June, 2013 Dear Ben and Jerry’s Intern, We are excited to have you work and learn with us here at the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps! We’re looking forward to a great summer where, together, we’ll get a great deal done and help those in need. As you will learn, we have high expectations of everyone who works with and for the VYCC. I have no doubt you will grow stronger as you complete important work projects; but to be part of the VYCC, to be a leader, to change the world, you need to exercise your mind as well as your body. With this in mind we developed the Writing, Reading, and Discussion (WoRD) book. In WoRD you will find readings on topics ranging from environmental and social issues to inspirational stories and poems that will provoke a range of feelings – curiosity, amazement, joy, or even anger. To truly be a leader, you need to learn how to thoughtfully, respectfully, and constructively communicate these emotions and values, especially with others who may not share your same beliefs – WoRD will give you this opportunity. WoRD exists because changing the world requires an educated and informed citizenry. To be clear, the primary purpose of WoRD is NOT to improve your reading and writing skills, nor is it to fill your head with facts and figures. My hope is that WoRD will inspire you to read and learn something new every day, to share what you discover about the world, and in doing so, discover new things about yourself. I am counting on you to mine this VYCC experience for all it’s worth and then to use what you have learned to change the world. So go ahead – be passionate, be a leader, change yourself, change the world. The stakes are high and you can make all the difference. Sincerely,
Thomas Hark Founding President and Bad Joke Teller Extraordinaire email@example.com
June, 2013 Welcome to the Ben & Jerry’s-Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Community Leadership Internship Program (“CLIP”)! You will be an integral player in this pilot leadership program, and we are so excited to embark on this new adventure with you. For many youth, we know that Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops are their very first place of employment. This is an honor and a wonderful opportunity for us to play a role in the development of young leaders in our community. By joining forces with VYCC to create CLIP, we hope to instill values of service, leadership and linked prosperity in Ben & Jerry’s employees, helping you emerge as active and engaged leaders of your communities. We hope you enjoy this program, take time to reflect and engage, and, most importantly, be inspired to go and do great things! All my best,
Debra Heintz Ben & Jerry’s Global Director of Retail Operations
Acknowledgments and History The WoRD book was created in 1989 by former Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Crew Leader John Zaber, with Dana Hearn, and Thomas Hark. John created WoRD for his senior thesis at Burlington College and Dana and Thomas provided overall direction and facilitated the document’s development. WoRD was field-tested that summer and then put into action. Over the years, the VYCC has regularly updated and revised WoRD. In 1991 Becca Bond, past Corps Member, re-designed and revised WoRD, while Kristin Roeder provided numerous drawings. David Sheehan, VYCC Intern, and Operations Director Tom Longstreth completed the 1993 update. In 1994 Parks Coordinator Laura Scott and Business Manager Lela McCaffrey completed a thorough revision, and in 1997 Mansfield Camp Director Kim McKellar, Environmental Educator Jenny Evans, and Special Projects Director Scott McArdle completed another version. In 2000 Mike Flores, Mike Stannard, and Steven Gaffney, all past Corps Members and Leaders, and Thomas Hark completed an update. The 2001 edition of WoRD was a combined effort between Corps Member Heather Martin and Conservation Coordinator Nia Vestal. In 2003 Crew Leader Skip Shewell and Education and Training Director JJ Boggs overhauled WoRD again, and in 2005 and 2007 Heather Nielsen completed a thorough revision as VYCC’s Education and Training Vista and then Manager. In 2009 the WoRD book was edited by Kat Coons and it was edited by Eliza Kenigsberg in 2011. This most recent version – specifically edited for Ben & Jerry’s employees – was edited by Breck Knauft and Ken Russack. We hope you are pleased, excited, spurred into action, inspired, and fired up by the articles you find in this newest incarnation of WoRD! As always, we welcome your feedback. If you would like to be a part of the next revision team, please let us know as the best people to update it are the people who have used it! Feel free to let us know your thoughts by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WORD INTRODUCTION ........................................................ 1 WORD FACILITATION TIPS ................................................ 2 PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, COMMUNITY BUILDING, AND ETHICS ............ ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT DEFINED. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LEADERSHIP ......................... 4 Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Mission Statement ...... 4 Attitude ................................................................................. 6 Why Do You Get Out of Bed Each Morning? ...................... 7 Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody ............................ 7 Someone Is Watching ........................................................... 8 Tao of Leadership ............................................................... 10 Compass Points .................................................................. 12 COMMUNITY BUILDING .......................................................... 14 Mending Wall ..................................................................... 14 What is Consensus? ............................................................ 16 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ................................................. 19 LOCAL AND NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ................... 20
Wal-Mart Sees Green Fortune Magazine (excerpt) ........... 20 The Lamoille Stories (excerpt) ........................................... 22 Do today’s kids have “nature-deficit disorder”? .............. 24 WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING ................................ 32 A Package Deal .................................................................. 32 The Secret Life of My Computer......................................... 35 The World's Rubbish Dump: .............................................. 37 WILDERNESS ........................................................................... 43 Wild Geese .......................................................................... 43 No More Roads! Let the People Walk! .............................. 43 The Peace of Wild Things ................................................... 45 Earth Magic ........................................................................ 46 AGRICULTURE AND ENERGY ......................................... 49 A Cure for the Common Farm? .......................................... 49 How Corn Took Over America: A Field of Corn ............... 52 v
Stanford Finds Big Benefits from Big Ag ........................... 54 The Hidden Costs of Oil ..................................................... 56 SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES……………………………......... 60 FAMILIES, POVERTY ............................................................... 60 The Hidden Homeless ........................................................ 60 Dumpster Diving? .............................................................. 62 What Is Poverty? ................................................................ 65 Banker to the Poor (excerpt) .............................................. 68 EDUCATION............................................................................. 70 What is Illiteracy? .............................................................. 70 The Trouble with Boys ....................................................... 71 Angels on a Pin: A Modern Parable .................................. 76 SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY ..................................................... 79 Vermont Lawmakers Grapple with Sexting Bill ................. 79 Social Networking Site’s Mission Statements .................... 80 If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online ........... 81 If We Only Knew, If He Only Told Us ................................ 84 INSPIRATION, REFLECTION, AND STORIES .............. 101 I Have a Dream ................................................................ 101 The Lorax ......................................................................... 102 The Ripple Effect .............................................................. 106 The Cracked Jar ............................................................... 108 ADDITIONAL JOURNAL TOPICS: .................................. 110 QUOTES: ................................................................................ 111 WORD COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK ........................... 113 BEN AND JERRY’S………………………...…...…APPENDIX Big Picture, Small World PeaceBuilding ClimateJustice CaringDairy FairTrade Service Standards vi
A Word About Copyrights: WoRD 2012 is a product of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. It is a working document and compilation of "written word." It is used for non-profit, educational purposes only. Throughout the document, all articles and readings have been appropriately credited when possible. Some articles have been edited for length and are noted with (excerpt) by the credit line. The unabridged version can be found at the designated location. The VYCC is solely responsible for this publication and its contents.
WoRD INTRODUCTION WoRD is an acronym for Writing, Reading, and Discussion. WoRD consists of a daily reading, a group discussion, and a journal entry. Each day you are here at the VYCC, you will read a selected article aloud as a group. Each article is related to a theme. If you don't understand the article or have a hard time reading, ask for help. At some point in the day you and your crew will discuss the reading. You might begin the discussion by summarizing the article and reading the discussion questions. It is key that you discuss your personal reaction to the article. It's okay if you didn't like the article, or if you disagree. Everyone should make an effort to share his or her opinion. At first it may seem difficult to speak out. Relax. Once you feel comfortable, it will be easier to voice your opinions. You have important things to say and your voice counts. We all have different experiences and opinions to share and your thoughts can be a powerful influence for someone else. Whatever your opinion, listen to others express their thoughts. Interrupting or insulting your co-worker or refusing to listen to another view will not be accepted. If you want your opinion to be respected, be willing to listen to another person's view. Weâ€™ve also left room in this book for journal entries; we encourage you to write in it daily. It is your personal time to make specific journal entries related to the topics. Writing is another important way you can freely express your opinions, thoughts, and ideas. You can expand on how you felt about the discussion, or share ideas with your friends, bosses, or VYCC leaders. No one will be graded. The journal is a place for you to reflect on your work in the VYCC and on the topic of the day. Be creative and enjoy! WoRD should be fun! This is a community experience where you get to learn from yourself and others. Jump in!
WORD FACILITATION TIPS WoRD can be an empowering opportunity for individuals and a team-building experience for crews. As a facilitator there are several keys to making WoRD an enjoyable, challenging, and engaging daily crew experience. Prepare ahead of time: Make WoRD a daily ritual. Look through this ahead of time to identify articles you would like to discuss. Are there ones you aren’t comfortable discussing? If so, let us know. Review important “safe zone” characteristics each day: Everyone at eye level in a circle Everyone has their own WoRD book No sunglasses Agree to disagree One person talks at a time; no interruptions No criticizing other people’s thoughts Respect each other WoRD stays in WoRD Facilitator is neutral Everyone participates to their fullest potential Read the article (20 minutes) Go around the circle and each take turns reading a sentence or a paragraph. Define difficult words by reviewing the footnotes and referring to a dictionary. Summarize the article’s main points. Discuss the topic (20 minutes) Use the provided questions or create your own. Use props and/or a ‘talking stick.’ Ask open ended questions. Get creative! Assign viewpoints, hold a town meeting, or otherwise enliven the discussion. Journal (20 minutes) Provide more than one journal question. Encourage people to move to a nearby spot that is comfortable.
Offer creative journaling options like writing a poem or letter to a friend about the discussion or the topic. Encourage people to personalize their journals. Use positive reinforcement when responding to journal entries. Do not focus on grammatical mistakes when commenting on journal entries. Make it fun and interesting: Vary discussion techniques. Vary the location of where WoRD takes place. Tie WoRD into work projects or guest speakers. Design a debate. Follow up reading, discussing, and writing with other kinds of activities like team-building experiences, crew projects, and art projects. Share viewpoints “popcorn” style (offering comments in no particular order). Ask members of the crew to take turns facilitating. Sensitive topics: Have people list topics they would rather not discuss in their journals; check later in the season to see if feelings have changed. Start with less controversial topics until the crew members are comfortable with one another. Read your crew and know when to tackle sensitive topics and when to wait.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LEADERSHIP
Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Mission Statement Thomas Hark, VYCC President and Founder January 11, 2005 "To teach individuals to take personal responsibility for all of their actions." This mission is ultimately what the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps is all about. When you think about the statement, itâ€™s pretty powerful. Some might say radical. The implications are huge. Our goal is nothing less than to change the worldâ€Śat least our little corner of it. Our objective is for each person involved with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps to really understand and practice this philosophy. The idea is to take complete, 100% responsibility for all of your actions.
At its most basic level, this means being responsible for what we say and what we do. Sound simple enough? Think about it. It is, and it isn't. Let me try and explain... We each control whether we will be on time or not. We control what we say. We control how hard we study, what we eat, how we treat co-workers, our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. If you are late to work because your Mom did not wake you up early enough, who is responsible and why? If you have a bad teacher and you don't do as well in that class as you would like, who is responsible and why? You and your boyfriend/girlfriend get in a fight, who is responsible? Your crew is behind on its work goal, who is responsible? We lose another million acres of rain forest, who is responsible? A kid in your school has graffiti written on his car because he has proclaimed he is gay, who is responsible? We decide whether or not to toss garbage out the window, to eat at a fast food restaurant, or to ride a bike to work. The list goes on and on. If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we are very much in control. For example, a Corps Member may say, “I don't control what food I eat in the VYCC;” however, it was that Corps Member’s choice to join the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Thus, she is controlling her food through that choice. Like everyone else, we are constantly making choices. Our natural environment is in jeopardy because too many of us are willing to give up our control to companies, town officials, and governments. We as a community decide whether to buy products or not, whether to vote or not, whether to write a letter and take action or not. As in anything, some choices are better than others. Some lead to success and others do not. However, what makes the difference in the end is whether we truly own up to these choices. At this point, someone may suggest that it is not always possible to control what we do and what we say. Indeed, it is not possible to control our emotions or the thoughts that come into our heads. For example, if someone spits in your face you will probably get angry. You can't control that. However, you absolutely control how you respond, including what comes out of your mouth and whether you throw a punch or not. No question about it. I have been involved in the VYCC for twenty years because I have a deep and enthusiastic zeal for the environment. I have very strong opinions about it. I feel that if the Corps Members, Leaders, and Headquarters Staff in this organization truly understand and take our mission of personal responsibility
with them, I will have helped the environment immeasurably. Because ultimately, the only way for us to protect the environment is for many individuals to truly take responsibility for all of their own actions. It gets really exciting when I think how this radical idea (our mission) might affect all sorts of stuff in addition to the environment; things like school, business, our hometowns, and, just as importantly, the personal relationships we have. Think about it. This is pretty radical stuff in our society today. I believe that in time we can change the world...certainly our small corner of it. We don't need to be responsible for every bad thing that happens in the world. However, we do need to be responsible for all of our own actions--for what we say and do. That is all. Discussion: Do you think taking personal responsibility for all of your actions is pretty radical or do you think it is the norm? Why? What are ways you already take personal responsibility for your actions? In what areas of your life do you have trouble taking personal responsibility? Is this philosophy important enough to share with other people? If so, how can we teach others to take personal responsibility? If you could change the VYCC’s mission statement, what would it be? Attitude Charles Swindoll Date unknown The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break…a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…
We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Discussion: Does attitude have anything to do with taking personal responsibility? If so, what is the connection? Do you agree with the author’s last line that “life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it?” In general how is your crew’s attitude? What is the attitude of the world these days? If everyone embraced this philosophy, how could this idea change the world? Think of a time you reacted well in a challenging situation. What was your attitude like? Think of a time you reacted poorly. Was your attitude different? Why Do You Get Out of Bed Each Morning? Author and date unknown Why do you get out of bed each morning? Is it your job? Is it to fulfill a hope or dream? Is it the annoying alarm clock? Is it the chance to make a difference, however great, however small, in your work, your family, your community, and possibly even the world in which you live? Your answer could change your life. It could also change the lives of those around you. Discussion: What is your answer to the author’s question? Is your motivation to get out of bed each day here with the VYCC different or the same as it is at home? What motivates you through the rest of the day? What motivates you to complete a session working for the VYCC?
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody Charles Osgood
There was a most important job that needed to be done, And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none. But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask Is who exactly will it be who'll carry out the task? Anybody could have told you that Everybody knew That this was something Somebody would surely have to do. Nobody was unwilling; Anybody had the ability. But Nobody believed that it was their responsibility. It seemed to be a job that Anybody could have done, If Anybody thought he was supposed to be the one. But since Everybody recognized that Anybody could, Everybody took for granted that Somebody would. But Nobody told Anybody that we are aware of, That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of. And Nobody took it on himself to follow through, And do what Everybody thought that Somebody would do. When what Everybody needed so did not get done at all, Everybody was complaining that Somebody dropped the ball. Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame, And Everybody looked around for Somebody to blame. Somebody should have done the job And Everybody should have, But in the end Nobody did What Anybody could have. Discussion: How does this poem relate to the VYCC mission? What real life situation could this poem describe? Have you ever been in a position where you expected Somebody else to get a job done and they expected you to do it? What happened? If you could go back and change the situation what would you do differently?
Someone Is Watching Paul Owens, Director of Pennsylvania Conservation Corps November 2007 Someone is watching you. Did you know that? Someone is paying attention to everything you do and how you do it. Someone is learning from you! It may
be a sibling or some other relative. It may be a friend or acquaintance. This person is probably younger than you and of your gender. You may not even realize you’re being watched, but you are. Did you know you were going to be a teacher and a role model? Did you ever imagine that someone would be watching how you live your life and try to become as much like you as possible? Well, it’s true. Younger people are always looking to older people for guidance on how to live and behave—and you are now older than a lot of other people. Think about the people you’ve known and all the things you’ve learned from them. Maybe you learned that it’s good to be tough so people won’t push you around. Or that being angry, blowing up, and cussing other people out will help you get your way. Or that being a jokester is a good way of avoiding responsibility. Maybe you learned that someone can drop out of school and yet still seem to be doing okay. Or that you should spend money as fast as you make it, before someone else takes it way. Or that it’s fine to get wasted every weekend and call that a ‘good time.’ Maybe you learned…Well, you get the idea. We learn so many things in the process of growing up, and much of what we learn comes from watching other people. You are now one of those ‘other people,’ and someone is watching you. You might want to ask yourself what you are teaching, and if it’s what you really want to be teaching. Ask yourself, ‘Am I happy with who I am, and satisfied with the way my life is going?” I know people who pretend to be happy and satisfied, but are really miserable deep inside. They want something different but don’t know how to achieve it. I know people who act tough, but most of the really aren’t. It’s just a cover because they’re afraid of being hurt. I know people who use anger to get their way. Most of them simply don’t know any other way to get what they want. I know jokesters. Often, they are terribly afraid of failing and try to hide their fear with comedy. I’ve know high school dropouts, and none of them said, 10 years later, that leaving school was the right thing to do. I’ve known people who spent their money to feel good and people who used alcohol and drugs to escape from reality. The spendthrifts are substituting immediate gratification for long-term success and happiness, and the drinkers and drug users are only fooling themselves. If you like who you are and are satisfied with where you are in life, you don’t need to escape. So, what are you teaching to those who are watching you? Do you want your younger brother or sister to be just like you when they get to be your age? If not, you may need to start doing some things differently.
That’s not always easy, however. Most of us learn how to do things one way—usually from watching someone—and if that one way seems to work (and doesn’t lead quickly to any unpleasant consequences) it quickly becomes a habit. If you want to break that habit, get out of that rut, you may need some help. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there to assist you. Start with your Crew Leader. Although Crew Leaders aren’t perfect (none of us are), they know they are role models and they take that responsibility seriously. Does your Crew Leader have a skill or a behavior you would like to have? Ask him or her about it. Then think of the other people in your life. Friends and relatives, neighbors, members of your church or community group—these people too, can help you make the changes you need to make. What about business owners? Many would be flattered if you told them you admired their traits or talents and wanted to be like them. Look around. Someone you know has the skill or behavior you would like to master. You are a role model for someone. Are you teaching him or her how to have a happy, satisfying life, or how to be miserable? Teach carefully: your lessons are passed on for years to come. Remember, someone is always watching and learning from you. “I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration form the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.’ – Kahlil Gibran Discussion: Have you ever thought of yourself as a role model before? Who do you think looks up to you? What characteristics are you portraying that others might pick up on? Are they healthy or unhealthy? Do you think it’s true that others notice things about you that you’re not aware of? Whom do you admire? What characteristics do they have that you want to strengthen in yourself? Tao of Leadership John Heider Based on Lao Ten`s Tao Te Ching 1985 Water The wise leader is like water.
