most comprehensive assessment yet of the effects of climate change on our planet.
  • In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.
  • Adaptation is becoming embedded in some planning processes, with more limited implementation of response. 
  • The overall risks of climate change impacts can be reduced by limiting the rate and magnitude of climate change.
  • Climate change is projected to amplify existing climate-related risks and create new risks for natural and human systems.  
BBC News website's science editor Paul Rincon breaks down the key findings from above at the link.

Sobering stuff.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Persil Kids Today Project

The washing powder giants, Persil, have just released 6 new videos about kids today and how "dirt is good".

Play face is above but checkout their website to see the others. This was found via Tim Gill, who wrote a very interesting post on the commercials.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Galillee School

Not a jungle gym in sight. Delightful.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

George Lucas on The Meaning of Life

"It is possible that on a spiritual level we are all connected in a way that continues beyond the comings and goings of various life forms. My best guess is that we share a collective spirit or life force or consciousness that encompasses and goes beyond individual life forms. There’s a part of us that connects to other humans, connects to other animals, connects to plants, connects to the planet, connects to the universe. I don’t think we can understand it through any kind of verbal, written or intellectual means. But I do believe that we all know this, even if it is on a level beyond our normal conscious thoughts.
If we have a meaningful place in this process, it is to try to fit into a healthy, symbiotic relationship with other life force. Everybody, ultimately, is trying to reach a harmony with the other parts of the life force. And in trying to figure out what life is all about, we ultimately come down to expressions of compassion and love, helping the rest of the life force, caring about others without any conditions or expectations, without expecting to get anything in return. This is expressed in every religion, by every prophet."

Via Brainpickings.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Susan Slyter's resignation letter

February 12, 2014
I am writing today to let you know that I am resigning my position as PreK and Kindergarten teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools.  It is with deep sadness that I have reached this decision, as I have loved my job, my school community, and the families and amazing and dedicated faculty I have been connected with throughout the district for the past eighteen years.  I have always seen myself as a public school teacher, and fully intended to work until retirement in the public school system.  Further, I am the product of public schools, and my son attended Cambridge Public Schools from PreK through Grade 12.  I am and always have been a firm believer in quality public education.
In this disturbing era of testing and data collection in the public schools, I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a teacher ought to do in the classroom to build a healthy, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for learning for each of our children.  I have experienced, over the past few years, the same mandates that all teachers in the district have experienced.   I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children, thereby ramping up the academic demands and pressures on them.  Each year, I have been required to spend more time attending classes and workshops to learn about new academic demands that smack of 1st and 2nd grade, instead of Kindergarten and PreK.  I have needed to schedule and attend more and more meetings about increasingly extreme behaviors and emotional needs of children in my classroom; I recognize many of these behaviors as children shouting out to the adults in their world, “I can’t do this!  Look at me!  Know me!  Help me!  See me!”  I have changed my practice over the years to allow the necessary time and focus for all the demands coming down from above.  Each year there are more.  Each year I have had less and less time to teach the children I love in the way I know best—and in the way child development experts recommend.  I reached the place last year where I began to feel I was part of a broken system that was causing damage to those very children I was there to serve.
I was trying to survive in a community of colleagues who were struggling to do the same:  to adapt and survive, to continue to hold onto what we could, and to affirm what we believe to be quality teaching for an early childhood classroom.  I began to feel a deep sense of loss of integrity.  I felt my spirit, my passion as a teacher, slip away.  I felt anger rise inside me.  I felt I needed to survive by looking elsewhere and leaving the community I love so dearly.  I did not feel I was leaving my job.  I felt then and feel now that my job left me.
It is with deep love and a broken heart that I write this letter.

