Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fall Fun

HenryFest at Skyline Farm - Sunday September 11th - Benefit for 317 Main Music Center
The fun includes the legendary 317 Pie Table (fresh pies provided by members of the 317 community!); a Kid's Area including toys provided by Island Treasure Toys in Yarmouth, Face Painting, and a Story Corner; Food Vendors including Brunswick's El Camino, a bonfire, and or course, GREAT MUSIC all day long!
PunkinFiddle - September 25   Wells Reserve  
Come to our 8th annual Punkinfiddle festival. Our National Estuaries Day Celebration features traditional crafts, hands-on learning, lively music, old-fashioned games, fun food, farm animals, and lots of smiles in a historic seaside setting.
Common Ground Fair - Sept 23 - 25 in Unity 

Cumberland Fair - September 25 - Oct 1

Apple Day @ Audubon - October 2

Damriscotta PumpkinFest & Regatta - October 1 - 10

Wolfe's Neck Fall Festival - October 15

Monday, August 29, 2011

Race : Are We So Different

I am so excited about this fall's Parenting for Peace workshop and evening panel conversation about race. Anne O'Brien and Krista Aronson are an amazing design team and I know I'm going to learn a ton - and mainly will be grateful to be in a community conversation about race and anti-racism and books and kids!

The following videos were produced by the American Anthropological Association as part of their Understanding Race project - the web site & Smithsonian exhibit are worth spending some time on as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pentominoes & Stolen Art

Kate and I just finished Chasing Vermeer and it got a thumbs up from both of us.  The book is well written but also written for an intermediate reader - -that is, this is not a book that needs to be read aloud but it was quite enjoyable to do so.

The book is about puzzles and quirkiness and provides a great introduction to conversations about art (and Vermeer in particular), authenticity, museum practices, secrets, even tactics of social change.  There is even a great opening to talk about how we know what we know and where we get gut-instincts from (Calder, the main character, uses the letters from a set of pentominoes to guide him and I am now desperate to get a set of  for myself (perhaps a wooden set?).  But, what I most enjoyed about the book was almost beside the point: lovely relationships between a boy and a girl, between kids and and their teacher, and between humans and ideas.

I had a bit of a hard time understanding the story at first and found the end wrapped up a little too neatly, but the middle was really fun to read (enough that I blew through bed time more than once) and was suspenseful w/out being scary. 

And now we're on to Ruby Holler ... a different kind of story but another set of adventurous kids...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parenting for Peace Fall 2011

Registration is open for our Fall Parenting for Peace programs

Educators Workshop : Mirrors & Lenses : Racial Formation in the Classroom 

and FREE evening program (pre-registration recommended) Books as Bridges : Children's Literature in Anti-Racism Education 

More info via the links and coming soon - also see some related links on left

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Kids Are Not Alright

Maine recently ranked 11th in the Annie E. Casey KidsCount Survey of Child Welfare in the USA. However, the details about children's welfare belied this strong ranking - it turns out that child poverty has increased so much in the USA that Maine is doing worse than we used to but still doing better than most States.  In 2009, the last official year we have data for, 17% of kids in Maine lived in households earning under the federal poverty level ($22,350 for family of 4) and an additional 26% lived in families earning under 200% of the FPL ($44,100 for a family of 4).

Connected is this op-ed from the NYT, kindly forwarded by our friends at the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood.  They suggest getting active - maybe a back-to-school op-ed or letter to the editor (mainevoices@pressherald.com, letters@nytimes.com

The Kids Are Not All Right
August 22, 2011

WHEN I sit with my two teenagers, and they are a million miles away, absorbed by the titillating roil of online social life, the addictive pull of video games and virtual worlds, as they stare endlessly at video clips and digital pictures of themselves and their friends, it feels like something is wrong.

No doubt my parents felt similarly about the things I did as a kid, as did my grandparents about my parents’ childhood activities. But the issues confronting parents today can’t be dismissed as mere generational prejudices. There is reason to believe that childhood itself is now in crisis.

Throughout history, societies have struggled with how to deal with children and childhood. In the United States and elsewhere, a broad-based “child saving” movement emerged in the late 19th century to combat widespread child abuse in mines, mills and factories. By the early 20th century, the “century of the child,” as a prescient book published in 1909 called it, was in full throttle. Most modern states embraced the general idea that government had a duty to protect the health, education and welfare of children. Child labor was outlawed, as were the sale and marketing of tobacco, alcohol and pornography to children. Consumer protection laws were enacted to regulate product safety and advertising aimed at children.

By the middle of the century, childhood was a robustly protected legal category. In 1959, the United Nations issued its Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Children were now legal persons; the “best interests of the child” became a touchstone for legal reform.

But the 20th century also witnessed another momentous shift, one that would ultimately threaten the welfare of children: the rise of the for-profit corporation. Lawyers, policy makers and business lobbied successfully for various rights and entitlements traditionally connected, legally, with personhood. New laws recognized corporations as legal — albeit artificial — “persons,” granting them many of the same legal rights and privileges as human beings. In an eerie parallel with the child-protective efforts, “the best interests of the corporation” was soon introduced as a legal precept.

