Oh, Ring, Ye Bell of Clarity


Liberty Bell – oh ring, ring clear!

David Orr and Erik Assadourian discussed the challenge to reform education to meet the demands of failing natural systems on our planet and the prospect of 9.6 B people by 2050. See Security and Sustainability Forum and scroll down.

How do we prepare our children today for the awesome challenges that lie ahead?

Eric Assadourian noted we need two kinds of education, simultaneously: education for sustainability and education for resilience.

In their new book, EarthED, these two leaders in environmental education address six major areas that form the backbone of educational reform:

  1. EARTH DEPENDENCE – we are utterly dependent on earth’s natural systems to live; to be healthy, and to make a living, and for safety and inspiration. Most children today are disconnected from the planet under their feet, more than any other generation. Basic earth literacy must be taught.
  2. INTERDEPENDENCE – We are interdependent on each other and the earth. Social/emotional intelligence and moral education must address how we live together and the values we must share to assure life will go forward on Earth.
  3. CREATIVITY – Play is fundamental to developing and cultivating our imaginations; arts and humanities, dance and music – all develop higher cortical function (long term planning, critical thinking, novel ideas). In a problematic future with unpredictable events, the ability to create novel solutions will be a hallmark of generations growing into adulthood today.
  4. DEEP LEARNING – Learning how to learn, learning how to apply ideas that work in one area to another — to see connections, patterns; to think critically about tools such as digital communication and platforms. New Americans should ask: What kind of world do we want to build? We can be manipulated by digital platforms like Facebook; how do we account for and protect ourselves from intrusion? How can we think and act clearly? Learning to use systems thinking will be fundamental to a sustainable future for our coming generations.
  5. LIFE SKILLS – New Americans should be skilled in home economics by learning how to grow, harvest and store, and prepare good food. All should know about renewable energy, conservation of materials by reusing them and developing new materials that are more mobile – to be able to relocate communities with changing conditions in the environment such as flooding. New students learn how to create beauty around them while being conservative in their use of resources. Innovation is critical and related to working together to innovate and create new ways of living.
  6. EARTH-CENTRIC LEADERSHIP – Americans need to see the connections between our democratic life and the protection of the environment. Our forefathers recognized the fundamental requirement of education and maintenance of a democracy:

There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves, nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to readall is safe. …. John Adams Letter to Thomas Jefferson (15 July 1817) .

The fact that the political apparatus for environmental protection has been dismantled in the last few months of the new administration should be of great concern to all of us. Decades of work to create the Environmental Protection Agency and the protections for human and wild life (Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, etc.) have all been cleaved to the ground. This requires the coming generations to determine how our democracy can create anew (reframe) the laws that represent us and protect life and limb.

How Fragile and Precious, Our Democracy

History and Justice

We Americans are in a world of hurt. The moral life of the country is teetering in the wake of a leader without a moral compass. The morality I write out is not related to personal morals but to civic morals–the shared values, ways of being and acting, that have given rise to a great country that once inspired other nations to follow our example. Well, that was true after WWII but has gradually diminished over the last 70 years. Robert Reich has eloquently outlined “How It Happened” — how the likes of Donald Trump came to occupy the White House.  Its worth, shutting your office door and having lunch at your desk, to listen to this presentation. It most clearly outlines the answer to that question. Its not about one party being better than another; no, its about how both parties are stunned, and have come to realize that Donald Trump as President is a “clear and present danger” to our democracy.

As I write and think about the country I have loved deeply all my life, and whose principles have been the standard by which I’ve tried to lead my civic life, my daughter, after a long 60-70 hour work week, finds the time to still get out on a Saturday to canvass for a candidate she believes in and spends more time signing people up to vote. Her husband was the chair of their voting precinct in the last election and is a leader in his union. These young Americans are making the system work. I admire and love them for it.

We have all got to get out of our normal routines, to stop and consider our situation for what it truly is: we are on the cusp of losing our democracy. At its basis, as Reich points out, is the assault on TRUTH. We have a leader and his cohorts who divert attention from the truth, and tell lies until the public in its confusion begins to question the very foundations of our shared republican life. We must act together–together–to step back from the brink.

For us: 1963 Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are a Changin





A Good Book

A Good Book
A good book

There are few pleasures that reward better than a good book. I read both for pleasure and to learn how authors develop characters and move their plots along. One of my hobbies is reading the first and last lines of books. How does the author grab the reader’s attention, then hold it? How does he or she use language?

Yesterday I stumbled on a $6 copy of Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity. Many of you may know Follett from his long lasting historical thriller, Eye of the Needle. Follett bases his fictional tales on assiduous research. Edge of Eternity is a contemporary suite of stories happening on several continents. Follett weaves characters active in the Freedom Bus Rides and civil rights movement with characters in East Germany when Khrushchev decides to build the Berlin Wall. It begins in the year 1961 and moves through the ’80s encompassing the civil rights movement, assassination of John F. Kennedy, and our fears and efforts to prevent a nuclear war with Russia. I stayed up very late last night reading.

What are you reading?