Consider water: water cleanses and refreshes all creatures without distinction and without judgment; water freely and fearlessly goes deep beneath the surface of things; water is fluid and responsive; water follows the law freely. Consider the leader: the leader works in any setting without complaint, with any person or issue that comes on the floor; the leader acts so that all will benefit and serves well regardless of the rate of pay; the leader speaks simply and honestly and intervenes in order to shed light and create harmony. From watching the movements of water, the leader has learned that in action, timing is everything. Like water, the leader is yielding. Because the leader does not push, the group does not resent or resist. Unbiased Leadership Can you mediate1 emotional issues without taking sides or picking favorites? Can you breathe freely and remain relaxed even in the presence of passionate fears and desires? Are your own conflicts clarified? Is your house clean? Can you be gentle with all factions and lead the group without dominating? Can you remain open and receptive, no matter what issues arise? Can you know what is emerging, yet keep your pace while others discover for themselves? Learn to lead in a nourishing manner. Learn to lead without being possessive. Learn to be helpful without taking credit Learn to lead without coercion2. You can do this if you remain unbiased, clear, and down-to-earth. Discussion: What does the author mean by â€œLike water, the leader is yielding?â€? What is the most important quality a leader should have? Do you believe every member of your crew is a leader in some way? Is it important that you all are? Why or why not? Who are some leaders you admire and why? 1 act as a go-between, reconcile 2 force or intimidation
Compass Points Adapted for the WoRD book Our Voices: Our Communities- VT Children’s Forum and Rural Partnership April 2007 One way we are all different is in the way we relate to others as part of a group, our ‘personal style.’ What follows is an activity, called Compass Points, which we can use to explore the aspects of our differences. After we identify our own personal style, we will talk about how it serves us well and how it might present challenges when we work with people who operate in different ways. This is an opportunity to identify the strengths of different styles as well as ways to grow or become more flexible as group members. Step 1. We will read the following Personal Style descriptions. People are a mix of styles but usually each of us has a dominant style that we use more often than the others. For this activity, your job is to determine that dominant style. Focus on your style first, not anyone else’s and try to wait to identify yours until you move on to Step 2. Personal Style Descriptions North Person: This action-oriented individual takes charge, plunges into a new challenge without hesitation, and is not afraid to try new things. The North Person will not find it necessary to understand all the details of a task to start problem-solving. They learn by doing and adjust as they go along. When presented with a new task, North People will be the ones saying, “All right! Let’s do it! When do we start?!” East Person: The East Person likes to step back and get a sense of the big picture before taking action. They explore options and “what if” scenarios to make sure that what they are going to do makes sense. When presented with a new task, East People will be asking for more information, thinking of many creative solutions, and seeking a clear and rich vision for what lies ahead before acting. South Person: The South Person is sensitive to the quality of the relationships of individuals in his or her life and is often guardian or caretaker of these relationships. This individual will be aware of the process of making decisions. They will note when there is conflict or tension, seeking to reach a compromise acceptable to all. When presented with a new task, South People
will be most attentive to including differing ideas and checking if everyone is feeling OK about group decisions. West Person: The West Person seeks structure and organization. They want to know the practical aspects of any new task: What exactly is our endpoint? What do we do first, second, third? What resources will we need? Who will be responsible? They have the ability to think through details and transform ideas into concrete steps in a logical sequence. When presented with a new task, West People will want clarity about exactly what the destination will be and can then help identify the steps to get there. Step 2. Designate four areas near your WoRD circle, one for each compasspoint group. Go to your respective spots when you have decided on your own personal style, bringing your WoRD book and journal. Step 3. Have each group talk about these four questions (10min). 1. What are the strengths of our style? (four adjectives1) 2. What are the limitations of our style? (four adjectives) 3. What style do we find the most difficult to work with and why? 4. What do other people need to know about us so that we can work together more effectively? Designate a facilitator and a recorder in each group. Step 4. When they have finished, ask each group to report their answers to the four questions and move into the discussion questions Discussion Questions: What was it like to do this activity and talk about differences in this way? Did the four styles ring true to you? What did you find helpful about doing this activity? How does your dominant style affect your school life? Relationships with peers? Life outside school? Are there any stereotypes we assign to each compass point? What happens when we stereotype in this way? What happens when we have a big task to address as a group and any one â€œcompass pointâ€? is missing?
1 Descriptive word
COMMUNITY BUILDING Mending Wall Robert Frost 1914 Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. The work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Where they have left not one stone on stone, But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at spring mending-time we find them there. I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls We have to use a spell to make them balance: "Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, One on a side. It comes to little more: He is all pine and I am apple-orchard. My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors." Spring is the mischief1 in me, and I wonder If I could put a notion in his head: "Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him, But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather He said it for himself. I see him there, Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top In each hand, like an old stone-savage, armed. He moves in darkness as it seems to me, Not of woods only and the shade of trees. He will not go behind his father's saying, And he likes having thought of it so well He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors." Discussion: What does “good fences make good neighbors” mean to you? What kinds of walls, whether psychological, social, or cultural, do we construct in our society? Why do we do this? Which opinion about walls in this poem do you side with? How would you describe a “good neighbor?” What are some historical walls that have been built and then torn down? How do walls and fences relate to immigration issues? Do walls keep people in or out?
1 playful in a naughty or misbehaving way
What is Consensus? Original WoRD Article 1989 Webster's Dictionary defines consensus as "group solidarity1 in sentiment and belief.â€? Clearly, this is not easy to achieve, however, groups that can make decisions by consensus tend to be much stronger and closer than other groups. To achieve consensus, everyone must be included in the discussion and the group must reach an agreement that is acceptable to each group member. Any dissent can block consensus. The Situation: On vacation in July, you and your family have been traveling through the wilderness of western Maine in a pick-up camper. In a blinding rainstorm you made a wrong turn on an unmarked lumber road. You have wandered more than 150 miles over a maze of lumber routes into the wilderness. The truck has run out of gas and now you, your parents, a ten-year-old sister, a six-yearold brother, and the family cat, named Charity, are lost. After a family conference, you decide it is not wise to split up. You are going to try to walk back all together. You are pretty sure that if you pace yourselves, you can probably cover about 15 miles a day. There are no helicopters or jeeps patrolling the area, and you have seen no other cars or houses. The family is dressed in lightweight summer clothing and is wearing sneakers. Temperatures at night go down in the low forties and it is bug season. As you look around you pull the following 29 items out of the camper, some of which may be useful. fishing gear 44 Magnum/ammo matches marshmallows (4 bags) 2 walkie-talkies 10-gallon jug of water house and car keys large Coleman stove snakebite kit first aid kit raft paddles
$500 in traveler's checks 4 Dacron2 sleeping bags 3-lbs. of steak bug repellent road map of Maine instant oatmeal cigarettes family tent (10 lbs.) alarm clock bathing suits 10-lb. wheel of cheese
1 a union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group 2 a type of synthetic insulation
transistor radio 5-lb. tub of peanut butter hunting knife paperback books
extra 6-ft. tent pole 5 cans of kidney cat food 20-lb. inflatable rubber raft gallon of white gas
The Task: You must choose, and put in priority order, the fifteen most important items for survival in the wilderness. The others can be eliminated. Guidelines: Remember that time is very limited in this situation so you will need to keep your comments brief and to the point. Avoid argument. Present your position, but listen to the other members' reactions and consider them carefully before you press your point. Do not assume that someone must win and someone must lose in discussions. Instead look for the next most acceptable alternative for all parties. Do not change your mind just to avoid conflict or to reach agreement and harmony. When agreement comes too quickly and easily, be suspicious. Be sure that everyone accepts the solution for basically the same reasons. Avoid conflict-reducing techniques such as majority votes, averages, coin flips, and bargaining. When a reluctant member finally agrees, don't feel that he or she must be rewarded at a later point. Differences of opinion are natural and expected. Seek them out and try to involve everyone in the decision process. Disagreements can help the group's decision because with a wide range of information and opinions there is a greater chance youâ€™ll reach a consensus. Consensus does not mean that everyone agrees initially, rather it is a way for group members to come to agreement through compromise1. Activity: Read and review the exercise as a crew. Think about how you will rate each item. Allow a half-hour time limit to accomplish the task through consensus. You must reach a consensus on fifteen items. Discussion: Describe the process of reaching consensus. Did you follow the guidelines? Was anyone left out? Did one person assume leadership? Did
1 a settlement of differences in which each side gives up something to reach agreement
anyone block the consensus? How did you resolve disputes? How was organization necessary? Was there confusion? Does consensus feel like a useful "tool"? Why do you think consensus would be more important to use in this situation as opposed to â€œmajority rules?â€? What did you learn about your crew or individual crew members during this activity? After doing this activity as a group, what kinds of things will you keep in mind when you are faced with your next crew problem?
Mike Adams and Dan Berger
LOCAL AND NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES Wal-Mart Sees Green Fortune Magazine (excerpt) Marc Gunther August 7, 2006 Wal-Mart has decided to help save the earth. Just listen to Lee Scott, the retailing giant's CEO. "To me," he says, "there can't be anything good about putting all these chemicals in the air. There can't be anything good about the smog you see in cities. There can't be anything good about putting chemicals in these rivers in Third World countries so that somebody can buy an item for less money in a developed country. Those things are just inherently wrong, whether you are an environmentalist or not. In a speech broadcast to all of Wal-Mart's facilities last November, Scott set several ambitious goals: Increase the efficiency of its vehicle fleet by 25 percent over the next three years, and double efficiency in ten years. Eliminate 30 percent of the energy used in stores. Reduce solid waste from U.S. stores by 25 percent in three years. Wal-Mart says it will invest $500 million in sustainability projects, and the company has done a lot more than draw up targets. It has quickly become, for instance, the biggest seller of organic milk and the biggest buyer of organic cotton in the world. It is working with suppliers to figure out ways to cut down on packaging and energy costs. It has opened two "green" supercenters. Plenty of people won't buy it - or anything else from Wal-Mart. To labor leaders, left-wing elites, and the small-is-beautiful crowd, the $312-billion-ayear retailer stands for everything that's wrong with big business. They see the company in a race to pave the planet and turn it into a giant emporium of cheap goods built on the back of cheap labor. The union-funded Web site walmartwatch.com dismisses Wal-Mart's environmental push as a "high-priced green-washing campaign." It's no wonder that inside Wal-Mart some veteran executives grouse that Scott's green crusade will be a costly distraction. Many remember the last time Wal-Mart set out an initiative this broad: founder Sam Walton's 1985 "Made in the U.S.A." campaign. That move burnished Wal-Mart's red-white-and-blue image, but it wasn't long before critics noted that Wal-Mart continued to seek
out goods from the absolute lowest-cost supplier - and typically that meant "Made Anywhere but America." Indeed, Wal-Mart's single-minded desire to save its customers money has been its raison d'ĂŞtre1 for 44 years. So how does that square with its green conversion? When Scott first took on the top job at Wal-Mart, he undertook a review of its legal and PR2 woes - and it wasn't a short list. A lawsuit alleging that WalMart discriminated against its female employees had been certified as a federal class action. Opponents blocked new stores in the suburbs of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. A study found that Wal-Mart's average spending on health benefits for its employees was 30 percent less than the average of its retail peers. The company's environmental record was nothing to boast about either: It had paid millions of dollars to state and federal regulators for violating air- and water-pollution laws. For years Wal-Mart simply brushed off such criticism. "We would put up the sandbags and get out the machine guns," Scott recalls. After all, business was good. They were saving their customers billions, fighting for the little guy. Scott wondered, "If we had known ten years ago what we know now, what would we have done differently that might have kept us out of some of these issues or would have enhanced our reputation? It seemed to me that ultimately many of the issues that had to do with the environment were going to wind up with people feeling like we had a greater responsibility than we were, at the time, accepting." So Wal-Mart spent nearly a year working with outside consultants to measure the company's environmental impact. Fairly quickly, they spotted waste that Wal-Mart's legendary cost cutters had overlooked. On Kid Connection, its private-label line of toys, for instance, Wal-Mart found that by eliminating excessive packaging, it could save $2.4 million a year in shipping costs, 3,800 trees, and one million barrels of oil. On its fleet of 7,200 trucks Wal-Mart determined it could save $26 million a year in fuel costs merely by installing auxiliary power units that enable the drivers to keep their cabs warm or cool during mandatory ten-hour breaks from the road. Before that, they'd let the truck engine idle all night, wasting fuel. 1 â€˜reason for beingâ€™, underlying principal 2 Public Relations
Experts from the World Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and even Greenpeace have made the pilgrimage to Bentonville. "I can honestly say I never expected to be at Wal-Mart's headquarters watching people do the Wal-Mart cheer," says John Hocevar, a Greenpeace campaigner. The environmental campaign that Scott admits started out as a "defensive strategy" was, in his view, "turning out to be precisely the opposite." His people were feeling better about the company. They were saving their customers money. That was one of Wal-Mart's strengths. Another was twisting the arms of suppliers, which is why the impact of Wal-Mart's ecoinitiative is potentially more world-changing than most big companies. WalMart sells organic cotton, laundry soap, and light bulbs to millions. When shoppers see a display promoting "the bulb that pays for itself, again and again and again," they'll be reminded of their own environmental impact. By buying energy-efficient bulbs they'll also save money on their utility bills, leaving them more money to spend at, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. The bigger idea here is that poor and middle-income Americans are every bit as interested in buying green products as are the well-to-do, so long as they are affordable. Plenty of places sell fair-trade coffee, for example. Only Wal-Mart sells it for $4.71 a pound. "The potential here is to democratize the whole sustainability idea - not make it something that just the elites on the coasts do but something that small-town and middle America also embrace," says Conservation International's Glenn Prickett. Discussion: Does Wal-Martâ€™s current activities toward being â€œGreenâ€? cancel out all of its other actions that are harmful to the environment? Some say that buying locally is the most environmentally positive move you can make. How would Wal-Mart change if each store only sold items produced within a 250 mile radius? Do you agree that right now, living sustainably is something only the elites can do? What are some ways everyone can lower their environmental impact no matter his/her income?
The Lamoille Stories (excerpt) Bill Schubart Vermont Public Radio November 28, 2008 Small businesses like bookstores define and enrich a healthy community. I know because my town of Hinesburg just got one and it's changing my bookbuying habits. You may remember the New Yorker cover last year where a
person looking furtive1 and uncomfortable is standing on the sidewalk next to the "going out of business" sign in the local bookstore over which he lives. He is exchanging with the UPS driver an Amazon box for his signature. The buying of a book is a rich allegory2 about community. We're now seeing and feeling the collapse of our own hyper-consumerism in which speed and money were thought to be the only essentials. Remember the expression time is money? Amazon has conquered both. They sell at deep discounts and carry or drop-ship everything in a few days. They offer an amazing service to the world, but undermine community. Your local bookstore carries what it believes will be of interest to the community it serves. It hires local people and pays local rent and taxes. The staff reads and can talk about the books they sell. They host community events and book clubs and spend time with children learning to read. They will special order books to meet the diverse interests of their patrons. They charge more for the books they stock and special order others to meet the diverse interests of their patrons. This allegory applies to many aspects of community. Velveeta cheese is cheaper than the cheese made by Laini Fondiller off the grid in Westfield from goats she milks herself, but Laini's cheese is sublime3. The garden rake at Walmart is less than the one in your local hardware store and so on. If all that counts is speed and money, we, like many areas in the country, must forego community. Perhaps it's because we in America are so new at civilization that money and speed are our benchmarks of success. But now that they have betrayed us, it may be time to rethink community. Warriors have always known that the fastest way to break the spirit of a people is to destroy their communal gathering places: their markets, cafes, churches, and repositories of arts and culture. Consider the Italian tradition of passagiato where, after a leisurely meal, folks walk in their communities, stop to visit with friends in small cafes, visit a bookstore, bakery, or stop to enjoy a street concert.
1 Expressive of hidden motives 2 A symbolic narrative 3 Supreme, outstanding
Reading, like the preparing and serving of fresh local food, enjoying artful conversation over a glass of wine, or just strolling in a vibrant downtown should be savored slowly. I'm willing to pay a small premium to sustain my community. When I want a new book, I'll buy the fifteen dollar copy at our local bookseller who hosts local authors and poets instead of ordering it online for twelve. I also want a hardware story, a grocery store, a restaurant and a café and I'm willing to pay a little extra for them. Discussion: How often are you willing to buy local over buying from a boxstore or online? Is time or money or supporting your community more of a priority for you? What are some benefits of shopping locally as compared to at box stores or online? The author says that the spirit of people is linked to their communal gathering places-do you agree? This article focuses on bookstores and other small business-what other things create a strong community? How does the digital age create new communities? How can the eat/buy local movement work with the digital age??
Do today’s kids have “nature-deficit1 disorder”? Sarah Karnasiewicz A new book argues that children desperately need to be able to play in the woods -- and that our culture's sterile rejection of nature is harming them in body and soul. In the not-so-distant past, kids ruled the country’s woods and valleys — running in packs, building secret forts and treehouses, hunting frogs and fish, playing hide-and-seek behind tall grasses. But in the last 30 years, says journalist Richard Louv, children of the digital age have become increasingly alienated from the natural world, with disastrous implications, not only for their physical fitness, but also for their long-term mental and spiritual heath. In his new book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From NatureDeficit Disorder,” Louv argues that sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally “scared children straight out of the woods and fields,” while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors “safe” regimented sports over imaginative play. Well-meaning elementary school curricula may teach students everything there is to know about the Amazon rain forest’s endangered species, but do little to encourage kids’ personal 1 the amount that something is less than it should be
relationship with the world outside their own doors. And advances in technology, while opening up a wealth of “virtual” experiences to the young, have made it easier and easier for children to spend less time outside. Louv spent 10 years traveling around the country reporting and speaking to parents and children, in both rural and urban areas, about their experiences in nature. In “Last Child in the Woods,” he pairs their anecdotes with a growing body of scientific research that suggests children who are given early and ongoing positive exposure to nature thrive in intellectual, spiritual and physical ways that their “shut-in” peers do not. By reducing stress, sharpening concentration, and promoting creative problem solving, “nature-play” is also emerging as a promising therapy for attention-deficit disorder and other childhood maladies. Indeed Louv, in both the book’s title and content, suggests that while increased exposure to nature may prove a salve for many of the childhood disorders that now run rampant, the very ubiquity of those disorders is evidence that two generations of alienation from nature may have already resulted in considerable harm to our kids. Louv recently visited Salon’s New York office to discuss the correlation between the decline in kids’ contact with nature and the rising obesity epidemic; the criminalization of old-fashioned play; and the simple pleasure of having dirty hands and wet feet. What is nature-deficit disorder? It’s the cumulative effect of withdrawing nature from children’s experiences, but not just individual children. Families too can show the symptoms — increased feelings of stress, trouble paying attention, feelings of not being rooted in the world. So can communities, so can whole cities. Really, what I’m talking about is a disorder of society — and children are victimized by it. Why, in the age of ADHD, did you choose such a loaded name? Because I do think it is a disorder, just one of society. I am very careful in the book not to give the suggestion that this is some kind of clinical diagnosis. Maybe someday it will be, but until the scientists come up with a better name, that’s the one I’m using. Is this just an urban problem, or does it affect children in suburban and rural areas as well?
