25 posts categorized "Community"

August 09, 2010

Why Great Teachers Quit

Screen shot 2010-08-09 at 6.59.16 AMA few years back, a friend of mine was griping about how easy teachers have it and how only the bad ones stay to teach. I was stunned. Could she possible be serious? Or maybe she just didn't have any teachers for friends. "They always cut out at the end of the day as fast as they can," she said. "They're probably heading to their second job," was my reply. Her solution was to gather with her other mom friends and pray that God would find an answer--He did, many years later in Katy Farber who decided to shine a big light on the issues and the solutions. Rather than wait for an answer on high, Katy researched the frustrations and offers them back in a concise summation of facts, failings and successes.

Her book, Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus lists off the usual suspects:

  • Standardized testing.
  • Working conditions.
  • Ever-higher expectations.
  • Bureaucracy.
  • Respect and Compensation.
  • Parents, Administrators and School Boards.

She then offers resources and solutions culled from interviews with 70 teachers across the nation. Their stories echo the frustration this profession generates. The issues raised are not new, but by having them all in one book it allows each participating member to see things from the other's perspective. As the adage goes, "Awareness is the first step..."

Why Great Teachers Quit is an essential workbook and reminder of how pervasive the problems are and what simple steps could be taken to reverse the brain drain. Each school system has it within their ability to retain the top influencers on the next generation; Katy's book can turn the he said/she said battles into "We did it together" solutions. 

Thank you Katy for changing our world and keeping the best teachers in place and our kids safe at home

June 18, 2010

A Day in a Green(er) Life

Beth, who writes on living plastic free at Fake Plastic Fish asked us to capture a typical day and how we face our green challenges. It was a more difficult assignment than I thought and showed the power of being mindful of what's in me, on me or around me...


5:45 / no need for an alarm clock, the sparrows outside of my window wake me up. 


6:00 hit the shower (with low-water shower), tried out the Green Natura soap we from the Sustainable Brands conference last week. I really like the face scrub and can feel the difference on my skin. Organic coffee has arrived as Mr. Hand slips a cupo-joe onto the bathroom sink  (thank you sweetie...)


6:30 figure out what to wear starting with what shoes I can walk in. One of the reasons I wear slacks to work is because dress shoes aren't walking shoes. (Settled for black sandals, black slacks and jacket, it is LA and anything brighter than brown is suspect) Actually I like black for the same reason my great, great grandmother wore it - it doesn't show the wear and tear like colors. the slacks are my new favorites, Royal Robbins found at REI, good for work or play / no wrinkles, dry instantly, pack tight, never shrink...


Returned email to EcoMomAlliance.


7:00 Drove the Honda Civic (33 mpg) to the train station where I'm writing this before the battery goes dead on my 'green' Mac laptop. The Metro train is a predictable 45 minutes until I catch the next link into downtown to my consulting job. I could walk to the train from my house, but then I'd look like a train wreck when I got to work.


8:30 First meeting - finish the Touchpoint Handbook. The handbook is a new business model for groups who have to work together, but have no tight financial contracts between them to keep the job on task. The District has hundreds of architects and contractors working on almost $6 billion in building projects over 10 campuses. The Touchpoint chart helps bring groups and processes together during the critical phases. The buildings are going for LEED certification.


11:30 didn't pack a lunch, so went down to the deli where everything comes in a plastic container. We have recycle bins in the office. I opt out of the plastic bag and just take the salad in its plastic container.  Used my bandana for a napkin and the real silverware that I have in my desk drawer. I never liked using plastic utensils.


12:00 Listened to TED talks while creating binders for the Touchpoint Handbook, an organization way to operate when you have hundreds of companies working on the same project.  Listening to TED is a great way to pass the time while doing mindless work. I can recommend the following on what makes us happy (you'll never give people choices again), one on poverty and creating new ideas. 





3:00 Binders complete. Checked email / found a google alert hit on SMaRT and the presentation Forbo gave to the GSA this month. http://www.usgbc-stl.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/SMaRT-Denny-Darragh.pdf  


4:00 Walked back to the Red Line,  8 minutes later I'm at the Union Station and catching the 4:30 Metro Link back to Orange. Finished up emails from work on the way home.


6:00 Dinner: We tried the veggie/eggplant meatballs and gluten free pasta. We're finding that we feel better when we don't eat as much wheat products. Mike thought the meatballs were 'ok' then I told them they were made of eggplant and he was more impressed. We'll buy them again. Thanks to Beth's prodding, we're buying far less plastic wrapped items.


