Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A New Story for a New Economy

Photo by Shutterstock.

David Korten's new essay (available to read as a PDF) connects the work of finding a new sacred story with the effort to build a new economy.

Those who follow my work are aware that I believe a viable human future depends on navigating a deep cultural and institutional transformation grounded in a story of unrealized human possibility. For the past two years, I’ve been on a quest to frame a story that reflects the depth and breadth of human knowledge and points the way to an essential cultural and institutional transformation of our human relationships with one another and Earth.

The quest has led to a simple self-evident truth with deep roots in traditional wisdom cultures:
We humans are living beings birthed and nurtured by a living Earth in a living universe. To survive and thrive, we must learn to live as responsible contributing members of the whole of Earth’s community of life.

Obvious as this truth might be, we currently organize ourselves as if we are money-seeking robots inhabiting a dead Earth in a dead universe. This potentially fatal error explains why we are in deep trouble.

The wisdom of traditional peoples, the lessons of religious prophets, and current findings of science together confirm the true story that lives in each human heart and defines our authentic nature. To find our way to a vibrant future, we must acknowledge and share with one another that which we already know.

I elaborate the conclusions of my quest in “A New Story for a New Economy: To Find Our Human Place in a Living Universe.” This web essay connects three themes:

1. The theme of a Living Universe Cosmology that recognizes and celebrates all being as the manifestation of the spiritual ground of creation seeking to know itself through a creative, self-organizing unfolding toward ever-greater complexity, beauty, awareness, and possibility.

2. The theme of a Living Earth Community comprised of countless trillions of individual intelligent, choice making organisms that function as an adaptive, resilient, evolving community to maintain the conditions essential to the existence, health, and vitality of organic life.

3. The theme of a Living Earth Community Economy by which we humans organize to meet our own needs as responsible contributing members of the Living Earth Community that birthed and nurtures us.

I urge you to read the essay and reflect on the questions in the discussion guide on page 24. Then, extend an invitation to selected friends to read the essay and join you in your home or community gathering place to share reflections in search of a deeper understanding of your respective beliefs, stories, and possibilities.

Beginning on page 25, I share the personal story behind the essay. Some readers suggest that reading the personal story first provides a context that helps to bring the essay more fully alive.
You can download the complete essay as a pdf here.

My next project is to further revise and expand the essay into a short book for release by Berrett-Koehler Publishers. The working title is Change the Story, Change the Future: To Find Our Human Place of Service as Members of Earth’s Community of Life.

The book will further develop the framework of a Living Earth Community Economy. Watch for it in early 2015.

David Korten author picDavid Korten wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. David is the author of Agenda for a New EconomyThe Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, president of the Living Economies Forum, and a member of the Club of Rome. He holds MBA and PhD degrees from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School.
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Monday, April 21, 2014

New Lessons From Leonardo da Vinci

This essay is adapted from a talk in which Fritjof Capra discusses some of the findings described in his latest book, Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius (2013: Berrett-Koehler Publishers).

Leonardo da Vinci, the great genius of the Renaissance, developed and practiced a unique synthesis of art, science, and technology, which is not only extremely interesting in its conception but also very relevant to our time.

As we recognize that our sciences and technologies have become increasingly narrow in their focus, unable to understand our multi-faceted problems from an interdisciplinary perspective, we urgently need a science and technology that honor and respect the unity of all life, recognize the fundamental interdependence of all natural phenomena, and reconnect us with the living Earth. What we need today is exactly the kind of synthesis Leonardo outlined 500 years ago.

A science of living forms

At the core of Leonardo's synthesis lies his life-long quest for understanding the nature of the living forms of nature. He asserts repeatedly that painting involves the study of natural forms, of qualities, and he emphasizes the intimate connection between the artistic representation of those forms and the intellectual understanding of their intrinsic nature and underlying principles. In order to paint nature's living forms, Leonardo felt that he needed a scientific understanding of their intrinsic nature and underlying principles, and in order to analyze the forms of nature, he needed the artistic ability to draw them. His science cannot be understood without his art, nor his art without the science.

The quest for the secret of life

I have been fascinated by the genius of Leonardo Lea Vinci and have spent the last ten years studying his scientific writings in facsimile editions of his famous notebooks. In my new book, I present an in-depth discussion of the main branches of Leonardo's scientific work — his fluid dynamics, geology, botany, mechanics, science of flight, and anatomy. Most of his astonishing discoveries and achievements in these fields are virtually unknown to the general public.

What emerged from my explorations of all the branches of Leonardo's science was the realization that, at the most fundamental level, Leonardo always sought to understand the nature of life. My main thesis is that the science of Leonardo da Vinci is a science of living forms, radically different from the mechanistic science of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton that emerged 200 years later.

This has often escaped earlier commentators, because until recently the nature of life was defined by biologists only in terms of cells and molecules, to which Leonardo, living two centuries before the invention of the microscope, had no access. But today, a new systemic understanding of life is emerging at the forefront of science — an understanding in terms of metabolic processes and their patterns of organization; and those are precisely the phenomena which Leonardo explored throughout his life, both in the macrocosm of the Earth and in the microcosm of the human body.

In the macrocosm, the main themes of Leonardo's science were the movements of water, the geological forms and transformations of the Earth, and the botanical diversity and growth patterns of plants. In the microcosm, his main focus was on the human body — its beauty and proportions, the mechanics of its movements, and the understanding of the nature and origin of life. Let me give you a very brief summary of his achievements in these diverse scientific fields.

