Experiencing Enough-ness

This post is by contributing blogger, Kerri Twigg. Kerri is an IHE M.Ed. student, parent, humane educator, drama teacher, and blogger, Kerri is the instructor for our online course about humane parenting, Raising a Humane Child (next session runs Sept. 12-Oct. 21).


Last week I had a string of bad luck: I got a nasty letter from my employer, our indoor cat escaped, the stove broke, and the brakes on my grandpa's old car failed on me at a busy intersection. I wanted a reason for why all this bad luck had come to me. I got so desperate to stop any more bad stuff from happening that I made my husband throw away a broken mirror in our basement.

Even though I didn't want to invite any more "bad stuff" to happen, I remained an optimist. The letter from my employer presented an opportunity to make clear my passion and successes about work. While I missed my cat I assumed someone had found her and fallen for her as I had -- plus we didn't see any cats on the street who had been hit. The stove broke before groceries had been bought, so I bought food I could make in the slow cooker or grill. Nobody got hurt when the brakes failed, and it was the perfect time to put air in my bike tires. Over the next few days everything worked itself out. My family got the car towed and fixed for me, the broken stove was really a tripped wire, our cat had been living under our neighbor's porch, and my employers understood why I work the way I do.

It has got me thinking about how important it is to teach people who have enough that they have enough. I don't think depriving people is the way to go, or even encouraging change before they understand why they would want to. I believe the answer is in authentic humane education experiences. If people experience "enough-ness" just by participating in real situations in their own authentic way, they won't need stuff to make them feel good. They won't be put off if their mode of transportation fails; they will adapt and choose a different one. They can cook food different ways and know both the power of being self-reliant and of being part of a community. Friends said to me, "I couldn't survive without my stove!" or "You're really going to bike that far?" and I responded with a smile, "We'll make do, we always do."

The world is changing every single day. Education, teachers and students need to change with it, so that when the unexpected happens, it can be handled positively and with people being comfortable with their own power.

I have less that I did a week ago, but I feel extra rich.


Image courtesy of enough_42 via Creative Commons.

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A Model of Courageous Parenting: Ducks, Dogs, and a Walk on the Beach at Sunset

The night before solstice, I walked my dogs, Ruby and Elsie, down to the shore just before sunset. A seal was basking in the last rays of the day on a rock about 100 feet off the shore. A loon cried. Sea gulls soared above us, calling. The dogs and I walked along the shore past the few houses to the long stretch of undeveloped coast, when suddenly a Mallard sprung out in front of us, walk-limping, flapping what appeared to be useless wings, apparently struggling and in great distress. I quickly got Ruby and Elsie on lead so that they couldn’t harm her, as I pondered what to do. My husband is a veterinarian, so I knew I could get the duck medical care quickly if I could catch her. But within moments, I realized what was really going on. From where the duck had first emerged, I heard little chirps.

I’ve heard of mother birds pretending to be injured and flapping around on the ground to draw predators away from their young, but I don’t recall ever seeing this before. And with such drama and commitment, too. This Mallard flapped and limped and struggled for a nearly a quarter of a mile, staying just ahead of us as we dutifully followed (well, that’s the direction we were headed anyway). When finally she felt we were far enough away, she flew to the ocean, keeping an eye on us on the whole time.

What a clever, brave, and good mom she was. She fooled the dogs, who never thought to investigate those duckling chirps. Why do so many of us humans doubt that other species can love their young as we do; can use intrigue and manipulation like the best of us; can feel and love and suffer?

For a humane world for all beings,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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Food for Thought: Infographic on Number of Animals Killed for Food Worldwide

Thinking about the number of animals we kill for food each year can be staggering. Nearly 10 billion land animals in the U.S. alone. There is no way to calculate exact figures, so we must do with estimates. Recently National Geographic posted an infographic highlighting some of the species who were killed in the largest numbers in 2009, from around 52 billion chickens, to more than a billion pigs and rabbits each, to nearly two million camels.

And this chart by no means covers all species eaten in larger numbers. People in different parts of the world regularly dine on dogs, cats, horses, insects, and whales, for example. And what about sea creatures? One organization has tried to create an accurate calculation for fish, and has estimated that about 1 trillion fish are caught each year (not just for human consumption; some become food for fish that people then eat, or are used for other products).

Infographics like this one can spark great discussion about topics like our food choices, food systems, speciesism, cognitive dissonance and carnism, empathy and compassion, rights and responsibilities, food security, and more.

~ Marsha

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Humane Icebreaker: Welcoming Circles

Yesterday 20 new participants in our Educating for a Better World Summer Institute came together for the first time (from places as close as Surry and as far away as Vanuatu) with hopes, excitement, and a little trepidation about the week to come. Mary Pat Champeau, Director of Education, led everyone in a great little icebreaker -- a welcoming circle -- to help establish a sense of connection, ease, and familiarity.

A Welcoming Circle asks everyone to gather together in a circle. The leader makes a statement, ("If you....") and those for whom the statement is true step forward into the circle, and the others say "Welcome!"

Some examples:
  • If you arrived here from New England (step into the circle)... Welcome!
  • If you arrived here from outside the United States (step into the circle)...Welcome!
  • If you have left children or animals at home...
  • If you have experienced something shocking....
  • If you have experience discrimination in your life....
The welcoming circle activity is a great tool for nurturing familiarity and connection in groups of people who are strangers to each other, as well as for diving deeper into important issues, sparking deeper thinking about judgments and assumptions, and promoting empathy.

~ Marsha

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My Amazing Weekend at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary

My traveling schedule can sometimes get a little overwhelming. For example, in the past two months I’ve been to San Francisco, Florida, the Bahamas, Seattle, Massachusetts (twice), and New York. Periodically, even seemingly awesome invitations – like speaking at the Sivananda Ashram’s Peace Symposium in the Bahamas – can feel like one more thing on the never-ending to do list. And my most recent invitation, to be the keynote speaker at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s (CAS) annual Shindig, was one of those where in the days leading up to the 16-hour round trip drive I wondered if it was all worth the effort, especially with our upcoming Summer Institute (July 27-July 1), first ever alumni reunion, and our 15th Anniversary “Crystal Ball” on July 2.

