The oldest and wisest character, Olivia, sets the groundwork for the basis of the story. She explains “The Great Forgetting,” or a break in communication between the earth and human beings, bringing us to the current state of our environment. Olivia was born in Hawaii but now lives off the coast of Rhode Island. She grew up surfing, playing water sports, and studying sea life. She is a complex mix of emotion and intuition, and is ruled by the water element. She will tend to “mother” the other children as the series unfolds.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year for Parents, FREEDOM!
I mean of course for our children…Ahem, back to school.
Most of us get very excited for this magical time of the year. It’s time for new school supplies, shiny new shoes, a new routine, and a clean slate to start the school year off on the right foot. It’s also an exciting time of the year for retailers who want to sell you all kinds of things you don’t always really need including at the supermarket where manufacturers make convenience for mom look really enticing with prepackaged everything from fruits, and snacks to pre-sealed and divided luncheon meats, crackers, and sandwiches. Unfortunately for our kids, these may not always be the most nutritional choices, and they are certainly not good for the environment as it makes for excessive packaging and use of plastics, foils, and paper products which are an unnecessary waste of resources and money. Here are a few eco- tips to kick start the year on the right foot in the lunch room:
Voila… You are that much closer to a greener more conscious school year for yourself and your children, You will save money, your kids will inspire other kids and parents to do the same, and imagine all the garbage you will avoid making this year! Every little bit counts.
Steven T. Frantz, PhD
Following graduation from Southern Illinois University, Steven Frantz served two years in Somalia as a Peace Corps Volunteer. During that time, he taught in an Intermediate School and worked on a variety of community development projects.
In 1966 Dr. Frantz began his forty-year career in the Scarsdale Public Schools. There he served as an elementary school teacher, Elementary Science Helping Teacher, Co-Director of Math-Science Center, and the Principal of the Fox Meadow Elementary School.
Also during that time, Dr. Frantz earned his Masters and PhD at New York University and served two years as President of the Scarsdale Teachers Association.Since his 2006 retirement, Dr. Frantz has consulted with the Scarsdale School District as Sustainability Education Coordinator. He is a member of the Westchester County Task Force on Global Warming and the Sustainable Scarsdale Task Force.
MR: What does Global Warming mean to you?
DSF: Global Warming, to me, means that human endeavors are putting the entire world’s population and especially future generations at tremendous risk. Our actions today are imperiling the ability of future generations to enjoy and experience the resources our wonderful planet gives us like water, fresh food,
and health. Global Warming will drastically infringe on the things we so easily take for granted.
MR: Do you see educators and children responding appropriately?
DSF: It’s hard… I almost know too much about the subject at this point and so I think I have a deeper understanding of the urgency we are facing. Although I want to force our teachers and kids to do everything right now, I know that an educator’s role is to teach, even though it can be the slower path.
Sometimes I get frustrated at how long it takes to implement even the simplest tasks like recycling.
MR: What is the teacher’s role right now for kids?
DSF: Teachers and educators have an enormous responsibility right now to teach our children about conservation. When you teach you have to present fact, opinion, and bring these subjects into discussion. We need children and teachers to understand and embrace the movement. We encourage them to debate, apply, and to question. In order to get “buy-in,” they have to agree that there is a problem,
and it is the teacher’s role to guide them in this process.
MR: And so this is taking more time than you think we have?
DSF: Well, because of my role in the school district, I have had the opportunity to meet and discuss things with folks who are on the front lines. One such gentleman was sitting beside me at an event who was Chief Council for the Environmental Defense Council. He really drove the point home to me that we
have a finite period of time to act. He really disagreed with the educational “process” in this particular case, and he said that the situation was “too urgent to wait,” and “schools need to put policies and procedures in place immediately.” His philosophy was “act now, explain later.” I remember him
saying “this is not your typical issue and this is so urgent we need to force compliance right NOW.” I agree with him, it is not going to make a bit of difference if kids can spell and subtract if the planet’s eco-system is failing……it becomes absurd. This was one of those conversations that keeps me
up at night.
MR: So do you think it (change) is happening?
DSF: I know we will win the majority we need…….it’s growing like crazy already. Everyone really needs to be accountable and do their part in order to make sure we reach a tipping point. Globally we need regulations quickly in manufacturing, coal mining and oil refineries. It won’t make a hill of difference if we have all the school children and teachers educated on the subject only to have big manufacturers and coal companies polluting the landscape and the world.
MR: So what is your deepest fear on the subject?