We also buy the "Naked" brand of smoothies that are loaded with fresh veggies. They are expensive, but we use them as a base, add cold water and a sprig of fresh mint leaves and voila - an inexpensive and good for you beverage. We buy our main food at the Farmer's Market or Mothers Market. Both places let me buy without having to shop very hard for organic food. Mother's has a whole section dedicated to gluten-free food. That makes it easy to buy, I don't have to check every label, whatever is in that section is fair game. 


7:00 Cleaned up the kitchen with 7th Generation dish soap. Watered planters containing flowers as well as spearmint, chocolate mint (fantastic tea), oregano, basil, chives, rosemary, dill and thyme. It's nice to grab fresh and free food. Finished off emails for the day, hung out with Mike and went to bed by nine.  


It's not an extraordinary day, but that's the point. We're working so that doing everyday green things becomes so normal that no one has to think about it. I'd like to think that my little selections along the way are making a difference. 

May 09, 2010

Mother's Day = Save Society Day?

Is it time for a new Mother's Day tradition that goes beyond flowers and dinner? That would be YES if Michelle Obama and women around the world have a vote. 

Julia Ward Howe started it in 1870 with her Mother's Day Proclamation. It was a pacifist reaction to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian Way. She believed that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. 

Today at 1:00, women will be standing silently across the globe for 5 minutes as witnesses for change. They'll be recreating the moment when two grandmothers stood still for a day in a park and more and more women joined them in silent protest as they stared at city hall. It seems like a silly thing to do, but imagine how you'd feel if 1000 people gathered and looked at you in silence. 

This morning Michelle Obama sent the following email outlining the things that the Obama administration has done to make the world a better place for women and families to live. It's too good not to reprint the entire thing.

Women tamed the wild west, why not the world? Happy Mother's Day to all who bring peace to their homes. (kisses Bena)

The White House, Washington

Dear Friend,

There's no way I could ever measure all that my own mother has done for me. She is my rock. She pushes me to be the best professional, mother, wife and friend I can be.

As a mother myself, I've come to realize that being a mom isn't always easy and that no one can do it alone.

My husband understands the many challenges facing today's mothers and their families. His Administration has taken steps to level the playing field and ease the burden.

The first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that no women face the same discrimination and injustices that Lilly did after 20 years on the job. When women make less money than men for the same work, families have to work harder just to get by.

The President signed an Executive Order creating the first-ever White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Federal agencies take women and girls into account in their daily work and to ensure that our daughters have the same opportunities as our sons.

Through the Let's Move! Initiative and the President's Task Force on Childhood Obesity, we're helping to provide parents with the knowledge and tools they need to make healthy choices for their children and teach their children to make healthy choices for themselves.

This week, we are celebrating Women's Health Week to promote steps women and girls can take to lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

Mother's Day is about showing our gratitude for the mothers and mother figures who have influenced our lives. The President and I would like to extend our warmest Mother's Day wishes to all of the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends who have inspired a child.

Happy Mother's Day!

Michelle Obama

October 23, 2009

Does Maria Shriver's Women's Nation Lack a Massive Segment?

Picture 21 It's been a long while since I've tapped into my inner women's circle of pals. Work has consumed me and I've had to put this blog in simmer mode. This morning, however, Yvonne DiVita's blog post cranked up the burner. 

Yvonne is a long-time blog pal and my publisher, she's also been a long-time voice for the everyday gal who's just trying to make a mark in a world that generally ignores her contributions. In her post, she takes on Maria Shriver's Women's Nation Report for two reasons: 

1. Her site focuses on Maria's pals who are only women at the top of the professional food chain.

2. The report focuses on Moms (again) (short overview here)

Yvonne's argument centered on the reports lack of diversity in its roll out and zeroed in on PANKS (Professional Aunts No Kids). As someone who writes for and with green moms all the time, it rang true. The mom stats are quoted so much that even I didn't know the Aunt stats. We 50 percenters aren't even on the radar within our own crowd. 

Interestingly, Melanie Notkin was a bit unhappy with Maria's conference call and her work, also. For those who don't know Melanie she is the founder of Savvy Auntie - a powerful group of women who represent close to 50% of the female population in the U.S. 

The green moms that I hang out with are the best and very inclusive of us who don't have kids. That's the kind of women's nation I want to see. Thank goodness for women like Yvonne who started me on the blog path and for BlogHer for promoting women bloggers at large and for Terry Gamer at Womego for bringing the voices from 500 women-owned publications forward. Without that first push, I would never have written my first post let alone a whole book. 