On the drive home from CAS that night, I called our executive director for the second time in a month to say, “Please remind me when I start complaining about my travel schedule to shut up.” I said this because what I thought was going to be a tiring effort on my part turned out to be (like the visit to the ashram in the Bahamas), so profoundly transformative and such a tremendous gift to me personally.

Let me tell you about the Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

Run by the irrepressible, giant-hearted, super smart, hilariously funny, deeply generous Kathy Stevens, who has all the best qualities of the people I most admire all rolled up in one person, this sanctuary oozes joy and love. The people exude it, and the animals bask in it and give it right back. It’s a place where people’s hearts and minds are opened wide. I met Rambo, a very, very special sheep whom I can’t seem to get out of my mind. You can read about his amazing transformation from killer sheep to fierce protector of his fellow rescuees – from turkey to chicken to pig – in Kathy’s wonderful books. Visit this sanctuary if you can.

The take home message I’m leaving with? Keep saying yes. Despite the busy schedule, which often feels like just too much, when I say yes, great things happen. I’m so glad I said yes to the invitation to speak at the Shindig. I left soaring, full of love, with new friends, and much hope and inspiration.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

Images courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

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Declaring Our Independence From Oppression & Exploitation and Embracing the Freedom of Independent Thought & Humane Action

This post is by contributing blogger Lynne Westmoreland, long-time music instructor and a humane educator. Lynne is a graduate of our M.Ed. program, and is the instructor for our online course, A Better World, A Meaningful Life, which is designed for people who want to put their vision for a better world & a more joyful, examined life into practice.


We are approaching the day that we, as American citizens, celebrate our independence from British rule. The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most revered document in our nation’s history. Americans take great pride in their independence, autonomy, free will, and governance by democracy. Most Americans pride themselves on their ability to freely choose their life’s path and are vehement regarding the idea that we have always been a free and socially diverse population. We want freedom for ourselves, and we also engage in wars waged to win democracy, accountability, and freedom for all others the world over.

Yet our history shows a continuum of hypocrisy, blind spots, and exclusion of many from the full realization and practice of self-determination. It took another century after the signing of the Declaration to include African Americans in our dream; and we still have much work to do for true equality in education, opportunity, pay, respect, and inclusion. It was almost 150 years after the signing that women were finally regarded as full citizens who were allowed to vote. Almost 250 years later we are still grappling with whether gay, lesbian, and transgender people can be “allowed” to marry, a decision based on the dominant heterosexual culture’s will and whim. We require gay people to observe all of the tax and civic responsibilities of our culture, but still deny one of the most basic rights and privileges of our society: the right to marry the person whom you love and to commit fully to that person with the support and witness of that commitment by the larger community.

While we pride ourselves on being independent thinkers, our reality is often something much different than critical and creative thought and decision making. We often give over our opinions and desires to fit into the mainstream culture and value systems. Many of us spend every day meeting the requirements of job, family, status, and social networks that are not what we truly want to be doing with our lives. We are caught in between what we most deeply value and what is expected of us to “fit in.” We fall prey to the ubiquitous messaging that tells us how we should look, what we should wear, the kinds of jobs we should aspire to, the school that we should mold ourselves into the likeness of, what food is healthy and appealing, and so forth. We have often ceased being citizens that shape our world and have instead been fashioned into consumers that shape and grow the bottom line of corporations. All too often our lives look pretty much like everyone else’s, and we have forgotten what truly matters to us.

Independence Day represents freedom from oppression and exploitation, and this is something most of us believe in, at least theoretically. But when we don’t think about the conditions of the work places that our clothes come from, or what happens to other people unfortunate enough to be out of work or without health insurance, or the migrant workers poisoned by the chemicals and fertilizers used to produce our food, or what the real, live animals endured to become the hamburger on our grill or the eggs making up our breakfast, we are supporting oppression and suffering without meaning to.

This Independence Day can be a new beginning, though. We can declare our individual independence from advertising, cultural “norms,” and unhealthy and inhumane actions. We can choose instead to be independent thinkers and visionary pioneers, and to practice collaboration, community, and true freedom for all to be happy, healthy, and respected. Now that would be an Independence Day truly to celebrate.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Earwicker via Creative Commons.

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Including Everyone in Our Circle of Compassion

For my blog post today, I'm sharing a recent post I wrote for One Green Planet, a blog dedicated to ethical choices. Here's an excerpt from "Including Everyone in Our Circle of Compassion":

"... And yet, despite the fact that social justice, environmental preservation, and animal protection are all part and parcel of a just, healthy, and humane world, I am periodically surprised by activists whose compassion is so exclusive as to actively reject embracing ideas and choices that are humane and peaceful toward all. While I don’t find such people enrolling in our programs, I do find them at activist conferences, rallies, and in the blogosphere, and it’s dismaying.

For many years, I found the most glaring example of the neglect of one suffering group by those active to end the suffering or exploitation of another in the catering at environmental and human rights events. Whether it was meat (and factory-farmed meat to boot) served at environmental events (despite the environmental toll of animal agriculture), or disposable plates and plastic utensils used at human rights events, it always seemed ironic to me that one or more exploited groups were so unnecessarily rejected as deserving of consideration.

As someone who cared passionately about animal exploitation and abuse and sought to eradicate it, and who also cared passionately about human suffering and exploitation and sought to eradicate it too, and who wanted desperately to protect our environment, I found the inconsistency of attention to compassion, care, and respect for all frustrating and upsetting. Why didn’t others feel, as I did, that everyone and everything should be treated with compassion and care?"

Read the complete post.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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Humane Education in Action: Discovering Life Lessons From Refugees

From our friends at Learning Matters TV we learned about the work of high school language arts teacher Lauren Fardig, who has started teaching a 5-week course in which her students learn important life lessons by studying the lives and challenges of refugees (especially those from the Iraqi War). Students explore questions like "What is a refugee?" and "How many refugees are in the world?"; they investigate the lives of actual refugees; they engage in activities such as a role-play to decide what things in their lives are really wants, and which needs, and what is most important to them; they write poems about the refugees they've learned about; and, they connect these stories to their own lives. Watch this 8-minute report about them from PBS News Hour:




As teacher Lauren Fardig emphasizes, it can be challenging for young people to extend their empathy beyond their own immediate circle, so a curriculum like this gives students an opportunity to broaden their circle of concern and to nurture an awareness, compassion, and sense of justice and empowerment that overcomes geographic distances of any size.