The movements of water

Leonardo was fascinated by water in all its manifestations. He recognized its fundamental role as life's medium and vital fluid, as the matrix of all organic forms: "It is the expansion and humor of all living bodies," he wrote. "Without it nothing retains its original form." This view of the essential role of water in biological life is fully borne out by modern science. Today we know not only that all living organisms need water for transporting nutrients to their tissues, but also that life on Earth began in water, and that for billions of years, all the cells that compose living organisms have continued to flourish and evolve in watery environments. So, Leonardo was completely correct in viewing water as the carrier and matrix of life.

Throughout his life, Leonardo studied its movements and flows, drew and analyzed its waves and vortices. He experimented not only with water but also investigated the flows of blood, wine, oil, and even those of sand and grains. He was the first to formulate the basic principles of flow, and he recognized that they are the same for all fluids. These observations establish Leonardo da Vinci as a pioneer in the discipline known today as fluid dynamics.

Leonardo's manuscripts are full of exquisite drawings of spiraling vortices and other patterns of turbulence in water and air, which until now have never been analyzed in detail, because the physics of turbulent flows is notoriously difficult. In this book, I present an in-depth analysis of Leonardo's drawings of turbulent flows, based on extensive discussions with Ugo Piomelli, professor of fluid dynamics at Queen's University in Canada, who very generously helped me to analyze all of Leonardo's drawings and descriptions of turbulent flows.

The living Earth

Leonardo saw water as the chief agent in the formation of the Earth's surface. This awareness of the continual interaction of water and rocks impelled him to undertake extensive studies in geology, which informed the fantastic rock formations that appear so often in the shadowy backgrounds of his paintings. His geological observations are stunning not only by their great accuracy, but also because they led him to formulate general principles that were rediscovered only centuries later and are still used by geologists today.

Leonardo was the first to postulate that the forms of the Earth are the result of slow processes taking place over long epochs of what we now call geological time.

With this view, Leonardo was centuries ahead of his time. Geologists became aware of the great duration of geological time only in the early 19th century with the work of Charles Lyell, who is often considered the father of modern geology.

Leonardo was also the first to identify folds of rock strata. His descriptions of how rocks are formed over enormously long periods of time in layers of sedimentation and are subsequently shaped and folded by powerful geological forces come close to an evolutionary perspective. He arrived at this perspective 300 years before Charles Darwin, who also found inspiration for evolutionary thought in geology.

The growth of plants

Leonardo's notebookd contain numerous drawings of trees and flowering plants, many of them masterpieces of detailed botanical imagery. These drawings were at first made as studies for paintings, but soon turned into genuine scientific inquiries about the patterns of metabolism and growth that underlie all botanical forms. Leonardo paid special attention to the nourishment of plants by sunlight and water, and to the transport of the sap through the plants' tissues.

He correctly distinguished between the dead outer layer of a tree's bark and the living inner bark, known to botanists as the phloem, which he called very aptly "the shirt that lies between the bark and the wood." He was also the first to recognize that the age of a tree corresponds to the number of rings in the cross-section of its trunk, and — even more remarkably — that the width of a growth ring is an indication of the climate during the corresponding year. As in so many other fields, Leonardo carried his botanical thinking far beyond that of his peers, establishing himself as the first great theorist in botany.

The human body in motion

Whenever Leonardo explored the forms of nature in the macrocosm, he also looked for similarities of patterns and processes in the human body. In order to study the body's organic forms, he dissected numerous corpses of humans and animals, and examined their bones, joints, muscles, and nerves, drawing them with an accuracy and clarity never seen before. Leonardo demonstrated in countless elaborate and stunning drawings how nerves, muscles, tendons and bones work together to move the body.

Unlike Descartes, Leonardo never thought of the body as a machine, even though he was a brilliant engineer who designed countless machines and mechanical devices. He clearly recognized that the anatomies of animals and humans involve mechanical functions. "Nature cannot give movement to animals without mechanical instruments," he explained, but that did not imply for him that living organisms were machines. It only implied that, in order to understand the movements of the animal body, he needed to explore the principles of mechanics. Indeed, he saw this as the most "noble" role of this branch of science.

Elements of mechanics

To understand in detail how nature's "mechanical instruments" work together to move the body, Leonardo immersed himself in prolonged studies of problems involving weights, forces, and movements — the branches of mechanics known today as statics, dynamics, and kinematics. While he studied the elementary principles of mechanics in relation to the movements of the human body, he also applied them to the design of numerous new machines, and as his fascination with the science of mechanics grew, he explored ever more complex topics, anticipating abstract principles that were centuries ahead of his time.

These include his understanding of the relativity of motion, his discovery of the principle now known as Newton's third law of motion, his intuitive grasp of the conservation of energy, and — perhaps most remarkably — his anticipation of the law of energy dissipation, the second law of thermodynamics. Although there are many books on Leonardo's mechanical engineering, there is as yet none on his theoretical mechanics. In the longest chapter of this book, I provide an in-depth analysis of this important branch of Leonardo's science.

The science of flight

From the texts that accompany Leonardo's anatomical drawings we know that he considered the human body as an animal body, as biologists do today; and thus it is not surprising that he compared human movements with the movements of various animals. What fascinated him more than any other animal movement was the flight of birds. It was the inspiration for one of the great passions in his life — the dream of flying.

The dream of flying like a bird is as old as humanity itself. But nobody pursued it with more intensity, perseverance, and commitment to meticulous research than Leonardo da Vinci. His science of flight involved numerous disciplines — from aerodynamics to human anatomy, the anatomy of birds, and mechanical engineering.