DSF: For the people of the world, my concern is with the poor people of our country. The poor pay the higher price for global warming …they do not have the means to do the things to help avoid the consequences…….if the earth’s seas rise, these people will not be able to act. Their lands will flood and they will be displaced and their food sources destroyed. My deepest fear however, is that we
are already too late. I know this is a dark thought, and I do not really believe it, but when I am honest about my fears… this is the one that really scares me.
MR: How can individuals do anything worthwhile that will really make a difference?
DSF: The truth is one person is not going to help at all. One person’s carbon footprint can’t make a difference- but several combined will make a difference. “Several” will grow a community and a society built around doing the right thing, and their knowledge, and practices will impact the following
generations, starting at the elementary levels.
MR: So, where are the kids at in your opinion?
DSF: I think kids are beginning to get it. You cannot present the doom and gloom side of it to them because it is too much of a burden for them. You have to present the facts, and the alternatives. And you cannot base your curriculum on the death of polar bears, however it is important to present reality…..because it is the reality that compels individuals into action. We are working to make the lessons on conservation broader and more applicable on multiple levels. Ecology is a very interdisciplinary subject that can really be brought into so many lesson plans including geography, language arts, science, history, etc.
MR: So how are teachers getting the information they need to bring to children?
DSF: Through the summer institute programs we started last summer, we taught 30 teachers through a series of lectures that worked at bringing them up to speed about the urgency of the subject matter in our schools. This program grew to include over 60 teachers this summer and it has been very effective so far.
MR: So in your district, which is seven schools, you have managed to educate many teachers, but what about elsewhere? Do you think this is happening in other districts?
DSF: I know that it is fairly unique to be employed strictly for this focus on sustainability. We operate off of taxpayer money, and we are a wealthy district. The general public in my district was persuaded to accept a budget that included paying for my position. This is one community, among thousands, that needs to implement a strategy for getting this subject dealt with. I think for public schools we are way ahead of the curve, and for private and collegiate schools, we are likely behind the curve as they have already implemented programs in the past.
MR: Do you ever encounter resistance or opposition?
DSF: Any resistance that I encounter is based on the mentality that the environmental crisis is someone else’s problem. Teachers have so many other concerns – reading, writing, arithmetic… so what is important to enforce in this case is perspective. What good is reading going to do anyone in
this situation? If they have these thoughts, then obviously at some level they do not believe the urgency. This in itself is disturbing.
MR: What kind of car do you drive?
DSF: Toyota Camry
MR: Where can you most likely be found on a Friday night?
DSF: At the movies. My wife loved Momma Mia, and I recently liked the Batman-Dark Night movie.
MR: What books or movies have resonated with you on the subject?
DSF: An Inconvenient Truth was very important to me. Also, the studies and
reports of Yale Professor James Gustave Speth have been hugely helpful. There are many scientific economists that have influenced me, with whom I have sat on panels and boards. These people have brilliant minds and I have read the reports that document the state of decline we face, and it is very startling. I only started this journey two years ago and really had a steep learning curve and so I Googled a lot, and searched for documents, and read a ton of information. The Internet is a wonderful tool in this case.
MR: What would you say to our readers for a last word of advice or encouragement on the subject of Global Warming?
DSF: I would tell them that we each need to think over our responsibilities and do what it is we can do to make a difference. No one is going to be perfect. If you can afford a hybrid car…do it; if not, then do not. There are going to be some days when you buy that plastic bottle of water because you need to …but there are little things we can all do, including educating ourselves, conserving energy across the board, investing in green companies and green products. Start by doing the little things, and then work your way into the bigger things. Be involved. Lobby at local and national levels, and know what your leaders are doing and how they plan on dealing with this. This is such a big issue and so important. Please do not wait till tomorrow. If you are not going to be in action for yourself, then do it for our children. They need a world worth living in. Being cavalier is what got us into this mess in the first place.
As evenings grow cooler I realize that summer is almost over. It's always too quick. The end always comes with a bit of a shock. Just when I thought I might get to the beach one more time, or attend just one more summer festival.
I'd missed all the newport festivals so far this summer, but yesterday afternoon Brad and I took the kids to festival/feast of green corn and dance called Schemitzun.
Native Americans come from all over the US together for American dance, drumming, contests and sport. It was unbelievable. They dress in authentic tribal custom and dance and sing the songs and rhythm of their ancient people. Brad, myself and the kids sat spellbound when they performed. It was unreal. I could not help but think about my "sustainable" mindset lately as I witnessed still how "old fashioned" and primitive their lifestyles seemed, and yet they have such amazing relatedness to their traditions, their people, the earth and their culture. The way that they lived and many of them still live seemed exemplary in so many ways.