~ Marsha

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Richard Louv: 7 Reasons for a New Nature Movement

Much as we sometimes try to deny it, we are part of the earth and the natural world. We've built up enough concrete and steel and torn down enough rock and plant matter to help us believe the illusion that it's otherwise, and that false belief has allowed us to continue to live in a way that does great harm to people, animals, and the earth.

Several years ago Richard Louv gained prominence with his book, Last Child in the Woods, and his coining of the phrase "nature-deficit disorder" as a way to frame our disconnection from the natural world that is a part of us. Recently I came across a lovely essay adapted from his new book, The Nature Principle, which offers 7 reasons for a new nature movement:
  1. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.
  2. As of 2008, more than half the world's population now lives in towns and cities.
  3. Adults have nature-deficit disorder, too.
  4. Environmentalism needs to hit reset.
  5. Sustainability alone is not sustainable.
  6. Conservation is not enough.
  7. We have a choice.
As Louv says,
"If we see only an apocalyptic future, that’s what we’ll get, or close to it. But imagine a society in which our lives become as immersed in nature as they are in technology, every day, where we live, work, learn and play. Imagine a future in which our intelligence and creativity, our ability to feel and be fully alive is enhanced by more frequent contact with the natural world.

"... precisely because of the environmental challenges we face, the future will belong to the nature-smart — those individuals, families, businesses and political and social leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world, and who balance the virtual with the real. That’s a picture worth painting, a future worth creating."
Read the complete essay.

We whole-heartedly agree with Richard Louv about the importance of reconnecting with nature, and tapping into our reverence and respect. We have several free downloadable activities that promote a sense of wonder for the natural world. You can find some of them here.

~ Marsha

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Reflections on this Summer Solstice

I grew up in New York City. During my childhood I did not know what the solstices were. I was vaguely aware that it was darker in the winter and lighter in the summer, but I never knew that there were two days in the year when the shift from light to darkness, or vice versa, occurred. I did not know there was a longest day or a shortest day, although I should have been smart enough to figure this out. But even if I had, I would not have felt that such a shift marked anything very important.

Had I grown up prior to the Industrial Revolution, the winter solstice would have been quite a time to mark. As the days in December were growing increasingly short and cold, I imagine I would have been happy to know that on December 21st, even as the first days of winter began, the light would be returning, and the days would grow increasingly longer. On the summer solstice, as the days were warming and the seeds were sprouting for a hoped-for big harvest, I would also have been aware that the next day would be shorter, portending winter’s return.

How could I have been so unaware of the solstices for two decades of my life? Easy. In our built world with electric light at our fingertips, drapes to block the rays of the morning sun, and so much to keep us indoors and in front of screens and books and on our phones (and now Skype and email and Facebook and Twitter), it’s not a surprise that I, like many children, barely noticed the change in light. We notice what we pay attention to, and it’s somewhat disturbing to think that growing up in Manhattan I paid such little attention to the natural world that a fundamental cycle of light was lost on me.

On this solstice, I’m asking myself this: To what do I want to attend? I’m resolving to spend 15 minutes each day this summer simply sitting and observing a small spot in the natural world. Whether it is at our pond, teeming, truly teeming, with life, or in our wildflower meadow watching the work of pollinators, or in the deep woods that border the meadow, I will be paying attention to this beautiful earth I inhabit. Whenever I take time to do this, I realize -- often quite suddenly and profoundly -- that while this land is legally “mine,” of its countless inhabitants I spend the least time actually in, on, and among it. I sleep in a comfortable bed inside, spend hours on my computer each day, live largely indoors. Meanwhile, just outside, life in all its mystery and abundance is happening. For a time each day between now and winter, I plan to notice.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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Humane Educator's Toolbox: Gasland

I grew up in southwest Kansas, were there were gas plants nearby, and plenty of natural gas pumps, those giant mechanical horse heads constantly nodding up and down, seeking the invisible riches below. I didn't think anything about it. Many people haven't thought much about natural gas (beyond their monthly bills) until recently, with concerns about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," blazing across the news headlines, and the release of Gasland in 2010, a documentary nominated for an Academy Award.

My husband and I watched Gasland a couple weeks ago with a few friends, and most of us had big rocks in the pits of our stomachs throughout. Gasland follows filmmaker Josh Fox, who decided to learn more about fracking when he was sent a letter by the gas company that wanted to lease his land for natural gas extraction. He wanted to know: was it safe? Would it harm him or the beautiful land he'd been raised on and loved with his whole heart?

Fox ended up traveling around the U.S., interviewing people who live on or near fracking sites, visiting production and storage facilities, and talking with people from all sides of the issue. When he talked to a growing list of people who had experienced illness and/or could set their water on fire, he became more concerned. The more he learned, the scarier the facts that were revealed.

I've watched countless depressing documentaries, so to me this felt like one more issue to add to my action list. But my husband, who usually isn't phased into action by powerful experiences like this, was so disheartened and alarmed by what he learned from the film, that he approached me about buying an electric water heater and shutting off our gas.

Though we didn't care for the jumpy, blurry style of filmmaking, the content was indeed powerful and compelling. It was compelling because it started with one individual investigating something that might affect him (and his land) personally; because it's such a widespread, relatively unregulated practice; because it affects people, animals and the planet equally; because it's something we can all do something about.

As you might expect, the energy companies haven't been happy with the film. A gas industry front group published a "debunking" of the film, and the Gasland filmmakers responded with a "de-debunking" of group's claims. This document, which includes the original allegations and the responses to those allegations could serve as a great tool for older students to use their best critical thinking and accurate information-seeking skills.

With the recent brouhaha over the coal industry's propaganda partnership with Scholastic, growing concern over global warming, and no energy source that's (at least yet) completely clean, Gasland is just one useful resource for exploring important issues about our future.

~ Marsha

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Humane Issues in the News...

Each week we post links to news about humane education & humane living, and items connected to humane issues, from human rights to environmental preservation, to animal protection, to media, consumerism and culture.