In my chapter on Leonardo's science of flight, I analyze his drawings and writings on this subject in some detail, and I come to the conclusion that he had a clear understanding of the origin of aerodynamic lift, that he fully understood the essential features of both soaring and flapping flight, and that he was the first to recognize the principle of the wind tunnel — that a body moving through stationary air is equivalent to air flowing over a stationary body. This establishes Leonardo da Vinci as one of the great pioneers of aerodynamics.

In his numerous designs of flying machines, Leonardo attempted to imitate the complex flapping and gliding movements of birds. Many of these designs were based on sound aerodynamic principles, and it was only the weight of the materials available in the Renaissance that prevented him from building viable models.

The mystery of life

As I have mentioned, the grand unifying theme of Leonardo's explorations of the macro- and microcosm was his persistent quest to understand the nature of life. This quest reached its climax in the anatomical studies he carried out in Milan and Rome when he was over sixty, especially in his investigations of the heart — the bodily organ that has served as the foremost symbol of human existence and emotional life throughout the ages. He not only understood and pictured the heart in ways no one had before him; he also observed subtleties in its actions that would elude medical researchers for centuries.

During the last decade of his life, Leonardo became intensely interested in another aspect of the mystery of life — its origin in the processes of reproduction and embryonic development. In his embryological studies, he described the life processes of the fetus in the womb, including its nourishment through the umbilical cord, in astonishing detail. Leonardo's embryological drawings are graceful and touching revelations of the mysteries surrounding the origins of life.

Leonardo knew very well that, ultimately, the nature and origin of life would remain a mystery, no matter how brilliant his scientific mind. "Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience," he declared in his late forties, and as he got older, his sense of mystery deepened. Nearly all the figures in his last paintings have that smile that expresses the ineffable, often combined with a pointing finger. "Mystery to Leonardo," wrote the famous art historian Kenneth Clark, "was a shadow, a smile, and a finger pointing into darkness."

Source: http://www.dailygood.org/story/703/new-lessons-from-leonardo-fritjof-capra/

Repubilshed with permission. This essay is adapted from a talk in which Fritjof Capra discusses some of the findings described in his latest book, Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius (2013: Berrett-Koehler Publishers).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Earth Day 2014: Lesson Plans, Reading Lists, and Classroom Ideas


Earth Day 2014 is right around the corner, and this year the theme is "Green Cities." Are you planning on incorporating the annual event in your classroom?
There are many different learning opportunities on Earth Day, whether it's science-based investigations, thematic reading, or creative arts projects. To help teachers brainstorm some ways to incorporate Earth Day, we've compiled a list of resources that teachers can use to bring environmental education to students. There's a bit of everything, including lesson plans, tools and resources, and student reading lists.

Earth Day Lesson Plans:

  • K-5 Earth Day Curriculum Resources: The National Education Association produced this resource for teachers, which features seven in-depth lesson plans, Earth Day games, and a list of outside links for students in grades K-5. There are also three entire unit plans as well.
  • Environmental Education Resources from The Nature Conservancy: This resource created by scientists with The Nature Conservancy features lesson plans, reading materials, and interactive videos in a variety of environmental subject areas. For instance, students can browse lessons that look at soil science, food science, and energy, among others. The lessons are offered as part of the Conservancy's Nature Works Everywhere initiative.
  • Celebrate Earth Day! from ReadWriteThink: Here, teachers will find six lesson plans written by teachers for students in grades K-2, 6-8, and 7-9. Provided are resources for Earth Day-themed writing assignments, eco-reading activities, and environmental research projects. The page also features ideas for after-school and at-home learning.
  • Earth Day Lesson Collection from Science NetLinks: Although this collection was produced in 2012, it's still extremely useful for Earth Day 2014. Science NetLinks has produced a long list of lessons and learning tools on a variety of earth science subjects, and they're all easy to browse by grade-level.

Classroom Ideas for Earth Day Activities:

Earth Day Reading For Students:

  • 2014 Earth Day Recommended Reading: The Florida Department of Education produced this list of books and literature with options for every grade level.
  • Suggested Reading for Environmental Learning: Via the Environmental Education Foundation, this list highlights books for every grade. Note: The list is in no particular order, so elementary and high school books are intermixed.
  • Tips for Encouraging Readers on Earth Day: The Earth Day Network produced this list of ideas for encouraging students to read about environmental topics. In addition to the tips, though, you'll find PDF reading lists of environmental books for elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/earth-day-lesson-plans-matt-davis

Earth Day has deep roots in education. The first one was in 1970, held as a "national teach-in on the environment." It was groundbreaking in that it brought together people with different beliefs and backgrounds to fight for a single cause. We celebrate on April 22nd, but you can teach your students about sustainability and environmental stewardship all year round. It doesn't take much for kids to feel like they can make a difference for our planet, mobilizing them to be life-long environmentalists! Here's a playlist of videos to get started.