We took the TV away again. I feel a sense of well-being I have not felt all summer. I’m not even sure why we hooked it back up again except I’m pretty sure it was after school ended for the summer and I was sure my head would pop off if they did not let me have a moment’s peace. I vaguely remember putting them in front of The Little Einstein’s and thinking I had died and gone to heaven when ten minutes of silence turned into an hour. The hours have added up this summer I’m sad to say, as did the poor behavior, lack of concentration, fighting and hitting, and inability to entertain themselves for very long. I blog about this not because I think TV is BAD and HORRIBLE and does not have value. I blog about it because it seems like a drug to me. It’s all or nothing. They get a fix of it, and suddenly they zone out into nowhere as if they just shot up. They seem to long for it almost twitching until the next time they get to watch their program.
My kids go to a Waldorf school, and Manon’s teachers actually asked us not to have TV in the home because their philosophy is that it stifles their creativity and impedes their ability to concentrate. ….yep.
Growing up going to a Waldorf School myself, I was already very familiar and comfortable with this practice, and Brad was entirely supportive. If truth be told, it’s me who pulls it out and turns it on when I just can’t deal any more. Using it as a babysitter has its merits (sorry Miss Sue.)
I really don’t have a Judgment about it other than its one way Brad and I have decided to raise them (limited exposure to media) mostly because I got of taste of what life was like without it through my school experience and found my creativity in its absence. We were not really allowed to watch it growing up (save for Little House on the Prairie) and instead my brother and I played for hours upon hours building elaborate play worlds in the basement and had hours to ourselves to really get into it. We would build block cities and caves by toppling over furniture and covering them with blankets. We’d play Harriet the Spy with notebooks and pencils and write down every move anyone made. We’d dress up and act out intense plays and build props, and serve concessions. I think one reason my memory of these times is so clear is because I really enjoyed the creative outlet and thought that went into it all.
When we came back from the beach house I told Brad to hide the TV and so up to the third floor attic room it went. They think it’s being “repaired” but it’s really being retired. They wandered aimlessly for a day but I got creative myself and opened trunks, closets, and drawers and started to organize the toys and found that they joyfully rediscovered things they have not played with in months. My favorite thing they did was put on an old costume that Brads mother made for him to wear for Halloween when he was five and they played Tiger for hours taking turns “training” each other to jump through a hula hoop. I’ve organized their toys and rearranged so that they have some access to reach what they want to do…but I’m going to try to resolve to say goodbye to the tube for the entire school year...imagine the electricity we’ll save? I’ll let you know how I do.
As a parent of two small children under the age of five I have been forced to accept certain things about life. One of those things is that children and random small tiny pointless objects that have no apparent value will always find and cling to each other and clutter my home and clog my vacuum. I’ve stopped fighting it, and I’ve surrendered, instead trying to join them in their obvious and impervious fascination and glee over these teeny tiny “giblets” (jib-lets) as we so fondly call them.
Brass Buttons, old coins, sea-shells, smooth sea glass, forgotten bottles, banged up boxes, figurine animals, gem stones, bottle caps, and old keys to no-where. The tinier their treasure, the more delighted their reaction. When they come home from a day of adventure and tumble in over each other in an effort to excitedly empty their grubby fists full of do-dahs for my review I “ooh” and “ahh” and marvel at their clever finds and broken bits and baubles. They look at me with the shining eyes of utter joy, and I am four again remembering the magic and wonder of tiny things. The little something’s that make that part of my children’s day complete however are truthfully only momentarily appreciated by me, and replacing the fleeting joy is a deep resentment as their luster dulls to resemble clutter and junk on counters, in drawers, and displayed on kitchen windowsills. I feel their giblettness stifling my very being as I clean out my car, closets, and garage which all seem invaded by trillions of tiny trinkets.
For the past few months I have been collecting these little treasures
in ball glasses and small boxes, not really knowing why I was doing it.
I would examine each piece and look at the precious object knowing the
effort to be free of them was futile.
I have collected the beads, baubles, buttons, necklaces, plastic tokens, figures, and broken bits and I’ve photographed them. The colorful glass container of them has inspired me, and I’ve finally decided to make art as a peace offering to the god of small things. Maybe by doing so they will live more significantly, or perhaps as a collective community of bits of brokenness that combined, make a more impactful, strong and compelling statement about their true place and significance in the universe, our lives and in the lives of my children.
My other suggestions for my readers who may also find themselves surrounded by small things:
I took the last two days officially off. It was both wonderful, and difficult. I was unplugged for 48 hours with no phone, and no computer. I have to admit that I was twitching by the time we came home to get back to work (is there something wrong with me?)
The weather was perfect, lovely beach front property, great deck...ocean breeze, the cry of seagulls, but it took me almost the entire time to actually wind down and surrender to doing nothing.