Survey says majority of Americans now believe addressing global warming is important (via Treehugger) (6/20/11)

"Supreme Court throws out back-door bid to curb global warming" (via Christian Science Monitor) (6/20/11)

Economic troubles, rising food prices spark increase in gardening (via Washington Post) (6/20/11)

Supreme Court blocks gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-mart (via Washington Post) (6/20/11)

"10-year-old girl fights to save a mountain" (via Treehugger) (6/19/11)

Oregon legislature wants schools to test no more than needed (via The Oregonian) (6/17/11)

"Planting seeds of hope: how sustainable activism transformed Detroit" (via YES!) (6/16/11)

Is hyper-sexualized society setting kids up for failure? (via Vancouver Sun) (6/16/11)

"North Carolina confronts the ugly past of its eugenics law" (via Colorlines) (6/15/11)

"This is your brain on ads" (via NPR) (6/14/11)

"Nepal clears last landmine" (via The Guardian) (6/14/11)

More evidence shows some animals mourn (via MNN.com) (6/14/11)

EPA releases names of 150 chemicals whose names were previously withheld as "confidential" (via NY Times) (6/13/11)

Australia bans live export of cattle to Indonesia for six months (via BBC) (6/8/11)

Keep up with more humane issues in the news via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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MOGO Mini-Tip: Refrain From Putting Plastic Produce Labels Down the Drain

Our friend, Beth Terry, at My Plastic-free Life, brings our attention to a tiny but mighty problem: those little plastic fruit & veggie labels stuck to our produce at the grocery store. According to a recent post, she discovered that her local utility district was alerting people to the pesky problem of stickers down the drain. As they say:
They can end up in a variety of places – stuck in your drain, or stuck on wastewater treatment plant pumps and hoses, or caught in screens and filters. Even worse, they can end up in San Francisco Bay. Some plastics neither float nor sink, making it difficult to remove them in any wastewater treatment process. Unfortunately, they can end up where no one wants them – in the bay and the ocean.
Of course, you may not live by the ocean, but the general principle holds true: they're little trouble-makers.

The top suggestion if you can't avoid them (Beth suggests CSAs, farmers' markets and growing your own) seems to be to throw them away (attempts to compost them have reportedly failed). But in a different post, Beth also notes that some people actually collect them and use them in art projects.

Read the full post.

Got a MOGO Mini-Tip (focused on doing the most good & least harm for people, animals & the planet) for us? Let us know.

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of groovehouse via Creative Commons.

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5 Reasons Educators Should Sign Up for Teaching for a Positive Future

We at IHE believe that at its core, education is about helping students become leaders and changemakers for a healthy, just, compassionate world. Teaching for a Positive Future, our six-week online course for educators, is designed to help educators do just that. Countless educators, from classroom teachers to community activists, have told us how valuable the course has been in helping them connect with their vision of education and their desire to nurture a generation of solutionaries. Here are 5 reasons we think educators should sign up for Teaching for a Positive Future:

  1. It's Flexible, Relevant & Online. Since the course is online, you can take it from wherever you live, and the flexible curriculum means you can customize it to best fit your situation and needs. And what could be more relevant than exploring the most pressing global issues of our time?

  2. You'll connect. Teaching for a Positive future gives you six weeks to nurture deep connections with other teachers who share your passion for creating a better world through education, and with whom you can share ideas, gain new insights, and learn new strategies during the course and beyond. Our Online Commons (the discussion forum) is one of the most valuable aspects of the course.

  3. You Get 2 for 1. Our bonus exercises and resources mean that you basically get two courses for the price of one. The bonus packet includes 20 additional exercises and several additional resources to help you extend your learning and continue to integrate humane education into your work and life. The bonus packet is only available to participants of Teaching for a Positive Future.

  4. The Course Instructor Has Education in Her Blood. Course instructor, Marsha Rakestraw, comes from a long line of teachers and has been an educator at the PreK-graduate levels, having taught a variety of subjects in a variety of settings. Some of her worst and best experiences have occurred while as a student and a teacher, and she passionately believes in the power of education to change the world.

  5. You Can Earn CEUs. Further your professional development credits by earning 4.5 Continuing Education Credits (CEUS) through the University of Maine (which are often applicable to other states).

Teaching for a Positive Future is also a great way to refresh and reinvigorate your teaching soul. We invite you to sign up now for our next session (July 11-August 19.)

Please help us spread the word about Teaching for a Positive Future. Share this post with friends, family, colleagues, and educators whom you think would benefit from our online course. Thank you!
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To Solve the Education Crisis We Must Refute Faulty Assumptions

For my blog post today, I’m sharing a recent post I wrote for Common Dreams, a progressive news site. Here’s an excerpt from "To Solve Education Crisis We Must Refute Faulty Assumptions":

Among the biggest challenges we face in “educational reform” are the many faulty assumptions that underlie our efforts to fix the problems we perceive in schools. Because we fail to deeply assess and evaluate these underlying assumptions, we continue to misunderstand the problems, propose answers to the wrong problems, or address only a portion of a much larger overall challenge.

What are some of the common educational assumptions to which I’m referring? Here are a few:

Assumption 1: The goal of schooling should be to graduate students who are verbally, mathematically and technologically literate and who are able to compete in the global economy.

Assumption 2: To best achieve the above goal, we must evaluate students using standardized, multiple choice tests.

Assumption 3: Schools are not the place to teach or discuss values.

There are many more such assumptions that need unpacking, but for the sake of this essay, I’ll simply address these three by attempting to reframe each with questions (and the beginnings of answers) that might lead us toward different approaches to solving educational challenges in the 21st century.


Read the complete post.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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Most Good Least Harm: Avoiding Pesticidey Produce

Each year the Environmental Working Group releases a free, downloadable Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which includes the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15″ produce items that use the most and fewest pesticides. Topping the "dirty dozen" list this year are apples (jumping up three spots), followed by celery, strawberries, peaches and spinach. Since it's summertime and people are crowding the farmers markets, lusting over the delicious produce the warmer weather brings, it's especially important to pay attention to which produce has the highest and lowest pesticide use and residues.

You can also find a list of 53 fruits and vegetables, with their pesticide rankings.

Part of living a life that strives to do the most good and least harm means choosing foods that reflect a plant-based, local, fresh, healthy, organic focus whenever possible. But, choosing organic produce 100% of the time isn’t always possible, whether it’s due to availability or budget. For those who want to support richer soil, cleaner air and water, healthier bodies, safer wildlife and other benefits, but can't go totally organic, this guide is a great tool.