Video Playlist: Earth Day

Watch the player below to see the whole playlist, or view it on YouTube.
  1. Mobilize The Earth (01:02) This year's Earth Day theme is "Green Cities." Visit Earth Day Network's website to take the pledge towards 2 billion acts of green.
  2. Get 'em Outside! (05:35) This great video shows how every subject ties in to environmental ed, and asks educators and parents to get the kids outside!
  3. The Earth Day Network's Education Department (02:10) Learn about about the history of Earth Day and the Earth Day Network's work in education.
  4. Natural Growth: Connecting Urban Youth with Nature (04:07) This moving video follows a group of kids from Brooklyn as they re-connect with nature through the LEAF program.
  5. Change the World in 5 Minutes - Everyday at School (04:33) Love this spunky Australian video where a team of exuberant kids explain how to change the world in just five minutes every day.
  6. How To Plan Earth Day Classroom Projects (01:14) A few basic Earth Day activities to get your creative juices flowing. Perfect if you only have a few moments to brainstorm.
  7. GOOD: Use Less Plastic (01:49) Short but powerful message from GOOD Magazine about how plastic impacts the environment. Remember your re-usable grocery bags!
  8. Earth Hour 2014 Video (01:53) Did you know there's an "Earth Hour" in addition to Earth Day? In late March every year, people around the world turn off the power.
  9. Wetland Watchers: Kids Care for Their Environment (08:09) Service learning in action in a middle school classroom in Louisiana -- sixth graders learn to restore the wetlands near their school.
  10. The World Is Just Awesome (01:01) This fun viral ad became a user-generated meme as people made their own "Boom De Ah Dah" videos about what they loved about the earth.
  11. Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots (04:29) Celebrated conservationist Jane Goodall enables young people to save the planet with her organization's message of hope.
  12. Earth Day (Friday Parody) (01:53) YouTube is chock full of Earth Day / Friday parodies. This one is to promote a school's Earth Day Film Festival of student-produced videos. Sorry!

Teaching Environmental Education Through Service Learning

So here's the question: how do you get from crafty commemorative activities for Earth Day to meaningful projects that have lasting value? Start by reading former Edutopia blogger Gaetan Pappalardo's blog post, Elementary Art and Service Learning Projects for Earth Day and Beyond, where he tackles that very topic. Visit the Earth Day Network's Green Schools Leadership Center to find lesson plans, grant information, and an online community. You can also get teaching resources at the National Environmental Education Foundation and the Go Green Initiative. Join Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots service learning organization, or get involved with the Nature Conservancy's Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program. Start in your own room by reading How to Go Green: Teachers from Discovery's Treehugger website, or pursue whole-school change with the National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools movement. From small personal actions to large-scale reform, it's always a great time to teach the next generation about taking care of the planet.

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-earth-day-environmental-education

During the first Earth Day in 1970, tens of thousands of Vietnam War protestors took to Central Park in New York and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia calling for peace on earth. Today, the movement has grown substantially and quietly, shifting attention toward the science documenting alarming global environmental degradation and offering young learners a platform for supporting the planet's physical health, ensuring a home for their future.
By definition, Earth Day is a global learning day. Earth, water, air quality, climate, chemistry, physics, physiology, plant life and animal habitats don't respect national boundaries, so they are inherently global in nature, inviting wider exploration and conversation. This fact in itself can serve as a launch for a global conversation. Vexing challenges that stump the best scientific minds are solved globally using collaborative teams located in different locales that experiment and study issues from diverse angles and approaches. The lives of environmental pioneers like Wangari Maathai can inspire learning throughout the curriculum.
Go ahead and wear flowers in your hair for Earth Day. Then, to engage in deeper learning, try some of these terrific resources.

Bucket Buddies

The Bucket Buddies Project calls for students around the world to collect water samples from local ponds to answer the question: "Are the organisms found in pond water the same all over the world?" The lesson plans allow students to identify microinvertebrates in their water sample, share their findings on the web site, and analyze the data.


The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is NASA's hands-on science program that allows classrooms to connect with scientists and science students from around the world. Schools can join their Student Climate Research Campaign and connect with classrooms near and far. While conducting science investigations and sharing their climate science studies, students will be inspired to look at climate-related environmental issues and Earth as a system.

ProjectExplorer and STEM Learning

ProjectExplorer's library of two-to-four-minute videos was created to introduce students to the features that make diverse cultures and countries so fascinating. Start at the homepage by choosing your learning level (e.g., Upper Elementary), pick a spot on the globe that has a project marker, and take off. For example, in the Mauritius series, learn how the island was formed, about the science and the ancient origins of the helicopter, how mineral deposits created gorgeous multi-colored sand found only on that island, how fish breathe, and more. Supplement your "travels" in this series by tapping into National Geographic's new Geo-Educator Community.

The Daffodil and Tulip Project

The Daffodil and Tulip Project was started by iEARN, which works to connect schools and teachers across the planet, and has a bank of great collaborative project ideas. This project offers a science/math/writing/friendship experience that can be as simple or as complicated as a classroom is ready to take on. Classrooms around the world choose daffodil and/or tulip bulbs to plant during the same week in November. Students collect temperature data throughout the experiment, including when blooms appear, and report their results -- both to their classmates and to their partner classes in other locales. For Earth Day, you can compare the bulbs in your community to postings made by ongoing project participants.
This project's description page shows participation from Jamaica, Israel, Iran and the United States. iEARN reports:
Participants enjoy interacting together while "waiting" for the blooms. Students have opportunities to use math skills, such as graphing, converting metric to English or the reverse, temperature conversions F to C and the reverse. In addition, they strengthen and practice science skills, i.e. hypothesizing what effects bloom date, collecting data, comparing and analyzing data. Also, students learn the importance of establishing and following a scientific protocol. The ultimate goal of the project is to promote building connections between students and their teachers, considering what affects plant growth, and peace!

Incorporate Global Lessons

Challenge yourself to turn any elementary science unit you're studying into a vehicle for learning more about the wider world. For example, while teaching the water cycle and water conservation, see Teach UNICEF, Water.org or the Peace Corps' Passport blog for lesson plans.
Each of these examples offers one big lesson: start with a topic you love, and see where it might lead you. As the founders of Earth Day had hoped, it could even plant the seeds to peace.