For my research, I tried to cross every barrier I could think of — for instance, I did interviews in more rural areas and suburban areas, like the one I grew up in outside Kansas City, which still has a lot of nature. I went in there thinking, Well, certainly if you have woods next to you, kids will be out in them. But that simply wasn’t true. The parents and the kids there were saying the same things as kids in more urban areas. In fact, the amount of nature you have in New York City is actually better than some of the newer suburbs; imagine, today, a city building a Central Park. A major study came out a few months ago that said that the rate of obesity in children is growing faster in rural areas than it is in cities and suburbs. Again, it seems counterintuitive. But it’s not so counterintuitive when you think about the fact that the family farm is fairly nonexistent now. Kids in rural areas are playing the same video games, watching the same television, and they’re on longer car rides. Certainly the explosion of technology over the last 25 years — from cable TV, to video games, home computers and the Internet — has curtailed the amount of time kids spend playing outside each day. But during that same time, hasn’t society as a whole become much more aware of environmental issues? I say early in the book that it’s more like the polarity has reversed. When I was a kid I had an intimate knowledge of woods and fields, to the extent that I pulled up hundreds of survey stakes to protect them from bulldozers. I really had a sense of ownership — I had no clue that my woods were connected to other woods ecologically. It’s the reverse now. Kids today can tell you lots of things about the Amazon rain forest; they can’t usually tell you the last time they lay out in the woods and watched the leaves move. It’s not that learning about the Amazon is bad — it’s great, and I’m glad it’s happening — the problem is, it becomes an intellectualized relationship with nature. And I don’t think there’s much that can replace wet feet and dirty hands. It’s one thing to read about a frog, it’s another to hold it in your hand and feel its life. By now, we’ve all heard the reports that two out of 10 American children are clinically obese — four times the number reported in the late 1960s. And you note that this obesity epidemic has coincided with the greatest increase in organized sports for children in history. So, what can unstructured outdoor play offer kids that soccer and little league can’t? First, I’m not against soccer, and it’s not a 1-to-1 ratio in terms of cause and effect. In the book, I’m cautious when talking about obesity — it’s complex. But I think it is a striking fact that the two [statistics] have grown alongside
one another. One factor is just frequency of movement — it’s one thing to go to soccer practice once a week, or even three times a week — compared to the way kids used to come home from school and just head out. Sometimes I played free-form pick-up baseball, but most of the time, I was just gone, in the woods, and I was moving, I was racing my collie. That was constant. And I was so skinny I had to run around in the shower to get wet. But there’s something going on here that’s more mysterious, and frankly the lack of study on it means any answer to your question will be incomplete. There is the “biophilia” hypothesis, which in some quarters is controversial, but that suggests we are still hunters and gatherers and biologically we have not changed. That hypothesis says there is something in us that needs natural forms, that needs association with nature in ways that we don’t fully understand. I think we instinctively understand that there is something about being in nature that you cannot get on a soccer field. At one point you quote research that says children playing in parks are naturally drawn, not to the landscaped fields, but to the rocky borders where there are natural plants and ravines. But parents seem to spend a lot more time these days looking for spaces that are “child-friendly.” By building super-structured suburban communities dominated by gates and playing fields, are we actually making kids’ imaginative worlds smaller? What we usually design is really more “lawyer-friendly” than “child-friendly.” This is a litigious1 society, and a lot of the places you are talking about have been designed by attorneys, not park designers. But there is interplay between the fear of lawsuits and [parents'] fear of a “bogeyman” that is going to hurt their children — indeed, they almost have become one and the same. In the book I write about natural tort reform, and the idea that we will have to confront this problem sooner or later. For instance, I bring up the idea of the “criminalization” of natural play, where if you take all the state regulations, the well-intended and often needed environmental restrictions, and add those to the covenants2 and restrictions that now cover almost any new development that has been built in the last 20 years — things that control everything to whether you can plant rosebushes in the front to what color your curtains — well, the idea of a freewheeling, tree-house-building, nature-loving kid doesn’t fit that. So if all of [these restrictions] were to be enforced, playing outdoors by kids would be essentially illegal. It’s not all enforced, but the message still gets 1 wanting to take legal action 2 agreements
through — kids get a sense that there’s something unsavory about playing outdoors. And it’s too easy to blame this on lazy parents who let the TV do the baby sitting, when the truth is there is a matrix of forces that have come together to create this problem, and those forces are hard to stand up against as an individual and as a people. You say that parents’ anxious attitude about the world — what you call “stranger danger” — a nebulous paranoia about violent criminals and sexual predators, kidnappers, traffic accidents, lawsuits and freak disease is one of many factors, including increased technology, that has alienated1 kids from nature. It’s not good for human beings to live with fear all the time. In this society we are increasingly living in fear, whether it’s of terrorism or “stranger danger” — and statistically, most of that fear is not warranted. Child abductions by strangers are, in fact, rare, and criminologists and others report that the number of them may have decreased in recent years. A 1988 report by the National Incidence Study on Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children in America, stated that there were between 200 and 300 children abducted by strangers in 1988. The most recent such National Incidence Study, found 115 children kidnapped by strangers in 1999. A relatively few child abductions are amplified2 into the appearance of an epidemic through nonstop coverage by the media. All of this is not to say that child abductions are a small matter, but fear of them must be weighed against the effects of that fear on our daily lives — including children’s ability to find joy in nature. However, if you live next door to somebody whose child was kidnapped, it doesn’t matter what the statistics are, and I understand that fear and I’ve felt it myself as a parent. According to the 2005 Duke University Child Well Being Index, American kids are safer now than they have been at any time since 1975. Specifically, violent victimization of children has dropped more than 38 percent. So why do we feel that so much has changed? Now, to play devil’s advocate to my own theory, if kids are safer now it may well be because we’re holding them inside. But what we don’t measure is the
1 isolated 2 increased
danger of what happens to their imaginations and inner lives because of it — those other repercussions1 aren’t measured at all. In terms of where it all comes from — well, there’s a story I mention in my book about a little girl who was stolen from her bedroom and killed, one of these cases that was ’round the clock on CNN for a long time. That happened right over the hill from where I live in California. It’s an important story, I don’t mean to dismiss it — but weeks of it, around the clock? We’re being conditioned to be fearful all the time. So a lot of it is the media. That said, the name you chose for your book — “Nature-Deficit Disorder” — probably plays directly into the fears of many parents. I knew that would come up and made a conscious decision to accept the criticism, because I am confident this issue is important enough to deserve attention. That said, I don’t want to dwell on the negative; I’m hopeful that as this change becomes more visible to everyone, and the detriments2 of this shift begin to be discussed, that we also start to discuss the good news — the wonderful things that nature play can do for kids, like reducing the symptoms of ADHD, stress reduction, increased creativity, cognitive skills, and full use of the senses. “Last Child in the Woods” may be the first place all this research has come together outside of academia, but there have already been some very brave researchers working on these ideas. I call them brave because most of them are not winning big grants — since as one of them explained to me, “Who’s going to pay for a toy you can’t sell?” For instance, at the University of Illinois, there is remarkable study happening that suggests that nature play might be a therapy for kids with ADHD. Well, I would also flip that around and ask if there is something missing in kids’ lives that is actually contributing to or aggravating their symptoms? I’m skeptical about a lot of the diagnoses of ADHD, really. You repeatedly refer to a 1991 study that found that the radius children are allowed to roam outside their homes has shrunk to a ninth of what it was 20 years ago. I remember being a young teenager and sneaking off into the woods to tell stories and smoke cigarettes with my girlfriends. This didn’t necessarily promote good health, but it did give me a feeling of independence and the knowledge that I had a life — a kid’s world — that existed separate from my 1 a result or problem that comes from a certain action 2 damage
parents. Maybe what is hurting kids is not just that they have been given less freedom to interact with nature, but that they have been allowed less freedom and independence in general? Well, there have been a lot of cigarettes smoked in tree houses. (Laughs) Seriously, it’s true that not only nature can give the feeling of autonomy. But then when you think about where could kids be getting that instinctual selfconfidence and independence — where could they go — it’s hard to think of a lot of positive places. Nature often provides an atmosphere you can’t get anywhere else, a sensation of being solitary. And again, I think there are mysterious things that happen, a lot of which have to do with the full use of our senses. I can’t think of many places, other than maybe the New York subways, in which we have our senses going full cylinder. And I make the case in the book — though I am very careful to say that I am speculating about this — that letting your kids have some independence in nature, where they can use all their senses, in the long run makes them safer. Usually hyper-vigilance — behavior manifested by always being on guard and ready to fight or flee — is associated with trauma in childhood. But the hyperawareness gained from early experience in nature may be the flip side of hyper-vigilance1 a positive way to pay attention, and, when it’s appropriate, to be on guard. We’re familiar with the term “street smart.” Perhaps another, wider, adaptive intelligence is available to the young? Call it “nature smart.” One father I spoke to said he believes that a child in nature is required to make decisions not often encountered in a more constricted, planned environment — ones that not only present danger, but opportunity. Organized sports, with its finite2 set of rules, is said to build character. If that is true, and of course it can be, nature experience must do the same, in ways we do not fully understand. A natural environment is far more complex than any playing field. Nature does offer rules and risk, and subtly informs all the senses. And certainly, the other aspects you mention — that give a child selfconfidence, independence and the sense that they can exist in the world and are somewhere bigger than their parents and their problems — are all a part of the healing possibilities of nature that I hope people will explore. Another refrain that surfaces in your book is kids who say, “I don’t really have time to play,” because they are always being carted off to some kind of lesson or “enrichment” activity. In this context you speak of both the 1 Watchful or alert 2 having a limit
“criminalization” and “commercialization” of play — that unless play takes the form of a competitive, structured activity, parents and kids think of it as just “wasted time” — a lazy afternoon of daydreaming. When do you think this shift began? The shift has been happening for several decades with increasing rapidity. But the essential thing to realize is that we can do something about it. If you think about the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” — all you really have to do to deal with the disorder is get your kid out in nature now and then — it’s not brain surgery. It’s actually fun, and it’s fun for parents. The key is that as long as nature experiences are considered an extracurricular activity, nothing will change. There are folks out there who are hungry for it, who want an alternative to what is going on in terms of organized sports and over-structured lives. The minute it begins to be seen as a health issue, truly a mental health issue — that wonderful things can happen for your child if you give them direct experiences with nature — then it’s no longer an extracurricular activity and really, it’s no longer even leisure. When that kind of conceptual shift happens, I think a lot of parents will be relieved — they’ll have a logical reason to do what their instincts tell them to do anyhow. Discussion: Do you, your family or your friends have “Nature-Deficit Disorder?” Why? Why not? Besides what is listed in this article are there other things that are leading to “Nature-Deficit Disorder” in your community? Do you think “nature play” would be an effective treatment for ADHD?
WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RECYCLING A Package Deal Martha Nichols Utne Reader In Europe, manufacturers are responsible for disposing of their own packaging. This idea could reduce waste in the U.S. too. Given that a patent1 has now been issued for a disposable cell phone, it's safe to say that the United States is Throwaway Champion of the World. Recycling rates have shot up since the 1970s, but this country still spews forth more trash every year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported 217 million tons of municipal2 solid waste for 1997--more than four pounds per person each day--and projects 240 million tons by 2005. So who's responsible for all the trash? Everyone? No one? To hear American business tell it, consumers are the ones to blame for every toothpaste box and dead appliance accumulating in landfills. Consumers buy the stuff and then toss it out, corporate spokespeople claim—never mind who creates the packaging and encourages us to do the buying in the first place. Meanwhile, the EPA vaguely talks of "cooperation" among "multiple players in the product chain". In any case, consumers pay, either through tax dollars for municipal waste systems or through higher prices for green products. Still, how the money is funneled and who's held accountable can make all the difference. Take the European concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR). Existing EPR laws are complex and various, but they essentially shift the costs of collecting, sorting, and recycling packaging waste to private industry. As Bette Fishbein of the environmental group INFORM argues in “Extended Producer Responsibility: A Materials Policy for the 21st Century” (INFORM, 2000), "Since it is the producer that decides how products are designed, providing industry with a direct economic incentive seems the most efficient and effective approach [to reducing waste]". Her measured words only hint at what a big deal this is, even if nobody here knows about it. Germany, Austria, Sweden, France, Japan, and virtually every 1 governmentally granted right to an inventor to exclusively make and license a product 2 pertaining to the locality of a town or city
other industrialized country but the United States now have EPR regulations. Indeed, as Joel Bleifuss writes in In These Times (April 17, 2000), "With little fanfare and no notice in the U.S. media, Europe is fomenting1 an environmental revolution." American firms may not have to deal with mandatory recycling and disposal at home, but if they want to sell in other markets, they have to comply with their EPR laws. Despite loud protests from automakers, for example, the European Union passed EPR regulations this year on vehicles sold in its 15 member countries. By 2006, new cars can contain no heavy metals; they must be manufactured from recyclable materials, and producers will be responsible for disposing of them when the cars die. The EU also wants similar regulations for all products containing electrical circuits, especially computers. John Ehrenfeld, head of MIT's “Program on Technology, Business, and Environment”, points out in the INFORM report that, "It is hard to imagine a product designer, say 10 years ago, paying much . . . attention to how a new product can be taken apart at the end of its useful life. But the new realities of sustainability and other environmental policies force such thinking on firms and their key personnel. Not to change is to risk loss of competitiveness and relevance in the future." EPR--the term was coined by Swedish economist Thomas Lindhqvist--had its genesis during a serious landfill crisis that fueled the passage of Germany's revolutionary “Ordinance on the Avoidance of Packaging Waste” in 1991, even under the leadership of the conservative Christian Democratic Party. National leaders like environment minister Klaus T–pfer, who later became head of the U.N.'s Environment Program, were staunch2 supporters. The packaging ordinance led to the formation of an industry-funded recycling program. The nonprofit Duales System Deutschland (DSD) developed a greendot logo, which it licenses to companies for a fee. A green dot on a product means that the producer is in compliance with the packaging law. By April 1993, 12,000 companies, many of them with U.S. corporate parents, had signed on to the recycling program. More to the point, they started using less packaging, such as no longer putting toothpaste tubes in boxes. Jim Motavalli of E Magazine (May/June 1997) sets the scene: "On a drugstore's shelves in downtown Stuttgart, Germany, the toothpaste tubes are nakedly displayed, sitting upended on their flat caps like rows of little soldiers. Each tube is decorated with a tiny green dot." 1 to start; instigate 2 loyal, constant
It will be a cold day in a plastics incinerator before business interests embrace government regulations. The Clinton administration--which had opposed European-style EPR efforts for years--stressed voluntary company efforts that jibe1 with business goals. Even environmental advocates such as Fishbein hope to entice U.S. corporations with the competitive advantages they can reap by making less wasteful products. Some American firms have taken the bait: Xerox's asset recycling management program has saved up to $50 million, according to a 1997 company report, and remanufactured equipment from 30,000 tons of returned machines. There's also a national take-back program for nickel-cadmium batteries, similar to the green dot system, launched through an industry-wide initiative. But emphasizing costs and efficiency undercuts the potential impact of EPR. If it's just a business argument, some companies will fire back that it won't save them money; others will invoke2 the threat of lawsuits, trade battles, or the fickle3 tastes of consumers. Note that the battery initiative got under way only because eight U.S. states mandated this kind of recycling. Extended producer responsibility is not really about saving companies money, and corporate interests know it. It's about pushing firms to rethink how they do businessâ€”to reduce the size of boxes, to stop dreaming up disposables, to revamp marketing programs, and to re-design products before they ever hit the stores. Discussion: Should companies be responsible for disposal of their own packaging? How good do you think the United Statesâ€™ recycling program is? How would you make it better? Do you think the majority of products are over-packaged today? Does your family make an effort to buy items with less packaging? The motto: reduce, reuse and recycle is in that order for a specific reason. How can we do each part? Where would rethink fit into the recycling motto? Possible Activities: Brainstorm a list of products that the crew thinks are over-packaged. Then come up with solutions for alternate products or how the company could more effectively package the item and write to the company that creates it, asking them to make a change.
1 agree 2 to call on for assistance 3 following no predictable pattern
The Secret Life of My Computer Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things John C. Ryan and Alan Thein Durning Usually, as I boot up my computer to write this column, I'm thinking about the column, not the computer. Today, though, I've just finished reading "Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things," and I'm looking at my computer with awe. "Stuff" tells how the things that fill our lives -- coffee and newspapers, T-shirts and hamburgers -- are made. It traces athletic shoes, cars, French fries, colas back to their origins. And computers. The stuff-trails are fascinating, but not pretty. "Stuff" says that the bland gray exterior of my computer is made of a plastic called ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) crafted in a chemical plant near Los Angeles out of Saudi Arabian oil, Wyoming coal, and Texas natural gas. Tiny pellets of ABS were injected under heat and pressure into a mold, where they fused into the shape I now see before me. I'm looking at one end of a glass vacuum tube made in Japan. Electron guns at the back are firing beams of energy at tiny beads of red, green, and blue phosphors etched into the front, making the colors I see. The glass monitor was soldered together with lead oxide. When discarded, it will be hazardous waste. Of course the work of the computer is done not by the screen or the case, but by the tiny chips inside. The chips start with silica (essentially sand) mined in Washington and heated with carbon in Oregon to form 98 percent pure silicon. That silicon is cooked with hydrochloric acid and hydrogen to form a "hyperpure" silicon rod eight inches across. The rod is sliced into paper-thin wafers, which are polished like mirrors and shipped to -- where else? -- Silicon Valley. The California "wafer fab," longer than two football fields, houses equipment made by more than 100 companies around the world. It does such delicate work that its air has to be kept much purer than we keep it for people. Outside air contains maybe 1 million particles per cubic foot; hospital operating rooms stay below 100,000 particles per cubic foot; "clean rooms" in Silicon Valley permit no more than five particles per cubic foot.
Workers wearing gowns, booties, and gloves use ultra-precise machinery to etch minute circuits on the silicon. Micro-machines deposit phosphorus and boron in just the right places, then painstakingly thin layers of copper from Arizona, then an even thinner layer of gold. The circuits are built up in hundreds of steps, with cleaning and oxidation1 in between. To make the chips for one computer, which weigh one-fiftieth of a pound, a state-of-the art plant uses 1,400 gallons of water and generates about 40 pounds of waste. The finished wafers are packed in unbleached Douglas-fir pulp from Oregon and black plastic foam from Japan and shipped to Malaysia. In Kuala Lumpur skilled workers earning about $2 an hour cut the wafers into individual chips and assemble them into "packages" mounted on a copper frame, molded into plastic, wired together with gold. Hardly a scrap of the expensive gold is wasted, but at the South African mine each pound of gold extracted piles up a million pounds of cyanide-treated toxic tailings. Back to California go the chip packages. There they are inserted into circuit boards, the wild mazes you see if you look inside a computer. The boards are made in Texas, out of copper, fiberglass, and epoxy resin. They are plated with copper from Chile, tin from Brazil, and lead recycled from Houston's dead car batteries. This step generates more hazardous waste than any other in the computer's fabrication. The boards, case, monitor, and other pieces of my computer were shipped, trucked, or trained to the final assembly plant in California, put together, packed in polystyrene foam and a cardboard box, and shipped another 3,000 miles to me. In its manufacture my 55-pound computer generated 139 pounds of waste and used 7,300 gallons of water and 2,300 kilowatt-hours of energy. It will use four times that much energy again during its lifetime, generated by a nuclear power plant, a coal-fired plant, and hydropower from the flooded lands of the Cree people at James Bay. Since I'm a slow adopter of new technologies, I'll use the computer about four years before the industry convinces me that it's too clunky to tolerate. If I resist, replacement parts and software for my "defunct" model will get hard to come by. I have two defunct models in my attic already. By the year 2005 there will be 150 million personal computers in U.S. landfills, filling a space equivalent to a football field stacked a mile high. 1 corrosion, rust
Discussion: Do you/your family own a computer? How does it change the way you look at a computer to know where each part of it comes from? Knowing the work and resources that go into each machine do you they think they are priced appropriately? What should be done with old computers? Do you think people would continue to purchase technology and other products if they knew where each part came from and the effect it has on other economies and the environment? How can we make computers last longer? Do we overuse products in our society? Possible Activity: Draw a diagram that maps the travel of each of the pieces that go into a computer. How much of the world and how many resources does it take to get a computer assembled? Or take something in your day today (like breakfast or your boots) and create a diagram that shows the resources and the places they come from to get to you.
The World's Rubbish Dump: A Tip That Stretches From Hawaii to Japan Kathy Marks and Daniel Howden The Independent February 5, 2008 A "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said. The vast expanse of debris - in effect the world's largest rubbish dump - is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan. Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "trash vortex", believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr. Moore founded, said yesterday: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States."
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer and leading authority on flotsam, has tracked the build-up of plastics in the seas for more than 15 years and compares the trash vortex to a living entity: "It moves around like a big animal without a leash." When that animal comes close to land, as it does at the Hawaiian archipelago, the results are dramatic. "The garbage patch barfs, and you get a beach covered with this confetti of plastic," he added. The "soup" is actually two linked areas, either side of the islands of Hawaii, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. About one-fifth of the junk â€“ which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks and carrier bags â€“ is thrown off ships or oil platforms. The rest comes from land. Mr Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the "North Pacific gyre" - a vortex1 where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it. He was astonished to find himself surrounded by rubbish, day after day, thousands of miles from land. "Every time I came on deck, there was trash floating by," he said in an interview. "How could we have fouled such a huge area? How could this go on for a week?" Mr. Moore, the heir to a family fortune from the oil industry, subsequently sold his business interests and became an environmental activist. He warned yesterday that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade. Professor David Karl, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii, said more research was needed to establish the size and nature of the plastic soup but that there was "no reason to doubt" Algalita's findings. "After all, the plastic trash is going somewhere and it is about time we get a full accounting of the distribution of plastic in the marine ecosystem and especially its fate and impact on marine ecosystems." Professor Karl is co-coordinating an expedition with Algalita in search of the garbage patch later this year and believes the expanse of junk actually represents a new habitat. Historically, rubbish that ends up in oceanic gyres has biodegraded. But modern plastics are so durable that objects half-a-century old have been found in the north Pacific dump. "Every little piece of plastic
1 a whirling mass of something
manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere," said Tony Andrady, a chemist with the US-based Research Triangle Institute. Mr. Moore said that because the sea of rubbish is translucent and lies just below the water's surface, it is not detectable in satellite photographs. "You only see it from the bows of ships," he said. According to the UN Environment Program, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food. Plastic is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans. The UN Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic, Dr Eriksen said the slowly rotating mass of rubbish-laden water poses a risk to human health, too. Hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets, or nurdles - the raw materials for the plastic industry - are lost or spilled every year, working their way into the sea. These pollutants act as chemical sponges attracting man-made chemicals such as hydrocarbons and the pesticide DDT. They then enter the food chain. "What goes into the ocean goes into these animals and onto your dinner plate. It's that simple," said Dr Eriksen. Discussion: Why do you think plastics end up in the ocean so often? What are some other options for plastic bags, instead of collecting in the oceans? Do you think human society is capable of correcting this environmental hazard? What kinds of resources would it take? Consume Less – and Consume Better Kevin Danaher Earth Island Journal Autumn 2011 Dr. Kevin Danaher is a co-founder of Global Exchange, Fair Trade USA, and the Green Festivals, all of which have created many good jobs, transferred wealth from rich to poor, and raised environmental awareness. There’s no denying it: We Americans are the hogs of the planet. We represent less than five percent of the world’s people but consume roughly 25 percent of the world’s resources. So we definitely need to cut back severely on our consumption. And one way to do that is to consume more consciously.