~ Marsha

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You're Invited to IHE's Crystal Ball on July 2

On July 2, the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) will be hosting a celebratory Crystal Ball in honor of our 15th anniversary (you can purchase tickets here). Fifteen years ago, we had a vision of a school through which people could learn about and then teach about the most important issues of our time. We imagined a center in a beautiful setting where people could gather to become humane educators themselves and to experience humane education classes and workshops to more deeply align their life choices with their own values. We also knew that we wanted our reach to extend far beyond our rural neighborhood in coastal Maine, so we created online courses and programs, launching the first Humane Education Certificate Program and the first Master of Education program in humane education in the United States. We also brought our acclaimed workshops to communities across the U.S. and Canada.

Fifteen years later, we have launched a new affiliation with Valparaiso University and added four additional graduate degrees to our humane education training programs. We’ve developed new and exciting online courses that people can take no matter where they live. Our reach has expanded dramatically, and we have students from around the globe. And as we envision the next 15 years we can see humane education growing tremendously to reach people of all ages in all settings. And together all these students of humane education will have the tools and knowledge and motivation to solve the pressing challenges we face.

On July 2, we’ll be celebrating where we’ve been and envisioning the future we’re trying to create: a more humane, peaceful, just, and healthy future for all people, all species, and the environment. Toward that end, students in schools across the country have been creating their own “crystal balls,” decorating them with images and words that depict the future they hope for. Many of these artistic renderings of their greatest hopes will be on display on July 2, where we’ll gather from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at our beautiful facility in Surry, Maine, to enjoy the music of concert and ragtime pianist Masanobu Ikemiya, partake of yummy desserts, hear stories from IHE alumni and leaders in humane education, participate in a silent auction, experience a taste of humane education, celebrate, learn, and have a great time. We hope you can come, and if you are unable to attend, we hope you’ll support our work, because our celebration is also a fundraiser to advance humane education.

Please share this invitation widely (you can download a copy here to share). We hope to celebrate with many of you who are also working to create a humane and restorative world!

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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7 Resources for Finding Out About the Secret Lives of Your Stuff

From the time we arise in the morning until after we fall asleep, we participate in a continuous cycle of using stuff that affects ourselves, other people, animals and the planet. We do what we can to buy products and use stuff that do more good and less harm, but it can be a real challenge to find out the details of how these gadgets and goodies that we buy to meet our wants and needs are produced, transported, and disposed of and whether the secret lives of our stuff reflect our deepest values. Industry and government don't make it easy to find out. But more resources to help us are being created. Here are 7 resources for finding out more about the impact of your stuff on people, animals and the earth:
  1. How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee (2011)
    From sending a text message to buying shoes to having a child to going to war, Berners-Lee’s book calculates the carbon footprint of many of our most (and lesser) common activities and product purchases. The book isn’t meant to nit-pick our every choice, but to help us get a feel for how to decide which choices tend to do more good & less harm.
  2. Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy by Daniel Goleman (2010)
    The author not only offers a life-cycle analysis of a range of stuff, but he also offers strategies and ideas for increasing transparency and power in what we buy and who and what it affects.
  3. Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things by John C. Ryan and Alan Thein Durning (1997)
    An exploration of the impact on people and the planet of your everyday choices, from your shoes, your coffee and your computer, to your fast food burger and your car. A curriculum guide is available for educators who want to extend the learning into their classrooms.
  4. Good Guide
    While you shouldn’t rely on this site as your only source of information when considering what products to buy (or avoid), you can get a basic idea of how some products rate in relation to others.
  5. Green America’s Responsible Shopper
    Compare the corporate responsibility records of companies in relation to the environment, human rights, labor, ethics & governance, and health & safety.
  6. The Story of Stuff
    In addition to the general video about where our stuff comes from & what happens when it goes away, there are short videos about electronics, cosmetics, and bottled water.
  7. Worldwatch Life Cycle Assessments
    While the magazine is no longer being published, you can still find out more about what it takes to create and dispose of 15 different objects, from chopsticks to batteries to candy bars to lipstick and diapers.

Unfortunately, most of these resources don't include animals in their circle of concern, so you'll need to do some additional investigating. (And none of these resources is comprehensive, so deeper digging is recommended anyway.)

Finding out more about the secret lives of our stuff is one of the required assignments for our graduate students. As they've discovered, the key is to ask lots of questions and to be persistent.

~ Marsha

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Humane Educator's Toolbox: Frequently Asked Questions

I'm short on blogging time this week since my mom is visiting, so here's a post about a great resource, originally posted 6/8/10. Enjoy!

Several times a year I give an interactive presentation about factory farmed animals to adults. During the Q & A phase, here come those common questions that shadow humane educators everywhere, like a pesky little brother -- you love him, but you're tired of him being around all the time and wish he'd go play with someone else for awhile...or at least come up with more original questions. "What about plants? Plants have feelings too!" "Why should we care about animals when there are so many humans in need?" "But animals are here for us to use."

It’s essential for humane educators to be prepared to respond well to any number and type of questions and comments from students, parents, administrators, teachers and others regarding humane education issues. Fortunately (or not, depending on how you want to look at it), people ask many of the same questions about these issues, so it's easier to think about and practice compassionate, thoughtful responses (or questions you'd ask in return) -- ones that don't tell the person what to think or how to act, but which inspire critical thinking and encourage positive choices. Sometimes, the questions people ask -- or the comments they make -- can be really surprising and disconcerting; practicing active listening, addressing their core needs, remaining calm, and responding compassionately can really help you become more prepared, even for those tricky situations.

As part of his Master's degree requirements, one of our graduates has done a lot of work to help ease your way into responding to frequently asked questions and comments regarding humane education issues. IHE graduate Bob Schwalb, who is now a full-time humane educator for HEART in Chicago, developed an FAQs booklet, (PDF format) which offers possible responses to a variety of questions and comments in order to stimulate critical thinking and allow the questioner to make his/her own choices. Check it out, and add it to your humane toolbox.