Suzi Sluyter

This letter was published in The Washington Post and it says a lot about our education system today. Sadly....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Library Farm

The Northern Onondaga Public Library in New York State owned some land and decided to turn it into a farm and called it The Library Farm.
"In the spring of 2010, the farm’s first season, a dozen or so plots—which are offered free of charge to anyone with a library card—were planted. Today, around 30 gardeners farm roughly 50 plots. Individuals and families can cultivate plots on one side of the land with little or no commitment, while the other side is a dedicated “community garden” where the harvest is donated to local food pantries."
What a great concept. A learning environment outside. Article here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Friday

go for it.

 Not even close :-)

Robert Reich and Inequality for All

I am clearly way behind on this movie, but I heard about it from an article about Robert Reich here.
 "In his typically affable manner, Reich explains that the wages people earn matter to economic growth. Sustained recovery is only possible if the middle and working classes have money to spend and if, rather than cuts and austerity, investment in "public goods" is made a priority. "The top tax rates do have to rise and we have to invest much more substantially in education, infrastructure and human resources – and make sure our poor children and lower-middle-class children all have real chances to get ahead." "
Inequality for All is going straight on my Netflix wishlist.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

"Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."

Excellent and depressing article by Nafeez Ahmed over at The Guardian. I say depressing because even though it is a NASA-funded study, it doesn't necessarily mean that the greedy monsters will listen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cheetah mum and cub

Beautiful photo by Ken Dyball.

Found over at my new daily dose of all things awesome, Awkward Situationist.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can you learn to be creative?

"Sandra Russ, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has spent 23 years studying the way children in the US play when they are given two puppets and three building blocks. She has found that the scenarios the children act out with the toys are more imaginative today than at any time since the 1980s."

From an interesting article at BBC Future.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Community Forest International

Community Forest International in Canada is building a Rural Innovation Campus on it’s 235 hectare farm & forest property. They invited designers to come up with ideas for their first building on the campus that blurred the lines between humans and nature.

It was hard to pick one to feature above so please check out the rest of the entries here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

First World War Centenary Woods

"Today, the Woodland Trust launches its First World War Centenary Woods project which will see millions of trees planted across the UK and four flagship woods created – in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War.

In addition to the 1,000 acres of woodland created at these four Centenary Woods, there will be over 3 million free trees available to schools, community groups and youth groups for planting, and we hope that landowners and communities across the country will get involved to create hundreds of new woods containing millions of trees.

These symbolic trees and woods will transform the landscape into rich, vibrant and flourishing woodland and will stand proud as a lasting legacy for those who fought, those who lost their lives, and also for their loved ones on the home front who supported them from afar."


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Knits for Nature

The Penguin Foundation in Australia dresses penguins in jumpers to prevent them from cleaning their feathers and ingesting the toxins on their bodies after an oil spill. The jumpers also keep them warm.

Doesn't get much cuter than a penguin in a sweater..... Follow the link below and you can download the pattern to make one yourself and donate it.

Via Taxi.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hidden Woods

Wonderful poem and film by Hollie McNish and film maker Ben Dowden.

Via Tim Gill.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Catherine Nelson

I have posted about Catherine Nelsons' beautiful work before. Her new series of collages is called Exhibition and will be shown at the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney in May.

Via Colossal.

Friday, March 7, 2014

People St

Just found out about People St in my old hunting grounds, L.A...... 
"Communities can transform underused areas of L.A.’s largest public asset—our 7,500 miles of city streets—into active, vibrant, and accessible public space with People St, a program of the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Eligible Community Partners can apply for approval to create projects that enhance the quality of life in this city. Three innovative types of projects are available: Plazas, Parklets, and Bicycle Corrals."
There is way too much on their website to paraphrase here. I will say though, that there is a deadline to register online, April 30th.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Representation project

"The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or circumstance can fulfill their potential."

Loving pets v loving animals

"Loving our dogs and cats we put a strain upon the natural order that is felt most grievously by the birds and beasts of the field. And even if those creatures have no rights, this does not cancel the fact that we have duties towards them. Their duties become everyday more serious and demanding, as we humans expand to take over the habitats that we confiscate without scruple and enjoy without remorse."

A Point of View by Roger Scruton.

Lion Guardians


Lion Guardians Project.