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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Importance of Education for Sustainability

I was fortunate enough to have been selected to participate in NJ Learns Keystone Year 2011, an effort by The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education.  Generously paid for by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, this experience has greatly enhanced my ability and desire to affect change in our world.  I was motivated and inspired by all of the wonderful people who are making good things happen each day in the name of sustainability.  This group is not unlike the world in which we live:  full of diversity, ideas, challenges and ready to unite around common goals.  It is so powerful to feel what can be accomplished when we work together, using the best of our individual talents to add to the whole.

What is Education for Sustainability?  In the words of The Cloud Institute, "Education for Sustainability (EfS) is defined as a transformative learning process that equips students, teachers, and school systems with the new knowledge and ways of thinking we need to achieve economic prosperity and responsible citizenship while restoring the health of the living systems upon which our lives depend."  You can learn more about The Cloud Institute and the work they do here: .

One of my favorite parts of this experience is the access to another network of people who share my passion for sustainability.  Just as this blog has connected me to wonderful people like David who writes at .  His words always seem to inspire me to get my words out of my head and onto this page.  His most recent post is about connections and I know you will enjoy reading it!

Another connection:  Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life ( ) recently added me to her blog list.  Thank you, Beth, for this honor - I will try to live up to your example and inspiration (although when you hear about the plastic I am considering buying, it will not make you smile)!

A fellow NJ Learner recently mentioned the book Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein.  Have you read it?  I have not, but plan to.  You can read it here if you'd like: .  I listened to the first 15 minutes of a recording by the author here: and am intrigued.  It connects to something I've been thinking about at school lately....

We are getting ready for our Mother-Son dance.  The theme is a luau.  As always happens when we get ready for these events, we are looking for gifts.  Door prizes, game prizes, etc.  And, of course, our budget is very small.  We ask for local companies to donate gift certificates or baskets of goodies.  This is definitely an area that I struggle with as I have been asked to track down gifts for the boys.  We have karate class and gym gift certificates and now they are looking for physical  And they need to be 'cheap'.  I was pointed in the direction of plastic boomerangs which cost $3.33 each and little plastic cars.  Most of the things that have been purchased in the past are no doubt sitting in a landfill at this point, since they were cheap, plastic and easily-breakable.  I could easily buy those boomerangs, but I won't.  At a slightly higher price per item, I found these: .  Yes, they are still plastic.  It makes my conscience feel a little better to know that they are made in the U.S.A. from 100% recycled plastic grocery bags, but I know I could do better.  And the best would be to do without. 

I'm hoping to gain more insight into this problem and the solutions from the book above.  But I am constantly faced with the realization of how important Educating for Sustainability is in our lives.  As Einstein said, and The Cloud Institute has reinforced, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."  We need to think differently and act differently.  What new ways of thinking are you implementing in your life?

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Am...

I find that I don't post as often as I think about many words and thought swirling around in my mind, that I'm never sure I'll do them justice, bring them to life the way I want them to come many connections, mixed emotions, contradictions....will you understand what I'm trying to say?  This year, I am telling myself to relax a bit and just put the words out there.  I've set a goal to do this at least twice a month, hopefully more often.  It might not be pretty or poetic, but I'm happy to be here among friends, so thanks for reading!

I sat down on the morning of January 1st and watched the documentary "I Am" by Tom Shadyac.
It sums up a lot of what I've been feeling and thinking and what seems to be a rising consciousness in our world - we are all connected.  Each one of our actions has an impact on the world....what are our actions doing?  Are they protecting, preserving, sharing, caring?  It was a good way to start the year, thinking about who "I Am"......

That's how I started this blog, trying to think about the actions I was taking and see if I could inspire and be inspired by others.  Who am I?  I guess that's the universal question.  Some of us know much earlier than others.  Another connection to 'I Am'...Mattie Stepanek.  A young man who wanted to be known as "a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played."  Wise beyond his years, inspirational beyond his life here on earth.  He wrote a poem entitled "I Am/Shades of Life" and Billy Gilman recorded a song using his lyrics.  Mattie's mission was peace.  He thought a lot about what each individual's impact was in the world and knew that it meant a lot.  You can read more about him at .  I had the great honor of meeting his mom, Jeni, in September when we traveled to Maryland to visit a park built in Mattie's honor.  I took my family there because I have 3 sons who I hope will be inspired and encouraged by Mattie....One of them is named after him.  Jeni Stepanek continues to spread her son's vision of peace.  When you read the 'Pathways to Peace' publication that she has created, you will see the incredible wisdom of her son:

Who am I?  I think it takes some slowing down to ponder that question.  It seems to swirl around in my head a bit louder now that I am 3 months away from turning 40.  Age is just a number, but milestones have a way of making us slow down to think about things.  I have a son who will be a teenager in 1 1/2 years.  How can that be when it doesn't seem that long ago that I first became really aware of the fact that my actions impact another, when I was 'eating for 2' and wondering why we don't all eat as though we are eating for 2.  Not that long since, as a new mom, I moved into a new townhouse with my husband and infant son who would not sleep unless he was upright (which I later found out was due to a milk intolerance, passed on through breast milk since I was drinking lots of milk).  Because of this, he slept in his carseat, right on the ground, on the newly installed wall-to-wall carpet that 'would be perfect for a baby to crawl around on.'  The same carpet that I believe gave him asthma.  Nope, it's not scientific, just a mother's intuition....another one of my gut feelings.  After almost 40 years, I'm finally starting to trust my gut.  To continue to question who I am.  To try to make sense out of this gift we call life....

It's such a beautiful thing.

I have so many things I want to write about....some you might like and some you might not.  I welcome the agreement, the disagreement and everything in between.

Thank you for sharing my journey and stopping by to share yours, too!

“In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, are mosaic of gifts,
to nurture, to offer, to accept.”
— Mattie J.T. Stepanek

I Am.....Someone who considers you a brother or a sister.
I Am.....Looking for ways to be a better person so that my positive changes have a positive impact on you.
I Am.....Not perfect.
I Am.....Grateful.
I Am.....Ready.

I Am....

Are you?