Friday, April 30, 2010

Questioning the idea of 21st Skills

I thought this essay was an interseting response to the idea of the importance of 21st Century skills... this would be such a great conversation for us to have, somehow...

The Klingenstein Brief describes:

Senechal makes a compelling case for the need for schools to sometimes be "out of step" with their times so that educators can ensure that in their efforts to keep up with technology, to embrace innovation, and to cope with massive and unrelenting change, they don't lose sight of the content and traditional ways of learning and teaching that are the bedrock of our best secondary schools and universities. A blend of thoughtful innovation and conservation of the best of past practices may actually be the "most daring education reform of all."

I wonder what true 21st C. skills are?  A blend of weeding, food preservation and elegant-twittering?

A Chemical Reaction

The Green Team of the Congregational Church in Cumberland and Citizens
for a Green Cumberland invite you to a screening of Paul Tukey’s film,
“A Chemical Reaction,” a documentary that offers a compelling argument
for a chemical-free lawn. Seeing this film and hearing Paul Tukey, a
Cumberland resident, has inspired us to pursue safer alternatives to
lawn care in our community.

When: Saturday, May 8th
5:30 Potluck supper (local or
organic food encouraged)
7:00 Film and panel Q&A with Paul
Tukey and others

Where: Congregational Church in Cumberland
282 Main Street
Cumberland Center

Who: Green Team, Congregational Church
Citizens for a Green Cumberland
Friends of Casco Bay
Environmental Health Strategy Center
Skillins Greenhouses
FW Horch

Questions: Church office – 829-3419
Lalla Carothers, Green Team
Coordinator – 829-2283

Local businesses will award door prizes! Hope you can join

An Opportunity to Help Others


We are looking for volunteers!

Our new women' s shelter, Florence House, has opened its doors and the Kitchen there is serving 3 meals a day 7 days a week.  We are still looking for volunteers to help with several meals, particularly Lunches and Dinners, Thursdays - Sundays, from 5-8pm.   Ideally we need 2 volunteers per meal, and there will be kitchen staff on hand.

If you are interested, or if you know of friends, colleagues, or family members that may want to sign up to help at a Dinner, please let us know!  The need is immediate and we are looking for extra hands to come in as soon as possible.  Please contact Kristin Rieff or Elena Schmidt if you are available.  We both may also be reached at 775-0026.

It takes many, many hands to accomplish all we do, thank you.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Science of Parenting

I am fascinated by the way that the zeitgeist can change over time.  I became a mother in the eye of the attachment parenting storm, and it shaped my consciousness almost despite myself.   Currently, it seems like all the talk is about brain science and ways we can use scientific studies to shape our parenting.  On the one hand, as a social scientist, I like the idea of engaging with evidence over ideology.  On the other hand, I'm skeptical about the way that such complex material gets packaged.  How can anything be true about all kids or for all parents, as if age, class, race, region, religion, etc. etc. don't matter.  Nevertheless, I really liked NurtureShock and find myself actually thinking about it as I consider parenting dilemmas.  Now, Ellen Galinsky (cofounder of the work and family institute)  has a new book about early childhood learning that has jumped to #1 on the Amazon lists.  Mind in the Making looks promising, esp as she describes being motivated to write it by her disappointment with young people's descriptions of learning as a consumer/credentialing activity. 

I also read the Science of Raising Happy Kids blog sometimes... (in general, I have a love affair with positive psychology books - but that is for another post). 

I like the MojoMom podcasts -- hear Galinsky here, Christine Carter here, and she has Bronson somewhere too.

Sense of Wonder contest

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites the public to submit creative projects to the 4th annual Rachel Carson intergenerational "Sense of Wonder" contest. The categories are poetry, photography, essays and dance. The contest seeks to instill a sense of wonder for the environment among all generations and spur environmental stewardship. Entries must be from a team of two or more persons from both younger and older generations. 