It’s easy for intellectuals to bemoan1 the collapse of all biological systems and tell everyone to stop buying stuff. But everyone needs a certain amount of stuff to survive. When you buy toilet paper (and unless you’re using corncobs or last week’s newspaper, we all buy toilet paper) do you read the package to see how much recycled content is in it? When you buy coffee, do you ask if the beans were produced under fair- trade-certified conditions? Even the most radical anti-capitalist activist (and I consider myself one) has to buy some things. So the question is: Should you buy corporate crap manufactured in sweatshops and made with toxic ingredients? Or should you be able to buy products that do not exploit2 people and nature? Embedded3 within those questions for the buyer are some deeper questions for the producer. Socially responsible enterprise poses two key questions for any company: Were people or nature exploited during production? And what happened with the profits? Do they go back into the process of educating people about the need for sustainability, or do they go into a few people’s pockets? If we can answer these two questions correctly, we can redefine enterprise. There is a huge difference between enterprise (producing goods and services that people need) and corporate domination. Transnational corporations are one of the most problematic institutions on the planet because (1) they are not organized democratically, (2) they have no loyalty to any specific place, and (3) they tend to make their money by destroying natural resources. A thousand-year-old redwood tree is not a gift of the creator that should be preserved for future generations to enjoy; it is $250,000 on the lumber market. So under normal capitalist logic the tree is killed and turned into money. This just shows that it’s easy to critique large corporations. The more challenging task is to build up alternative economic institutions that create good jobs by incorporating social justice and environmental restoration into their triple-bottom-line model. If Derrick and I were to go into a low-income part of the world, and he has the best critique of capitalism ever uttered, and I am offering green jobs at decent pay, who will get more allies? People need
1 to show disappointment about something 2 take advantage of somebody or something 3 placed in a surrounding mass
jobs and income, not radical rhetoric1 from us privileged intellectuals (and I also consider myself one of those). The combination of environmental destruction and Internet technology is creating an advantage for green and fair trade products. As the natural resource base gets destroyed, it raises the value of saving resources and developing renewable substitutes. And the technology is coming whereby you will be able to take your handheld device, shoot the bar code of a product, and view endless information about the social and environmental impacts of how that product was produced. This gives a market advantage to green products, fair trade products, and salvage products (“upcycling” materials from the waste stream into useful items). Organizations producing these products want to tell the backstory of how these products were made. That is something Walmart, Target, and Home Depot are not likely to do, because their backstory is about sweatshops and pollution. We know that “you can’t buy your way to salvation.” I wish the cynics would find a new mantra. Sure, you can find critical things to say about any green company, but there are many smart, committed, radical people using the enterprise model to redefine the economy from the grassroots up. We are doing nothing less than taking down the master’s house with the master’s own tools. After ten years of producing Green Festivals in eight cities, Global Exchange and Green America have reached more than one million people with a different retail experience, one that funds environmental education and fun, while allowing people to kick the tires of a different kind of economy. Now the challenge is to take that hybrid model of enterprise and education into a permanent venue. What if every city had a GreenMart eco-mall that brought together the very cleanest green enterprises – the ones providing the best fair trade, salvage, and green products – and combined that with a community-organizing space that helped bring together social justice and environmental groups? Think: permanent Green Festival. The GreenMart would allow small, local companies to team up and compete with large corporations by sharing infrastructure and customers. Regular educational and cultural events would draw diverse audiences and inform people about the need for accelerating our transition to sustainability. 1 persuasive speech or writing
Let’s not have our righteous animosity1 toward capitalism blind us to the potential transformative power of enterprise. Instead, let’s create a revolutionary retail-service model that helps to grow the locally owned green economy, while generating enough profit to fund community development projects. (Wouldn’t it be nice, after all, to have a funding source for our political organizations that didn’t rely on begging from foundations and government agencies?) We will never get the ideal economy we want by pressuring elites to create it for us. It must come from ecological entrepreneurs who are devising ways to converge responsible enterprise with the social justice and environmental movements. In the end, that could be the ultimate example of biomimicry, a way to copy nature’s core principle: unity-ofdiversity. Discussion: Do you agree with Jensen that local stores are only for the wealthy consumer? In the last paragraph of Can’t buy me Change, Jensen describes a Robin Hood type approach to solving the global economic inequality, do you think that would work? Do you think Jensen or Danaher has a better approach to the global economy? Robin Hood or Green Jobs? What are some ways that consumers can learn about the products they are buying? What could make it easier for consumers to learn about products?
1 a feeling of hostility or resentment
Wild Geese Mary Oliver New and Selected Poems Vol.1 You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles though the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers, Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and excitingâ€” over and over announcing your place in the family of things. Discussion: How does this poem make you feel? Why? What connotations do you have about wild geese? Why did Mary Oliver choose wild geese to create the meaning of the poem? Can you think of another animal that could replace wild geese in the poem, but keep the poemâ€™s meaning?
No More Roads! Let the People Walk! Edward Abbey Desert Solitaire (excerpt) 1968 Industrial Tourism1 is a threat to the national parks. But the chief victims of the system are the motorized tourists. They are being robbed and robbing themselves. So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of the urban-suburban complexes, which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while. 1 the large-scale business of tourism
How to pry the tourists out of their automobiles, out of their back-breaking upholstered mechanized wheelchairs and onto their feet, onto the strange warmth and solidity of Mother Earth again? This is the problem which the Park Service should confront directly, not evasively1, and which it cannot resolve by simply submitting and conforming to the automobile habit. The automobile, which began as a transportation convenience, has become a bloody tyrant2 (50,000 lives a year), and it is the responsibility of the Park Service, as that of everyone else concerned with preserving both wilderness and civilization, to begin a campaign of resistance. The automotive combine has almost succeeded in strangling our cities; we need not let it also destroy our national parks. Having indulged myself in a number of harsh judgments upon the Park Service, the tourist industry, and the motoring public, I now feel entitled to make a constructive, practical, sensible proposal for the salvation of both parks and people. No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs--anything--but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms, and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan3 and hedonistic4 people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly. I can foresee complaints. The motorized tourists, reluctant to give up the old ways, will complain that they can't see enough without their automobiles to bear them swiftly (traffic permitting) through the parks. But this is nonsense. A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles. Better to idle through one park in two weeks than try to race through a dozen in the same amount of time. Those who are familiar with both modes of travel know
1 avoiding 2 a ruler who exercises power in a harsh cruel manner 3 without religion 4 believing that immediate pleasure is the chief â€œgoodâ€?
from experience that this is true; the rest have only to make the experiment to discover the same truth for themselves. They will complain of physical hardship, these sons of the pioneers. Not for long, once they rediscover the pleasures of actually operating their own limbs and senses in a varied, spontaneous, voluntary style, they will complain instead of crawling back into a car; they may even object to returning to desk and office and that dry-wall box on Mossy Brook Circle. The fires of revolt may be kindled--which means hope for us all. Discussion: Do you agree with Edward Abbey? Why or why not? Why is there a need for behavior like Edward Abbey suggests? Is it extreme? Could we live without roads in the National Parks? Do we need to make our preserved lands accessible to all? Why or why not? If you were traveling through Yellowstone National Park, what other methods of transportation might you use? Do you feel that Abbeyâ€™s argument applies to someone who may be in a wheel chair or may have physical difficulties without the use of a car? How would they be able to see places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Glacier National Park? Possible Activity: Imagine you are working in a state park and have been told to re-design it based on the ideas Edward Abby has in this article. What would you change? How would you achieve this?
The Peace of Wild Things Wendell Berry When despair grows in me, And I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound, In fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake1 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things, Who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars, Waiting for their light. 1 a male duck
For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Discussion: Is there a place that you have been that has the same effect on you? How would you describe it? Do you think this effect can only be found in the wild? Does nature always have this effect on everyone? Describe a time when nature might have had the opposite effect. How might you describe nature if you had lived through a tsunami, or an earthquake or a tornado? How do you find peace in a busy city or town?
Earth Magic The Earth Speaks (excerpt) Steve Van Matre Have you listened to the Earth? Yes, the earth speaks, but only to those who can hear with their hearts. It speaks in a thousand, thousand small ways, but like our lovers and families and friends, it often sends its messages without words. For you see, the earth speaks in the language of love. Its voice is in the shape of a new leaf, the feel of a water-worn stone, the color of evening sky, the smell of summer rain, the sound of the night wind. The earth’s whispers are everywhere, but only those who have slept with it can respond readily to its call… The earth speaks in magic, the magic of rainbows and waterfalls and frogs. It is the magic of interacting sunlight and air and water and soil creating a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of wondrous riches on our turning planet. In fact, for someone visiting earth for the first time, the real treasures here would all be free. The smell of a sunlit prairie, the taste of a cold cup of spring water, the crunch of trackless snow underfoot, these are some of the earth’s supreme treasures. On intergalactic maps, if there are such things, the place where we live must surely be designated as a magical garden in space, a place of astounding beauty. Picture for a moment people arriving here in a rather sterile, lifeless spaceship. For them the earth would certainly be a precious oasis in the cosmos. Such space travelers would know the earth as a place to quench their thirst for the wonders of life itself, a stopping point for sustenance1 beyond the necessities 1 The supporting of life
of food and water. They would no doubt travel great distances to marvel at what we have here, to discover anew this amazing source of adventure and inspiration and joy. There must be many worlds where we would be envied greatly for our good fortune, worlds where the conditions for life are much harsher. Yet, ironically, there are those among us who suggest that because we are fouling our home we should dream of getting off. If there are intergalactic travelers likely to visit us, will we not also be seen as childish fools who could not control our appetites?... There’s a magical story about St. Francis enjoying the night air one evening in the village of Assisi. When the moon came up, it was huge and luminous, bathing the entire earth in radiance. Noticing that no one else was outside to enjoy this miracle, Francis ran to the bell tower and began ringing the bell enthusiastically. When the people rushed from their houses in alarm and saw Francis at the top of the tower, they called out asking him to explain was wrong. Francis replied simply, “Lift up your eyes, my friends. Look at the moon!”… Although the earth speaks to everyone, only a few respond. Sadly, there are many among us who can no longer hear the earth’s song. They have lost their innate abilities to perceive its underlying harmony; they have become entrapped by their own contrivances. Consider the example of an obviously bored teenager rounding the corner of a zig-zagging trail along the Big Sure Coast of California and exclaiming in a whiny voice, “Awwoh, it’s the same view.” Faced with indescribable beauty this young traveler could only complain that she had seen it before. Standing on the threshold of what could well be the most lasting love affair of her life, she was unable to sense her lover’s charms. We have so filled our lives with artificial nonsense and distraction that many of us can no longer hear the earth’s voice. We need new teachers to help us rebuild a sense of relationship with the earth, and to remind us to loosen our hair and go fishing. Come listen to the earth with us. For those who have learned to hear its song the earth can soothe the troubled heart, refresh the weary, soften the hardened, and redirect the lost. And in the end, it is unlikely that you will ever find an earth lover holed up in some sterile urban box slowly withering away— withdrawn, sad, bitter. Earth lovers retain their vigor, their zest for life. For them the natural world remains an inexhaustible source of delight: the sounds, textures, colors, shapes, patterns, harmonies; the sensate1 joy, the enchantment, the endless surprises. Earth lovers know that no man-made
1 Experiencing through the senses
setting can ever hope to attain the richness, the drama, the meaning found in most any patch of wild land. Like a bottomless well in our oasis in space, the wonders of the earth can be drawn upon to recharge the spirit for all of one’s days. Be an earth lover. Sleep with the earth. It will teach thee. Discussion: Do you feel the same way about the earth as the author does? What do you feel as passionately about in your life? What impression do you think intergalactic visitors would get if they visited Earth for the first time? St. Francis displayed pure astonishment over the full moon-do you think he’s crazy or admirable for ringing that bell? What have you called other people’s attention to with such enthusiasm lately? Have you ever been struck by pure astonishment when outside? How can you turn that astonishment into positive action?
AGRICULTURE AND ENERGY A Cure for the Common Farm? Lucinda Fleeson Mother Jones March/April 2003 From early spring to harvest time last year, Iowa farmer Bill Horan watched over a small plot of corn that grew behind an electric fence, bordered by a moat of fallow1 earth, a quarter mile from the next cornfield. The plants in the high-security field had been genetically engineered -- not to grow taller or to defeat pests, but to produce a human enzyme, lipase, used in treating cystic fibrosis. And to Horan, a fourth-generation family farmer, those rows of stalks represented the future. "Biotechnology is going to take the plywood down from Main Streets in rural America," he predicted. "Pharming," the practice of altering corn, tobacco, and other plants to make drugs for humans and animals, has been getting a lot of attention in the biotech industry -- and attracting plenty of controversy. Last year, pharmaceutical2 crops were being grown in some 350 test plots around the nation, and it's estimated that pharming could become a $12 billion industry within the next three years. Researchers and companies say the crops could make drugs cheaper and more available, but critics -- including environmentalists and grocery manufacturers -- warn that the technology is being rushed to production without sufficient regulation. Caught in the middle are small and midsize farmers, desperate for a crop that could, for the first time in years, help them turn a profit. Clearly, traditional commodity3 farming can't save the Corn Belt. As corn and soybean farms have grown, profits have shrunk to the point where most growers are kept afloat only by government subsidies. â€œNo one is making money around here," says Neil Oswald, a John Deere dealer in nearby Manson, noting that in a good year, farmers can expect to invest $320 an acre for a harvest worth $350 an acre. By contrast, pharmaceutical crops could fetch yields up to $15,000 an acre -and, Horan notes, these "boutique" crops don't need much space. "Biotech
1 Not in use, inactive 2 pertaining to pharmacy, prescription drugs 3 unprocessed good, like vegetables
rewards management, not size," he says. "A 500-acre farmer or a 5,000-acre farmer can both play in this game.â€? Small farmers may also be better suited than giant agribusinesses to the intensive monitoring pharmacrops require, says Tom Slunecka of the National Corn Growers Association. And it's not just farmers who could benefit, he adds; high-tech processing plants "could be very profitable within rural communities." Right now, Iowa exports college graduates; pharmacrops, Slunecka maintains, could bring some of them back. For now, most of the new crops are being grown on plots managed by pharmaceutical companies and universities. But for the past eight years, Horan -- who, along with his brother, is the first individual grower to hold a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit to grow drugs for humans -- has been working to change that. At dusk on a chilly October day, Bill Horan drove his "cowboy Cadillac," a big, red Chevy pickup, to a spot 1,300 feet away from his one-acre lipase plot; outsiders were allowed no closer. The corn was surrounded by 100 feet of bare earth and lay in the midst of 440 acres of soybean fields. To prevent pollen drift, the corn had been bred to be sterile; for extra protection it was planted six weeks after the other corn in the state had pollinated. In a few days, Horan would harvest the crop with a special combine1 and transport it to a locked barn, burning any discarded material and plowing over the test plot to bury any dropped kernels. Come spring, he said, he'll go back and spray any stray sprouts with Roundup. There is good reason for all those protections. Last fall, the pharmacrop industry's worst nightmare came true when an ounce of pharmaceutical corn was found mixed with soybeans in an Aurora, Nebraska, grain elevator. ProdiGene Inc., the company that owned the escaped corn, was ordered by the USDA2 to destroy 500,000 bushels of soybeans and pay a $250,000 fine for violating safety procedures. The incident amplified concerns that with "just one mistake by a biotech company, we'll be eating other people's prescription drugs in our cornflakes," as Larry Bohlen of Friends of the Earth puts it. A report from the Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition skeptical of biotechnology, warns that pharmaceuticals could leach into the soil through plant roots, that sterility measures could fail, or that new genes could add unexpected traits to the crops, turning them into superweeds. Secretary of 1 a harvesting machine for cutting and threshing grain in the field 2 United State Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Ann Veneman said in December that she will consider tougher rules on pharmacrops; critics are urging regulators to confine the plants to enclosed greenhouses. In farm states, the pharmacrop debate has become a major political issue. Last fall, the Biotechnology Industry Organization declared a voluntary moratorium1 on growing pharmaceuticals in the Corn Belt, then quickly reversed its position after protests from Iowa's two senators and its governor. Iowa State University's Research Park plans to build a $15 million facility to extract proteins from genetically modified material; similar efforts are being mounted in Minnesota, California, and other states. "We simply can't wait until all the questions are answered and all the development work is done," says Steven Carter, president of Iowa State's research park, "or all the biotech facilities are likely to end up on the coasts." Still, there are concerns that pharmacrops could have a boomerang effect. Growers could be found liable2 for transgenic3 pollen drift to neighbors' farms, warns the trade group American Corn Growers Association, and fear of genetically engineered food still prevails in Japan and Europe. Grain handlers, grocery manufacturers, and food processors "are all saying this is a new technology and they're just not comfortable with it," acknowledges Lisa Dry of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. "It's not agriculture. It's pharmaceutical production." In early December, a Meristem official from France visited Horan's farm for a top-to-bottom inspection as the company pondered whether to increase his contract to 25 acres, a level nearly sufficient for commercial production of the drug. The inspector, Laure Brien, gave the farm her highest marks. "Everything they did was perfectly done," she says. But perfect just might not be good enough. Discussion: What are some of the benefits of pharming? What are some of the downfalls? Do you think the government should regulate this type of activity? If not, who should? How do you feel about the fact that these pharmaceuticals could end up in the food you eat without you knowing about it? Do you think that land that could be used to grow food should be used to grow prescription
1 Suspension of activity 2 Legally responsible 3 Having genes from more than one species
drugs? What do you think the next step could be to growing crops with prescription drugs in them?
How Corn Took Over America: A Field of Corn Michael Pollan The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Young Reader’s Edition) Excerpt The average supermarket doesn’t seem much like a field of corn. Take a look around one. What do you see? There’s a large, air-conditioned room. There are long aisles and shelves piled high with boxes and cans. There are paper goods and diapers and magazines. But that’s not all. Look again. Somewhere, behind the brightly colored packaging, underneath the labels covered with information, there is a mountain of corn. You may not be able to see it, but it’s there. I’m not talking about the corn in the produce section. That’s easy to recognize. In the spring and summer, the green ears of corn sit out in plain view with all the other fruits and vegetables. You can see a stack of ears next to the eggplants, onions, apples, bananas, and potatoes. But that’s not a mountain of corn. Keep looking. Go through the produce to the back of the supermarket and you’ll find the meats. There’s corn here too, but it’s a little harder to see. Where is it? Here’s a hint: What did the cows and pigs and chickens eat before they became cuts of meat? Mainly corn. Go a little further now. There’s still a lot of corn hiding in this supermarket. How about those long aisles of soft drinks? Made from corn. That freezer case stuffed with TV dinners? Mostly corn. Those donuts and cookies and chips? They’re made with a whole lot of corn. Supermarket’s look like they contain a huge variety of food. The shelves are stuffed with thousands of different items. There are dozens of different soups and salad dressings, cases stuffed with frozen dinners and ice cream and meat. The range of food choices is amazing. Yet if you look a little closer, you begin to discover: It’s All Corn. Well, maybe not all corn, but there’s an awful lot of it hiding here—a lot more than you suspect. We think of our supermarkets as offering a huge variety of food.
Yet most of that huge variety comes from one single plant. How can this be? Corn is what feeds the steer then becomes your steak. Corn feeds the chicken and the pig. Corn feeds the catfish raised in a fish farm. Corn-fed chickens laid the eggs. Corn feeds the dairy cows that produce the milk, cheese, and ice cream. See those chicken nuggets in the freezer case? They are really corn wrapped up in more corn. The chicken was fed corn. The matter is made from corn flour. The starch that holds it together is corn starch. The oil that it was fried in is corn oil. But that’s not all. Read the label on any bag of chips, candy bar, or frozen snack. How many ingredients do you recognize? Moltodextrin? Monosodium glutamate? Ascorbic acid? What are those things? What about lecithin and mono-,di, and triglycerides? They are all made from corn. The golden food coloring? Made from corn. Even the citric acid that keeps the nugget “fresh” is made from corn. If you wash down your chicken nuggets with almost any soft drink, you are drinking corn with your corn. Since the 1980s almost all sodas and most of the fruit drinks sold in the supermarket are sweetened with something called highfructose corn syrup. Read the label on any processed food, and corn is what you’ll find. Corn is in the non-dairy creamer and the Cheez Whiz, the frozen yogurt and the TV dinner, the canned fruit and the ketchup. It’s in the candy, the cake mixes, the mayonnaise, mustard, hot dogs and bologna, the salad dressings and even some vitamins. (Yes, it’s in a Twinkie too). There are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. This goes for the non-food items as well—everything from toothpaste and cosmetics to disposable diapers, trash bags, and even batteries. Corn is in places you would never think to look. It’s in the wax that coats the other vegetables in the produce section. It goes into the coating that makes the cover of a magazine shine. It’s even part of the supermarket building, because the wallboard, the flooring, and many other building materials are made with corn. Discussion: Did you know corn was in so much of our food? Will you look at the aisles the same way the next time you walk into the grocery store? Do you
think the fact that much of our food comes from corn is a big deal? Why or why not?