~ Marsha

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The Hope That Lies at the Root of Humane Education

For my blog post today, I’m sharing a recent post I wrote for Care2.com, an online community for people passionate about creating a better world. Here’s an excerpt from The Hope That Lies at the Root of Humane Education:
As Joan Baez put it, "Action is the antidote to despair." So when I feel hopeless, I harness my fading will toward action once again. And when I do, when I teach and watch my students become energized, enlivened, engaged and enthusiastic, my hope returns. I feed the part of myself that is starving for renewed faith, and I feed those students eager (and sometimes even desperate) for meaning, purpose and relevancy in their education. And that is when I know that a humane, healthy and just world is possible: as long as we refuse to give in to despair, but instead work just as tenaciously when hopelessness takes root as we do when we are hopeful.

Read the complete post.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

Image courtesy of DieselDemon via Creative Commons.

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On Our Must Read List: The Failure of Environmental Education (and How We Can Fix It)

"...environmentalism is a responsibility of being alive, of our need to drink water and eat food. It’s an individual and collective responsibility, whether we acknowledge it or like it or not." ~ Charles Saylan

We haven't read it yet, so we can't recommend it, but The Failure of Environmental Education by Charles Saylan and Daniel T. Blumstein is definitely on our must-read list. Environmental education is a commonplace concept in many schools systems today, but how it is manifested and framed is highly variable and often politicized.

According to a recent interview with Charles Saylan on Yale Environment 360, "...at its core, the authors contend, environmental responsibility is a broadly held, nonpartisan value, much like respect for the law. As such, they believe, it deserves a central place in public education, with lessons on the environment permeating every student’s day. Environmentally active citizens, they say, should grasp everything from an understanding of tipping points to the 'capacity to see intangible value in things: forests simply for the sake of the forest; the expanse of wilderness simply because it is alive, primal, and fiercely beautiful.'”

You can read the complete interview with Saylan here, as well as an interview with both authors on Take Part here.

The authors' view of environmental education as core to students' learning and an important tool in educating and empowering them to become leaders in changing systems parallels our own views about the vitalness and power of humane education (which includes environmental preservation, as well as human rights and animal protection). They also emphasize that increasing awareness doesn't necessarily translate into positive action. Some other take aways from the book:
  • Environmental education (as with all learning) needs to be relevant to students' lives.
  • Engaging students' passion and sense of wonder is important.
  • Environmentalism is often seen as "simply an encroachment on the free market"
  • Framing is important: "responsible citizenship" vs. "environmentalism"
Let us know your thoughts about this book, if you've read it, and your own experiences with environmental (and humane) education.

~ Marsha

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Humane Issues in the News...

Each week we post links to news about humane education & humane living, and items connected to humane issues, from human rights to environmental preservation, to animal protection, to media, consumerism and culture.

Restaurant's "pay-what-you-want model" is a success (via GOOD) (6/14/11)

Interest in animal protection grows in China (via Zoe) (6/14/11)

"When food kills" (commentary) (via NY Times) (6/11/11)

"Boys will be boys? Not in these families" (via NY Times) (6/10/11)

New Alabama anti-immigration law toughest in U.S. (via PBS Newshour) (6/10/11)

"E. Coli: Don't blame the sprouts!" (commentary) (via NY Times) (6/7/11)

"Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong?" (commentary) (via Washington Post) (5/31/11)

Japanese elders volunteer to risk their lives for nuclear crisis (via BBC) (5/31/11)


Keep up with more humane issues in the news via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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Helping Youth Unplug From the Media Hive Mind

If you want to see today's youth squirm, then ask them to go media-free for 24 hours. The World Unplugged, a new global study of media and university students, by the International Center for Media & the Public Affairs, in partnership with the Salzberg Academy on Media & Global Change, confirmed that college students are "addicted" to their mp3 players, cell phones, social media, and other forms of digital technology.

The study asked 1,000 college students from around the world (10 countries, 5 continents) to "abstain from using all media for a full day." After the 24 hours, students reported on their experience, and how successful they were in maintaining their media fast. Some of the discoveries from the study include:
  • Students are definitely addicted to their media. They exhibit anxiety, cravings & other withdrawal symptoms when separated for a period of time.
  • Students see digital technology as an essential extension of themselves & their main tool for connecting with friends.
  • News finds students; they don't seek it out.
  • Some students (about 20%) had very positive experiences away from media (connecting with friends and family, having time to think & reflect, slowing down, etc.).
Read more about the study.

This study has some great lessons for us as educators, parents, activists and concerned citizens, including:
  • Students need help building mindfulness about their media use and its impact on them. We can help by modeling a message of moderate, thoughtful media use.
  • Students need highly-developed media literacy and critical thinking skills, so that they can exert control and limits over their media, rather than allow it to control them, and to ensure that they can identify accurate, credible information.
  • Technology isn't going away; it's a vital part of how students learn and communicate and needs to be integrated into their education in ways that are beneficial.
  • The way students "ingest" news and information is changing, so if we want to reach them, we need to adapt and anticipate, both in content and format.
  • Students need time unplugged from media (whether they want it or not). Building a sense of wonder and reverence for the natural world is an essential tool for freeing students from the media hive-mind and giving them time to think, reflect, breathe, and notice.
~ Marsha

Image courtesy of paul_irish via Creative Commons.


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Must It Take Media Stunts to Address Global Problems and Create Real Solutions?

Take a look at the heartwarming and powerful video of 7-year-old Olivia Binfield auditioning on the show Britain’s Got Talent.

When I watched this video I got teary. Britain, and now the world, listened to this little girl speak the truth so eloquently and beautifully. Who could not be moved to reconsider buying an alligator handbag or snakeskin belt?

And yet, I found myself feeling strangely irritated, too. Not by this wonderful little girl, but by the ways in which we fail to respond to pressing issues – like the rapid extinction of countless species – unless they are packaged in a cute, shocking, media attention-grabbing way. While Olivia is a gem, and while I by no means want to diminish what a fantastic job she did, every single day we are losing countless species forever (literally countless, because we don’t even know all the species whose lives are being snuffed out). And the sad reality is that choosing not to buy rhino horn aphrodisiacs or tiger penis Chinese remedies or reptile-skin handbags will hardly scratch the surface of the plight other species face, as their habitats are destroyed through a combination of deforestation, climate change, pollution, and expansion of human settlements. The direct killing of animals to satisfy our desires, while a terrible thing, causes only a tiny fraction of extinctions.