The deadline for team entries is June 16, 2010.  The winners will be announced in October 2010. The public will have the opportunity to vote among the finalists for the winners in each category.Click here for more information!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great music coming up

A heads up to everyone that the 8th Annual WMPG Bluegrass Spectacular is coming to the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center on Munjoy Hill on Monday evening, May 10th. The show benefits your community radio station and will feature local greats Jerks of Grass, the Stowaways, and the Grassholes (plus some surprise guests). It's a bit of a late night for a school night, but it is very appropriate for kids. For tickets, call the St. Lawrence. Hope to see you there. It's always a great show.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carpooling to Aikido?

Is anyone planning to take Aikido classes at the dojo?  Grace and Kate loved it and would like to continue and I'm wondering about carpooling. 

We are looking at Mondays for Kate and Tuesdays for Grace -- the schedule is here. 

Kim (

Why Finnish Kids are so Smart

From the Wall Street Journal (of all places).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Actions for Balancing Work and Family

I have had a bunch of conversations lately, about how squeezed many of us feel between our multiple roles in our families, communities and workplaces. We all do the best we can, and in so many conversations people lament how exhausted we feel at the end of each day.  How do we stay healthy, keep our families well, and pursue a few ambitions and leisure activities all at once?

A bunch of new reports stress that the answer might be in creating 21st Century Public Policies rather than simply relying on individual problem-solving skills and good luck.  We are one of  only 4 countries in the world that does not provide paid family leave for caregivers;  European countries have "soft touch" laws that place the burden of accomodating part-time schedules on the employer;  Costa Rica is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, despite relatively low personal income, because the common good is so highly valued.  Call me a crazy, but a happier country seems like a good idea.  More and more, it is clear that overall happiness is linked to our ability to create social relationships, to stay healthy and be home when we or our loved ones need care, and to not be stressed about money and work all the time.  Feminist initiatives to integrate women into the workplace and help men participate more in caregiving are central to this effort.

Books & Resources on Happiness & Public Policy -- Geography of Bliss, Yes Magazine's Happiness SectionGreater Good, New Yorker's article

Books & Resources on Social Policy to Improve Family Life : Women's Lobby op-ed about closing the wage gap,  the Shriver Report (a comprehensive review of 21st Century policy initiatives), The Global Gender Gap report (ranking countries around women's rights)

Activist Organizations:  National Partnership for Women and Families MomsRising (the move-on for family policy), the Maine Women's Lobby

Friday, April 16, 2010

Earth Day Films @ the Frontier

 If anyone goes to any of these, PLEASE bring some postcards about Sandra Steingraber's visit with you!

FILM | No Impact Man | NR  | 90min
A Film By Laura Gabbert & Justin Schein

Tuesday, Apr 20 | 7pm | Includes Discussion with Fred Horch of F.W. Horch Sustainable Goods & Supplies and Ted Markow from Brunswick Permaculture Group

"An entertaining, amusing, and provocative film." - David Edelstein, New York Magazine
Author Colin Beavan, a newly self-proclaimed environmentalist who could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself, vows to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year. No more automated transportation, no more electricity, no more non-local food, no more material problem. That is, until his espresso guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two-year-old daughter are dragged into the fray.

FILM | Addicted To Plastic | NR  | 85min
A Film By Ian Connacher
Sponsored by the UU Church & First Parish Church of Brunswick

Wednesday, Apr 21 | 7pm | Includes Discussion with Phil Camill, Program Director of Environmental Studies at Bowdoin College | Please Call the UU Church of Brunswick at 729-7331 for Reservations

Filmmaker Ian Connacher conducts an international odyssey revealing the disturbing long-term effects of the most ubiquitous and versatile material ever invented. From water bottles and Styrofoam cups to toothbrushes and garbage bags, in less than a century the pervasive presence of plastics has marked every ecosystem and all aspects of human activity. Visually compelling, entertaining and thought provoking, ADDICTED TO PLASTIC is both a wake-up call and an inspiring consideration of possible recycling or down-cycling solutions.
FILM | Dirt
A Film By Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow
Showtime: Thursday, Apr 22 | 6:00pm | Free | Includes discussion with:

Bob St. Peter, co-founder and director of Food For Maine's Future was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC).  He publishes the bi-annual, Saving Seeds.

