FOOD FIGHT! – Hip Hop Video Teaches Dangers of Processed Foods

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In FOOD FIGHT!, a video released early this morning by filmmaker Ben Zolno (New Message Media), a boy runs for his life after witnessing a murder in a convenience store. This murder, however, isn’t done with conventional weapons but with junk food.

What ensues is a life-and-death struggle as citizens of the boy’s community come together to fight against the snack foods that fill store shelves by brandishing real food. It’s a comedic musical, but the message is far from funny: We are dying from the foods we eat while the corporations that manufacture, market, and sell them to us get rich at our expense.

Odd as the story setup is, the battle between healthy and disease-inducing foods is a reality; with every bite and sip we take, we determine how long we will live and how healthy we will be.

I can almost hear readers saying, “Well, that’s obvious.” If it’s so obvious, why is the U.S. (and much of the world) in a health crisis of obesity? Is it just that we have no self-control? Or does much of the problem lie in the “foods” themselves? …

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Summer of Solutions Offers Opportunities to Youth Leaders

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Most students use their summer vacations to sleep in, catch up on TV, and relax. For Summer of Solutions project leaders like Jennifer Roach, summer is just another opportunity to create solutions for the problems in their communities.

Roach, along with co-leaders Claudine Constant and Pablo Baeza, is leading a project to start gardens in Hartford, Connecticut’s Frog Hollow neighborhood, one of 15 Summer of Solutions (SoS) projects across the country….

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Teaching Tolerance Promotes Civil Rights for ALL

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The Southern Poverty Law (SPLC) is well known for its successes in fighting hate crimes and discrimination and for shining a spotlight on hate groups around the nation. But it also works to prevent the spread of bigotry and intolerance by reaching students and teachers with a message of understanding and inclusion.

The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program provides materials and professional development to help teachers “prepare a new generation to live in a diverse world.”

Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, spoke with me about how the SPLC’s program addresses pressing issues of fairness and equality with students and school personnel. A former classroom teacher and educational publishing professional, Costello cares deeply about the SPLC’s threefold mission and about her role in integrating the work of the Center’s other divisions with classroom instruction….

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Top Ten Tips to Green Your Prom

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Ally Maize was already excited to go to prom to see her friends dressed up and spend the evening dancing at a swanky hotel. But this year, the 17-year-old high-school senior from West Los Angeles decided to make her prom a little greener.

She wore a couture, floor-length, royal blue ball gown by Lindee Daniel of Puridee. It’s made from fair-trade organic fabric and high-quality Indian peace silks called ahimsa and tussah. She also met with 30 friends, who agreed to carpool to the dance.

Maize founded the Green Youth Movement when she was 15. After watching An Inconvenient Truth, she was inspired to educate elementary students about sustainability and global warming. She organizes events like community gardens to teach kids how to plant and grow their own food. This year, attending her own prom inspired her to inform others on how to lessen its environmental impact.

“Prom is something that high schoolers across the country do every year. It’s easy to make prom greener,” says Maize….

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Truth on Earth – Making Music to Change the World

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In a society where many teens and young adults spend their free time in front of the television, playing video games, grabbing fast food, or hanging out with friends at the mall, the three Halpern sisters lead exceptional lives. They’re talented musicians, who together comprise the band Truth On Earth (T.O.E.).

So what else is unique about Serena (20), Kiley (19), and Tess (16)? They’re lifelong vegans, have always been home schooled, and have spent the last two years traveling the country in an RV with their parents….

And this is another way the three are different from most of their peers: Their songs aren’t about the issues many young women are thinking about — boys, flirtations, or the angst of being a teen. “We picked a musical style that had a message and meant something,” Kiley says….

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Teens Turning Green – Eco-Healthy Messages for Youth

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When Judi Shils’ daughter started wearing makeup in 2005, Shils was concerned about the toxic chemicals the teen was applying to her face. This, as well as the high cancer rates in Marin County, California, where they lived, inspired Shils to launch Teens for Safe Cosmetics.
Project Green Dorm

The group evolved into Teens Turning Green (TTG). Last July they launched the Project Green Dorm store, a pop-up in The Village at Corte Madera mall. TTG’s mission was to sell green alternatives to typical dorm gear. The pop-up store was designed as a short-term venue, and Project Green Dorm now exists as a checklist on the main Teens Turning Green website. There, users get tips on how to green their bedroom, bathroom, closet, gadgets, and more.

Reducing exposure to chemicals is so important, Shils says, because everything we do to our bodies carries on to our children. “We should do the things we can to ensure the health of generations to come,” she notes. “We’re messing with our chemistry — that’s the bottom line.” …

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Nominate an “Ocean Hero” for Oceana Contest

March 24, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Activists, Blog, Contest, Front Page, Ocean, Slideshow, Youth

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There are people around the world who are doing their utmost to stop the destruction of our oceans. People who are putting themselves at risk to make the world’s seas a more habitable place for fish and marine animals. People, including youth, who are making a difference by raising funds to support the work of others. People who not only care about the oceans, but also take action. Each one is a hero, though their efforts may be untrumpeted and little known.

But people who are selflessly working to make the oceans a healthier ecosystem deserve recognition for their efforts.