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/earth-day-global-learning-day-homa-tavangar

A National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability

Recommendations for enhancing  formal education in the U.S. so that all students graduate educated for  a sustainable future by 2040.

This plan represents the perspectives of the leading minds and the strongest champions of Education for Sustainability, together with one voice committing to a series of actions that will ensure that by 2040, every student graduating from a U.S. K-12 school will be equipped to shape a more sustainable future.

Explore the national action plan to gain a deeper understanding of Education for Sustainability and how it enhances learning; to learn from best practices from across the country; and to identify your role in advancing sustainability learning in K12 classrooms nationwide.

Meet the Authors and Explore the Recommendations


David Sobel 
Senior Faculty, Education Department
Antioch University New England

“In the 21st century, the school should operate as a healthy ecosystem, serving as a model of American culture and global interdependence.”


Susan Jane Gentile
Antioch University

“If we perceive the complexity of the challenge before us through the lens of nested systems … we will be able to address in an authentic context all the needs and objectives outlined, making our transformation efforts both most efficient and most effective.”


Cynthia Thomashow
Director of Urban Learning

“By 2016, survey, research and convene public and private organizations cultivating new and innovative processes to learn from, enroll and secure commitments from diverse constituencies in designing strategies to support EfS."


Todd Cohen
SEED Center, an initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges

“Work-based learning opportunities such as internships, apprenticeships, field trips, and job shadowing should be core instructional strategies within EfS, especially in secondary schools."


Kimberly E. Corrigan
Executive Director
Facing the Future

“Solicit advice and support from key formal and informal leaders in K-12 curriculum development to provide rigorous EfS materials and professional development to teach sustainability as its own topic and as a context for teaching core subjects.”


Lisa A. W. Kensler, Ed.D., LEED Green Associate
Associate Professor
Auburn University

Cynthia L. Uline, Ph.D.
Professor, San Diego State University
Director, National Center for 21st Century Schoolhouse

“A working group should draft recommended EfS-related content for inclusion
in the next revision of the Educational Leadership Policy Standards or “ISLLC 2008 standards” by 2015.”


Allen Cooper
Director of State and Local Education Advocacy
National Wildlife Federation

James Elder
Campaign for Environmental Literacy

“Over the next 5 years, integrate existing environmental education and environmental literacy, healthy schools, and green school facility policy into a comprehensive EfS policy agenda.”


Victor Nolet, Ph.D.
Woodring College of Education, Western Washington University

“By June 2014, establish a national network to work with policy makers, teacher education member organizations, and individual teacher education programs so that, by 2024, EfS is embedded into the process of learning to be a teacher.”


Jennifer Cirillo
Director of Professional Development
Shelburne Farms

“Develop shared terminology that communicates the definition and absolute essence of EfS. Utilize existing convenings of the community, to facilitate consensus on non-proprietary terminology by early 2015.”


Jenny Wiedower
K-12 Manager
The Center for Green Schools at USGBC

"Develop shared terminology that communicates the definition and absolute essence of EfS. Utilize existing convenings of the community to facilitate consensus on non-proprietary terminology by early 2015."


Craig N. Shealy, Ph.D.
Professor of Graduate Psychology, James Madison University
Executive Director, International Beliefs and Values Institute

“In order to demonstrate the full potential and differential impact of EfS in a comprehensive manner, a robust research-to-practice agenda must be developed and pursued over the short- and long-term.”


Jennifer Seydel, Ph.D.
Chief Operations/Chief Financial Officer
Green Schools National Network

“Between 2014 and 2030, develop a national network of leaders and researchers who define and lead the transformation of the current assessment models to incorporate higher order thinking skills, EfS standards, global and ecological citizenship skills, and critical skills for innovation.”


Paul Bocko, MEd
Adjunct Faculty & Program Director
Antioch University New England

“Beginning immediately, administrators should identify the need to guide students to solve complex problems with no obvious answer as a part of evaluation, and begin assessing teachers on this skill.”

Source: http://centerforgreenschools.org/nationalactionplan.aspx

Saturday, April 12, 2014

10 Things Creative People Know

by Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

Do you consider yourself creative?

If the answer is "no," you are not alone. We have been working as creativity facilitators for close to two decades, and whenever we ask people this question, shockingly few hands go up. It turns out that you don't have to be a great artist to be creative. Creativity is simply our ability to dream things up and make them happen.

Cooking breakfast, planting a garden, even developing a business plan are all creative acts. But here is where the arts do come in. Participating in the arts even—as amateurs—unlocks our creativity and empowers us in our everyday lives.

A recent UCLA study found that when young people engage in the arts at an early age, they outperform their peers in every category, from academics to life skills. Cross-cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien tells us that in many traditional cultures, when an ill person goes to the healer, he or she is asked four questions: When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing? When did you stop telling your story? When did you stop sitting in silence? She calls these the healing salves. Numerous studies show that activities like drawing and creative writing—even knitting—raise serotonin levels and decrease anxiety.

Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what's possible and make those visions real.

1. Our lives have meaning.

All life is interconnected and full of purpose. There is, as teacher and philosopher Parker Palmer says, a hidden wholeness in each of us waiting to emerge. Discovering our unique purpose is one of the great adventures of life.

2. We are all creative.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

3. Creative expression empowers us.

Making art—when we're not judging ourselves—supercharges our creativity, makes us happy, and heals our wounds.