Roger Doiron, founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a global nonprofit network of over 20,000 people who are growing some of their own food and helping others to do the same.

Lisa Fernandes, Permaculture Designer and Educator and has organized the Portland Permaculture group since 2005.  She is a Master Composter, studies medicinal plants and is active in the Cape Farm Alliance and the Eat Local Foods Coalition.

DIRT! The Movie--takes you inside the wonders of the soil. It tells the story of Earth's most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility--from its miraculous beginning to its crippling degradation.

The opening scenes of the film dive into the wonderment of the soil. Made from the same elements as the stars, plants and animals, and us, "dirt is very much alive." Though, in modern industrial pursuits and clamor for both profit and natural resources, our human connection to and respect for soil has been disrupted. "Drought, climate change, even war are all directly related to the way we are treating dirt."

DIRT! the Movie--narrated by Jaime Lee Curtis--brings to life the environmental, economic, social and political impact that the soil has. It shares the stories of experts from all over the world who study and are able to harness the beauty and power of a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship with soil.

DIRT! the Movie is simply a movie about dirt. The real change lies in our notion of what dirt is. The movie teaches us: "When humans arrived 2 million years ago, everything changed for dirt. And from that moment on, the fate of dirt and humans has been intimately linked." But more than the film and the lessons that it teaches, DIRT the Movie is a call to action.

"The only remedy for disconnecting people from the natural world is connecting them to it again."

What we've destroyed, we can heal.

'Tis the season...for cool speakers and non-profit events

 April 15 :  Opening of PPL Downtown Branch 

April 23 :  John Muir Party @  Sierra Club

April 24 :  Noam Chomsky @ Peace Action Maine

April 27 :  The Thin Line by Ad Verb Productions, @ Waynflete

May 1 :  Fiddlehead Center for the Arts Auction

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Library Week

Read a post from my friend Anna waxing enthusiastic about Libraries and check out her links for saving libraries...

Class Parents for 2009-2010

Preschool: Rebecca Rundquist & Jen McNally

Kindergarten: JB Kavaliauskas & Maureen Quinlan/Eric Kruger

1 & 2: Joe Harris

3 & 4: Rachel Payson & Elise Strong

5 & 6: Kim Simmons

7 & 8: Jill Eng & Maya Howard

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From the Maine Youth Action Network

 Some young Mainers are working to support youth interested in environmental activism to network and learn from each other. First Here, Then Everywhere (FHTE), a network for youth environmentalists, was the brainchild of Lincoln Academy (Newcastle, Maine) student Chloe Maxmin. She and her friend Alex Hadik, both members of Lincoln Academy's Climate Action Club (recently a Best Buy Community Impact Challenge grant winner,and featured on MYAN's Stories from Maine page!), are now partnering to form GoDu Networks to build on the ideas of FHTE and create a more dynamic space for young advocates for the environment to network, get inspired, and find resources.
Chloe & Alex are looking for youth to test out the new site. Interested? Contact Chloe at or Alex at

In the meantime, in addition to the things First Here, Then Everywhere & GoDu can offer, MYAN can also help connect you to weblinks to help you go green, and you can network with others interested in this topic through our Think Global networking group (you'll need to be signed in as a member to access this group).

Check out our Web Links section for TONS more links on a wide range of topics!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coming Up: Bike Swap

For those of you who have been asking where to find others' outgrown bikes, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine's bike swap is next Sunday, April 25th from 10:00 - 2:00 at USM. You can sell old bikes from your garage as long as they are in working condition. You set the price, and you keep 85%; the other 15% goes to BCM's good programs like bike safety education. You can buy bikes even if you are not selling, and there will be knowledgeable people there to help you out. Keep the re-cycling going!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sun-Journal Op-Ed

Op-Ed that looks at a faith-based approach to safer chemicals for healthy families...

And don't forget about Sandra Steingraber --  a Quaker scientist coming to talk about these issues from a personal stance -- May 11th!

