We Interrupt This Blogcast To Bring You...

...a full body rash followed 3 days later by fever and vomiting.  Turtle, not me.  Been busy taking care of that, so Earth Week 2008 is becoming Earth Two Weeks (or possibly longer) 2008.  

We will return you to the regularly scheduled posts as soon as we catch up on bills, laundry, groceries, emails, work...



aka Diana, aka Gayo
Hey! Why didn’t we ever think of it before- it should be Gaia!

You jumped in with both feet at Cal State Northridge, quickly becoming the Associated Students Director of Environmental Affairs and having the ear of the board in making campus sustainability decisions.

I had so much fun attending the first Earth Day Festival you threw for the campus and hearing about your efforts to promote the recycling program, both natural extensions of what we had done at the high school level.

Last year you took a hiatus to travel to Armenia and get married, taking time out from changing the world to have a personal life. 

How dare you?!     ; )

So, you’ve been stealth for awhile and I can’t find much else online. But I owe you a phone call, so I’ll get more information the old fashioned way, by actually talking to my source. As soon as I can find some time to make a phone call… (mothers of 2 year olds, you understand, right?)

Meanwhile, happy wedded bliss! Hope the “newlywed phase” lasts as long as possible.

(This post is fourth in the Earth Week 2008 series.)



Third in the Earth Week 2008 series.

Ding, I can't remember the particular circumstances that led to you donning these leaves, but this picture symbolizes your nature loving ways.  

When we last spoke, you had spent the summer traversing the country, working for the park service.  There were bear encounters, thunderstorms, long train rides.  Back at Cornell, you emailed enthusiastically about participating in your first non-violent protests and long backpacking trips.  We lost touch as you got further involved in campus life.  

Your current resume is long, and I'm sure I only dug up part of it.  It's exciting to see how seriously involved you've become in the sustainability movement-majoring in natural resources and joining (and usually leading) the Environmental Justice Working Group, Sustainability Hub, Living Sculpture Project, Society for Natural Resources Conservation's Outreach Committee, Wilderness Reflections, Redbud Woods Working Group, Kyoto Now! ...

Not to mention the Maribel Garcia Community Spirit Fund honored you with their inagural award for your work at the Ithaca Youth Bureau tutoring low-income kids and counseling them about good nutrition.

(Oh yeah, and, in your spare time, you've been performing concert piano with the University's Piano Society.)

And, yay, you haven't forgotten your roots!  I see that you've helped organize Cornell's Earth Day celebrations, too.  

Well, all of this led to being selected one of only 80 young adults in the nation to be awarded a Udall Scholarship "in recognition of (your) work and career plans regarding the environment." Good thing you won it, too, or I wouldn't have been able to plagiarize the press release for this post.

The one award you didn't win?  Sorry to hear it, but you did not get the 2008 Name Of The Year Award.  

According to the articles I read about you, your planning a career in environmental education and educational policy.  I can't wait to see what changes in the world you can affect in the future.  You've got a great track record so far.  

The leaves really suit you!



This post is second in the Earth Week 2008 series.

Heather, we haven’t talked in a while, but I think of you every time I hear about San Francisco’s landmark decision to
ban plastic shopping bags in the city. I remember you trying in earnest to get our local Trader Joe’s to at least pull the canvas bags they sold out of their bottom shelf hiding place and prominently display and promote their use. 

That was only 4 years ago, back when a few of us were radically preaching reusable shopping bags to those we knew.  How much things have changed in a few short years!

These days even Wal Mart has
jumped on the bandwagon. Readers, if the $1 price doesn’t outweigh the megastore’s global resource plundering ways, then maybe a $54 couture grocery bag will at least make you feel as if you’ve paid through the nose to destroy the planet so that you can, uh, save the planet. Wait…

But, I digress. The point is that, yay, Heather, people really are starting to change their ways on a large scale. Massive cultural change starts with grassroots efforts like yours, so way to go for having the cajones to try to Change the World.

