Friday, April 14, 2017

New York , New York

So I can't remember how many times or to how many people I have mentioned that I detest the cold...It is a lovely 78 degrees in North Carolina and I am taking a break from packing for a trip up north! What am I thinking? Well... I get to see Nathan - check and I get to roam about - check but oh man 30's and 40's again? We shall continue the journey soon...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blogging has always been that thing that other people did.. At least in my mind. I mean what is the difference between that and keeping a diary? Didn't most little girls do that? I think everyone I knew had one.. I remember them as pink and gold with these little keys that dangled from a small piece of ribbon. I always wondered what the point of keeping the key attached to the diary was.. Was the purpose of the diary key to keep prying eyes out? Well then, why keep it close at hand? All in all though, blogging is a good thing and I will do my best to keep you infor and entertained as we travel the journey of life together...I hope my mum is proud of me.. Just saying. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Wonderful World of Ice

Ice has always fascinated me , so much so that even though I absolutely hate cold, I applied to be a PolarTrec teacher to Antarctica. Although I wasn't matched up with a scientist that time, I was still enthralled by the stark beauty of ice. Glaciers, icebergs , you name it. As an Earth & Environmental Science teacher, I pass this love on to my students and I use ice to illustrate the impact of climate change. I was both excited that James Balog might be at the talks and saddened that people had not listened to his warning that was illustrated so clearly in Chasing Ice. None the less, it was Day 4 and I had either missed seeing him as he wandered about or was not allowed into the Blue Zone where he spoke. My focus for today was originally going to be talking to the media that was covering the COP and see whether they were merely  " doing their job" or whether they had a vested interest in what I was covering. So, I spent a moderate amount of time today interviewing those that normally interview others. It was interesting and most said that they had no particular opinion one way or the other: Maybe they listen to their own interviewees too often. As I was getting ready to go and meet one of my cohort, I spotted a young man finishing up an interview with the ocean folks on the row and I thought, well what is one more try? We got chatting and I asked him about his feelings with regard to the interviewing just being a job and he replied  that for his radio program, he tried to keep it open enough so that he could attract a number of listeners. We chatted about ice andd I mentioned that there seemed to be little of any conversations about glaciers and other ice. I told him that my true love is ice and he asked if I had watched Chasing Ice...... I told him how much I use it in class and that the people in the video were my heroes. I also mentioned that the glaciers melting hurt my heart and that my students now loved glaciers. He finally introduced himself to me and I recognized him as one of the researchers in Chasing Ice! I was so excited. We filmed a small segment about my students that he is taking it to Mr.Balog... I hope my students will continue to be proud of me and how I stand up for what I am passionate about.
As the afternoon wound down, we made our way on the M7 to the M5 where we got off near the Pantheon so that we could see the pieces of glacial ice that were brought to Paris to make the point that the glaciers are the " Canary in a coal mine" when it comes to climate change. They were stunningly beautiful in the night with lights around them. They were heartbreaking as they were melting right  before our eyes and we walked in the water that had bled from them...they spoke volumes to those of us that were listening... and I share some of that experience with you in pictures and a small recording..













Wednesday, December 9, 2015

All Children Should have Hope!

Childhood should be the best days..no stress or worries; no cares or demands. Don't get me wrong, there are all sorts of issues in childhood; what game to play, did I get my homework done; how late can I stay outside and the two biggies: What will my friends think and when can I start driving? In the grand scheme of childhood though, these are massively important issues. In retrospect , I am not sure how I survived childhood . I mean , we had scrapes and cuts and bumps and bruises and we didn't worry about too awfully much. Today's children truly do not have that luxury;  the childhood times that are meant to learn and grow are being overshadowed by the concern and fear that the children feel about the potential future that they will face. We as teachers have the obligation to not only teach our students about what is happening with the climate, but we are finding ourselves more and more often having to reassure them that there is an element of hope... a spark of light and that they can be the " shakers and movers" that get the changes to happen. That is a very hard position to maintain without becoming discouraged sometimes and so it was with just an iota of hope that I headed out to the meeting at the US Embassy with Dr.John P. Holdren Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He was a gracious man and we were openly welcomed into the inner sanctum of the Embassy walls. He spoke with us for a time about the changes that have occurred since the Kyoto Protocol and how the responsibility is now on the individual countries to make their best efforts to do a part in climate change reduction. Still, I was skeptical; why would this man, well renowned in the inner circles of the government, whose name is held in high regard really care what we had to say? After all, we are 10 teachers who are passionate about what we are doing, but are there not lots of others in the same situation who must bombard the office with comments, complaints and /or requests? I listened carefully and the more he spoke and glanced my way, I could see and feel the passion that was within. He believes in the process; he believes in the children and he believes that what the children have to say is important. We all had our turn sharing and we were all brought to tears as one of the Education Ambassadors spoke so fervently ; so eloquently about what he wanted .. no what he needed for his students. As,I ready myself for my webcast with my students in about 3 hours, and I am thinking back over the meeting , I want to share with you the portion of my presentation. I spoke with Dr. Holdren about my school and then I shared with him the letter that my students wrote. I want to share  that with you now as the immediacy of their feelings is much better expressed from them.
" We are concerned that the future world will not be as good for  us as it was for our parents and grandparents. We will not be able to see beautiful things or clean oceans. We are also AFRAID of our future and what health, food and water problems might happen because the climate is changing so fast. We are AFRAID that there won't be enough food or water or that there will be wars over food and water. We don't want to get skin cancers and have all kinds of breathing problems. We don't want to die young." Dr. Holdren turned to me and asked if he could have a copy of the note because he wanted to give it President Obama personally. As I gave it to him , I thought " Is this the small bit of hope that children need? Is he really going to do what he said?" I asked him if he would like me to just put it in the book with all the other student letters and he said NO. He wanted to carry this one with him in his file so he would have it.... a group of children's letter to the President and it would be read.... be hopeful , children of all ages.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Where do we start?