What this report really reinforces is that our value system that has gone from citizenship to consumership. The reason moms are quoted and tracked is because while they may have less available cash than the PANKS, they have more reasons to buy. They also share more (word of mouth) making them coveted WOM media targets because kids force them into circles of communication that we Aunts don't have. 

I'm glad the tipping point of prosperity has happened and for the attention that this report gives it, but I agree with Yvonne, it's the diversity of the crowd that makes us a stronger "nation" and it's the blogs that bring us together. 

August 12, 2009

Are you a Sofia?

Consider this a blog/twitter type RT or RE (Re- email) I'm so impressed with this one women's goal (Jin In) of enlightening, educating and training the next generation of girls around the world. It's an inspiring concept.

Sofias are the heart of 4GGL. They are women with compassion, experience, and wisdom to mentor and be a resource to 4GGL and our partner organizations. Our Sofias are across the United States. 

4Girls GLocal Leadership envisions a world where the inherent worth and leadership potential of every girl are recognized, providing opportunity and resource for every girl to empower herself and transform the world.

4GGL ignites, develops, and promotes girls' leadership, glocally (think globally, act locally), so that girls lead the change within themselves, their families, and their communities to advance gender equality around the world.

Girls are the world’s greatest untapped human resource. When girls are educated and empowered, families and communities grow stronger and healthier in the long-term.

Currently, there are about 837.5 million girls between the ages of 10-24. The majority of this powerful force is in developing countries, and everyday this number is increasing rapidly. Most of them live in poverty, and a great part of this is due to deeply rooted gender issues that prevent girls from reaching their full potential. Moreover, poor girls are NOT valued or invested in by our society.

august09.jpgTherefore, 4GGL is a social change movement to value the world's poorest girls. We take action by partnering with local organizations to develop girls' leadership. We train and build local capacity. Our innovative approach is a multi-generational women’s leadership model that delivers the 4 essential E’s:Education, Empowerment, and Energy to Enable. We educate on positive girls’ development. We empower by developing and building leadership skills. We energize by facilitating difficult dialogues to change deeply rooted gender issues that prevent girls from reaching their full potential. Finally, in equal partnership, we co-create programs, enabling our partners to develop girls' leadership that is socially and culturally appropriate for them.

The need is overwhelming. To date, we have partnership requests from organizations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Peru, Sierra Leon, Liberia, and even our own backyard - New York City.

To become a Sofia, please contact us at info@4GGL.org.

August 07, 2009

LACCD Green Schools, Green Day Care, what's not to love?

It's back to school time and also the topic for the Green Mom's Carnival this month hosted by: Lynn on Organic Mania.

My closest connection to school is my consulting job with the Los Angeles Community College District where they are greening the entire nice campuses. Part of that action includes building several Child Development Centers  which will also include day care for the children of students. It will set the bar for other facilities and it couldn't happen too soon. 

This month one of the moms reported receiving this email from her day care center.

“In a construction project elsewhere in the building, a contractor applied a concrete floor sealant that produced and odor and fumes that were so strong we had to evacuate the children from the building.”

Rightly so, she was concerned. She kept her child home an extra day and wrote the group wanting to know how to "detox kids". She was only half kidding, but a high-level discussion followed; how to monitor the air, what levels of VOCs are ok, which paints are better...  this isn't a green lite crowd, we are serious about the conditions that kids live in.

Picture 35 All of the above discussions won't happen among the parents with kids at the LACCD facilities, however, because the buildings are being constructed or rehabbed with sustainable and safe products within the building guidelines. As such, the LACCD is setting a new standard for other schools to follow. If they can do it in LA, it can be done anywhere. 

In the LACCD's Guidelines and Standard (page 95)for new buildings, the LACCD states upfront what items get red-lined and not allowed in new construction.

  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene
  • Cholorofourocarbons (CFCs)
  • Chloroprene (Neoprene) with the exception of MEP Equipment
  • Formaldehyde (added)
  • Halogenated Flame Retardents
  • Hydrocholorfluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) with the exception of roofing and piping
  • Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol
  • Endangered Wood Species

If you've been following the Green Mom conversations, you'll know that Phthalates, PVCs, Flame Retardants, Formaldehyde - well - the whole list gets us going. How nice that someone is finally taking action.

The LACCD also requires that adhesives and sealants meet GreenSeal and government standards. That covers the VOC fume problem mentioned above. No VOC's no fumes. The best part of these buildings is that they become experiential learning labs for how to make a home or an office sustainable and toxic-free from the start. 

The Project Track program "provides free services to students enrolled in child development programs, employees working as child-care providers, and parents with children younger than five years of age."

