Thursday, July 22, 2010

Foreign Policy Blog on Children

Check out this blog for booklists, tips about talking to kids about world conflict, resources and information about the status of the world's children. A great resource for parents wanting to educate themselves about issues affecting children.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


"If learning is embedded in real world context, where you blur the boundaries between school and life, then children go through a journey of aware where they can see the change, enabled where they can be changed and then empowered, lead the change." Kiran Sethi is the founder of a revolutionary new school in India, called The Riverside School. She’s changing the way we think about children, the way they think about themselves and her ideas are contagious!

Monday, July 12, 2010

What will matter

What Will Matter
By Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no days, no hours, or minutes.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass on to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevant.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will all expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you come from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
It won’t matter whether you are beautiful or brilliant.
Your gender, skin color, ethnicity will be irrelevant.

So, what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built.

Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people knew you,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

Found here

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The dolls arrived

Back in February our homeschool group participated in the Dolly Donation drive for Haitian orphans affected by the earthquake. I was blown away by the response from our group and happily packed up 37 beautiful handmade dolls.
The dolls were delayed by the logistics of moving goods into Haiti but they recently arrived. My kids were beyond thrilled to spot some of the dolls we sent and one of the ones we sewed among the pictures posted on Sarah's blog

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love. My. Djembe.

Oh, the brave music of a distant drum!
~ Omar Khayyam

The kids (lucky!) got to do an African Drumming program today at a local library with a drummer, artist and storyteller. He began by having the kids listen to their heartbeat, to assure them that they have the rhythm in them. Then he introduced them to the drum and its history and lore. He taught them 3 basic drumming sequences by giving them each words to help the kids remember them. And after they practised he taught them how to answer the call of the drum, about the mother beat, tempo and poly rhythmic drumming. They were so excited to play. At the end of the session, he told them a Hyena and Hare story about a magic tree. It was a wonderful program and I was thrilled to have found it so soon after the kids were drumming in the park.  I just wish I could have played. They all had so much fun and music is such a fantastic way to introduce kids to the connections between cultures.

To be a drum by Evelyn Coleman,
African crafts : fun things to make and do from West Africa by Lynne Garner,
Africa for kids : exploring a vibrant continent, 19 activities by Harvey Croze,
Africa is not a country by Margy Burns Knight,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Plant a Row

We can be confident that action which is in accord with a few basic beliefs cannot be wrong and can at least testify to the values we will need to cultivate. These are the beliefs that the human race is a family that has inherited a place on the earth in common, that its members have an obligation to work toward sharing it so that none is deprived of the elementary needs for life, and that all have a responsibility to leave it undegraded for those who follow.

~ Gilbert F. White, Stewardship of the Earth,

This year marks our first as gardeners. We've been working a plot at our city's first community garden as our yard doesn't have enough sun to really grow a garden. It's been an amazing experience for the kids - and for me. They have a new connection to their food and an appreciation for the amount of effort it takes to put food on our table. It's given them a sense of responsibility and is a source of pride as they each harvest from "their" plants. The community aspect has been a powerful one for them. In the communal space, we've planted a blueberry bush whose fruit we may not harvest to "pay it forward" and to thank those gardeners before us who left blackberries and rhubarb and the beautiful raspberries.
We've also talked about food security issues. Even knowing that we have a thriving cherry tomato plant has given them an idea of how powerful growing our own food can be.

Our plot is small and packed full of many of  the vegetables and herbs we eat regularly and while I don't think we will be able to feed our family of 6 from the garden, chances are good we may have some zucchini and tomatoes to share.

We're blessed with a few local programs which can help gardeners and those interested in the local food movement help others.

Plant a row ~ Grow a row is  a program which matches gardeners with food banks who are happy to receive and pass on fresh local produce.

Our city also has a gleaning program where residents who have fruit or nut trees which may not be fully harvested can contact this organization and volunteers will pick the produce and donate it to the food bank or other community groups.

Sharing Backyards is a program which matches up people with unused gardening space with those who wish to garden but lack space. The land owner and the gardener each bring their resources to the table and share the harvest from the garden.

I've listed a few here
Food for thought
Books for older kids
Food : ethical debates on what we eat by Jim Kerr, 
Reducing your foodprint : farming, cooking, and eating for a healthy planet by Ellen Rodger,

Thursday, July 1, 2010

G8 and peaceful protests

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
~ Howard Zinn

This is how change happens, though. It is a relay race, and we're very conscious of that, that our job really is to do our part of the race, and then we pass it on, and then someone picks it up, and it keeps going. And that is how it is. And we can do this, as a planet, with the consciousness that we may not get it, you know, today, but there's always a tomorrow.
- Alice Walker

We were lucky enough to spend much of June at a family cottage not too far from the small city where the G8 meetings were happening. I hemmed and hawed about taking the kids in to town on the day of the meeting. I really wanted them to get a chance to see some of the protests but if things were to get violent or out of control I didn't know the city well enough to escape quickly or find a safe place. Without Internet access at the cottage I was limited to getting info via the radio or the newspapers. On Friday morning after hearing the news stations all reporting small, peaceful and creative protests and given that the risks seemed very low, I thought it was important for the kids to see and hear first hand about some of the things we had been talking about leading up to the G8. We arrived before noon, in time to see some protests staged in order to air on the noon news programs, and watched plenty of journalists jockey for stories and space.  And then we wandered around town, listening to the locals discuss some of the issues. The police forces seemed to finally be exhaling as the day progressed without incident. The kids all chatted with various members of the force. We saw officers kidding with the clowns, and while they declined the free hugs, they did offer hearty handshakes.

The protesters were relatively small in number but they were creative and earnest in their appeals. World Vision had mimes of the world leaders on stilts, high above the crowds, waving symbolic money just out of the reach of of those below them. The Council of Canadians took a quintessential approach, trying to canoe past security. Locals, who had made water the focus for them, stood at their waterfront with signs and posters, proclaiming water as a right worth protecting.  A group of young activists tried the positive approach, urging the world leaders to believe that the Millennium Development Goals are still achievable.

All of this lead to some great discussions with the kids about the ways we can impact our world, the purpose of governments, the responsibilities of citizens, the reasons for protests, the need for police and necessity that their powers must stay balanced and in check, particularly in view of the situations that occurred in Toronto at the G20.

G8 Encouraging kids to connect

One of the things that was wonderful and a bit surprising, was the way that the community of Huntsville, and the activist community encouraged and facilitated participating and inclusion of kids into the G8 experience, and not only through displays like the SGI Culture of Peace display. There was a young man encouraging community drumming at the water front, activist art which people were invited to sign, community concerts, even clowns doing a bit of street protest theatre, bubble machines and sidewalk chalk.

My kids may remember some of the details of the protests we saw, but I am almost sure they will remember drumming in community as one way to be heard, or talking about how art can be more than just one person's expression, or listening to the community concert on the theme of water.