Stanford Finds Big Benefits from Big Ag Greg Henderson www.foodsystemsinsider.com June 17, 2010, 11:35AM Pssst. Want to know the cheapest way to slow global warming? Invest in agricultural research. Maybe that is not a revelation to you, but it sure seems to be a secret to a lot of outspoken folks who think we should go back to a simpler way of farming — like, with a team of mules. Modern agriculture has become the whipping boy for all those self-appointed activists who want us to believe the world would be a far better place if we would just stop planting corn and eating beef. The theory goes that modern agriculture is a cancer on the environment because it requires fossil fuels to power equipment and pesticides and herbicides to control weeds and insects, increases soil erosion and pollutes the groundwater with chemicals and fertilizer. All of this activity, we’re told, adds to global warming and the eminent1 demise2 of our little planet. Often overlooked by those self-anointed3 gurus of the green movement are the benefits modern agriculture provides to Mother Earth. That’s right, there are benefits. Turns out we all enjoy massive perks from the advancements in modern agriculture over the past 50 years, a message that Big Ag has been trying to promote recently. But this week the chorus of support for modern agriculture was joined by a group of researchers led by two Stanford Earth scientists. Yep, that Stanford — the institution of higher learning that sits on top of the San Andreas Fault near San Francisco. A study by this team of Stanford scientists says that advances in high-yield agriculture during the latter part of the 20th century prevented massive amounts of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere — the equivalent of 590 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s prevented, not emitted. 1 easily seen and noticed 2 death or end of something or someone 3 chosen or blessed by oneself
How can this be, you ask? Well, apparently these folks at Stanford actually know how to work a scientific calculator, and they concluded that the yield improvements agriculture has seen over the past few decades have reduced the need to convert forests to farmland, a process that typically involves burning of trees and other plants, which generates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If not for these increased yields — and this is where the calculator comes in handy — the researchers estimate that additional greenhouse-gas emissions from clearing land for farming would have been equal to as much as one-third of the world’s total output of greenhouse gases since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in 1850. “Our results dispel1 the notion that modern intensive agriculture is inherently worse for the environment than a more ‘old-fashioned’ way of doing things,” says Jennifer Burney, lead author of a paper about the study that will be published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Burney is a postdoctoral researcher with the Program on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford who says agriculture currently accounts for 12 percent of human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions. She admits that greenhouse-gas emissions have increased with agricultural intensification, but those emissions are far outstripped by the emissions that would have been generated in converting additional forest land to farmland. “Yield intensification2 has lessened the pressure to clear land and reduced emissions by up to 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year,” Burney says. But wait — it gets better. Steven Davis, a co-author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford, says, “When we look at the costs of the research and development that went into these improvements, we find that funding agricultural research ranks among the cheapest ways to prevent greenhouse-gas emissions.” The Stanford study suggests that without the emission reductions from yield improvements, the total amount of greenhouse gas sent into the atmosphere over the past 155 years would have been between 18 and 34 percent greater than it has been.
1 to get rid of, to scatter 2 yield intensification- the process of increasing the harvest of a crop
Additionally, the researchers calculated how much money was spent on research for each ton of avoided emissions by calculating the total amount of agricultural research funding related to yield improvements from 1961 through 2005. That produced a price of approximately $4 to $7.50 for each ton of carbon dioxide that was not emitted. Wow! These folks have just confirmed what those of us in agriculture have been saying for years — that science and technology provide the efficiencies needed to feed a hungry world while minimizing the impact on our environment. Thank you, Stanford researchers! Can you just do one more small favor for those of us in agriculture? Can you please take a copy of your study down the street to your colleague Michael Pollan at the University of California at Berkley? You know, the self-proclaimed expert on agriculture that has been telling the world we need to stop planting corn and eating beef. He’s an expert on agriculture because he’s a professor of…oh, yeah…journalism! For more information, read Greenhouse Gas Mitigation1 by Agricultural Intensification published by the National Academy of Sciences. Discussion: What benefits of modern agriculture does the author talk about? When did these benefits start happening? Do you agree or disagree with what he says? Why? If you had two questions for this author what would they be?
The Hidden Costs of Oil Mark Engler www.teachablemoment.org May 5, 2011 Even as gas prices creep upwards, some environmentalists and public interest advocates argue that the prices we currently pay at the pump dramatically understate the true cost of oil to our society. The use of gas has social and environmental costs that are not reflected in the prices at the gas station. Economists use the term "externalities" to describe these costs. If a factory has found a way to dump its waste into a local river without being fined, it has "externalized" the costs of waste disposal. While the cost of this dumping might not be reflected on the price tags of the factory's products, the public ends up paying for this externality in a different way - by having to live with polluted water and its effects, or paying for its cleanup with their tax dollars.
Some of the costs of oil have been externalized as well. How? 1) Military expenditures The United States has long deployed military forces to the Middle East and has waged several wars in the region, at least in part to ensure stable oil imports into this country. These military costs are not included at the pump. As long ago as 1987, when a gallon of gas could still be purchased for less than a dollar, a New York Times editorial raised this issue. The newspaper's editors argued that "in light of the administration's willingness to risk lives and dollars in the defense of oil from the Persian Gulfâ€Ś the real cost of oil should include the cost of the military forces protecting supplies." The title of the editorial was "The Real Cost of Gas: $5 a Gallon." (http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/13/opinion/the-real-cost-of-gas-5-agallon.html) The New York Times estimate was made before both the Gulf War of 1990 and the current war in Iraq that started in 2003. In the spring of 2010, Anita Dancs, an economist with the Center for Popular Economics, attempted to provide a more recent estimate of how military costs might affect the true cost of oil. She argued that "energy security, according to national security documents, is a vital national interest and has been incorporated into military objectives and strategies for more than half a century." Carefully breaking down the U.S. military budget, she concluded that "we will pay $90 billion this year to secure oil. If spending on the Iraq War is included, the total rises to $166 billion." http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php? context=va&aid=19286) Although we don't usually consider these costs when we fill up at the gas station, we must pay for them with taxes. That many troops have lost their lives in the Middle East adds another, incalculable, cost to the price of oil. 2) Environmental and health impact Oil spills and leaks can have a drastic effect on the environment and on those who depend on the environmental stability of a given region (such as the Gulf of Mexico) for their livelihoods. Moreover, burning oil is a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and is contributing to long-term climate change, which has huge costs.
Burning gas also has costly health effects. For instance, fuel-burning contributes to smog, which causes respiratory illnesses like asthma. This creates a financial burden on the healthcare system. In a June 2010 article in Newsweek, journalist Ezra Klein wrote: Gasoline has so many hidden costs that there's a cottage industry devoted to tallying them up. At least the ones that can be tallied up. Topping that list is air pollution, which we breathe whether or not we drive. Then there's climate change, which is difficult to give a price tag because it involves calculations like how much your great-grandchild's climate is worth; traffic congestion and accidents, which harm drivers and nondrivers alike; and the cost of basing our transportation economy atop a resource that undergoes wild price swings. Some of the best work on this subject has been done by Ian Parry, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future. His calculations suggest that adding all the quantifiable costs into the price of oil would increase the cost of each gallon by about $1.23. If you're very worried about global warming, kick that up to $1.88. (http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/13/how-much-does-a-gallon-of-gascost.html) If Perry's calculation is correct, it would raise the current average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. to $5.84. However, other efforts to calculate the true cost of oil to society have come up with even higher estimates. One report, produced by the International Center for Technology Assessment back in 1998, suggests that, if all hidden costs were factored in, a gallon of gas could be priced as high as $15. (http://www.icta.org/press/release.cfm?news_id=12) Most people depend on gas or oil to keep their homes warm - and on their gasfueled cars to get them to work. High oil prices are already forcing some hardpressed families into a budget crisis. On the other hand, public policies - such as building inexpensive or free public transit systems allowing people to commute without cars - could help us drastically cut our fuel consumption with a minimum of pain. "Internalizing" the costs of oil might also lead to demands for more gas-efficient cars and for increased investment in renewable forms of energy.
What's more, Americans waste huge amounts of fuel. With such high prices at the gas station, we would expect people to think more carefully about their decisions to consume oil. If oil prices reflected the true cost of oil, many people might change their habits in a positive way, such as walking instead of driving short distances or taking public transit if it's available. Discussion: Do you think that military costs should be factored into price of a gallon of gasoline? Can you think of some other externalities not mentioned in the reading? Some argue that oil has positive externalities as well as negative ones-that it has not only hidden costs, but also hidden benefits. Can you think of any benefits of oil that are not factored into its cost? If some of the hidden costs of oil were included in the price we pay at the gas station, do you think it would change how people behave? Do you think that it would result in different public policies? How? How do you think oil companies might respond?
FAMILIES, POVERTY The Hidden Homeless Brent Curtis Rutland Herald February 7, 2001 With $4 left in her pocket, Michelle Farrell spent Tuesday night in a room at the EconoLodge, wondering where her family of seven would sleep tonight. "I'm afraid," she said Tuesday evening, sitting on one of the two beds she would share with her boyfriend and five young children. "We used almost all our money to rent this room. We have no money and nowhere to go after this." For 13 months, Farrell's family has moved from one motel to another while searching for a permanent home. State welfare officials and community housing officials reported a growing number of homeless families are relying on motels for shelter. But Farrell's family lived in motels longer than most. With no money and no jobs and their support from state welfare agencies and charities nearly exhausted, Farrell, 23, and her boyfriend Leonard Wright, 34, said they didn't know what to do next. And the state and local agencies that have assisted the family were uncertain about the family's future, too. The couple described their situation while their children alternately watched television and jumped on the two double beds. "It's a stressful life," Wright said. "Every day, you hope something will happen, and when it doesn't, you wonder what will happen tomorrow." Life in transition, which has included stays at several motels in the Rutland area, hasn't changed much during their 13-month search. The family's belongings were scattered over the beds and on the floor, packed into cardboard boxes and plastic bags. There was laundry, food and few toys. The three oldest children - 7-year-old Michael, 6-year-old Leonard and 3-yearold Makala - dodged boxes, bags and adult feet while they played in the crowded room. Eighteen-month-old Ashley struggled in her father's arms. The youngest member of the family, 6-month-old Nicole, slept in her mother's arms. Farrell and Wright said state officials ordered them out of their Baxter Street apartment last year because high levels of lead were found in the building. Wright moved his family into the Royal Motel in Rutland. The idea was to stay at the motel until they could find a new apartment.
Neither parent expected to stay there for very long. But things got worse. They were forced to leave several local motels after disagreements with motel management. Motel bills were averaging $300 a week, an amount that soon depleted their meager1 savings. Wright was working as a janitor, earning just enough to keep the family afloat. The family was receiving Medicaid and food stamps while Wright was employed. But three months ago, the bottom fell out. Wright got sick and lost his job. He said he's recovered now and is looking for work, but he hasn't had any luck. Farrell, who was pregnant with Nicole before the family lost its home, has opted to stay home with the baby rather than look for a job. Since Wright lost his job, the family has been receiving $1,000 a month in food stamps and rent money from social welfare. Five days after the couple received $600 from social welfare on Feb. 1, they were out of money. Wright said the check was spent as follows: $366 for rent, $40 to $50 for laundry, an unknown amount for boots for one child, $15 to get on the waiting list for an apartment in Forest Park and $60 for a motel room for Tuesday night. Their next check won't come until Feb. 16. Because the family has no home and no money, welfare officials have told Farrell they would recommend that state Social Rehabilitation Service (SRS) take her children from her. State officials wouldn't comment on the family's situation. Meanwhile, the coupleâ€™s search continues for a new job and for a permanent home. "No matter where I go, I can't find an apartment big enough," Wright said. "If I find a nice three-room apartment, they say it has an occupancy limit of six people." The Open Door Mission in Rutland doesn't take in families. But Sharon Russell, the Mission's executive director, said that rule has been broken in the past. However, she believed it would do more harm than good to take in Farrell and Wright's family. "I would be Band-aiding a situation that puts children in harm's way," Russell said. "I could bring them in, but it's obvious that they haven't been working with the system if they've been living in motels that long." While sympathetic, Russell pointed out the family never turned to the Mission for help. The help they could have received included free meals, the 1 small, insufficient amount
opportunity to do their laundry for free, and free clothing from the thrift shop. She said the best help for the family would be for SRS to take temporary custody of the children while the parents got back on their feet. "I don't say that to be cruel," she said. "But a motel room is not a healthy environment to go on raising a family. If SRS took the children, the parents could stay at the shelter, get back on their feet, and find a home for themselves and their children." But Farrell and Wright hoped it wouldnâ€™t come to that. "Some people we talked to said we should let people take our kids until we find a place," Farrell said. "But we haven't found a place in a year. How do we know it's going to be any sooner than that?" Discussion: What comes to mind when you think of a homeless person(s)? Do you think that the family described above is a common situation? What do you think are contributing factors to homelessness? Why does the US, the richest nation in the world, have homeless people? Do you think homeless folks have the capability to better their situation? Why or why not? What are some things that society could do better to help homeless folks? What are some direct and indirect ways in which you could help homeless people?
Dumpster Diving? Anonymous theeconomiccollapseblog.com September 15, 2011 Have you ever thought about getting your food out of a trash can? Don't laugh. Dumpster diving has become a hot new trend in America. In fact, dumpster divers even have a trendy new name. They call themselves "freegans", and as the economy crumbles their numbers are multiplying. Many freegans consider dumpster diving to be a great way to save money on groceries. Others do it because they want to live more simply. Freegans that are concerned about the environment view dumpster diving as a great way to "recycle" and other politically-minded freegans consider dumpster diving to be a form of political protest. But whatever you want to call it, the reality is that thousands upon thousands of Americans will break out their boots, rubber gloves and flashlights and will be jumping into dumpsters looking for food once again tonight.
So is this actually legal? In some areas, dumpster diving is considered to be legal. In other areas, dumpster divers are technically breaking trespassing laws. Although in most areas the police have so many other problems that they aren't really concerned about cracking down on dumpster divers. One of the biggest issues facing dumpster divers is safety. Crawling around in back alleys and side streets in the middle of the night is not exactly the safest thing to do. But the lure of large amounts of free food is enough to keep some people coming back over and over again. During the recent economic downturn, the popularity of dumpster diving has exploded. Today, there are dumpster diving meetup groups, dumpster diving Facebook groups, and even entire organizations such as Food Not Bombs that openly encourage their members to go dumpster diving. If your family was going hungry, would you go dumpster diving? You might be surprised at who is doing it. Dumpster diving is not just for the homeless and the unemployed anymore. A lot of people that have decent jobs have picked up on the trend. Just check out the following example from a recent MSNBC article.... “A programmer by day, Todd takes to the streets of North Carolina by night, digging through Dumpsters at drug stores and grocery stores all around his rural neighborhood. ‘You would be simply amazed at what businesses throw out,’ he said. ‘I've only had to buy two loaves of bread all year. ... Last week I had a trunk full of cereal, cookies, chips and ramen noodles.’ Todd slinks in and out of smelly places with low-light flashlights to evade renta-cops who will shoo him away. Most nights, his 14-year-old son comes along.” …The truth is that dumpster diving is just another sign of the times. Food prices continue to rise and this is putting incredible stress on the budgets of average American families. We just saw another huge rise in food prices
during the month of August. Just check out the following data from a recent article posted on The Economic Policy Journal.... â€œThe index for finished consumer foods jumped 1.1 percent (13.2 percent annualized) in August, the third straight rise. Over thirty percent of the August advance can be traced to meat prices, which climbed 2.4 percent (28.8 percent annualized). Higher prices for processed poultry and eggs for fresh use also were major factors in the increase in the finished foods index.â€? If you are married and have a couple of children it can cost a lot of money to feed them every single month. It is not hard to understand the allure of dumpster diving for people that are having a hard time making ends meet. Other Americans are choosing to dumpster dive because they believe that it helps them live a simpler lifestyle. There is a growing movement of people in America that are rejecting all of the "consumerism" that we see all around us. Today, the average U.S. household has 13 different credit cards. We are constantly being bombarded1 with ads that tell us that we need more stuff in order to be happy. Well, a lot of people have decided that is a lot of bunk and they are doing whatever they can to simplify. Other dumpster divers are absolutely horrified by how much food is wasted in America. It has been estimated that 263,013,699 pounds of food is thrown out in the United States every single day. Can you imagine? We are probably the most wasteful nation on the planet. With the number of hungry people in the world, it is absolutely criminal how much food that we waste. So in that sense, it is probably a good thing that dumpster divers are saving some of that food from the landfills and are finding positive uses for it.
1 Overwhelmed, attacked
Discussion: Have you ever been dumpster diving? Would you consider eating food from a dumpster? “Freegan” is the term self adopted by many of the dumpster divers, what other activities might enable someone to call themselves a “Freegan?” The article mentions that 263,000,000 pounds of food are thrown out every day, what else could be done with all that food? Where does all the wasted food come from?
What Is Poverty? Jo Goodwin Parker Writing for Change: A Community Reader You ask me what is poverty? Listen to me. Here I am, dirty, smelly, and with no "proper" underwear on and with the stench1 of my rotting teeth near you. I will tell you. Listen to me. Listen without pity. I cannot use your pity. Listen with understanding. Put yourself in my dirty, worn out, ill-fitting shoes, and hear me. Poverty is getting up every morning from a dirt- and illness-stained mattress. The sheets have long since been used for diapers. Poverty is living in a smell that never leaves. This is a smell of urine, sour milk, and spoiling food sometimes joined with the strong smell of long-cooked onions. It is the smell of the outdoor privy2. It is the smell of the mattress where years of "accidents" have happened. It is the smell of the milk which has gone sour because the refrigerator long has not worked, and it costs money to get it fixed. It is the smell of rotting garbage. I could bury it, but where is the shovel? Shovels cost money. Poverty is being tired. I have always been tired. They told me at the hospital when the last baby came that I had chronic3 anemia4 caused from poor diet, a bad case of worms, and that I needed a corrective operation. I listened politely - the poor are always polite. The poor always listen. They don't say that there is no money for iron pills, or better food, or worm medicine. The idea of an operation is frightening and costs so much that, if I had dared, I would have laughed. Who takes care of my children? Recovery from an operation takes a long time. I have three children. When I left them with "Granny" the last time I 1 stink, strong foul odor 2 outhouse, rudimentary toilet 3 lasting for a long period of time 4 deficiency in the oxygen-carrying component of the blood
had a job, I came home to find the baby covered with fly specks, and a diaper that had not been changed since I left. When the dried diaper came off, bits of my baby's flesh came with it. I made twenty-two dollars a week, and a good nursery school costs twenty dollars a week for three children. I quit my job. Poverty is dirt. You can say in your clean clothes coming from your clean house, "Anybody can be clean". Let me explain about housekeeping with no money. For breakfast I give my children grits with no oleo or cornbread without eggs and oleo. This does not use up many dishes. What dishes there are, I wash in cold water and with no soap. Even the cheapest soap has to be saved for the baby's diapers. Look at my hands, so cracked and red. Once I saved for two months to buy a jar of Vaseline for my hands and the baby's diaper rash. When I had saved enough, I went to buy it and the price had gone up two cents. The baby and I suffered on. Poverty is remembering. It is remembering quitting school in junior high because "nice" children had been so cruel about my clothes and my smell. The attendance officer came. My mother told him I was pregnant. I wasn't, but she thought that I could get a job and help out. I had jobs off and on, but never long enough to learn anything. Mostly I remember being married. I was so young then. I am still young. For a time, we had all the things you have. There was a little house in another town, with hot water and everything. Then my husband lost his job. There was unemployment insurance for a while and what few jobs I could get. Soon, all our nice things were repossessed1 and we moved back here. I was pregnant then. This house didn't look so bad when we first moved in. We now had no money. There were a few odd jobs for my husband, but everything went for food then, as it does now. I don't know how we lived through three years and three babies, but we did. I'll tell you something, after the last baby I destroyed my marriage. It had been a good one, but could you keep on bringing children in this dirt? Did you ever think how much it costs for any kind of birth control? I knew my husband was leaving the day he left, but there was no goodbye between us. I hope he has been able to climb out of this mess somewhere. He never could hope with us to drag him down. That's when I asked for help. When I got it, you know how much it was? It was, and is, seventy-eight dollars a month for the four of us; that is all I ever can get. Now you know why there is no soap, no needles and thread, no hot water, no aspirin, no worm medicine, no hand cream, no shampoo. None of these things forever and ever and ever. So that you can see clearly, I pay 1 to take back for failure to pay money due
twenty dollars a month rent, and most of the rest goes for food. For grits and cornmeal, and rice and milk and beans. I try my best to use only the minimum electricity. If I use more, there is that much less for food. But you say to me, there are schools. Yes, there are schools. My children have no extra books, no magazines, no extra pencils, or crayons, or paper and most important of all, they do not have health. They have worms, they have infections, they have pink-eye all summer. They do not sleep well on the floor, or with me in my one bed. They do not suffer from hunger, my seventy-eight dollars keeps us alive, but they do suffer from malnutrition. Oh yes, I do remember what I was taught about health in school. It doesn't do much good. But, you say to me, there are health clinics. Yes, there are health clinics and they are in the towns. I live out here eight miles from town. I can walk that far (even if it is sixteen miles both ways), but can my little children? My neighbor will take me when he goes; but he expects to get paid, one way or another. I bet you know my neighbor. He is that large man who spends his time at the gas station, the barbershop, and the corner store complaining about the government spending money on the immoral1 mothers of illegitimate2 children. Poverty is an acid that drips on pride until all pride is worn away. Poverty is a chisel that chips on honor until honor is worn away. Some of you say that you would do something in my situation, and maybe you would, for the first week or the first month, but for year after year after year? Even the poor can dream. I dream of a time when there is money. Money for the right kinds of food, for worm medicine, for iron pills, for toothbrushes, for hand cream, for a hammer and nails and a bit of screening, for a shovel, for a bit of paint, for some sheeting, for needles and thread. Money for a trip to town. And, oh, money for hot water and money for soap. I dream of when asking for help does not eat away the last bit of pride. When the office you visit is as nice as the offices of other governmental agencies, when there are enough workers to help you quickly, when workers do not quit in defeat and despair. When you have to tell your story to only one person, and that person can send you for other help and you don't have to prove your poverty over and over and over again.
