nerd day.

I may be several thousand miles away from the school system I had my kids enrolled in, but via social media I am still able to keep up with the annual events.  Not long ago, I was making my way through my Instagram feed when I came upon images from friends who were sending their kids off to the various themed days of Red Ribbon Week, the daily observances of which involve dressing up in various silly ways and learning about drugs. It’s a connection that still baffles me.

If you are not accustomed to this tradition, it is sort of inextricably aligned with Nancy Reagan’s drug free agenda of the 1980s, though it seems to have had its own distinct roots. There is some criticism that this was a period of time when the increased criminalization of drugs was more or less a cover for incarcerating minorities. Beyond that, I have additional reasons for disliking the week.

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positive action: feeding america.

I was recently perusing restaurant menus online, which is something I occasionally do. I came upon a restaurant that featured a children’s menu as well as a dog menu. The offerings were not extensive, though they did offer a steak for $10. For the dogs; not the kids. Though presumably you are free to order whatever you want for whomever you want.

Feeding America claims to be able to deliver 10 meals for every dollar donated. They are doing great work in addressing the hunger issue in the United States and have been very active in helping Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

They are the organization I most recently supported with a donation.

You do not need to have money to give to get involved. Though they are a national organization, they work at the community level through food distribution centers. They welcome volunteers.

Link to their site to see how you can get involved and check the video below:

bad news.

“Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.”

~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

 

It’s hard to be an optimist when you work with environmental issues.  That’s the story line that I hear anyway.  It became the basis of such a common question in my environmental science courses – ‘how can you teach this course and not be completely depressed?’ students would ask – that I began to interject empowerment clauses throughout the semester to stop students from becoming despondent.  My final lecture is now a discourse on optimism and possibility and is probably the antithesis of anything you might expect by way of concluding a semester spent groveling in the wastewater of civilization.

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low hanging fruit.

A new film worth seeing, Wasted looks at one of the great tragedies of our time – the fact that people go hungry while we throw away food.

Our wasteful tendencies have far reaching consequences, ranging from overfishing to climate change.  These are things we generally don’t associate with the uneaten food on our plates.

The narrative breaks down the food waste issue into a stepwise approach to mitigation.  To me, this is the best kind of environmental problem to have.  The solutions are manageable, and within our grasp.  They involve beautiful things, like gardens, and they invite a fresh look at our cuisine.  The solutions can be homegrown and delicious.  What more could we ask for?

Check the trailer here –

debris.

This has been an intense period of time for me. Half of my family, virtually everyone on my wife’s side, is recovering from the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.  Two weeks in, they have just gotten running water, but are still without power.  Unless you have spent time in the islands, I don’t think you can fathom trying to sleep amidst the intense heat and humidity without so much as a fan to stir the air and nevermind the mosquitos.  In most places, the vegetation is stripped bare, so there is no longer even shade from trees.  It’s sweltering.

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