Since then, it looks like you were selected for UC Berkeley’s Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS) and have worked as an energy conservation intern developing an Energy Education program that will
“implement energy efficiency projects in four buildings on campus. The plan will focus on engaging the staff, faculty and students that use these buildings in order to understand how much energy they consume and how they might change their habits. They hope to be able to share proof of significant energy conservation at the end of the semester and to foster Cal's culture of sustainability.”

High Five on that!  and onward...


Happy Earth Day to You!

In honor of Earth Day, I want to honor my dear friends, the fellow founders of Change The World.
In it's heyday, Change the World was a youth organization whose mission was to promote the personal development of youth through social and environmental activism.  Sadly, Change The World is no longer an active organization, but I know it's spirit lives on in the people who found themselves involved with us over the past 6 years.  

What were we all about?  In a nutshell: high school kids identified things in their community they wanted changed, brought them to the group, and members facilitated each other in making those changes happen.   I supported them with cheerleading, logistics, funding, and a corner with a couch, coffee table, and some workstations.  

Meetings around that coffee table were intense and inspiring.  Initiative and creativity were rewarded.  Ideas for projects were all over the place... shot out, bounced around, torn down, and rebuilt anew with focus and clarity.  

The atmosphere was composed of equal parts excitement, tension, bonding, idealism, and the stress that comes from self-imposed high expectations, deadlines, and spending far too many hours together. Whether or not we would ever change the world was up in the air, but it was clear early on that we were changing ourselves and each other.  

What were some of our accomplishments?  We booted the soda companies off campus in the first 6 months, with help from our friend Jackie.   A handful of kids against Coca Cola, inertia, and all the groups that benefitted from the money earned on soda and WE WON!  We were on fire!  Next up, we started an award winning campus recycling program for paper and cans & bottles.

We hosted an annual Hunger Banquet assembly that hundreds of kids attended in order to educate others about the inequality of resource distribution around the world.  We hosted basketball tournaments and game show style evening shows as fundraisers for the tsunami Victims, Hurricane Katrina victims, and Smile Train, which provides free surgery for children born with cleft palates.  Each time we did a fundraiser, we raised $4,000-$7,000.  

Our crowning achievement and the event most fun to work on was the annual Earth Day Festival.  Hundreds of hours went into planning the smooth operation of a community festival with live music, refreshments, games/crafts/activities for all ages, and informational booths hosted by non-profit environmental organizations.  Remember, teenagers concocted and ran this thing!  It grew bigger each year and was really something to be proud of! 

Mentoring the kids through accomplishing all of this and more over the years led to another creation, an academic elective course designed to empower students to effect change through developing their leadership skills.   The class was an outgrowth of what started as a tiny club of 5 people years before.  The vision was that each year, 30 kids would enroll in the class, but would recruit volunteers for the projects they undertook, so that hundreds of kids would be touched by the program as the years went by.  A beautiful ripple effect. 

We were off to such an amazing start, but after 5 years CTW dissolved.  I had a baby and then we moved away, sealing the deal.  We would have all loved to leave a continuing legacy and had fantasized together a lot about expanding on a grander scale, but CTW was, in the end, too dependent on myself and the other founding members for survival. 

Those other founding members?  They graduated and went off to college, returning with decreasing frequency to help the "next generation" out as the years went by and they became more involved in their own new projects.  

And, rightly so!  So, let's check in with what they are doing now.  I have been sporadically in touch with them to varying degrees in the last few years.  My plan this week is to google them and listen to the grapevine and dedicate one day's post to each.  At the end of the week, I'll do a wrap up reflecting on where we all are today.  

How are you and the people you know changing the world?  


Spelling Lesson

There's no "I" in "team".  But there is a "me" in "motherhood".  
How did I never notice that before?



Icky Rice

I am no Julia Child.  But last summer I finally learned how to easily make consistently good sticky rice for dinner.  

In the 3 weeks we've lived in the new house, I've tried 3 times, unsuccessfully, to make sticky rice. I did what I always do and ended up with rice almost too sticky starchy on the outside but still crunchy and inedible on the inside.  