Scary News - BPA in Ball Jar Caps, Uptick in Ticks, and Underage Drinking

  1. I woke up this morning to Craig's news that my use of ball jars as food containers, as a way of avoiding plastic, was fool-hardy.  Turns out, the covers are full of BPA. (Apparently, Tattler Lids are BPA free, although I'm beginning to feel sure that Kristine is right, we can't just buy our way out of this problem...) 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Playful Cities USA

Kaboom, which I mentioned in the earlier post, also has a community organizing kit and application for "playful cities" which pledge resources toward creating spaces for free play.  The closest one to us is Shirley, MA.  I am not well connected in local politics -- I wonder if Portland or Falmouth or even my home town of Cumberland would want to become a Playful City?

From Kaboom:

Becoming a Playful City USA community

Communities become Playful City USA communities by meeting five commitments.
  1. Create a local play commission task force [More]
  2. Design an annual action plan for play [More]
  3. Conduct a playspace audit of all publicly accessible play areas [More]
  4. Identify current spending on capital projects and maintenance of playspaces [More]
  5. Proclaim and celebrate an annual "KaBOOM! Play Day" [More]
Attention citizens: Get started in getting your community recognized by forming a play committee!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Places to Play

Corie and I had an amazing time at the CCFC conference -- I'll be posting about it for a long time, I think.  One overarching theme resonated with Susan Linn's talk last year - pretend play is essential for children's development and health, as is time outdoors. 

There are some really cool people and organizations working to reinstate play in kids lives.

Kaboom -- a nonprofit working on community playspaces - has a database of places to play all over the country and ideas for how to create new playspaces.

Playscapes -- a blog with pictures and descriptions of cool play spaces all over the world.

Peaceful Playgrounds -- all this seems to be a for-profit company, they have a lot of info about the importance of play at school

Portland Maine's own "places to play" map - (a pdf)  / website

In a Food Rut

OK, so here we are approaching April vacation. We've held the healthy supper, school lunches, snacks thing together all year, but the kids just keep eating! In the interest of keeping a growing, dairy-free boy fed, we had a lot of pasta, breads, chili, and chicken over the course of the winter. For a while it was all about volume, volume, volume (just wait till your kid turns 13), but now that seems to have evened off at a steady pig trough level. It used to be that a pound of pasta fed the whole family, with leftovers for lunch the next day. Now it's a pound and a half, with barely enough left over for scant lunch for the three kids.

Now things are warming up and it's time to keep the input up, but without heating up the kitchen (special dispensation for cool, rainy days). So the question is, what do you do for filling, healthy meals and snacks? Smoothies, burritos, potato salad, and spring rolls are always on our list. What else do you do to keep the hunger pangs away in the warmer months? The first five to share thoughts and/or recipes will receive a packet of sunflower seeds.

Here's a quickie for you. In Brazil, kids grow up on these and they are called um vitaminas: In a blender, place a banana, some ice cubes, milk (for our DF boy we use coconut milk, available in half-gallon cartons from Whole Foods), unsweetened cocoa powder to taste (in Brazil they use Nesquik but that 's way sweet and industrial), and a splash of orange juice(optional). Give it a whirl.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Maine Fiddlers' Concert

This Saturday, April 10th, is the annual Maine Fiddlers' Concert at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath. Come out and support Maine Fiddle Camp, Cecilia's favorite place to be! Many Fiddle Camp instructors will be playing in the concert. They are excellent and sure to provide an entertaining evening for all ages. Don't forget to leave a comment on our blog to get your sunflower seed incentive...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunflower Give-Away

Blogging is a strange practie,  1-part cathartic with or without readers and and 1-part all about the potential of invisible readers.  We're starting to get lonely (those who do read might notice our blogging has tapered off a bit lately).... but thought we'd inspire ourselves and you all with a sunflower seed give-away... the first 10 people to comment will receive seeds for starting!

(According to Cooperative Extension, this is the time and then some...)

Maine Farm School

"What about High School" gets asked around here quite a bit... This new proposal for a public experiential school emphasizing place-based education piqued my curiousity... what do people know about it?  Thoughts?