A clash between these two newly created legal entities — children and corporations — was, perhaps, inevitable. Century-of-the-child reformers sought to resolve conflicts in favor of children. But over the last 30 years there has been a dramatic reversal: corporate interests now prevail. Deregulation, privatization, weak enforcement of existing regulations and legal and political resistance to new regulations have eroded our ability, as a society, to protect children.

Childhood obesity mounts as junk food purveyors bombard children with advertising, even at school. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study reports that children spend more hours engaging with various electronic media — TV, games, videos and other online entertainments — than they spend in school. Much of what children watch involves violent, sexual imagery, and yet children’s media remain largely unregulated. Attempts to curb excesses — like California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors — have been struck down by courts as free speech violations.

Another area of concern: we medicate increasing numbers of children with potentially harmful psychotropic drugs, a trend fueled in part by questionable and under-regulated pharmaceutical industry practices. In the early 2000s, for example, drug companies withheld data suggesting that such drugs were more dangerous and less effective for children and teenagers than parents had been led to believe. The law now requires “black box” warnings on those drugs’ labels, but regulators have done little more to protect children from sometimes unneeded and dangerous drug treatments.

Children today are also exposed to increasing quantities of toxic chemicals. We know that children, because their biological systems are still developing, are uniquely vulnerable to the dangers posed by many common chemical compounds. We also know that corporations often use such chemicals as key ingredients in children’s products, saturating their environments. Yet these chemicals remain in circulation, as current federal laws demand unreasonably high proof of harm before curbing a chemical’s use.

The challenge before us is to reignite the guiding ethos and practices of the century of the child. As Nelson Mandela has said, “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” By that measure, our current failure to provide stronger protection of children in the face of corporate-caused harm reveals a sickness in our societal soul. The good news is that we can — and should — work as citizens, through democratic channels and institutions, to bring about change.

Joel Bakan, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, is the author of "Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children."

Offerings from Institute for Humane Education

Back to school can be inspiring for adults, too.  If you're in the mood for a course, consider these offerings from the Institute for Humane Education: 

"Raising a Humane Child" is a six-week online course for parents offered by the Institute for Humane Education (right here in Maine!) that offers tools and resources to help raise children to become conscientious, compassionate citizens of the world. Classes start Sept. 12 and Nov 7.

“A Better World, A Meaningful Life” is a transformative monthly online course for concerned global citizens offered by the Institute for Humane Education (right here in Maine!). It provides participants with tools for action and change-making and teaches about the interconnection between human rights, environmental sustainability and animal protection in creating a better world. Classes start Sept. 2, Oct. 3, and Nov. 4. For info: http://humaneeducation.org/sections/view/better_world_meaningful_life

Check out the Free Resources for parents, activists and concerned citizens at the Institute for Humane Education's online Resource Center. For anyone interested in making the world a better place for future generations, this Resource Center offers hundreds of free tools and resources, including books, films, magazines, organizations, humane education activities, and lots more to enrich your family and life.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Outing Club 2011-2012 Parent Volunteers Needed

Exciting plans are being made for the 2011-2012 Outing Club - Bookmark this link or click on the Outing Club Tab above for updated information.  Sign-up for activities will be online this year - students must be registered OC members to sign up and parents are always welcome as well!

Parents are needed to support the FSP outing club in several ways!

1) Be in charge of Clynk Bag fundraiser
2) Be in charge or helpful with Tea Creating / Tea Sale
3) Be in charge of Harvest Dinner Planning (w/Nicole)
4) Make soup for Harvest Dinner (sign up soon)
5) Attend / drive for OC events (sign up through eventbrite)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use the comments to share more suggestions or indicate your willingness to participate - we're hoping online communication decreases email and allows for greater participation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blue Wrap Project

Mary suggested that the 7th/8th graders see the Blue Wrap Project at the Portland Public Library and I'm so glad that she did.  Grace has been interested in dress design for a long time and makes intricate and wonderful paper dress creations; it was fascinating to see the adult equivalent.  Kate, though, was the most interested and studied each and every piece.  She's hopeful that children will be allowed to enter the 2012 project.

Partners for World Health, the creators of the project, help distribute medical supplies around the world. They also have a facebook page.

The exhibit will be at the Portland Public Library until 8/31.

Lois Lowry is coming to town

Lois Lowry is one of our favorite authors.  From Gooney Bird to The Giver, Lowry is prolific without being repetitive. And Anastasia Krupnik is a favorite from my very own childhood creating a certain mother-daughter bond as I introduce the books to my own girls.

On September 6th, from 5 - 6:30, Lowry is going to be in Portland as a speaker at UNE's Children's Book Illustration gallery exhibit

Directions here 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Save the date: Peace Walk September 18th

Calling all doves: As part of their continuing language arts unit on peaceful change, a group of FSP eighth graders is organizing a peace walk for World Peace Day. The walk will be September 18th around the Back Cove in Portland. Please (1) save the date, and (2) pass on the information to your address book and all your facebook friends - let's see if we can go viral for peace!