But were Olivia to ask people to buy less stuff in general, to forgo meat (a huge contributor to deforestation, pollution, and climate change – the primary causes of extinctions), to live in smaller, solar-powered homes, to devote their energies to changing entrenched systems that cause environmental harm, and thereby actually prevent so many species from becoming endangered, to elect legislators who will not be beholden to corporate donations and who will work for serious, far-reaching, and systemic change for a restorative world, her performance might not have received the three “yes” votes to bump her into the next level of competition. In fact, she might not have been on Britain’s Got Talent at all.

So I reluctantly find myself trying to think up media stunts to gain attention for the field of humane education, because far too few people have even heard of it, even though it is an educational approach that holds the key to solving all of our interconnected challenges, including the rapid extinction of species. Humane education isn’t sexy; it’s not attention-grabbing, and hence it’s largely unknown. But the truth is that if every child were to learn about the interconnected issues of human rights, animal protection, and environmental preservation in school; if every child were provided with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to be solutionaries for a better world; if every student understood that they had the capacity and the skill to ensure that the systems in their chosen professions were just, humane, and restorative, we would solve the world’s problems. We would raise a generation of Olivias.

Any ideas out there? Any stunts we at the Institute for Humane Education could perform? Any outrageous acts that would garner media attention for this powerful field that could truly change the world by striking at the root problems and engendering wise solutions? Any brilliant 2-minute viral videos that would send people in droves to become trained humane educators to bring this work to every child and teen across the globe?

I look forward to your ideas.

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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Why We Need Humane Education: It Is Vitally Important to Make Connections

"Caution: It is vitally important NOT to make connections." That's how Bill McKibben's recent op-ed in the Washington Post and how this video begin. Watch the video (about 4 min):



Humane education is all about making connections, so this video that puts images and video to McKibben's words is a powerful and useful springboard for exploring connections between climate change and severe weather/disasters; between our choices and their impacts on people, animals and the earth; between what and how the media portrays issues and events and what and how they leave things out; between environmental reality and politics; between what we're told is possible and what's really possible; between what's being done and what needs to be done, and more. It's a great opportunity, also, to examine the credibility and accuracy of what McKibben asserts.

The video is also great opportunity for encouraging critical and creative thinking, for exploring framing and bias, for promoting problem solving and solutions to systemic problems, for examining strategies for helping people embrace choices and ways of living that nurture and support a compassionate, just, sustainable world.

~ Marsha

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Ruby and Coral -- The Best Kinds of Activists & a Tribute to Humane Education

This past winter, two high school seniors, Ruby Treyball and Coral O’Brian, asked if they could do their Independent Study Project (IS) with me. Having watched my TEDx talk, they wanted to experience humane education and learn about human rights, animal protection, and environmental preservation. I put together a two week curricula that included five books, a dozen films, and a bunch of websites. I gave them questions to discuss for each day, and actions to do to so that their education wouldn’t be divorced from changemaking efforts. And on every day I was in town, I met with them.

Truthfully, I was a bit anxious about taking on the mentorship of an IS project. My schedule was already too packed, and I was going to be traveling for five days of the two weeks. While we stretched the two into three weeks, using some of the girls’ February break, I still wasn’t sure I really had time for all this. Just putting together a solid syllabus took the better part of a day. But I loved these two girls, whom I’ve known for years, and there was no way I was going to say no. Thank goodness I didn’t!

Those few weeks were a joy, and what’s happened since has been one of the most rewarding and heartening experiences I’ve had as an educator. Our one hour meetings the days I was in town extended for several hours, and then to weekend dinners. The girls were so committed to learning and then acting upon what they learned, and watching their transformation into kind but persistent activists was amazing. At the end of the IS project they had both decided to become vegan; they started a school activity group for the remainder of the year, during which they taught their fellow students; they spoke at their school’s Parents Association gathering; they hosted a film and discussion and helped develop a discussion guide for the soon-to-be-released film Vegucated; and they committed to being interns at the Institute for Humane Education for our Summer Institute and our 15th Anniversary Crystal Ball celebration on July 2.

And every step of the way they have avoided the pitfalls to which so many activists have succumbed. Despite ribbing at school and irritating comments in the cafeteria about their vegan diet, they have remained poised and respectful. Those who have dismissed their concerns have only strengthened their resolve. They could not be better, warmer, more measured, more thoughtful advocates for the voiceless, even if they had trained for such activism for a decade.

I am so proud to know Ruby and Coral, and I’m so grateful to count them as friends. They are a reminder to each of us of the power of humane education. In just a couple of weeks, these two young women dove into their education with gusto and took what they learned and began to make a difference. Imagine what would happen if humane education were part of every student’s education.

For a humane world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Ask many people about vulnerability, and they'll tell you it's something scary to be avoided. Vulnerability means weakness. It means loss of control. It means you might get hurt. It means the unknown. Researcher storyteller, Brene Brown, in this fabulous TED talk, tells us that, on the contrary, those people who are the most "whole-hearted" -- those who have courage, compassion, and connection, are also those who embrace and accept vulnerability. We can't numb ourselves to the dark emotions like vulnerability, Brown says, without also numbing ourselves to the "good" emotions, like joy and gratitude. Watch her talk (about 20 minutes):



This is such important wisdom for those of us working for a better world for all.

~ Marsha

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Why We Need Humane Education: Inspiring Individual AND Systemic Change

In our humane education work at the Institute for Humane Education, we highlight the power of our individual choices to do the most good and the least harm for people, animals & the earth. But we don't stop there. We also emphasize the importance of working to change destructive and harmful systems. Modeling our message AND working for systemic change. Both are interconnected and essential to creating a just, compassionate, healthy world for all. But often in the mainstream, only our "personal choices" are paraded around as viable and necessary for positive change (changing lightbulbs, buying a fuel-efficient car, walking more, eating less meat). Much less attention is given to the giant, complex systems surrounding us that can hamper our desire to do good and defeat our attempts to nurture compassion, justice, and sustainability in the world.

Public health lawyer and Appetite for Profit author and blogger, Michele Simon, offers a great example of the importance of this both/and approach in a recent blog post about the new USDA MyPlate graphic (replacing the food pyramid), which is meant to serve as a guideline to help consumers choose what to eat. She says,
Education alone will not improve dietary habits. The entire exercise of using an image (and other materials) to educate the American public to get us to eat right is doomed to failure, just as history has already shown for decades. And this is a concept not specific to eating behaviors but rather applies across the spectrum of public health issues. To paraphrase public health colleague, Harold Goldstein: There is not a single public health crisis in history that has been solved with a brochure.

