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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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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Superman Versus Supermemes

October 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Children, Education, Front Page, Slideshow, U.S.

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In the new film Waiting for Superman — which chronicles the collapse of the American educational system — a forlorn mother waits in a gymnasium with thousands of other parents for her lottery number to be called. The drawing will determine which students will attend a good school, and which will be relegated to a failing institution. The mother explains the gravity of the situation: “It’s the difference between whether my son goes to college, or goes to prison. . .”

How did we allow our educational systems to fall so far, so fast? When did the welfare of our children go the same way as healthcare, the safety of our food and the callous obliteration of our environment? How did we allow ourselves to become obese, dependent on antidepressants, and willing to wage inhumane wars over oil, land and beliefs?

Something is happening. Everyone knows we are leaving a worse world behind for our children….

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Avatar EPC Course – Finding Fulfillment, Dis-Creating Unhealthy Beliefs

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There are many ways to look at the concept of “green living,” which is part of our mission here at Blue Planet Green Living. For us, it’s not strictly about being environmentalists. It has to do with having a balanced life that respects the environment, each other, and ourselves.

If you are a seeker, someone who is dedicated to making the most of your time on this planet, then you will likely be interested to learn about Avatar, a program designed for that purpose. Today’s interview is with Mark Dobkin, artist, entrepreneur, and Avatar instructor. Dobkin explains a bit about how Avatar has impacted his own life and what it might be able to do for yours…

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The Creative Circus Students Say, “Nice Backside” to Used Paper

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As you might guess from its name, students at The Creative Circus, an advertising portfolio school in Atlanta, are among the most talented and creative minds in the nation. Constantly immersed in the creative process, they learn what it takes to excel in the advertising, interactive, design and photography industries. And they learn that “what it takes” is often a lot of paper.

A small group of students realized that students were discarding more than 5000 sheets of paper per week on campus. More shocking: Most of this paper was being recycled after it had only been used on one side. At a school where creativity reigns king, they knew something unprecedented had to be done to change the way paper is used.

On Monday, July 19th, students, faculty and administration were stunned when they arrived to a campus adorned in advertisements and free notebooks made using students’ previously discarded paper. The message? Flip the page over and use the backside. Fresh ideas don’t need fresh sheets of paper….

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Energy Healing, A Form of Holistic Medicine

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Natural healing modalities allow us to tread lightly on the earth while improving health. They don’t require synthetic chemicals or an investment in expensive technology. And, they have been used in various traditions since homo sapiens first trod the earth.

Today, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviews Maureen Longworth, M.D., who is board certified in both Holistic Medicine and Family Medicine, and is an internationally respected Energy Healer. Dr. Longworth practices medicine in Juneau, Alaska, and is visiting Iowa City through July 17. She will be teaching a Root of Healing Mini Workshop in Iowa City this Sunday and is available for private healing sessions throughout the coming week. More information is provided below. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

BPGL: What is Energy Healing?

LONGWORTH: Energy healing is a global term to describe healing that occurs by creating a shift in the energy field. In a way, even prescription drugs or surgery are an Energy Healing because a shift occurs, but when we speak of Energy Healing in holistic medicine, we mean the natural shift that can occur without drugs, herbs, or surgical intervention.

You might begin by comparing it to any energy modality you know, like chiropractic, massage, Reiki, acupuncture or acupressure, etc. All of these are energy-healing modalities. Even prior to my certification in Holistic Medicine I studied many of these modalities. This tradition I have settled with is the most effective for my patients — and for me personally — for ongoing health and well-being….

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Full-Circle Learning – Global Partnerships Unlock Potential

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After the 1992 civil unrest in South Central Los Angeles, a small grassroots group began an after-school program to show the children living in the area that diverse members of their community cared about them. Teresa Henkle Langness, who later founded Full-Circle Learning, was among them.

“Over time,” Langness says, “we began to see that what these children needed was to be a part of a community, to be a part of the solution, instead of feeling like victims of society’s ills.”

Langness adds, “When we began to incorporate character themes linked to local and global service within each lesson plan, the students’ scores suddenly began to leap. They became much better students, much better people. They began to teach their parents conflict resolution. Outside organizations in the community began to benefit from their work. Families wanted to replicate the model and began asking us for help in doing so.”

Today, Full-Circle Learning provides a full preschool-through-high school curriculum in 13 nations. Langness told Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), “The mission of Full-Circle Learning is to help young people embrace their role as humanitarians and change agents. We do this through educational programs that integrate and expand students’ character strength, academic excellence, creative capacities, and conflict resolution skills.” …

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Iowa State University Holds 2nd Annual Sustainability Symposium

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Iowa State University’s 2010 Symposium on Enhancing Sustainability will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 23 and 24, in the Memorial Union on the ISU campus in Ames, Iowa. The event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday with an opening poster session and speaker, followed by a day of panel discussions and presentations….

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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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Reynolds Scion Tells Kids the Truth about Tobacco

December 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Education, Front Page, Health, Smoking, Youth Programs

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The junior high auditorium is filled to capacity, yet the crowd is hushed. Students sit at rapt attention, uncharacteristically still. Tears glisten on their youthful cheeks, and even the tough guys listen quietly. On the stage, a few minutes earlier, Patrick Reynolds opened his talk with a promise, “Today, we’re going to get in touch with our feelings.”