1 contrary to established moral principles 2 born out of wedlock
I have come out of my despair1 to tell you this. Remember I did not come from another place or another time. Others like me are all around you. Look at us with an angry heart, anger that will help. Discussion: What impact does this woman’s story have on you? Does this essay affect your perceptions and understanding of the lives of poor people? Do you think that these insights will affect how you respond to poverty issues? Considering the information in the article, why is poverty often termed a never ending cycle? Do you think Vermont or the United States neglects the poor? Where do you see poverty in Vermont? In the United States? How does personal responsibility apply to this situation? What’s your reaction when you are asked, “Can you spare some change?”
Banker to the Poor (excerpt) Muhammad Yunus 2003 In 1974, Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist from Chittagong University, led his students on a field trip to a poor village. They interviewed a woman who made bamboo stools, and learnt that she had to borrow the equivalent of 15p2 to buy raw bamboo for each stool made. After repaying the middleman, sometimes at rates as high as 10% a week, she was left with a penny profit margin. Had she been able to borrow at more advantageous rates, she would have been able to amass an economic cushion and raise herself above subsistence level. Realizing that there must be something terribly wrong with the economics he was teaching, Yunus took matters into his own hands, and from his own pocket lent the equivalent of £ 173 to 42 basket-weavers. He found that it was possible with this tiny amount not only to help them survive, but also to create the spark of personal initiative and enterprise4 necessary to pull themselves out of poverty. Against the advice of banks and government, Yunus carried on giving out 'micro-loans', and in 1983 formed the Grameen Bank, meaning 'village bank' 1 complete loss of hope 2 About $45 3 17 pounds = approximately $25 4 a plan for such a project.
founded on principles of trust and solidarity. In Bangladesh today, Grameen has 1,084 branches, with 12,500 staff serving 2.1 million borrowers in 37,000 villages. On any working day Grameen collects an average of $1.5 million in weekly installments. Of the borrowers, 94% are women and over 98% of the loans are paid back, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system. Grameen methods are applied in projects in 58 countries, including the US, Canada, France, The Netherlands and Norway. Muhammad Yunus is that rare thing: a bona fide1 visionary. His dream is the total eradication of poverty from the world. 'Grameen', he claims, 'is a message of hope, a program for putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long'. This work is a fundamental rethink on the economic relationship between the rich and the poor, their rights and their obligations. The World Bank recently acknowledged that 'this business approach to the alleviation of poverty has allowed millions of individuals to work their way out of poverty with dignity'. Credit is the last hope left to those faced with absolute poverty. That is why Muhammad Yunus believes that the right to credit should be recognized as a fundamental human right. It is this struggle and the unique and extraordinary methods he invented to combat human despair that Muhammad Yunus recounts here with humility and conviction. It is also the view of a man familiar with both Eastern and Western cultures â€” on the failures and potential for good of industrial countries. It is an appeal for action: we must concentrate on promoting the will to survive and the courage to build in the first and most essential element of the economic cycle â€” Man. Discussion: What do you think of Yunus? What do you think inspired him to hand out money to poor villagers? What sort of risks was he taking by doing this? Would you ever be willing to do this? Why do you think he mostly lends to women? Many people say that education is the answer to poverty, as opposed to throwing money at a situationâ€”does this story prove that theory wrong? If you wanted to enact social change would you use money or other methods to do so?
1 The real deal
EDUCATION What is Illiteracy? Jonathan Kozol Prisoners of Silence: Breaking the Bonds of Adult Illiteracy in the United States (Excerpt) I once knew a young man, nineteen years of age, who lived with absolute outward confidence and self-possession for a number of years before I discovered that he could not read or write. His various methods of deception, which were also instruments of self-protection, were so skillful and so desperate that neither I nor any of his other adult friends were aware of his entire helplessness in the face of written words until we went to dinner one night at a local restaurant--and suddenly discovered that he could not read. Even here, it was not the first time we went out to eat, but something like the second or third, that Peter's desperation hit me full force. The first time he was clever enough to study the menu for a moment, then look up to the waitress and ask her if he could have "just a coke and a hamburger." He told me later that he had been through the same thing many times before and that he had learned to act as if he were examining the menu: "Then I ask for a coke and hamburger.â€? As we began to eat out more frequently, Peter would ask to go to Howard Johnson's. I soon discovered the reason for his choice: The photographs, attached in cellophane containers next to each of the standard items on the menu, spared him the necessity of struggling with the shape of words at all. Howard Johnson's, whether knowingly or not, had provided the perfect escape hatch for the endangered pride of an adult non-reader. I say "escape hatch" purposely, because the whole mood of the moment, whenever we were out in the ordinary world together, was permeated1 by Peter's feeling of entrapment2. It was as if he were afraid of being "caught.â€? His hands would tremble slightly and his forehead would break out in perspiration. Once during a long ride to New Hampshire, I remember that we stopped to eat at a good seafood restaurant. Peter said that he was tired and that he preferred to wait in the car. Only much later did he tell me that he had been stricken with a sense of terror. Even though he had already shared with 1 pervade, seep through, to be everywhere 2 being trapped or ensnared
me the "secret" of his inability to read and knew that he could count on me to help to cover for him, there would still be times like this when the sense of anxiety would overwhelm his sense of confidence altogether. There came a point when Peter's anxiety began to be obsessive. He did not dare to leave his father's two-room flat for days on end. When he did go out, it would be only to the corner store and back. (He lived, during most of the years I knew him, almost exclusively on precooked frozen foods and soups that came in cans. He memorized the labels, so that he could pick out what he wanted without asking.) His isolation from the daily patterns of the outside world came, after a while, to be virtually complete. Night turned into day for Peter. Stereo music and an average daily diet of twelve hours of television became his sole companions. His mother was dead. His father, nearly illiterate himself, was seldom home. His father's girlfriend was illiterate as well. Four or five friends from grade-school days would come by now and then to say hello. They were for the most part, illiterate as well. Those who could read and write had long since disappeared into that world of hope, employment and aspiration which Peter no longer regarded with longing so much as with alarm. Discussion: Define illiteracy. What would life be like in Peter's shoes? What limits is Peter experiencing because he canâ€™t read? What aspects of Peter's life have influenced his illiteracy? What can be done to help people learn to read, both adults that struggle with reading, as well as children? Examine your reactions to Peter's condition. Are you sympathetic, angered, confused? Is there anything that you feel like you hide from people around you?
The Trouble with Boys Peg Tyre Newsweek (excerpt) January 30, 2006 By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn't like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study.
The problem won't be solved overnight. In the last two decades, the education system has become obsessed with a quantifiable and narrowly defined kind of academic success, these experts say, and that myopic1 view is harming boys. Boys are biologically, developmentally and psychologically different from girlsâ€”and teachers need to learn how to bring out the best in every one. "Very well-meaning people," says Dr. Bruce Perry, a Houston neurologist who advocates for troubled kids, "have created a biologically disrespectful model of education." Thirty years ago it was girls, not boys, who were lagging. The 1972 federal law Title IX forced schools to provide equal opportunities for girls in the classroom and on the playing field. Over the next two decades, billions of dollars were funneled into finding new ways to help girls achieve. In 1992, the American Association of University Women issued a report claiming that the work of Title IX was not doneâ€”girls still fell behind in math and science; by the mid-1990s, girls had reduced the gap in math and more girls than boys were taking high-school-level biology and chemistry. Boys have always been boys, but the expectations for how they're supposed to act and learn in school have changed. In the last 10 years, thanks in part to activist parents concerned about their children's success, school performance has been measured in two simple ways: how many students are enrolled in accelerated courses and whether test scores stay high. Standardized assessments have become commonplace for kids as young as 6. Curricula have become more rigid. Instead of allowing teachers to instruct kids in the manner and pace that suit each class, some states now tell teachers what, when and how to teach. At the same time, student-teacher ratios have risen, physical education and sports programs have been cut and recess is a distant memory. These new pressures are undermining the strengths and underscoring the limitations of what psychologists call the "boy brain"â€”the kinetic, disorganized, maddening and sometimes brilliant behaviors that scientists now believe are not learned but hard-wired. When Cris Messler of Mountainside, N.J., brought her 3-year-old son Sam to a pediatrician to get him checked for ADHD, she was acknowledging the desperation parents can feel. He's a high-energy kid, and Messler found herself hoping for a positive diagnosis. "If I could get a diagnosis from the doctor, I could get him on medicine," she says. The doctor said Sam is a normal boy. School has been tough, though. Sam's reading teacher said he was hopeless. His first-grade teacher complains he's antsy, and Sam, now 7, has 1 Narrow-minded, one sided
been referring to himself as "stupid." Messler's glad her son doesn't need medication, but what, she wonders, can she do now to help her boy in school? For many boys, the trouble starts as young as 5, when they bring to kindergarten a set of physical and mental abilities very different from girls'. As almost any parent knows, most 5-year-old girls are more fluent than boys and can sight-read more words. Boys tend to have better hand-eye coordination, but their fine motor skills are less developed, making it a struggle for some to control a pencil or a paintbrush. Boys are more impulsive than girls; even if they can sit still, many prefer not to—at least not for long. In elementary-school classrooms—where teachers increasingly put an emphasis on language and a premium on sitting quietly and speaking in turn— the mismatch between boys and school can become painfully obvious. "Girl behavior becomes the gold standard," says "Raising Cain" coauthor Thompson. "Boys are treated like defective girls." Two years ago Kelley King, principal of Douglass Elementary School in Boulder, Colo., looked at the gap between boys and girls and decided to take action. Boys were lagging 10 points behind girls in reading and 14 points in writing. Many more boys than girls were being labeled as learning disabled, too. So King asked her teachers to buy copies of Gurian's book "The Minds of Boys," on boy-friendly classrooms, and in the fall of 2004 she launched a bold experiment. Whenever possible, teachers replaced lecture time with fastmoving lessons that all kids could enjoy. Three weeks ago, instead of discussing the book "The View From Saturday," teacher Pam Unrau divided her third graders into small groups, and one student in each group pretended to be a character from the book. Classes are noisier, Unrau says, but the boys are closing the gap. Last spring, Douglass girls scored an average of 106 on state writing tests, while boys got a respectable 101. Primatologists have long observed that juvenile male chimps battle each other not just for food and females, but to establish and maintain their place in the hierarchy of the tribe. Primates face off against each other rather than appear weak. That same evolutionary imperative, psychologists say, can make it hard for boys to thrive in middle school—and difficult for boys who are failing to accept the help they need. The transition to middle school is rarely easy, but like the juvenile primates they are, middle-school boys will do almost anything to avoid admitting that they're overwhelmed. "Boys measure everything they do or say by a single yardstick: does this make me look weak?" says Thompson. "And if it does, he isn't going to do it." That's part of the reason that videogames have such a powerful hold on boys: the action is constant,
they can calibrate just how hard the challenges will be and, when they lose, the defeat is private. It's easy for middle-school boys to feel outgunned. Girls reach sexual maturity two years ahead of boys, but other, less visible differences put boys at a disadvantage, too. The prefrontal cortex is a knobby region of the brain directly behind the forehead that scientists believe helps humans organize complex thoughts, control their impulses and understand the consequences of their own behavior. In the last five years, Dr. Jay Giedd, an expert in brain development at the National Institutes of Health, has used brain scans to show that in girls, it reaches its maximum thickness by the age of 11 and, for the next decade or more, continues to mature. In boys, this process is delayed by 18 months. Scientists caution that brain research doesn't tell the whole story: temperament, family background and environment play big roles, too. Some boys are every bit as organized and assertive as the highest-achieving girls. All kids can be scarred by violence, alcohol or drugs in the family. But if your brain hasn't reached maturity yet, says Yurgelun-Todd, "it's not going to be able to do its job optimally." Across the nation, educators are reviving an old idea: separate the girls from the boysâ€”and at Roncalli Middle School, in Pueblo, Colo., administrators say, it's helping kids of both genders. This past fall, with the blessing of parents, school guidance counselor Mike Horton assigned a random group of 50 sixth graders to single-sex classes in core subjects. These days, when sixth-grade science teacher Pat Farrell assigns an earth-science lab on measuring crystals, the girls collect their materialsâ€”a Bunsen burner, a beaker of phenyl salicylate and a spoon. Then they read the directions and follow the sequence from beginning to end. The first things boys do is ask, "Can we eat this?" They're less organized, Farrell notes, but sometimes, "they're willing to go beyond what the lab asks them to do." With this in mind, he hands out written instructions to both classes but now goes over them step by step for the boys. Although it's too soon to declare victory, there are some positive signs: the shyest boys are participating more. This fall, the all-girl class did best in math, English and science, followed by the all-boy class and then coed classes. One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school rests on a single question: does he have a man in his life to look up to? Too often, the answer is no. High rates of divorce and single motherhood have created a generation of fatherless boys. In every kind of neighborhood,
rich or poor, an increasing number of boys—now a startling 40 percent—are being raised without their biological dads.
Psychologists say that grandfathers and uncles can help, but emphasize that an adolescent boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map. And that is especially true for poor boys and boys who are struggling in school. Older males, says Gurian, model self-restraint and solid work habits for younger ones. And whether they're breathing down their necks about grades or admonishing them to show up for school on time, "an older man reminds a boy in a million different ways that school is crucial to their mission in life." In neighborhoods where fathers are most scarce, the high-school dropout rates are shocking: more than half of African-American boys who start high school don't finish. David Banks, principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, one of four all-boy public high schools in the New York City system, wants each of his 180 students not only to graduate from high school but to enroll in college. And he's leaving nothing to chance. Almost every Eagle Academy boy has a male mentor—a lawyer, a police officer or an entrepreneur from the school's South Bronx neighborhood. The impact of the mentoring program, says Banks, has been "beyond profound." Tenth grader Rafael Mendez is unequivocal: his mentor "is the best thing that ever happened to me." Before Rafael came to Eagle Academy, he dreamed about playing pro baseball, but his mentor, Bronx Assistant District Attorney Rafael Curbelo, has shown him another way to succeed: Mendez is thinking about attending college in order to study forensic science. With Andrew Murr, Vanessa Juarez, Anne Underwood, Karen Springen and Pat Wingert Discussion: Was it surprising to read that studies show such different learning between boys and girls? Do you disagree with anything in this article? What would school look like if it worked well for both boys and girls? What ways do we run our crews so that both males and females learn best? Would you want to be a part of an all-boys or all-girls class or school? How would you define the ways you learn best? What defines a learning disability? Do you think people can be misdiagnosed or diagnosed too early in life? This article uses science to justify and support gender stereotypes. Are the results founded or not?
Angels on a Pin: A Modern Parable Alexander Callandra Saturday Review December 21, 1968 Some time ago I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student: The instructor and the student agreed to submit this to an impartial1 arbiter2, and I was selected. I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question: "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer." The student had answered: "Take a barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building." I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, if full credit was given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to certify competence3 in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question I was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said no. He had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute he dashed off his answer which read:
1 fair 2 judge 3 Having the necessary skills
"Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop that barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then using the formula S = Â˝atÂ˛, calculate the height of the building. At this point I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and I gave the student almost full credit. In leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said he had many other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. "Oh yes," said the student. "There are a great many ways of getting the height of a tall building with a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer and the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building and by the use of a simple proportion, determine the height of the building." "Fine," I asked. "And the others?" "Yes," said the student. "There is a very basic measurement method that you will like. In this method you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units. A very direct method." "Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum1, and determine the value of 'g' at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference of the two values of `g' the height of the building can be calculated." Finally, he concluded, there are many other ways of solving the problem. "Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: "Mr. Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you tell me the height of this building, I will give you this barometer." At this point I asked the student if he really did know the conventional2 answer to this question. He admitted that he did, said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think, using the "scientific method," and to explore the deep inner logic of the subject in a
1 a swinging lever for regulating the speed of a clock mechanism 2 standard
pedantic1 way, as is often done in the new mathematics, rather than teaching him the structure of the subject. With this in mind, he decided to revive scholasticism2 as an academic lark3 to challenge the Sputnik-panicked classrooms of America. The title (which most people forget) is a clue. Medieval scholastics were fond of debating such meaningless questions as "How many angels can dance on the point of a pin," "Did Adam have a navel," and "Do angels defecate." The emerging sciences replaced such `scholarly' debates with experimentation and appeals to observable fact. Discussion: What do you think was the point of the student giving the teacher multiple answers, but not the ones he had learned in class? In what ways do you get frustrated with tests and quizzes at school? What is the point of debating things such as ‘how many angels fit on the head of a pin’? What ‘meaningless’ questions have you debated lately? Why do you think the author tells us this story? Do you know how to tell the height of a building with a barometer?
1 Very concerned with minute details 2 Following of traditional teaching 3 Innocent mischief
Vermont Lawmakers Grapple with Sexting Bill Keagan Harsha www.wcax.com April 15, 2009 Students say it happens every day in every school: teens texting nude photos of themselves to other students. "It is wrong, but for so many high schoolers it's live in the now. It's not a longterm thing. It's oh, I sent a picture of myself to my boyfriend, big deal," said Hannah Crary, a student from Bellow Falls. It's called sexting and according to a study conducted by the national campaigning to prevent teen pregnancy, 20 percent of all students do it. "I think it's more than that," said Sarah Racine, a student from Fairfax. A bill before the House Judiciary Committee would protect sexting teens from serious criminal prosecution. Under current statutes, high schoolers caught sexting can face child pornography charges and a listing on the state's internet sex offender registry. This legislation would prevent that; exempting 13-18year-olds from the most serious charges. "Let's be clear. This is not legalizing," said Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg. "Any activity where there is underlying activity such as voyeurism1, lewd and lascivious2 conduct with a child, other criminal provisions that could be applied if the facts are appropriate." But others fear the legislation sends kids the wrong message, especially when many teens today see sexting as simply a modern form of flirting. "I don't think it's a crime," Racine said. "I think there should be long-term consequences, a difficult topic to put a real firm grip on," Crary said. 1 the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at sexual objects or acts, esp. secretively. 2 Lustfulness, obscene
Some prosecutors think the bill is unnecessary. Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan agrees most teens shouldn't face sex offender charges for sexting, but says the solution is education not legislation. "It's my opinion that the discretion has to be left with the prosecutors, which cases to charge, a lot of different factors come into every decision, and I think we've exercised our discretion," Donovan said. The House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the bill in the coming weeks. The legislation does contain some conditions. For example, the photo sharing has to be consensual. If not, teens would still face child pornography charges. Discussion: Have you noticed sexting happening among your friends? Is it a problem? What do you think inspires people to send photographs like the ones described in the story? Do you think the government should be involved in this issue? Do you think sexting should be considered a crime and on equal levels with child pornography? What are the impacts of sexting, both morally and socially? What sorts of long-term consequence do you think would be effective for handling sexting? How would education prevent sexting? What kinds of education do you think would work? Imagine life as a teenager 20 years ago…what would be the equivalent to sexting back then? How would such actions have been treated back then? How can you ensure consent between two teenagers who are sending nude photos? Social Networking Site’s Mission Statements Facebook Mission Statement www.facebook.com Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Twitter and the Community www.twitter.com “We want to instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.” Pinterest www.pinterest.com The site's mission statement is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting."