Do you know anyone who is making a difference to the world’s oceans? If you do, here’s an opportunity to nominate him or her for recognition as an “Ocean Hero,” through a competition sponsored by the conservation group Oceana. Nominations will be accepted at the official contest website, Oceana.org/heroes, until April 18, 2010.

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Sustainable Futures Repurposes Glass Bottles – and Human Lives

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“I was like one of those used wine bottles. I was used and discarded. I laid on the ground, my label faded and my contents dried. I forgot the good that was once inside, the joy and happiness I once knew. I hated what I was and what I had become. Life was dark, bad and not worth living. The prison took what little hope I had reinforcing what people and drugs had told me about myself my whole life. I came to the work center looking for work. I was told I had to have a job or I’d be sent back to the prison and someone else who was employable would take my place. Once again I was not worth keeping, I found a job here at Sustainable Futures and I was recycled. I was picked up, washed off a little and was cut off at the top, sanded down and polished. I’ve been given hope, worthiness and self love. Now I shine, not just on the outside but on the inside. I’m like the glasses we make. I have a new use.” — Lisa Childers, IDOC inmate

Sustainable Futures is a brand-new nonprofit that repurposes glass bottles — and gives new purpose to human lives. It’s a simple idea: Businesses donate used glass bottles to their Boise, Idaho-based center, and hard-to-place workers process the glass to produce new and improved glassware. The company then sells the repurposed glassware back to the businesses. “It’s a great product, and it’s the right thing to do,” says Carlyn Blake, executive director of Sustainable Futures….

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Brooklyn Free School Plans Service Learning Project in Tanzania

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Imagine you’re attending a public school where you can determine what you will study based on your interests. Imagine planning a trip that you will take with your classmates, teachers, and parent volunteers half a world away. Now imagine that you are only six years old.

Students at the Brooklyn Free School in Clinton Hill (Brooklyn), New York, are experiencing a very different kind of education — one that teaches independence and responsibility, as well as academics, art, and all other subjects. In a few weeks, 11 students, ages 6 to 17, and 13 adults will be traveling to Tanzania on a remarkable service learning field trip — one that the students helped to plan and fund….

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Child’s Play – Curing Hospital Boredom with Video Games

November 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Charity, Children, Donations, Front Page, Slideshow, Youth

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After posting An Open Letter to My Family – I’m Giving Up My Birthday, my loved ones responded by donating to charities instead of giving me gifts. I was gratified and delighted. Lovely as they are, I don’t need flowers or other presents to know how they feel about me. But now, my son, Jake, who had laughingly told me he wasn’t “that unselfish” to give up his own birthday, has taken the next step.

“So, you’ve inspired me,” he wrote last week, under the heading, “What I want for Christmas.” …

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Hugging Trees Fast Becoming New Mantra for College Students

October 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Education, Front Page, Sustainability, U.S., Youth

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Institutions of higher learning have always been a hotbed of cutting edge technology, social progression, and political involvement. Students are classic early adopters, and constantly challenge traditional thinking and processes. In response to the encouragement of campus environmental organizations, more and more universities are starting to see the world through green-colored glasses and finding more ways to conserve resources.

In fact, 4,100 institutions of higher learning have LEED-certified buildings, to total a whopping 240,000 buildings nationwide, according to the United States Green Building Council. Countless other schools are feverishly adopting wind towers, sustainability goals, and recycling programs. And the latest group jumping on the green bandwagon? Admissions departments. …

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IC Ecocabs — These Ecopreneurs Are on a Roll

October 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Bicycle, Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa, Slideshow, Youth

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Imagine that you’re a student at the University of Iowa, living not too far from campus. Running late, you find yourself in need of getting to downtown Iowa City in a hurry. Maybe you have a date, and it’s the first date. Or maybe it’s that last class of the day — the only class of the entire week that takes place at night. Regardless, you need to get moving. What are your options?

Driving? That takes too much effort. Walking? You surely won’t get there soon enough. Calling a taxi? After the wait and the expense, that’s completely out of the question. So what are you to do?

Call my friends, Vik and Veena Patel, who operate a pedi-cab service. They’ll pick you up and quickly get you where you need to go — all at no cost to the environment. …

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Shelter from the Storm – A Day of Service Honoring Dr. King

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Sewing machines whir all around me, and a blur of activity fills the room. Quilts in various states of progress are everywhere: on the floor, on tables, held in the air for viewing, packed into sacks to give away. This is no ordinary quilt group — most of the participants have never quilted, yet they throw themselves into the activity with joy and enthusiasm. The camaraderie that binds us together is real. We are here to do a service to our homeless neighbors, temporary residents of Shelter House just down the street.

On this day of service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., more than 100 people have volunteered their time at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City, IA. It’s a diverse group of many ethnicities and ages, and an equal mix of males and females. For most participants, the common denominator is a connection to education. Local schools and the university are closed in honor of Dr. King, and the participants today are mostly students, teachers, professors, and retirees. Yet, we have among us a doctor, a journalist, a freelance writer, an attorney, and others I have yet to meet….

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Submission Form: Picturing a Better World

November 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Children, Education, Family, Kids, Student Art Gallery, Youth

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Students: Send in your best drawing of a topic that is connected to the environment for posting on Blue Planet Green Living. Be sure to attach a completed and signed submission form. Deadline: March 1, 2009

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