The LACCD is developing a sustainable benchmark for all campuses to follow - build green, teach green, learn green, live green and bring the next generation along in your footsteps. 


May 08, 2009

Holy Mother of Capitalism Day, "The Determinators" have Arrived

Maryanne Milker's Mom's Blogger Club told her, she emailed the Green Mom Carnivaland then she called me about the Nielsen Buzz Metrics report showing blogging moms influence as "The Determinators" of market share.


That's what this post is celebrating - a shift in social thinking that just happens to hit on Mother's Day weekend. Go Moms! (A big thank you Maryanne for the heads up and a congrats to Clean and Green Mom Sommer and Organic Mania Lynn for making the top 50 list.) Register for Full presentation coming up on May 28th.


Neilson momI received stats this morning from the flip side of buying - the review side. I have many such sites listed on the left side of this blog. Because of that Reviewcentreasked if I could list them along with the rest. I said "Sure, show me your stats." According to my contact at Reviewcentre, the 09 Freshminds report "highlighted 67% of reader respondents were female, 33% male. 35% are aged between 25-34 and 24% between 35-44 years old."


Review center Makes sense, if you buy the stuff and use the stuff then you'll be more opt to write about the stuff later. If the majority of people buying the stuff are women, then the majority of people writing the reviews will also be women. 


What Neilsen Buzz Metrics did in this slide show was bless the trend that is turning into a tipping point media. Just like they report on who watches what TV show, they'll be reporting on women's social media stats from now on. 


As excited as I am about this blessing of the obvious, I'm more thrilled that women will now see the stats over and over and know that what they BUY makes a difference. What they SAY makes a differenceWho they TALK TO makes a difference.


The only thing left to do is educate women on sustainable product standards and watch the world turn safer, cleaner and a more socially responsible shade of green. Women are the will, corporations are the way and sustainable product standards will keep us all honest.

March 07, 2009

So who are these Green Women Bloggers?

After winning the Twitter shorty awards, Anna Hackman of green-talk put this video together. It was too long to use at the ceremony, but too good not show you who's who contributes to the Green Mommy Carnival, blogs and by collection - twitter. Enjoy the tour and my deep thanks to Anna. If you can't play the video, go here.


April 21, 2008

Green Gals Make My Earth Day Memorable

Happy Earth Day. How are you spending your day?

I can't think of a better way to celebrate then with new friends working to implement the choices we have to make.  Kimberly_danke_pinksonThis weekend, the California Chapter of N.O.W. the National Organization of Women met in West Hollywood, CA. I was honored to be asked to speak on Sustainability Standards and how women can bring them forward. With me was Kimberly Danke Pinkson, the founder of Eco Mom's Alliance (left) and Lani Lee, (right) a recent college grad committed to bringing eco-issues to N.O.W. (Lani moderated our panel.)

Kimberly is a single mom with a six year old son. She developed Eco Mom Alliance not as a business platform, but because it was needed. As she explained to the crowd, if anyone knows about making green ends meet, she does. She knows that making adjustments in our lifestyle is hard, but she also knows that with the help and inspiration of others in a peer group, that it can be done and it can be fun.

Lani_lee_2She was inspired to create the Eco Mom Alliance one day at a picnic table talking with friends about light bulbs and discussing which ones to buy. Since that picnic table day, the Eco Mom Alliance has grown to over 11,000 on their mailing list.

After meeting Kimberly, it's not hard to understand why she has such a strong following, she is gracious, encouraging and inspiring to be around. The Eco Mom Alliance had been quietly working at making their lifestyles greener and then the NY Times wrote about them. Kimberly said that they have since been deluged with requests from business and non-profits alike. Many want to be a part of their group as a sponsor or partner. That's the power of purses and peers at work.

Lani Lee was amazing as well. Besides running the panel, she also brought gift cards and items made of Elephant dung. Don't squirm, they were very cool paper products and they certainly had a wonderful story to tell. There are about 40,000 elephants in Sri Lanka and 4000 were killed last year because they were interfering with agricultural. To save the elephant, they needed to find a way to make them profitable. It turns out that elephants, as mass consumers of vegetation, they are also mass producers of mashed up pulp (per se) ready to be made into paper products. For a closer look check out www.mrelliepooh.com

If they can turn a profit from, well, recycled goods - think what you can do with a little creative thinking. Write me and tell me about your best way to rally the women and create a bit-o-fun in the process and have a great Earth Day.

March 30, 2008

Hope to Action - Power of your Peers

It seems like more and more women are mobilizing on the ground to create real, sustainable change. Hope to Action is the lastest to build out network of small groups of 15 or so women making small changes. Check out their video.