Skype: www.skype.com Skype’s mission is to be the fabric of real-time communication on the web. Google www.google.com Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Discussion: Can you tell what the goal of each of these companies is by their mission statement? How are the mission statements different? How are they similar? Do you use any of these sites? Do you think you use them in a way that is envisioned in the companies’ mission statement?
If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online Tamar Lewin New York Times January 20, 2010 The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cell phones. And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours. “I feel like my days would be boring without it,” said Francisco Sepulveda, a 14-year-old Bronx eighth grader who uses his smart phone to surf the Web, watch videos, listen to music — and send or receive about 500 texts a day. The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover,
that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades. The third in a series, the study found that young people’s media consumption grew far more in the last five years than from 1999 to 2004, as sophisticated mobile technology like iPods and smart phones brought media access into teenagers’ pockets and beds. Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.” Contrary to popular wisdom, the heaviest media users reported spending a similar amount of time exercising as the light media users. Nonetheless, other studies have established a link between screen time and obesity. While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school. The study could not say whether the media use causes problems, or, rather, whether troubled youths turn to heavy media use. “This is a stunner,” said Donald F. Roberts, a Stanford communications professor emeritus who is one of the authors of the study. “In the second report, I remember writing a paragraph saying we’ve hit a ceiling on media use, since there just aren’t enough hours in the day to increase the time children spend on media. But now it’s up an hour.” The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 to 12 that was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009. On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cell phones, or playing games, than talking on them.
“I use it as my alarm clock, because it has an annoying ringtone that doesn’t stop until you turn it off,” Francisco Sepulveda said of his phone. “At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages.” Francisco’s mother, Janet Sepulveda, bought his phone, a Sidekick LX, a year ago when the computer was not working, to ensure that he had Internet access for school. But schoolwork has not been the issue. “I’d say he uses it about 2 percent for homework and 98 percent for other stuff,” she said. “At the beginning, I would take the phone at 10 p.m. and tell him he couldn’t use it anymore. Now he knows that if he’s not complying with what I want, I can suspend his service for a week or two. That’s happened.” The Kaiser study found that more than 7 in 10 youths have a TV in their bedroom, and about a third have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom. “Parents never knew as much as they thought they did about what their kids are doing,” Mr. Roberts said, “but now we’ve created a world where they’re removed from us that much more.” The study found that young people used less media in homes with rules like no television during meals or in the bedroom, or with limits on media time. Victoria Rideout, a Kaiser vice president who is lead author of the study, said that although it has become harder for parents to control what their children do, they can still have an effect. “I don’t think parents should feel totally disempowered,” she said. “They can still make rules, and it still makes a difference.” In Kensington, Md., Kim Calinan let her baby son, Trey, watch Baby Einstein videos, and soon moved him on to “Dora the Explorer.” “By the time he was 4, he had all these math and science DVDs, and he was clicking through by himself, and he learned to read and do math early,” she said. “So if we’d had the conversation then, I would have said they were great educational tools.” But now that Trey is 9 and wild about video games, Ms. Calinan feels differently. Last year, she sensed that video games were displacing other interests and narrowing his social interactions. After realizing that Trey did not want to sign up for any afterschool activities that might cut into his game time,
Ms. Calinan limited his screen time to an hour and half a day on weekends only. So last Wednesday, Trey came home and read a book — but said he was looking forward to the weekend, when he could play his favorite video game. Many experts believe that media use is changing youthful attitudes. “It’s changed young people’s assumptions about how to get an answer to a question,” Mr. Roberts said. “People can put out a problem, whether it’s ‘Where’s a good bar?’ or ‘What if I’m pregnant?’ and information pours in from all kinds of sources.” The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and “tweens,” or those ages 11 to 14. Even during the survey, media use was changing. “One of the hot topics today is Twitter, but when we first went into the field and began interviewing, Twitter didn’t exist,” Ms. Rideout said. Discussion: Do you feel like you spend an average of 7.5 hours a day on the internet, watching TV or on the phone? Is this average accurate for your friends? Do you think spending that much time “plugged in” is healthy? How does your life change when you are not connected to the internet? Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing to be able to spend so much time on electronic devices?
If We Only Knew, If He Only Told Us John Halligan 2004 October 7, 2003 will always be the day that divides my life. Before that day my son Ryan was alive. A sweet, gentle and lanky thirteen year old fumbling his way through early adolescence and trying to establish his place in the often confusing and difficult social world of middle school. After that day my son would be gone forever, a death by suicide. Some would call it bullycide or even cyber bullycide. I just call it a huge hole in my heart that will never heal. Our son Ryan was a sweet, gentle and very sensitive soul. As he grew, his affectionate way made it irresistible to hug him and feel him hug you back. He
had the magic ability to bring a smile to anyone that looked his way. As he grew, he developed a wonderful sense of humor too. But there were early concerns with Ryan’s speech, language and motor skills development as he neared kindergarten. Ryan received special education services from pre-school through the fourth grade. In December 2002, the bullying problem surfaced to a significant level. There was an evening that month when he just had a meltdown … a very tearful session at the kitchen table. We thought 7th grade was going fine but discovered he was bottling up a lot of bad experiences during the first few months. Again, it was the same kid and his friends that bullied him on and off since the 5th grade. They were tormenting him again and he said he hated going to school, that he never wanted to go back there. I was torn between wanting to be his bodyguard all day and feeling he needed to (again) learn how to manage the situation as a part of growing up. I said, “That’s it Ryan. I had enough. Let’s take it to the principal and have him put a stop to it once and for all.” To that, Ryan exclaimed, “No dad, please don’t do that. They will only make it worse. I see it happen all the time.” Instead Ryan asked that we help him learn how to fight so he can “beat the heck" out of this kid if he or his 8th grade friends tried to jump Ryan. How I wish I could now turn back the clock. I wish we instead looked into why Ryan did not trust his school administration to address the problem in the first place. But at that moment in time, I immediately thought of the movie “The Karate Kid” and said so to Ryan. We laughed and agreed that was exactly what was needed for this situation. But instead of karate, Ryan was much more interested in Billy Blank’s Taebo Kick Boxing program. After dinner every evening we did this exercise program together. These are some of my favorite memories of time spent with Ryan. We talked about a lot of things during these workouts including strategies in dealing with the bully and his friends. I was quite proud of him, seeing his self confidence build. It truly felt like the "Karate Kid" movie, getting him ready for the big match. But I reminded Ryan that he was never to start a fight with this kid, but he certainly had my permission to “whale on him” the moment he laid a hand on Ryan. Sure enough, we got a call from the assistant principal after a school day in February 2003. He just broke up a fight between Ryan and the bully. He said Ryan was ok but wanted us to be aware. We were very grateful for his intervention. When we found Ryan walking home, he was both scared and
elated. He was shaking but said he got a few good punches in and felt good he was able to stick up to the bully. He said, “I got a few good punches in before Mr. Emory got there. That kid probably won’t mess with me anymore.” We were all feeling pretty relieved that day for Ryan; for being able to stand his ground and seemingly make it through a typical teenage rite of passage. As the months followed, he seemed to be doing great. The "normal" ups and downs were what we observed. And we were always there for him, always reminding him how much we loved him. For the rest of 7th grade, I kept checking in with Ryan and asking him if that kid was still bothering him. His answer was always the same … that since that fight, the bully had left him alone. I often thought to myself, “This plan worked perfectly!” One day Ryan’s answer surprised us. He said he was now friends with the kid. We were not happy with this news. We warned him to watch his back since this kid was his nemesis1 for so long. We discouraged the friendship but decided to back off, feeling he was of age to make decisions like this and potentially have to learn from a misjudgment. How I wish we instead ended the so called friendship right from the start. Ryan’s young teen life included swimming, camping, skateboarding, biking, snowboarding, playing computer games and instant messaging. A typical array of “healthy” and “normal” teen activities … or so it seemed. My son loved being on-line, staying connected with his friends after the school day and throughout the summer. But during the summer of 2003, a greater deal of time was spent on-line, mainly instant messaging. I was concerned and felt compelled to remind him of our internet safety rules.
No IMing/chatting with strangers No giving any personal information (name/address/phone) to strangers No sending pictures to strangers No secret passwords
Our last rule was a safety one. I told my two older children that they had to use the password I gave them for any accounts they signed up. I promised I would not read personal messages or spy on them but, “God forbid you don’t follow the first few rules and you just disappear one day, I will want instant access to all of your activities on-line.” Never in a million years did I imagine this rule would someday end up becoming the key to unlocking the mystery of why my son took his own life. 1 enemy
A few days after his funeral I logged on to his AOL IM account because that was the one place he spent most of his time during the last few months. I logged on to see if there were any clues to his final action. It was in that safe world of being somewhat anonymous that several of his classmates told me of the bullying and cyber bullying that took place during the months that led up to his suicide. The boy that had bullied him since 5th grade and briefly befriended Ryan after the brawl was the main culprit. My son the comedian told his new friend something embarrassing and funny that happened once and the friend (bully) ran with the new information that Ryan had something done to him and therefore Ryan must be gay. The rumor and taunting continued beyond that school day … well into the night and during the summer of 2003. During the summer, my son approached a pretty “popular” girl from his school on-line and worked on establishing a relationship with her; I’m sure as a surefire way to squash the “gay” rumor before everyone returned to school in the fall. When the 8th grade school year started up again, Ryan approached his new girlfriend in person. I’m sure he was never prepared to handle what happened next. In front of her friends she told him he was just a loser and that she did not want anything to do with him. She said she was only joking on-line. He found out that her friends and her thought it would be funny to make him think she liked him and to get him to say a lot of personal, embarrassing stuff. She copied and pasted there private IM exchanges into ones with her friends. They all had a good laugh at Ryan’s expense. Now certainly my son was not the first boy in history to be bullied and have his heart crushed by a pretty girl’s rejection. But when I discovered a folder filled with IM exchanges throughout the summer and further interviewed his classmates, I realized that technology was being utilized as weapons far more effective and reaching then the simple ones we had as kids. The list keeps growing with the invention of every new hi-tech communication gadget. It’s one thing to be bullied and humiliated in front of a few kids. It’s one thing to feel rejection and have your heart crushed by a girl. But it has to be a totally different experience then a generation ago when these hurts and humiliation are now witnessed by a far larger, online adolescent audience. I believe my son would have survived these incidents of bullying and humiliation if they took place before computers and the internet. But I believe there are few of us that that would have had the resiliency and stamina to sustain such a nuclear level attack on our feelings and reputation as a young teen in the midst of rapid physical and emotional changes and raging hormones. I believe bullying through technology has the effect of accelerating and amplifying the hurt to
levels that will probably result in a rise in teen suicide rates. Recent statistics indicate that indeed teen suicide is on the rise again after many years of declining rates. I want to be very clear. I donâ€™t blame Ryanâ€™s suicide on one single person or one single event. In the end, Ryan was suffering from depression. This is a form of mental illness that is brought on by biological and/or environmental factors. In Ryan's case, I feel it was the "pile on effect" of the environmental issues mentioned above that stemmed from his middle school life. Tragically, teenage depression often goes undetected against the backdrop of typical teen angst. And since most of us have never received basic education in the signs and prevention of teenage suicide at any point in our lives, young people suffering from depression are at greater risk. We have no doubt that bullying and cyber bullying were significant environmental factors that triggered Ryanâ€™s depression. In the final analysis, we feel strongly that Ryan's middle school was a toxic environment, like so many other middle schools across the country for so many young people. For too long, we have let kids and adults bully others as a rite of passage into adulthood inside a school building. But accountability and responsibility should be shared by all involved - parents, bullies, bystanders, teachers and school administrators ... basically the whole system. Something had to happen in response to this tragedy. It had to be something substantial and sustained, not just a short lived sympathetic response. We decided to take all this intense pain and channel it into productive areas to help other young people avoid the same fate as our son. We spearheaded a bully prevention law in Vermont that holds schools much more accountable in preventing and responding to this growing epidemic. We also worked closely with I-Safe America to raise awareness about cyber bullying and the severe emotional impact it can have on a young person. We've done several national and local news media interviews to spread this story. I have also decided to dedicate the rest of my life to visit as many schools as possible to share Ryan's story and the powerful healing messages of forgiveness and love for which our children need to be reminded. Nothing can ever bring back our Ryan. Nothing will ever heal our broken hearts. But we hope by sharing the personal details of our tremendous loss, another family will have been spared a lifelong sentence to this kind of pain. Please never forget Ryan's story and the fragility of adolescence.
*Special thanks to John Halligan for sharing this story and allowing us to adapt it for the WoRD book. Discussion: How does this story make you feel? Are you aware of cyberbullying happening at your school or within your social networks? Have you ever viewed it as a big problem? Do you now? What do you think of how Ryan’s parents responded to his bullying? Do you agree that middle schools are ‘toxic environments’? Why or why not? How do you think technology has increased the affects of bullying? What ‘safety rules’ do you follow on-line? The author mentions that dealing with bullying is a rite of passage. Do you think it is healthy for kids to learn to deal with bullies? What do you think should be done about cyber-bullying?
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
HUMAN RIGHTS The Bill of No Rights Lewis Napper We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance1 of justice, avoid any further idiocy, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debtfree liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great grandchildren, hereby try one more time to obtain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt-ridden, delusional2, and other stupid bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self-evident that a whole lot of people were confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights. You do not have the right to a new car, big-screen color TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteed anything. You do not have the right to never be offended. The country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone - not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be. You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all of your relatives independently wealthy. You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing3 generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes. You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.
1 appearance 2 deceiving the mind or judgment; a false belief, strongly held in spite of overwhelming evidence 3 support financially, sponsor
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and kill you. You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce1 away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in place where you still won't have the right to a big-screen color TV. You do not have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and won't lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you'd like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat. You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities in education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful. You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness - which, by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiot laws created by those around you who were confused by the Bill of Rights. Discussion: Who do you think is the intended audience of this article? Which sections do you most agree/disagree with? How familiar are you with the real Bill of Rights? What rights do you think we should and should not have? Are there some rights that you feel should be universal for people everywhere? Why or what not?
The Right to Bear Arms Edward Abbey Abbeyâ€™s Road: Take the Other January 1991 If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. (True? False? Maybe?)
1 force or intimidate
Meaning weapons. The right to own, keep, and bear arms. A sword and a lance, or a bow and a quiver1 full of arrows. A crossbow and darts. Or in our time, a rifle and a handgun and a cache of ammunition. Firearms. In medieval England a peasant caught with a sword in his possession would be strung up on a gibbet2 and left there for the crows. Swords were for gentlemen only. (Gentlemen!) Only members of the ruling class were entitled to own and bear weapons. For obvious reasons. Even bows and arrows were outlawed -see Robin Hood. When the peasants attempted to rebel, as they did in England and Germany and other European countries from time to time, they had to fight with sickles3, bog hoes, clubs -- no match for sword-wielding armored cavalry4 of the nobility. In Nazi Germany the possession of firearms by a private citizen of the Third Reich was considered a crime against the state; the statutory5 penalty was death-by hanging. Or beheading. In the Soviet Union, as in Czarist Russia, the manufacture, distribution, and ownership of firearms have always been monopolies of the state, strictly controlled and supervised. Any unauthorized citizen found with guns in his home by the OGPU or the KGB6 is automatically suspected of subversive7 intentions and subject to severe penalties. Except for the landowning aristocracy8, who alone among the population were allowed the privilege of owning firearms, for only they were privileged to hunt, the ownership of weapons never did become a widespread tradition in Russia. And Russia has always been an autocracy9--or at best, as today, an oligarchy10. In Uganda, Brazil, Iran, Paraguay, South Africa -- wherever a few rule many the possession of weapons is restricted to the ruling class and to their 1 a portable case for holding arrows 2 scaffolding or gallows 3 tool used to cut grain or tall grass 4 highly mobile army unit 5 legal 6 intelligence and internal security agency of the former Soviet Union 7 intending to overthrow the government 8 nobility 9 government by single person with unlimited power 10 government by a few
supporting apparatus: the military, the police, the secret police. In Chile and Argentina at this very hour men and women are being tortured by the most upto-date CIA methods in the effort to force them to reveal the location of their hidden weapons. Their guns, their rifles. Their arms. And we can be certain that the Communist masters of modern China will never pass out firearms to their 800 million subjects. Only in Cuba, among dictatorships, where Fidel's revolution apparently still enjoys popular support, does there seem to exist a true citizen's militia1. There must be a moral in all this. When I try to think of a nation that has maintained its independence over centuries, and where the citizens still retain their rights as free and independent people, not many come to mind. I think of Switzerland. Of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, The British Commonwealth, France, Italy. And of our United States. When Tell shot the apple from his son's head, he reserved in hand a second arrow; it may be remembered, for the Austrian tyrant2 Gessler. And got him too, shortly afterward. Switzerland has been a free country since 1390. In Switzerland basic national decisions are made by initiative and referendum3â€” direct democracy--and in some cantons4 by open-air meetings in which all voters participate. Every Swiss male serves a year in the Swiss Army and at the end of the year takes his government rifle home with him where he keeps it for the rest of his life. One of my father's grandfathers came from Canton Bern. There must be a meaning in this. I don't think I'm a gun fanatic. I own a couple of small-caliber weapons, but seldom take them off the wall. I gave up deer hunting fifteen years ago, when the hunters began to outnumber the deer. I am a member of the National Rifle Association, but certainly no John Bircher. I'm a liberal and proud of it. Nevertheless, I am opposed, absolutely, to every move the state makes to restrict my right to buy, own, possess, and carry a firearm. Whether shotgun, rifle, or handgun. Of course, we can agree to a few common sense limitations. Guns should not be sold to children, to the certifiably insane, or to convicted criminals. Other than that, we must regard with extreme suspicion any effort by the government 1 army of ordinary citizens 2 a ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner 3 submission of a proposed public measure to popular vote 4 small territorial divisions of a country
-- local, state, or national--to control our right to arms. The registration of firearms is the first step toward confiscation1. The confiscation of weapons would be a major and probably fatal step into authoritarian2 rule--the domination of most of us by a new order of "gentlemen," by a new and harder oligarchy. The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an "equalizer". Egalite implies liberte. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed -- but do not forget what the common people of this nation knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: an armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws. Discussion: Do you agree or disagree with Edward Abbeyâ€™s opinion on owning guns? What do you think would happen if only the government of the United States was allowed to own guns? Do you think it is possible to live in a society where all guns are abolished? Do gun laws in other countries, especially neighboring countries, affect your opinion about gun laws in the US? What stereotypes are there about gun owners and those who are for gun controls? If Americans were not allowed to own guns, would you obey or would you be one of the outlaws like Abbey? If the author had been alive, what do you think his reaction might have been to the school shootings that have happened in the last ten years?
Finding Freedom Eh Doe Doh Moo Adbusters Magazine Dec 23, 2008 I was born in a very terrible situation in a civil war zone in Burma. My father was a revolutionary soldier of the Karen National Union (rebel) and fought against the Burmese military regime.