4. We are good at heart.

At the core of each person is compassion and love for the world. Creative expression gives voice to our goodness.
Try Out a New Story
The power of creative expression to transform is rooted in our human need to be seen and heard. One of the most basic ways to exercise our creativity is to tell our stories. The next time you are in a meeting, at a party, or among a group of friends, try this exercise: What story could each of you tell about yourself in three minutes that would significantly shift people's views of you? After three minutes, the listeners take a moment to acknowledge the storyteller. What new insight did the listeners learn about the storyteller?

5. Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

Something quite different—and more creative—happens when we live life from the vantage point of possibility rather than pathology.

6. Change is an inside job.

We each have a life on the inside that is as real and vast as life on the outside. Coming to know who we are on the inside empowers us to make our lives count.

7. Diversity is a resource.

Nature thrives on complexity and diversity, and the same is true for the human community. Our differences in age, gender, race, culture, and backgrounds provide a rich source of learning.

8. We thrive when we feel supported.

When we identify our strengths and celebrate our successes, we become more powerful.

9. We each have the power to make change.

Regardless of our age or life situation, each of us has something to bring to the table. Learning the skills to make positive change needs to be at the center of education.

10. The challenges of our time require intergenerational collaboration.

When adults take the creativity and vitality of young people seriously, whole new possibilities emerge. Given the challenges currently facing us, we need to walk forward together.

Source: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/ten-things-creative-people-know

Peggy TaylorAdapted from Catch the Fire: An Art-Full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults and Communities by Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy for Education Uprising, the Spring 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Published by New Society Publishers, January 2014.
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Tiny House Living, Off the Grid

Having a life with less stuff and more experiences is a big driver of the tiny house movement.


This piece originally appeared at Shareable.
Tammy Strobel

LaMar Alexander grew up in a homesteading family. For him, self-sufficiency, including gardening, raising animals and “doing for ourselves” was normal and necessary. He tried city life after college, but says he felt like a slave to a house, bills and employers. At 35, he made a change.

“I had a wake up call,” he explains, “that made me realize that what I really wanted was a simple homestead cabin and to eliminate my dependence on the system, so I could live sustainably while I pursued my dreams.”
Tiny house living is a good way to reduce your ecological footprint, save money, and simplify life down to the things that truly matter.
So Alexander built a house. A very small, 14 ft. x 14 ft. house. A solar and wind powered off-the-grid cabin with a kitchen, bathroom and living room downstairs and a bedroom and office upstairs. It cost him $2,000 to build not including the recycled doors and windows, the front porch, and the solar system.

Being an avid outdoorsman, Alexander didn’t need a lot of indoor space, but as an author, videographer, and off-the-grid builder, he did need modern amenities including a cell phone, Internet access, electric lights, indoor toilet, and shower etc., and he has them. Alexander says his tiny house is easy to clean, cheap to heat and cool, and he has no house payments or monthly utility bills.
“I now have the freedom to pursue my dreams,” he says, “and the money I make stays in my pocket and can be used for vacations or to help my family and for a secure retirement. That is the freedom that an off-grid lifestyle makes possible.”

Alexander is part of a growing movement of tiny housers. The options for going tiny are growing. In fact, tiny house villages are even being tested as solutions to homelessness. Within the tiny house movement, there's a contingent who are taking the simplicity, sustainability and freedom of tiny houses to the next level by building their tiny homes off the power grid.

Shareable connected with four experienced, off-the-grid tiny housers to find out how they made the move to living off-the-grid in a tiny house; what challenges they face; how they handle practical matters like electrical, sewage and water; what someone considering off-the-grid living should know; and the benefits of living tiny and off-the-grid.

Contributing to the conversation are Laura LaVoie, who, along with her partner Matt, built an off-the-grid tiny house in the mountains of North Carolina. She also authored the book 120 Ideas for Tiny Living and blogs about tiny house living at Life in 120 Square Feet; Merete Mueller who, along with her partner Christopher, built a 130 square foot, off-the-grid tiny house and documented the experience in the film Tiny: a Story About Living Small; and Alexander, who has produced several books and videos about going off-the-grid, and writes about off-the-grid living at Simple Solar Homesteading.

Benefits, challenges, and legalities

Tiny house, off-the-grid living is a good way to reduce your ecological footprint, save money—"Our bills for energy and water are zero dollars,” explains LaVoie—and simplify life down to the things that truly matter.

"People survived and thrived just fine before electricity came along and still can if you are willing to do things by hand."
“One benefit to tiny house living,” says Mueller, “is that it frees up the money, time and energy that would otherwise be spent on maintaining a house and rent or a mortgage, to be used on other things, like working on creative projects, starting a business, spending time with friends and family, or on other hobbies that bring a lot of satisfaction to one's life.”

She points out that with tiny house, off-the-grid living, the drawbacks can be the same as the benefits.
“One obvious challenge is a minimal amount of space inside,” she says, “But one benefit related to that is being forced to spend more time outside, and being forced to simplify possessions and think about which things matter most.”

Emptying the composting toilet, hauling water and the other “challenges” that come with tiny, off-the-grid living were, for Mueller, part of the allure. “We wanted to know and understand,” she says, “exactly how much water we were consuming.”

Alexander says that the biggest challenges involve government regulations and “burdensome codes.” He also mentions outside interference from neighbors and businesses in the area, securing an adequate water supply, and, if you live in a rural area, isolation and making money in a rural economy.

Regarding zoning issues, all three recommend talking with local authorities as regulations are different in different counties, towns, and even neighborhoods. Mueller suggests calling your local town office to ask questions before making any long-term plans. She also advises getting to know your neighbors.