I am an educator from the United States and I am proud of that.I am also excited about learning the culture and language , as well as the viewpoints of other countries. I share the good and the bad with my students and then we talk about it... I say talk because discuss has such a formal air to it and my students do anything but discuss. They are like sponges and cannot get the questions or comments out of their mouths before another one pops in, ready to erupt and be blurted out. It is gratifying to see their minds whirling and thinking and trying to take it all in. So today, as I sat in the session called , " The Importance of Addressing Oceans and Coasts in an Ambitious Agreement at the UNFCCC COP21: mobilization for implementation, I thought about my students and all the questions that they ask about oceans. Now let, me back up a minute or two. We are in the Piedmont of North Carolina, which means at the best we are 4 hours and at the worst 8 hours away from the ocean coast. My students know of the recreational areas like Myrtle Beach or Emerald Isle. So, they are fully aware of the ocean, but only in the context of a place of recreation and relaxation. When we talk about oceans, the questions tumbled out just as if they were surf tossed. Their desire for ocean knowledge is inexhaustible. They would be encouraged to know that ocean health is a concern and that the governing body of the COP21 are looking at this in addition to all of the other pieces that will make up an agreement to solidify the world on the goals for Climate Change reduction. I know, you are saying," Well, they would only be concerned because they like to swim and sunbathe and have fun." But, don't we start to educate people by looking at the piece of the lesson to which they are drawn? Once you hook someone, you can pretty much teach them anything. So my students are the start, they don't care about the bickering over the wording of something; they care about is it going to still be safe and can I still go there? If we educate our children young enough, we can move them from the pleasantries of ocean associations to a harder core look at to which other important components of life on Earth do oceans contribute? We have created a solid group vested in the health of oceans and the planet. So , as I sat there and listened to the trivialities of changing this word or omitting this other one, I got very excited when one panelist mentioned that education was key to getting the support needed to facilitate a change in the trend of ocean health and human security. I was so excited that before I knew it, I had raised my hand and was adding my comments to those of the high players in this COP. It felt good! I felt like they listened when I told them I was an educator and that my students were passionate about the ocean and that my students were the key to educating the older generations. I am proud  to be the educator of these students. I hope that they would have been proud of me for standing up for what I knew to be true.  But I mentioned that sometimes we have to accept the bad things that come with the good. As we were leaving the conference we passed by a protest against the United States. I was sad that people feel as they do towards us and I was a wee bit angry as I thought, " But they aren't talking to the " everyman"; they aren't talking to teachers that work desperately to educate their students on the values that are important in life. They are basing all of their perceptions on our government officials .. and they are going back a LONG way... I mean not even looking at the current administration totally. I wanted to reach out to them and say, come talk with my " kids" .. they are the future, they will be the governing agency ...they care. As those thoughts rumbled through my brain, I thought.... and now is the time  to put my " kids" into action and see what great things they can do! We need to trust that our students can take the reins and drive a new order of thinking, but that starts with us!




Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday, the first full day of exploring the COP21, started as most mornings do lately..with a quick breakfast and an exploration with the Ambassador group about what we expected, hoped for, wanted to see and wanted to do. My policy on conferences is to begin at the beginning and get the lay of the land; with expected side trips and distractions included. On the downside of the morning, it was early .. too early with no sleep, but the upside of actually getting a latte ( tomorrow it is on to the patisserie ) was most comforting. I am remember, the coffee queen. We started out the adventure by taking the M2 to the Stalingrad station and then switching over to the M7 - the train to the final destination busses. I will tell you it was pretty exciting seeing the dignitaries, but even more exciting seeing the " everyman" ; the people that were there because they cared, because the planet and its health is important to them. As we rode the busses to the COP21 center, the crowds got bigger and bigger. No doubt about it, this is going to be a big conference. I am a  people watcher, the "everyman" that is the driving force behind the things that need to and the things that get done. As one of my cohorts and I were waiting for the rest of the group, I noticed two men coming through the columns of the country flags. They were so happy and smiling and laughing that I did truly feel compelled to go to them and tell them how much they had made me smile and in turn made my day a bit happier. We chatted for a few minutes and then introduced ourselves. It seems that my " everyman" , was the man. At least for the country of Mozambique. I mean one was President and the other was in the cabinet. Very nice men and truly the " everyman" at heart. We took pictures and swapped information and then parted our ways knowing that each of our days was a bit brighter. My quest to find the everyman continued through wonderful presentations by Laura Bishop ( VP of Public Affairs and Sustainability) on the great strides and contributions that Best Buy is making on the Climate Change influencing front and Penguins with a message on Climate Change and the impact on their icy world to the most "everyman" presentation of all. I went to the presentation on the Indigenous Peoples grant for land , especially forests. The panel group was comprised of representatives from : Peru, Indonesia, Brasil , Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burkina Faso. I was again moved as they spoke passionately about their land, forests, waters and disappearing ways of life. The forests in Indonesia that were harvested for wood and forced the " everyman" into farming without the joys of childhood in the forests; the trees and land that is disappearing in Peru
and Brasil; and other areas that provided everything of need for the "everyman". I am struggling with the idea that others cannot or will not see that these Indigenous People , these " everyman" are us as well. As we destroy that life style, we ultimately destroy our own. We are all the " everyman" and as such we all need to be a part of the solution. Each in our own way and with our own strength and passion behind it. I want to share as a closing with you two interviews that I conducted today with people much younger than I. They are passionate, they are driven and the are the " everyman" that will inspire the rest of us to take action.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

When I was little my dad was always the one who told us stories: stories of the war, stories of when he was little and stories of the " old country" with all the ghostly details included. It got to be the highlight of our day when he would start off a story with ," Once upon a time there was a little boy who asked his father to ; telllllllllll him a story and this was the story he told: Once upon a time there was a little boy....." . Well , you get the idea. So storytelling has always been the best way to teach in my mind. I don't learn well by rote and I don't learn well just by reading something; but tell me a story and you have me hooked and I can't wait to hear more. I felt truly validated today as I sat and listened to the stories and poems that were presented to us at the UNESCO : An Afternoon with Robert Redford  : Storytelling for Global Action. We were privileged to hear Mr Redford speak about the importance of storytelling and getting the message across. He reminded us of two very important ideas when discussing storytelling and its content. " If you really want to be effective, make it stick ; draw the audience in with a story.... so that it becomes their own." My students hear stories all the time and there will be so many more from my experience. He also reminded us that there are no easy answers or solutions, there is only what each of us is willing to do." This is a question I will ask my students: " How much are you willing to do to ensure a safe and fruitful planet for you and your children's future? As I listened to Mina Setra, Deputy Secretary General of AMAN (Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago), Indonesia, I cried. I cried in my heart for her people, I cried in my heart for the human race and I cried in my heart and soul for the Earth. She was particularly moved and moving as she talked about the fact that at the COP21, the conference to end all conferences, there was a very good possibility that the Indigenous Peoples rights listed in the main text of the COP21 agreements to the introduction section. She was brought to tears as she explained that this meant that they really had no rights in the agreement anymore...that is if it goes through. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Poet, Activist, Marshall Islands was most eloquent as she read a poem describing the Earth's temperature in terms of a child that was running a fever.. NO need to worry as it isn't a fever yet was what the young mother in the poem heard.  We are living on a world with a fever ; out of control and deadly to life. We need to heal and mend and drive the fever out. As I listened to  Mundiya Kepenga, Papuan traditional Leader, Papua New-Guinea , the last panelist, I was struck by the pride he exhibited in his native attire and the passion with which he spoke about his home land. He shared stories with us of his ancestors, who were most wise and how they knew of the dangers coming. He said his people didn't listen and neither do the people outside of his country. His short video was a masterpiece which equated " man" to the brothers of trees.They ( the trees ) take care of us as we take care of them because we are all family on Earth. He spoke with pride of the past and the successfulness of his country. He saddened as he spoke of the days gone past when the clouds filled the skies and of the current conditions: " We no longer have clouds ; it no longer rains; our drinking water has disappeared and we cannot feed ourselves. "  Two last quotes resonate very strongly with me as I end my thoughts of the day: Mundiya Kepenga spoke of a prophet in "our" ( christian) bible as he said," I believe one of your ancestors said that there would be climate change ; I believe his name was Noah!". The last quote that I want to remind people about is from Pope Francis and I quote: Climate change is not a political issue , it is a moral issue."