Ordinarily, a tough junior high kid might rebel at such a statement. But not today — and not when Reynolds speaks it.

“I open all my talks — both to youth and adults,” he says, “with memories of my father dying from smoking, watching my dad gasp for breath.” Reynolds’ father was the son of tobacco tycoon, R. J. Reynolds, for whom the company was named…

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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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Middle School Students to Design Affordable Housing in Future City Competition

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WASHINGTON DC, June 2009 – Designing affordable housing for those most in need is enormously complicated. But how to do it while adhering to LEED recognized green building standards, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint?

That’s the challenge for Chicagoland middle schoolers [and students around the nation] as they prepare for National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2009-10 Future City® Competition…

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A Message to Graduates – Everything Is Connected

July 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Education, Events, Front Page

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Dear Graduates,

When thinking about this event, I considered what it is that I believe most strongly that might be useful to you. In my 66 years of life’s lessons with all the challenges, hardships, successes, adventures, work, play, educational endeavors, relationships, and spiritual seeking, the most salient thing I can share with you is something you already know. It is actually very simple and nothing new:

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED…

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TED Challenges Old Thinking with Inspired Ideas

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When I first heard of TED, I thought (admit it, some of you did, too) that TED was a person. I soon learned that the word is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. If you’re not yet familiar with TED, you’re missing out on a phenomenal resource for ideas worth hearing. The site hosts lectures, called TED Talks, by some of “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” While I’ve viewed only a fraction of the 400+ TED Talks posted on the website, I’ve never been disappointed by the quality of the speaker or the importance of the information shared.

But, in my estimation, as brilliant as any speaker is the idea of TED itself…

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Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Takes on the “Hard Work on the Ground”

April 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Education, Front Page, Iowa, PIRG, Volunteers

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To some students, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference: Getting a student’s promise to be responsible with their computer’s energy. Letting the local Congressmen know of their gratitude. Informing a passer-by of innovative ways to recycle.

They’re all important to the Iowa Student Public Interest Research Group, or Iowa PIRG, a small, student activist group working to solve a large array of society’s most pressing problems.

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My 5: Green Summit, University of Iowa, Iowa City

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On Sunday, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) joined local environmental organizations to participate in a Green Summit on the University of Iowa campus. The event was part of a campus kickoff for Earth Week, featuring speakers and activities for students and the Iowa City community.
Sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability, the Green Summit was intended as “an academic conference created to empower student environmental leaders and equip them with practical social, scientific, political and business skills to put their passion into practice.”…

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Fairchild Challenge Prepares Youth to Protect the Planet

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Today’s adults will not solve every environmental challenge we face in the world. We will make progress, certainly, but the solutions to most of the major problems that plague us will not come in our lifetimes. The future of our species — and with it, the future of all life on Earth — hinges on the actions of our children and their children.

We cannot sit back idly and expect generations yet to come to take up the banner of environmentalism and sustainability. We must begin by educating — and inspiring — our youth to enlightenment and action. One program that has been successfully motivating youth to learn about the environment is the Fairchild Challenge.

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ANSWER – Ending Caste in Nepal with Education and Jobs

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Conscientious donors around the world give money to NGOs with the full expectation that their contributions will work toward the benefit of the intended recipients. But, as Earle Canfield, explains in today’s post, the reality is often quite different, with too many NGOs working ultimately for their own sustainability and not delivering “real help.”

Canfield’s NGO, American-Nepali Student & Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER), is different. “Instead of fostering dependency,” Canfield says, “we empower students.” ANSWER gives “just enough help” to impoverished low-caste families by paying for one child’s private school education. The families, in turn, pay for a small part of their children’s school needs. By requiring a personal investment, ANSWER motivates families to continue the child’s participation through college, whereupon the graduate secures a good-paying job. Education not only breaks the cycle of poverty for the families, it also empowers low-caste students to become part of the new middle class that will overturn the caste system in their lifetime.

This is Part 2 of a two-part interview with ANSWER’s founder, Earle Canfield.

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ANSWER — A Sustainable Future for Low-Caste Children

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“We could see the end of the caste system in Nepal in our lifetime,” said Earle Canfield, addressing an attentive audience in Iowa City this past Sunday. Canfield had come to talk about an NGO he started in Nepal eight years before. American-Nepali Student & Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER) “places low-caste Nepalese children whose families cannot afford to pay for an education in private, high-caste schools,” according to Canfield.

Several members of the audience are ANSWER sponsors, committing to pay $5 a week to support a child’s education. Unlike many nonprofits that provide assistance to children in developing countries, ANSWER puts every single penny of a sponsor’s donation to work directly helping that person’s sponsored child. Joe and I were moved to hear Canfield speak about the work ANSWER is doing to help Nepal’s forgotten children, the impoverished, low-caste untouchables, earn their high school and college diplomas, then go on to jobs that will help them become productive members of Nepal’s emerging middle class.

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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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