I've tried adding more water and adding more heat during the simmering phase, but twice more gotten the same result.  The only thing I can figure is that I'm working with a new stove in this kitchen.  Every other variable is the same.  
Help!  I don't know enough food science to figure this out.  If it's overcooked on the outside of the grain and undercooked on the inside, what does that mean?  Do I need more or less water?  More or less heat?  More time?  

Maybe I'll take the America's Test Kitchen route and devote my week off to cooking batch after batch of rice, each time changing only one variable until I figure it out.  That approach certainly led them to developing the best margarita I've ever had.  

Or maybe I'll drive to the local Hawaiian take out place and give them 50 cents per scoop of sticky rice whenever I need it.   

Or maybe I'll just serve margaritas and hope no one misses the rice!  


Taking Time to Stop and Find the Roses

Turtle & I were exploring our new front yard when he discovered a humble white garden rose on the underside of a nondescript shrub. "oooooooooh!" he intoned, with much dramatic enthusiasm, "Mommy, I found it! Look I found it. White flower!" He beamed up at me proudly from his crouch in front of the shrub. I held the rose stem between my thumb and forefinger and invited him to rub the soft petals between his. He asked permission to hold the bloom, as if it were a priceless fragile heirloom. He delicately reached behind it to pinch its stem. The look on his face blew me away- astonishment, pride, joy- all over finding this pedestrian flower.

I never noticed it was there. I've never been a fan of that particular type of flower. They do nothing for me with their crude asymmetry and layers of ruffly, often stained and tattered petals. Give me a passionflower, a tiger lily, an orchid. Something stunning, structured, bold.

And the naiveté of his pride of discovery. Like Columbus' "discovery" of the Americas. Silly!

But it's these moments that help me get it - how people talk about seeing the world renewed through your children's eyes. How and when did I become a flower snob? I always thought of myself as a nature lover, but when is the last time I crouched down and allowed myself to "discover" something that's been right in front of my busily-speeding-by-on-my-way-to-the-next-task eyes? And to take pleasure in the discovery instead of ignoring new blossoms as no more than the backdrop of my workaday life.


Rise and Shine

Last night, I stumbled upon k-k-k-katy's blog. This girl cracked me up. It’s rare that you’ll find me in front of my laptop laughing out loud. (Check out her letter to her bathtub and her recent jeans shopping experience.) I stayed up way past my bedtime reading it.

My punishment? Around 5 am I heard Turtle's first cries.

Backtire jumped out of bed and I relaxed. Daddy was taking a turn and was going to let me sleep in! Aaaah...blissful sleep.


Turtle was dumped on the bed next to me, begging to “go eat”. I closed my eyes and ignored him, hoping he’d get the point.

A moment later, I heard a whispered “Here you go, Mommy” and the sound of the alarm clock being dragged off of the nightstand by it’s cord and across the mattress to me. Because, you know, I was in danger of not waking up on time.

I tried to get a bit more shuteye as I realized that playing with my clock was at least distracting him from wanting breakfast. I could hear him clicking the buttons on the clock, so that now, if by some miracle we all fell back asleep, I’d be late for work because he’s put us in a different time zone.

My private behind-eyelids darkness, possibly the last private place left in my life as a mom, was suddenly brightened by a burning red glow, the clock's screen shoved against my eyes.

Turtle: “I want go eat.”

Backtire: “We have to wait until 6 o’clock.”

Turtle: “I want go eat.”

Me: “We have to wait until the clock beeps.”

Turtle: “I want go eat.”

Backtire: “It’s too early.”

Turtle (in anger): “No! It’s NOT too early! It’s Wednesday!”

(BTW, it’s Thursday. Turtle does not actually know the days of the week and clearly cannot distinguish times of day from days of the week. But it’s entertaining when he randomly tests out his growing time related vocabulary, mimicking us, but not getting it quite right.)

*I don’t think I’ve said that since the 80’s.