“In many places with restrictions, those rules will only apply if the neighbors choose to report you or are somehow offended by your situation,” she explains. “So getting to know your neighbors early on, explaining to them your motivations for choosing this lifestyle, and how all of your utilities work, can help to avoid that from happening.” She adds, “It's good to develop allies early on.”

Generally, the closer you are to a city the more rules there are to follow. Because of this, off-the-gridders often choose to live in rural areas in counties that want to increase their tax base and may be more open to alternative structures. Alexander lists Colorado, Oklahoma, Alaska, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Missouri as some of the states that promote off-the-grid living.

Taking a tiny house off-the-grid

There’s a direct relationship between tiny houses and off-the-grid living. Having a life with less stuff and more experiences is a big driver of the tiny house movement. Going off-the-grid allows tiny house dwellers to take that simplicity even further.

For LaVoie, the connection between tiny houses and off-the-grid living is one of personal preference.
“The beauty of the tiny house movement is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone who wants to go tiny,” she says. “With the right resources someone can be connected to the grid if they want to. Otherwise, the smaller the house the less energy it needs to run efficiently, so off-grid systems are an easy match.”

Mueller points out that there’s a DIY element that connects the tiny house and off-the-grid movements.

“Not everyone builds their own tiny house, but certainly a very high percentage of people do,” she says. “This means that people living in tiny houses have a greater understanding of how their homes and their utilities work, which is conducive to off-grid living. Tiny housers often like the idea of being self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable, and it's certainly much easier to heat and power a tiny house through off-grid methods than a larger, more traditional house.”

She adds that because many tiny houses are built on wheels—a necessity to bypass building codes—they can't use traditional utilities (a septic system for example), so off-grid methods are often used even if the house is parked in a location with access to the grid.

How much does it cost?

The consensus on how much a tiny, off-the-grid house costs is: it depends. Variables include whether you build the house yourself; how you choose to heat it; how much you spend on off-the-grid energy sources; whether you want to go super-simple or have a luxurious, off-the-grid tiny house. Here’s what LaVoie, Mueller and Alexander had to say about building their tiny houses:
"I think it is especially important for everyone to recognize that there isn't one right way to live simply or off-grid."
LaVoie: We worked with an online company called the Alt-E store and put together a solar power package that was exactly what we wanted. It included two 245 watt panels, a 45 amp charge controller, and three 110 amp hour AGM batteries. We also use an 1800 watt inverter that we already owned. We were able to purchase all of this for around $2,000. The only other investment we made for our off-the-grid lifestyle was our Berkey water filter which cost around $300.

It costs us $0 a month for electricity, heat, and water in our tiny house. There are, of course some other minor costs but paying nothing for energy helps to offset those. For instance, since I work for myself I pay for my own health insurance. We, of course, have phone and internet bills. There is some small cost for fuel like propane and butane but it is really less than about $20 a month.

Mueller: [The cost] completely depends, but in our case when our tiny house was parked in an off-grid location, we only had to purchase a small propane tank once every few months for heating and we purchased water, which we hauled up in large jugs. Our solar system is a pre-made unit called a Sol Man (manufactured by a company called Sol-Solutions) and cost about $5,000. It cost us about $26,000 to build our tiny house, but people have built similar tiny houses for much more and much less, depending on how they were sourcing their materials and the amount of building experience they have.

Alexander: That all depends on what lifestyle the person wants. You can be a minimalist and go without any electricity using wood stoves or propane for heat and candles and lanterns for light, and a basic yurt, cabin or other house style. Or, you can build a very high-tech green home with the latest Leed's sustainability guidelines, which can be very expensive.

Older homes can be remodeled for off-the-grid efficiency or there are many small off-grid cabin designs like mine that people can use and modify to fit their needs. The style of the house may be modest or expensive depending on what you want.

My cabin cost under $2,000 to build and about $5,000 for the off-grid system and I believe a smaller off-grid home under 400 square feet that is very efficient and also nice and comfortable to live in can be built for under $20,000, and much less if people are using recycled materials and doing the work themselves. Land, water and a power system are not included in that figure because they vary greatly depending on your needs, the area, and where you want to live.

Options for generating electricity

One option for electricity is to go without. Alexander explains that one quarter of the world’s homes do not have a grid electricity connection.

“People survived and thrived just fine before electricity came along,” he says, “and still can if you are willing to do things by hand and go without much of the entertainment that people think they need to survive.”

If going without is not an option, there are several options for generating electricity for an off-the-grid house, but solar is the most affordable. At approximately $1 per watt you can have an inexpensive system for basic power needs for under $5,000. Solar also works in cloudy conditions and snowy areas.

Wind is another option, but wind turbines are expensive and only work when the wind blows. If you have access to a river or stream, you could look into hydro power for generating some of your electricity.

Both Alexander and LaVoie advise doing a lot of research before you invest in anything. LaVoie recommends getting an energy meter before making any decisions to figure out what your electrical needs are. Alexander says the best tip he can give is to first study how you can greatly reduce your power consumption using more efficient appliances and non-power using appliances.

“Heat, cooling and refrigeration are the main power consumers in any house,” he explains, “so off-grid houses use wood stoves, propane heat, fans, passive cooling and alternative power fridges to take those appliances out of the system. Once you eliminate those appliances from your power needs,” he continues, “you can use a very small solar system for everything else.”

Alexander’s current system is 580 watts solar, a 400 watt wind turbine, and propane for heating and cooking with a wood stove back-up. He does passive cooling with fans, porches, overhangs and trees, and refrigeration is done using a converted freezer run off solar.