I did bring my coloring book and colored pencils that I have fondly been carrying with me everywhere and
my daughter and I have managed to argue a few times over the propriety of a mommy having their own coloring books and own sets of pencils that they don't share. I told her I use the coloring book for inspiration and she told me "I get that way when I run a lot" which gave me pause until I realized that she misunderstood inspiration for perspiration. The fruedian nature of this slip made me dwell a bit on the Green movement and the 100% truth that is the rub of being a part of it, and I’m not talking about having a profession in it. I’m talking about being a witness and a participant and the choices I have to make everyday to be for or against it. My ignorance is my shield…because what I don’t already know,
I can’t yet change, and the more I know about how limited the time we actually do have to make a change the less I allow myself to stop. relax. chill.
Thinking about how I can make changes, adopt better more sustainable habits and live more mindfully is exhausting.
I want to shop, dine, vacation, and work on my terms. I want what I want when I want it, and that’s the harsh truth. I am an American. I am a Global Citizen who has plundered the planet in my own self interest along side of my fellow brother and sisters as we egg each other on at the expense of the planet in our relentless pursuit of fame, wealth, and happiness as if we can actually find it in big cars, big houses, designer fashions, and diamond rings and celebrity.
Living in a more conscious way means living with the truth; living with the realization that I have taken part in a larger scale playground bully scenario where the quiet, sensitive kid who would not fight back gets taken advantage of and made a fool and humiliated as the bigger, more cunning, self serving and attention seeking kid takes out his inner frustrations escalating out of control as the rest of us nervously laugh and step aside both horrified and fascinated spectators of some silly quest for attention goes out of control. The playground school yard superimposes itself onto the busy modern technical and industrious society of onlookers we have become.
We’re grown up children afraid to step in, and just thankful we can go about our day without being singled out.
Our ego would not survive the shame of nonconforming behavior. Out of survival we acted the way we were taught to act. Stand in line, don’t ask too many questions, and color inside the lines. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? After all no one else spoke up…no one else took charge to make it different. Why should we have to do it? As adults we do what we’re told, and everyone gets to keep their dignity and their lunch money. Isn’t that nice?
Being more conscious has made me realize that I’ve been asleep. I’ve been in a coma, believing pretty much everything the popular media tells me. I have been part of a national agreement that it’s OK to do what we have been doing. That it’s the AMERICAN way. We are entitled to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right?
Now as I awake out of my comfortable slumber, and read, educate, and question my actions I realize how out of control I have become.
As I pursue happiness (or what I thought happiness was) I take and waste away our natural resources, our planets health, and the future of my children. It dawns on me in real moments of clarity that happiness is to be…not to have. It’s a hard place to be…realizing how foolish I’ve been.
I wish I did not know so much now. My ignorance was the perfect excuse for self indulgence. Understanding the cost of my temporary gain has greatly inconvenienced me.
I don't want to have to manage my consumption, and stop wanting to have things I think are pretty, cool, fun and that make me feel important and like I’m either keeping up or better than the Jones. It’s painful, tragic, and sometimes depressing to realize that the human condition IS in fact to struggle itself awake and aware, and that the process can take a life time, and in fact…we don’t even have that much time. It also IS WHAT IT IS, so I’m going to work with what I can…
Perspiration and inspiration now become best friends in my quest for absolution. I look at the environmental movement as an opportunity to WAKE UP.
Be present. Speak up. Act out. Perspire. Inspire.
I look at every day now as an opportunity to exercise my own intellect, sense of right and wrong, and
willingness to be part of something greater than myself. Have the courage to step in and stop the madness. It’s no longer convenient to consider myself separate from nature…because nature and its state is simply a reflection of the state of the human race, of which I am one. Who the hell do I think I am to have an opinion, or feel that I can actually make an impact? I'm nobody. Just one of the green girls, just Manon and Shaw's mom, just Brads wife, just Maryjane and Joe Grady's daughter living in Po- Dunk RI. I'm just a real live
nobody who refuses to stand on the playground and watch the devastation of my fellow man, my children, my humanity, my nature, my self anymore. The stakesare just way too high.
Claire Hall was a practicing attorney and mother of three children under ten who recently decided she wanted to join the environmental movement by opening an Eco- friendly educational retail boutique called The Did You Know Store.
Having only been open for business for 8 short weeks, she's managed to impact, educate, and inspire her customers on the importance of being aware. Her lifestyle approach introduces her customers to alternative products and facts through her Did you know? product display cards making it easy for browsers to learn as they shop.
Join us by watching the video to find out why we consider Claire one of our community Earth Savers, and hear what she has to say about her experiences so far, customer feedback, and what she feels the biggest challenge is.
Watch the Video