1 seizure 2 characterized by absolute obedience to authority
My mom always took care of our family and our daily life was filled with fear, suffering and pain. When I reached the age of ten, my father was killed on the battlefield and it was the darkest day for our family. My mom didn’t want her children to join the revolutionary group. Losing her beloved husband in fighting was a bitter experience and very painful, so she didn’t want to lose her son too. In those days, most of the Karen people thought that to be a revolutionary you have to be a soldier, you have to hold arms and fight for freedom and self-determination. They thought there were no ways to get liberation without armed struggle. At that time, I also thought that armed struggle was the only way to get freedom. I wanted revenge against the Burmese soldiers. My father was killed, my uncle was killed, my cousin was killed, my friends were killed and my people were killed, tortured, abused, and raped by the civil war. I have learned from the elders that “without sacrificing your blood, you won’t be freed from slavery.” Fighting means for me protecting my family, my village, my territory and my people. When I was fourteen years old, I accompanied my uncle to the battlefield to see war, and saw dead bodies, injuries, pain and suffering. The experience motivated me to become a freedom fighter. When I was old enough, I joined the Karen revolutionary group, but my mom didn’t want me to join. She just wanted me to finish my high school in the refugee camp. My mom gave up since she couldn’t stop me and let me join. She just prayed for me to be saved from all forms of danger. I served as a freedom fighter for two years in the jungle, living in poor conditions without good food or shelter, and working hard. Some nights I had bad dreams. But these difficulties didn’t get me down. After our territory was occupied by the Burmese army, I came back to the refugee camp and finished my high school. When I finished grade ten in Tham Hin refugee camp, I met with my old friend who worked in Bangkok and he asked me to come with him to Bangkok for a two-month training course. I was very happy to get out of the camp, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me even though I had no idea what kind of training it would be. It was community organizing training. We learned thinking skills, structural analysis and community organizing skills. This training course gave me many new ideas. I have learned that armed struggle is not the only way to gain our rights, freedom and justice. We read about the life history of Gandhi1 and
1 Indian nationalist and spiritual leader who developed the practice of nonviolent disobedience
Nelson Mandela1, and these stories gave us a lot of new ideas. We did not learn about these kinds of stories when we were in school. Such ideas were not popular then. My life has changed now. I am changing and am not what I was before, but I still consider myself revolutionary. I want a big change in my community. I want my people to gain freedom, self-determination and justice, respect for our human rights and life security. Armed struggle is not the only solution and I am ashamed for seeking revenge. I don’t mean that I hate armed struggle, for I understand that fighting is to protect our families, our children and our people and our territory. The most important thing is to have revolutionary thinking skills, to understand the root cause of the conflict and to build up a new vision for justice and a peaceful society. Two months ago my mom left for the USA. She is worrying for my future. Many people said that Internally Displaced People (IDP) and refugees have no future. As I am her son, she does not want me getting old without life insurance and she said, “Come to America and you will become an American citizen, you will earn money and you can go back to Burma and start your work again. You are staying in Thailand without any legal travel documents, and Thai police can arrest you anytime, and it will be difficult for your future. I worry for you so much.” I understand my mom, and I know she loves me very much. I just want to say, “Mom don’t worry for me.” American citizenship can’t give me my life insurance. I have faith in God, and He is the only one who can give me life insurance. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but now I have to work here and serve my people and build my dream of providing for them a certain future. My future is not to have properties, nor to live a life of luxury. My future is to fight against any forms of injustice or oppression, to live in harmony with our environment and build up a peaceful society. I want to set up “Appropriate Education” for my people and give them the seed of thinking. I went to India and studied at the School of Peace, and stayed in Visthar campus where I got a lot of ideas. In my campus (my dream), I will have a school and training center filled with trees, flowers and vegetables.
1 South African statesman who was released from prison to become the nation's first democratically elected president in 1994
Trees, flowers and vegetable that will give us medicine, food, fresh air and peace of mind. I want to bring IDP children and children of war zones to my campus to study. I have no doubt that the true change in the future is education, but there are many types of education. I want the next generation to have the education of life, peace, equality, art, music, tradition, culture and the ways to overcome injustice and oppression and reflect on their life. Education that helps our society to be peaceful, to change yourself, to plant peace in your heart and share your peace with others and fight against any kind of oppression and injustice. Discussion: Do you agree with the authorâ€™s initial feeling for revenge? What do you think made him change his mind? What would you like to do to help IDPâ€™s or refugees? Why do you think America seemed like a great place for his mom to want to go? His dream is not to own land or material objects, but rather to educate people about peace. Where do you think he got his inspiration from? What is your dream? On another note, do you think that violence is ever justified?
Two Perspectives: Affirmative Action A Man of His Word Coretta Scott King New York Times November 3, 1996 "I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Who would have thought, 33 years after my husband, Martin Luther King Jr., uttered those words that their meaning would be distorted by supporters of the California Civil Rights initiative, which would eliminate state affirmative action plans. My husband unequivocally1 supported such programs. He did indeed dream of a day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, instead of the color of their skin. But he often said that programs and reforms 1 without a doubt, clearly
were needed to hasten the day when his dream of genuine equality of opportunity--reflected in reality, not just theory--would be fulfilled. In a 1965 interview, when Martin was asked about the fairness of the idea of affirmative action, he replied: "Can any fair-minded citizen deny that the Negro has been deprived? We have ample precedents1 for special compensatory2 programs, which are regarded as settlement manner. Is not two centuries of labor which helped build this country, as real a commodity3? And will you remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for million of veterans after the war--a program which cost far more than a policy of preferential treatment to rehabilitate the traditionally disadvantaged Negro would cost today?" Those who say that affirmative action is no longer necessary rarely cite statistics to support their argument, for the evidence of continuing pervasive4 discrimination against minorities and women is overwhelming. Indeed, statistics, far from proving that such programs are relics of a bygone era, testify to how precarious5 our hold is on equal opportunity and how discrimination in our society persists. Like my husband, I strongly believe that affirmative action has merit, not only for promoting justice, but also for healing and unifying society. I urge Californians to set a standard of conscience for the rest of the nation, by standing up for programs that provide a small measure of opportunity for minorities and women.
Racism has No Place in a "Free" Country Joshua Paul Horace Mann Review March 1996 It is undoubtedly due to America's racist past that minorities find themselves at a lower point, on average, in the income bracket. But why, many ask, should 1 prior occurrence 2 to make up for, rewarding 3 resource 4 found everywhere 5 dangerous, insecure
today's majority have to make up for that? They shouldn't. We cannot fix the torn seams of clothes which we no longer wear. However, that does not mean it is impossible to aid the disadvantaged. Affirmative Action is biased against everyone; it picks out the minorities as being inferior and needing help, and it takes away the chances of the racial majority. How then can we help the disadvantaged without discrimination? "Disadvantaged," to my knowledge, does not mean "those of darker skin color". It means (at least in an economic application) "poor". Let us re-work Affirmative Action so that it is applied by income bracket, not race. It will still help more minority-members (and that is the fault of our country's history), but it will be more even-handed, and it will not discriminate. Our goals should not be to get blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos on a par, but to get the rich and poor amidst all communities to be similarly aided by fortune's hand. It is right and proper for the society to aid its downtrodden, and it is best to note, in so doing, that when it comes to the "downtrodden" - who they are, and how they ought to be helped - that "all men are created equal”. Discussion: Do you believe that affirmative action is necessary to “heal and unify society”? Do you agree with Martin Luther King Jr. that because African Americans have been denied rights and have contributed to building this country they should be compensated? Or does giving minorities special advantages to jobs and universities discriminate against non-minorities who may be more qualified or be in a different disadvantaged position? Should gaining access to schools and jobs be based on one’s merit only and not on one’s race? Or is it time to provide minorities who have been, and still are, disadvantaged, assistance in gaining good job and educational opportunities? Do you think that the American society has a bigger problem with classism or racism? Have you ever witnessed or experienced either one?
INSPIRATION, REFLECTION, AND STORIES I Have a Dream (excerpt) Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963 I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition1 and nullification2, one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the 1 to exert in order to interfere or intervene 2 to make null; invalidate
crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the south with. With this faith we will be able to hew1 out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, knowing that we will be free one day. Discussion: What have been the impacts of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dreams? Was Martin Luther King's dream that farfetched? Have race relations improved since the 1950’s? What can we do today to keep his “dream” alive? Do you think we have reached some of the points he describes in his speech? How diverse is your high school, college, or community? Do you value this diversity (in all shapes and forms)? What are your dreams? Can dreams come true? What do you need to do to make your dreams come true?
The Lorax (excerpt) Dr. Seuss 1971 At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows and the wind smells slow-and-sour-when it blows and no birds ever sing excepting old crows... is the Street of the Lifted Lorax What was the Lorax? And why was it there? And why was it lifted and taken somewhere from the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows? The old Once-ler still lives here. Ask him. He knows. "Now I'll tell you," he says, with his teeth sounding gray, "How the Lorax got lifted and taken away... It all started way back... such a long, long time back... Way back in the days when the grass was still green and the pond was still wet and the clouds were still clean, and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space... one morning, I came to this glorious place. 1 to cut, as if with an ax
And I first saw the trees! The Truffula Trees! The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees! Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze. And, under the trees, I saw Brown Bar-ba-loots frisking about in their Bar-baloot suits as they played in the shade and ate Truffula fruits. From the rippulous pond came the comfortable sound, of the Humming-Fish humming while splashing around. But those trees! Those trees! Those Truffula Trees! All my life I'd been searching for trees such as these. The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk. And they had the sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk. I felt a great leaping of joy in my heart. I know just what to do! I unloaded my cart. In no time at all, I had built a small shop. Then I chopped down a Truffula Tree with one chop. And with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed, I took the soft tuft, and I knitted a Thneed! The instant I'd finished, I heard a ga-Zump! I looked. I saw something pop out of the stump of the tree I'd chopped down. It was sort of a man. Describe him? â€Śthat's hard. I don't know if I can. He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy. "Mister!" he said with a sawdusty sneeze, â€œI am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues. And I'm asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs"-- he was very upset as he shouted and puffed-"What's that THING you've made out of my Truffula tuft?" "Look, Lorax," I said. "There's no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree. I am doing no harm. I'm being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed. A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need! It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat. But it has other uses. Yes, far beyond that. You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets! Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!" The Lorax said, "Sir! You are crazy with greed. There is no one on earth who would buy that fool Thneed!" I laughed at the Lorax, "You poor stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy."
"I repeat," cried the Lorax, "I speak for the trees!" "I'm busy," I told him, "Shut up if you please." I rushed 'cross the room, and in no time at all, built a radio-phone. I put in a quick call. I called all my brothers and uncles and aunts and I said, "Listen here! Here's a wonderful chance for the whole Once-ler Family to get mighty rich!" And in no time at all, in the factory I built, the whole Once-ler Family was working full tilt. We were all knitting Thneeds just as busy as bees, to the sound of the chopping of Truffula Trees. Then...Oh! Baby! Oh! How my business did grow! Now, chopping one tree at a time was too slow. We were making Thneeds four times as fast as before! And the Lorax?... He didn't show up any more. But the next week he knocked on my new office door. He snapped, "I'm the Lorax who speaks for the trees which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. But I'm also in charge of the Brown Bar-baloots, who happily lived, eating Truffula Fruits. "NOW...thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there's not enough Truffula Fruit to go 'round. And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies because they have gas, and no food in their tummies! They loved living here. But I can't let them stay. They'll have to find food." And he sent them away. I, the Once-ler, felt sad as I watched them all go. BUT…business is business! And business must grow regardless of crummies in tummies, you know. I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got. I went right on biggering...selling more Thneeds. And I biggered my money, which everyone needs. Then again he came back! I was fixing my pipes when that ole-nuisance Lorax came back with more gripes. "I am the Lorax," he coughed and he snuffled. He sneezed and he whiffed, he snarggled and sniffed. "Once-ler!" he cried with a cruffulous croak. "You're making such smogulous smoke! My poor Swomee-Swans...why, they can't sing a note! No one can sing who has smog in his throat. What's more," snapped the Lorax, (his dander was up) "Your machinery chugs on, day and night without stop making Gluppity-Glupp and Schloppity-Schlopp. And what do you do with this leftover goo? You're glumping the pond where the
Humming-Fish hummed! No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed!" And then I got mad. I got terribly mad. I yelled at the Lorax, "Now listen here, Dad! All you do is yap-yap and say, 'Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!' Well, I have my rights, sir, and I'm telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do! And, for your information, you Lorax, I'm figgering, on biggering, and biggering and BIGGERING AND BIGGERING, turning MORE Truffula Trees into Thneeds which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!" At that very moment, we heard a loud whack! From outside in the fields came a sickening smack of an axe on a tree. Then we heard the tree fall. The very last Truffula Tree of them all! No more trees. No more Thneeds. No more work to be done. Now all that was left 'neath the bad-smelling sky was my big empty factory.... the Lorax....and I. The Lorax said nothing. Just gave me a glance...a very sad, sad backward glance...as he lifted himself by the seat of his pants. And I'll never forget the grim look on his face when he hoisted himself and took leave of this place, through a hole in the smog, without leaving a trace. And all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks, with the one word..."UNLESS." Whatever that meant, well I just couldn't guess. That was long, long ago. But each day since that day, I've sat here and worried and worried away. Through the years, while my buildings have fallen apart, I've worried about it with all of my heart. "But now," says the Once-ler, "now that you're here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." “SO…Catch!” calls the Once-ler. He lets something fall. “It’s a Truffula Seed. It’s the last one of all! You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds. And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs. Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect if from axes that hack. Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.” Discussion: Discuss the message of the Lorax. Why would this sort of literature be an issue if it’s used for educational purposes? In what parts of the country do you think this story would be particularly offensive? How is the
story of the Lorax a lot like our modern world? What are your thoughts regarding the Lorax and progress (the Thneed business, in this case)? Is there room for both? What is your interpretation of the Lorax's last message that he left on the pile of rocks— “UNLESS?” Possible Activities: A copy of The Truax is in your crew or park library. It’s a story about logging and forest products written from a logger’s perspective. Read and compare the two stories. If you could come up with a one or two word ending to The Truax, similar to the “Unless” ending in The Lorax, what would it be?
The Ripple Effect 12enlighten.blogspot.com April 26, 2006 The Master was walking through the fields one day when a young man, a troubled look upon his face, approached him. "On such a beautiful day, it must be difficult to stay so serious," the Master said. "Is it? I hadn't noticed," the young man said, turning to look around and notice his surroundings. His eyes scanned the landscape, but nothing seemed to register; his mind elsewhere. Watching intently, the Master continued to walk. "Join me if you like." The Master walked to the edge of a still pond, framed by sycamore trees, their leaves golden orange and about to fall. "Please sit down," the Master invited, patting the ground next to him. Looking carefully before sitting, the young man brushed the ground to clear a space for himself. "Now, find a small stone, please," the Master instructed. "What?" "A stone. Please find a small stone and throw it in the pond." Searching around him, the young man grabbed a pebble and threw it as far as he could.
"Tell me what you see," the Master instructed. Straining his eyes to not miss a single detail, the man looked at the water's surface. "I see ripples." "Where did the ripples come from?" "From the pebble I threw in the pond, Master." "Please reach your hand into the water and stop the ripples," the Master asked. Not understanding, the young man stuck his hand in the water as a ripple neared, only to cause more ripples. The young man was now completely baffled1. Where was this going? Had he made a mistake in seeking out the Master? After all he was not a student, perhaps he could not be helped? Puzzled, the young man waited. "Were you able to stop the ripples with your hands?" the Master asked. "No, of course not." "Could you have stopped the ripples, then?" "No, Master. I told you I only caused more ripples." "What if you had stopped the pebble from entering the water to begin with?" The Master smiled such a beautiful smile; the young man could not be upset. "Next time you are unhappy with your life, catch the stone before it hits the water. Do not spend time trying to undo what you have done. Rather, change what you are going to do before you do it." The Master looked kindly upon the young man. "But Master, how will I know what I am going to do before I do it?" "Take the responsibility for living your own life. If you're working with a doctor to treat an illness, then ask the doctor to help you understand what 1 confused
caused the illness. Do not just treat the ripples. Keep asking questions." The young man stopped, his mind reeling. "But I came to you to ask you for answers. Are you saying that I know the answers?" "You may not know the answers right now, but if you ask the right questions, then you shall discover the answers." "But what are the right questions, Master?" "There are no wrong questions, only unasked ones. We must ask, for without asking, we cannot receive answers. But it is your responsibility to ask. No one else can do that for you." Discussion: What other actions have you seen that are like the ripples in the pond, impossible to stop once they have started? Can they be positive and negative? Explain. Attitudes, actions and simple acts like smiling can all be contagious and have a ripple effect. What simple action can you do today that will have a ripple effect on your crew? On your community? On the world?
The Cracked Jar Paulo Coelho February 19, 2012 An Indian legend tells of a man who carried water to his village every day, in two large jars tied to the ends of a wooden pole, which he balanced on his back. One of the jars was older than the other, and had some small cracks; every time the man covered the distance to his house, half of the water was lost. The younger jar was always very proud of its performance, safe in the knowledge that it was up to the mission it had been made for, while the other jar was mortified with shame at only fulfilling half of its allotted task. It was so ashamed that one day, while the man got ready to fetch water from the well, it decided to speak to him: â€œI want to apologize, but because of the many years of service, you are only able to deliver half of my load, and quench half of the thirst which awaits you at your home.â€?
The man smiled, and said: “When we return, observe carefully the path.” And so it did. And the jar noticed that, on its side, many flowers and plants grew. “See how nature is more lovely on your side?” commented the man. “I always knew you were cracked, and decided to make use of this fact. I planted flowers and vegetables, and you have always watered them. I have picked many roses to decorate my house with, I have fed my children with lettuce, cabbage and onions. If you were not as you are, how could I have done that?” “All of us, at some point, grow old and start to acquire other qualities. We can always make the most of each one of these new qualities and obtain a good result.” Discussion: This story suggests that faults are actually blessings, what part of yourself do you see this way? Do you think the same things are seen as faults in different societies? In this story the man has to point out to the jar the benefit of its crack, has there been an influential person in your life that has helped you in a similar way? Have you had an opportunity to help others see the benefits of their “cracks in the jar?”
ADDITIONAL JOURNAL TOPICS:
If I could give one piece of advice to any person in history, that advice would be... The best lesson my grandparent (or parent or any relative) ever taught me was... In 20 years, I will be... What is something you do well? Tell about an event in your life that has caused a change in you. You have the freedom to travel to any city or country in the world. Where would you go and why? If you could bring someone on this trip, who would you bring? You have an extra $100,000 to give away; you cannot spend it on yourself. What would you do with the money? What is your favorite time of day? What is something you are optimistic about? What is something you are pessimistic about? What makes you laugh? What is your most indispensable possession and why? What would happen if you could fly whenever you wanted? When would you use this ability? What would happen if people never co-operated? Why do you think it is important to co-operate? What would happen if you threw a piece of trash on the ground? What if everyone did? What would happen if there were no cars, buses, trains, boats, or planes? How would this change your life? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? If it were your job to decide what shows can be on t.v., how would you choose? If you could participate in an Olympic event, which one would you choose and why? If you could break the Guiness Book of Records it would be for? What do you think about when you can't fall asleep? What makes you feel safe? What does courage mean? What three words would describe you right now and why? What three works would describe you two years ago?
QUOTES: “Problems must be solved in work and in place, with particular knowledge, fidelity, and care, by people who will suffer the consequences of their mistakes.” - Wendell Berry “The mark of a great fighter is how he acts when he’s getting licked.” - Sugar Ray Robinson “Those you want to leave an impression for one year should plant corn. Those who want to leave an impression for ten years should plant a tree. But those who want to leave an impression for hundred years should educate a human being.” - Chinese proverb “It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” - Leo Rosten “A man should never be ashamed to say he has been wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” - Alexander Pope “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” - Robert M. Pirsig “The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say ‘I was wrong.’” - Sidney Harris “Do good. This should be the aim of every human being, to make the world better for their having lived.” - Eldress Harriet Bullard “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” - Abraham Lincoln “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
- Albert Einstein
“The world would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang the best.” - Henry David Thoreau “The pessimist looks at opportunities and sees difficulties. The optimist looks at difficulties and sees opportunities.” - Unknown “In all great arts as in trees it is the height that charms us; we care nothing for the roots, or trunks, yet it could not be without the aid of these.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero
“Thunder is good. Thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.” - Mark Twain
"The only person you are destined to becomes the person you decide to be." - Emerson "You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give." - Winston Churchill "Your calling is where your greatest joys and the world's greatest needs intersect." - Frederick Buechner "Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible." - MC Escher "Humankind has not woven the web of life, We are but a thread within it, Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connected." - Chief Seattle
"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still remain calm in your heart." - Anonymous "You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note." - Doug Floyd "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin "No I know the secret of making the best persons; it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." - Walt Whitman "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve, the fear of failure." - Paulo Coelho "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer, and give strength to body and soul alike." - John Muir
“Experience is the name everyone gives their mistakes.” - Oscar Wilde
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