Name your health behavior change: smoking, drinking, eating, wearing seat belts or bike helmets, having safe sex, etc, none of them can be accomplished with just education. Rather, policy change is needed to change the physical environment that people live in to help them make healthier choices.
...

It’s going to take way more than a measly $2 million educational campaign to get Americans to fill up half their plate with fruits and vegetables. It’s going to take a massive overhaul of our agricultural policies....It’s also going to take addressing the billions of dollars in marketing the food industry spends each year to keep us from eating off of plates at all....It’s especially going to take massive political will to stop the food industry’s predatory marketing of junk food to children....
Read the complete post.

Even if a majority of people changed their personal habits, it wouldn't be enough, because so many systems would still be perpetuating suffering, violence, cruelty, and destruction. So, as humane educators, activists and citizens, it's important that we strive in our own lives (and in our teaching) to not just refuse to buy clothes made in sweatshops, but to work for fair, healthy and safe work places for all; to not just frown and shake our heads at child and sex slavery, but to work to end those practices worldwide; to not just lower our personal carbon footprint, but to work toward a lower global carbon footprint; to not just make food choices that are healthy, humane, and sustainable for ourselves, but to ensure that everyone has access to those same choices. Humane education helps teach and inspire us toward individual AND systemic change, which is the only way to a better world for all.

~ Marsha

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An Orgy in My Backyard: Falling in Love with Nature

It’s been a cold, rainy spring in Maine, so it was no surprise that after a beautiful, sunny June day, on a warm clear night, there was an orgy in my backyard. I’d never imagined experiencing so much sex happening all around me, but there I was in the thick of it. The June bugs who weren’t flying all around (and bumping into me) were paired up so thickly on the ground that I had to walk slowly and carefully, so as not to crush dozens of them. And at the pond, the peeping and trilling of the spring peepers and tree frogs was so loud I had to cover my ears.

Normally, it’s not easy to find the tiny spring peepers and the perfectly camouflaged tree frogs who quiet down as one approaches, but they were so seemingly determined to find a mate that night that they didn’t stop their calls for even a second. I even saw two peepers hook up (whereupon they stopped peeping and just focused on mating). It wasn’t just the process of creating life that was occurring that night. The big green frogs were looking for dinner, and I came upon one who was eating a tree frog. It was quite an extravaganza of life and death by that pond. Even the nightcrawlers – big, dark earthworms – were out in force, slithering back into their holes as I passed.

I reveled in it all, amazed to witness such an event in my backyard. Most of the time other species are hidden. With the exception of diurnal flying birds and lawn-hopping squirrels, it’s uncommon to see wildlife, even in rural areas. We’re so divorced from the natural world in our built environments, so when we get to experience the extravagance of nature, the deafening sounds coming out of animals no bigger than the top joint of our thumb, the reality that under our feet worms are teeming, turning refuse into fertile soil below the visible grass, we are reminded that we are one species among many, interdependent, all participating in the grand drama that is life.

It’s so important that we ensure that our children have opportunities to witness and experience nature in this way, to understand the mysterious and amazing and wondrous world that lies beyond their TVs and computers and classrooms, to know that they are part and parcel of something precious beyond words and currently threatened by the actions and choices of our species.

Please bring a child into the woods, or a meadow, or a park, or a seashore, or a prairie at night this spring. Let them fall in love so they’ll protect whom and what they love with all their power.

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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4 Books to Help You Reclaim Your Neighborhood & Reinvent Your Community

No one will question that we’re facing a plethora of global challenges, and while it may be more challenging to determine what we can do for those in cities and towns thousands of miles from us, many people are turning to their own neighborhoods and communities as places to become changemakers. From transition towns to local currencies and food systems to co-ops and collaborative efforts, people are gathering to look at where they live with a fresh eye and working to reclaim their neighborhoods and reinvent their communities. There are numerous sources available to help you get started in your own community; here are 4 books we suggest:


Superbia: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods
by Dan Chiras and Dave Wann (2003)
Offers practical ideas for creating more socially-, economically-, and environmentally-sustainable neighborhoods, as well as strategies for recreating our urban and suburban neighborhoods.

The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience
by Rob Hopkins (2008)
Starting in the UK, the “transition towns” movement has blossomed to communities around the world. Hopkins describes how several towns in the UK are taking back their power to create sustainable, healthy communities and offers practical advice for taking action in our own communities.

All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons
by Jay Walljasper (2010)
Offering a new way of thinking about how we live, this book outlines what’s involved in creating a commons-based society and offers examples and resources for what people and communities around the world are doing to reshape our view of the world and to revolutionize our relationships with each other and with all that we share.


The Great Neighborhood Book: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Placemaking
by Jay Walljasper (2007)
For the beginning neighborhood enthusiast. Divided into 8 chapters, each section offers basic tips for fostering a sense of community through strategies involving economics, transportation, safety, pleasure, placemaking, sustainable living, and more. The tips are accompanied by numerous success stories that highlight what people and organizations in communities around the world are doing to reclaim their neighborhoods and communities.

~ Marsha

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Humane Issues in the News...

Each week we post links to news about humane education & humane living, and items connected to humane issues, from human rights to environmental preservation, to animal protection, to media, consumerism and culture.

Students become activists to help protect their farmworker families (via Sierra) (July/August 2011)

More students seeking alternatives in higher education (via Courier-News) (6/5/11)

Young changemaker's science fair project saves city water, money (via Treehugger) (6/5/11)

USDA releases new "My Plate" to replace food pyramid (via Seattle Times) (6/4/11)

Building community with a "bike train" (via Oregonian) (6/3/11)

"Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time?" (via Vancouver Sun) (6/3/11)

"Energy industry shapes lessons in public schools" (via Washington Post) (6/2/11)

Oil prices have industry rethinking plastic packaging (via NY Times) (6/1/11)

Report says nature "is worth billions" to UK (via BBC) (6/1/11)

Students take action to improve their schools (via MercuryNews.com) (5/31/11)

The new "normal" thanks to climate change (via Newsweek) (5/29/11)

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