Monday, January 21, 2013

Building a Dream with Dirt


“A miracle is something impossible with an old story but possible with a new one” Charles Einenstein



On Monday night, I went to a talk given by Charles Einenstein, writer, philosopher and change agent. The over riding challenge that I hear from Einenstein, writer of Living in the New Economy, is to begin living your world simply.  A good life is possible but we have to think about "good" differently.

During a recent power outage, with a freezer full of carefully prepared meals, culled vegetables and made with love items, I suddenly begin to worry about losing my precious items.  It gets me thinking, how do I protect my frozen assets?

My first fall/winter in Coquitlam with the constant steady deluge of rain, I think, with all the global water shortages and drought, there must be a better way inside our infratstructure to capture this liquid gold. Why can’t our homes and communities be better organized to use what we get for free?

I am at a conference and during the dinner break, I walk over to grab some sushi and start reading the Globe and Mail.  I read an article about a zero carbon concept home  and this became the beginning of my new adventure.

The idea of making homes with recycled materials, and using natural resources – solar, wind and as a back up, natural gas, feels doable.   The architectural brainchild of  Michael Reynolds these homes are designed to capture water and use it four times.  The design utilizes solar and wind power as well as the structure of the home itself, to heat, cool and manage resource needs. Waste and sewage are managed within the system and the home is partially built with recycled resources such as cans and tires. The design also creates space to grow food both indoors and outdoors.

Carbon free, self sufficient homes, and by extension, carbon free self sufficient communities are doable.

What do we need to make this happen?  

My big dream - and I know I have many - is to help answer that question and because I work in public schools that is where I am want to start.

I have a few pieces of the puzzle and I am going to start documenting this journey.  Are you interested?  Does this adventure somehow feel appealing to you?

This is my starting point.  “A miracle is something impossible with an old story but possible with a new one,”  says Charles Einenstein and starting new stories might begin with stuffing dirt inside old tires. 

I am terribly excited to find out what happens next.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Middle Aged Brain on Twitter



Foreigner in a Strange Land - Middle Aged Brain on Twitter


In an ever-growing attempt to acquaint myself in the digital land, I have decided to use part of my winter break navigating twitter.  Still flush with my one on one tutorial with a fellow colleague, Wendy Beamish, I felt I could tackle what felt like a massive stream of information, words, provocative phrases, rabbit holes, insights, white noise and meaningful connections.

My previous principal, uber blogger and twitter aficionado, Gino Bondi, had repeatedly invited me into the social media foray but it had all felt like too much work and information and just one more thing piled on to the vice principal plate.  It wasn’t until the pile of student discipline utilizing social media hit a certain tipping point – another blog entry conversation – that I finally decided to ask Wendy for my “Twitter for Dummies” tutorial.

So, having borrowed from Wendy and Gino’s list of followees, I began my mornings taking a look at the steady streams of conversations and points of interest.  I click onto a stream that leads me to 10 apps every teacher should have in the classroom and hmmm, I bet you my sister would like this one so I forward her the link on the ancient convention of email as she has not decided yet to enter the foreign land of twitter. I go back and click on to15 apps every teacher should have in the classroom, top 10 blogs of the year and oh there is something about Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber smooching at an airport, I have to check that out.

I go back and check another reference to an article on sustainable homes and notice  a great article on solar panels.  I make a mental note to pass the article on to others I think would enjoy it but have already been diverted to the traffic report that chronicles ice and big back ups on the Port Mann.  I move on to get a closer look at George Couros profile and blog – my fast approaching favorite twitterer.  I have now lost the reference for the article on solar panels and forget to send it out.

Oh! Kim Kardashian is pregnant! Ew!  I have to check out the dress, and hmm, there is another link to check out other outfits. Awesome!

Yada, yada, yada, two hours later I am rushing off to my yoga class where I try to undo some of the frenetic zapping and fatigue that has my poor middle aged brain on overload.

It is, as my current principal Tim McGeer phrased it, like being in an arcade, feeling the adrenaline rush of the ping ping ping, having some kind of experience, but not terribly clear if I have learned something.
It is an act of discipline to go beyond the quick phrases and dig deeper, reading all the way to the end of the article and complete the mental through line.  And I am finding that culture of distraction, which is part of the landscape in the digital land that I slowly enter, tiring.

When I went to Mexico City and studied a Masters level course in Spanish, I remember my head hurting from the overwhelm of trying to learn well outside my comfort zone.  I remember feeling exhausted but at some point my brain switched over and I was able to understand and speak with a greater fluency. I no longer left the class exhausted, with an aching head.

I am not sure if my brain will ever switch over.  For now, I am working at learning to immerse myself in this digital cosmos and see if I can better understand my students and maybe contribute and improve my teaching and administrative practice.