How to get water

Finding a water source is one of those things that you’re going to want to research before you buy land. Most counties require an approved source such as a city water connection, a professionally drilled well, or a cistern tank with a delivery system. Drilling a well can be expensive, so find out what your options are. Hand-drilled, shallow wells and rainwater catchment can be used for agricultural purposes, but these generally don’t meet county codes.

Alexander, who has a hand-drilled well and a 300 foot deep Artesian well, warns that if you’re using rainwater to supplement household usage, it must be filtered and treated to make it safe for consumption. He explains that giardia is a “real problem” with rain water but it is safe for washing clothes and flushing toilets.

LaVoie counts herself lucky that the land they bought has a running spring. She adds that you can also purchase water, but cautions that the costs begins to add up. She says that the thing that she is the most proud of is their conservation of water.

“The average American household can use over 200 gallons of water a day depending on the number of people in the home,” she says. “In our tiny house, Matt and I use a total of five gallons a day, not including drinking water. We have an air pressurized shower sprayer that holds two gallons of hot water and is plenty to ensure that we are clean.” She adds that one of the biggest culprits for water use in a traditional household is flushing the toilet.

The lowdown on the toilet

Outhouses are a proven solution for dealing with human excrement, but composting toilets offer a solution that can be brought indoors, have all the comforts of the modern toilet, and are allowed in many rural areas. Another solution is a conventional septic tank or, where allowed, a leach pond.
Alexander and LaVoie both recommend the book The Humanure Handbook: a Guide to Composting Human Manure by Joseph C. Jenkins for getting the facts about all things poop. LaVoie uses a dry composting, sawdust toilet that she describes as “easy to manage.” She adds that there are commercially available composting systems, but they can get pricey. Alexander designed and built a solar enhanced composting toilet that keeps the microbes at a higher temperature so they work faster to compost the waste.

“If you eliminate gray water from your tank,” he says, “you do not need a leach field and there is nothing left over but some dry composted material when the process is complete.” The plans for his toilet are in his book Off the Grid.

How to handle garbage, recycling, mail, internet

Another question that arises is, if you’re off-the-grid, how do you deal with details such as garbage, recycling, mail and internet. The consensus here is to use the local dump for garbage and recycling and set up a P.O. box or a mailbox at a UPS store if there’s one nearby, or just use a mailbox on the road.

Having a life with less stuff and more experiences is a big driver of the tiny house movement.
There are other options as well. Most household waste can be composted or incinerated in rural areas. Alexander explains that most rural people have an incinerator barrel and what is left over is hauled off occasionally. He adds that the key is reusing or repurposing everything possible.

“Everything gets recycled at my place,” he says, “and all wood and metal is held on to for other projects or sent to the scrap yard for someone else to use.”

Internet access is available through a cell phone hotspot or a satellite system. If T.V. is a must-have, satellite T.V. works everywhere and with Internet access, you can get Netflix, Hulu etc.

The big picture on tiny, off-the-grid living

The big picture takeaway on becoming an off-the-grid tiny houser is that there are countless possibilities when it comes to building a home that's right for you. Making the move requires a big, hands-on commitment, but it’s a lifestyle change that, according to LaVoie, can be personally fulfilling.

“I think it is especially important for everyone to recognize that there isn't one right way to live simply or off-grid,” she says. “Tiny house living shouldn't be viewed as a competition or that someone is doing it better than anyone else. The most important thing is to live in a way that is comfortable for you.” She adds, “Always make sure you enjoy the adventure.”

Cat JohnsonCat Johnson wrote this article for Shareable, where it originally appeared. Cat is a freelance writer focused on community, the commons, sharing, collaboration and music. Publications include Utne Reader, GOOD, Shareable, Triple Pundit, and Lifehacker.
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Source: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/how-to-live-off-the-grid-in-a-tiny-house

Friday, April 11, 2014

Free online course: The Science of Happiness

We all want to be happy, and there are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get some. But not many of those ideas are based on science. That’s where this course comes in.

“The Science of Happiness” is a free, eight-week online course that explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Students will engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from this science, discovering how cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives.
Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the course zeroes in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good. Students will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.
What’s more, “The Science of Happiness” will offer students practical strategies for nurturing their own happiness. Research suggests that up to 40 percent of happiness depends on our habits and activities. So each week, students will learn a new research-tested practice that fosters social and emotional well-being—and the course will help them track their progress along the way.
The course will include:
  • Short videos featuring the co-instructors and guest lectures from top experts on the science of happiness;
  • Articles and other readings that make the science accessible and understandable to non-academics;
  • Weekly “happiness practices”—real-world exercises that students can try on their own, all based on research linking these practices to greater happiness;
  • Tests, quizzes, polls, and a weekly “emotion check-in” that help students gauge their happiness and track their progress over time;
  • Discussion boards where students can share ideas with one another and submit questions to their instructors.
Instructors Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner Instructors Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner
The course will be led by two celebrated teachers from the Greater Good Science Center: Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., the GGSC’s science director, and GGSC founder Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., who is a psychology professor at UC Berkeley and author of the best-selling book Born to Be Good. It will also feature guest presentations by some of the world’s leading authorities on positive psychology, including Rick Hanson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Students will be able to proceed through this course at their own pace. However, students who participate between September 9 (the course’s launch date) and November 4 will have more opportunities to interact with instructors and fellow students. “The Science of Happiness” is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), hosted on the edX platform, meaning that it will enroll students from all over the world. Though there are many opportunities for students to interact within the course, the opportunities for live interaction with the instructors are limited.