Get Your (Global Warming) Game On!

With global warming finding its way more regularly into the news and with the release of films like Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour, organizations – and even businesses – are looking for ways to connect with people about these issues and to encourage them to make positive, more sustainable changes in their lives. If you’re an educator wanting a way to introduce these concepts to your students, you might find these online “games” of interest.

Planet Green Game is an interactive game created by Starbucks Coffee Company and Global Green USA (yes, Starbucks). If you can get past the corporate greenwashing/promotion issue, this might be a fun little game to share with students and others – be sure to try it yourself. Players choose an avatar (a virtual character to represent them) and a mode of transportation (walk, bike, car, etc.) and travel through the town of Evergreen to visit different destinations, learn about climate and sustainability issues, and make choices that have different impacts. Players pick up bonus points in different ways. One nifty aspect is linking parts of the game with what cities from different parts of the world are doing to counteract global warming and promote sustainable living. There are also opportunities for further actions to take. And, the theater even has a few mini-movies (about sustainability issues, of course.) Middle school kids and older might enjoy this game, though don’t expect it to replace Grand Theft Auto as their favorite.

Not quite as game-like is Consumer Consequences (produced by American Public Media, using data from Redefining Progress, which created the original eco-footprint quiz). In CC, you type in data about the kinds of choices you currently make in seven different categories (transportation, food, energy use, etc.), and learn how many planets it would take to support your lifestyle if everyone lived the way you do. At the beginning of the game, you get to choose an avatar and a neighborhood. Depending on what data you input, different statistics and facts pop up about the impact of different choices. At the end, you find out how many planets your habits consume. This game isn’t for younger kids, as it asks for information such as your average energy bills and how much alcohol you consume. But young adults and older may find it interesting.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager

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Blogroll: Shaping Youth and Racialicious

As blogs have gained in popularity and credibility, they've become an important source of news, information and commentary for those in cyberland. And, as humane issues become more mainstream, more people are maintaining blogs about these important issues. Here are a couple to keep your eye on:

Shaping Youth blogs about the influence of media and marketing on kids. With categories like "Body Image," "Damaging Drek," "Misogyny & Racism" and "Vapid Values," Shaping Youth's founder, Amy Jussel, keeps on top of stories & trends in the media that affect today's youth. Look here to stay tuned to emerging trends, outrageous marketing strategies and ideas for your humane education work.

Much as many would like to pretend otherwise, racism is still
prevalent. Browse through the news, watch TV, listen to conversations around the water cooler, and racial bias and stereotyping still sneak their way in (or blast you in the face). The focus of Racialicious is "the intersection of race and pop culture." Racialicious bloggers offer news blurbs, cultural dissections, explorations of important race-related issues and more. Use Racialicious to keep up on the news and commentary surrounding race in pop culture and the media.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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The 3 Is: Inquiry, Introspection, Integrity

Readers of my blog, books, and essays know about the 3 Cs and the 3 Rs of humane education: Fostering Curiosity, Creativity, and Critical Thinking and Instilling Reverence, Respect, and Responsibility. These are components of quality humane education largely because, without them, positive personal change and problem-solving are impaired.

Now that we’re offering MOGO (Most Good) workshops to people striving to make their lives more aligned with their values, I’ve come to recognize that there are 3 Is involved in lifelong learning and the pursuit of personal change. They are: Inquiry, Introspection, and Integrity. These are not elements specific to the teacher offering humane education, but rather they are elements for all individuals to bring to their own journeys toward humane living.

Inquiry: In order to align our life choices with our values, we need to inquire about the effects of our actions (and inactions) on ourselves and others. Although we are always stumbling upon knowledge that shifts our choices and life direction, bringing conscious inquiry to the forefront of our minds means that we will continually and consciously ask questions that lead us to the information we need to make informed decisions.

Introspection: As we ask questions and gather information, if we are to make meaningful changes we will need to introspect, that is to look inward and see where the confluence of new knowledge and our life choices lies. It’s likely we’ll periodically feel some conflict between our habits and desires and the truth of what we’ve learned, but this is why a commitment to introspection is so important. We dive below our surface desires and habits to discover our deepest visions, dreams, and commitments.

Integrity: As we open our hearts and minds to inquiry, as we acquire the information we need to make informed and conscious decisions, and as we introspect, we are then called upon to act in accordance with our new knowledge and our deepest values. This is integrity.

Together, these 3 Is bring our dreams and hopes for a better world to life. They provide a simple map for lifelong learning and choicemaking that can inform our everyday decisions, as well as our careers, relationships, political involvement, volunteer work, and all of the ways in which we participate in creating change in the world. Using the 3 Is brings about not only a better world but a more joyful, meaningful life.

~ Zoe, IHE President

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What a Great Time to Be Alive!

In the current issue of Ecologist, a UK environmental publication, you’ll find excerpted quotes from environmentalists and visionaries interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio's new film, The 11th Hour. One in particular, from Paul Hawken, environmentalist, businessperson, and author, popped out for me:

"The great thing about the dilemma we're in is that we get to reimagine every single thing we do... there isn't a single thing that doesn't require a complete remake. There are two ways of looking at that. One is: Oh my gosh, what a big burden. The other way, which I prefer is: What a great time to be born! What a great time to be alive! Because this generation gets to essentially completely change the world."

By now, if you've been reading this blog, you know how I feel about either/or statements. Many will confront the challenges we face in saving our planet with a combination of feelings, among them trepidation, commitment, anger, excitement, apathy, enthusiasm, horror, sadness, tenacity, hope, and energy. And I think that we must acknowledge and deal positively with the range of emotions and attitudes that these times elicit. But I love Hawken’s essential point – this is the generation with the opportunity and necessity for creating change.

The role of humane education is pivotal to this challenge. For this generation to change the world for the better, they need knowledge, skills, and passion for the job. That’s what humane education provides.

It’s difficult for me to imagine how we can succeed in changing the world for the better without a change in our educational approaches and systems -- without a shift in our thinking about the very purpose of education. If the greatest challenge we face is restoring the earth and creating peace, then this should be the goal of education at all levels.

~Zoe, IHE President

Photo by Tansan

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The Truth Just Gets Even More Inconvenient

For some time now, global warming has made its way into mainstream media as a legitimate, scientifically-supported, if-we-don't-do-something-soon-
we're-seriously-gonna-regret-it--no, seriously! topic. Thanks in large part to the An Inconvenient Truth documentary, global warming has become a topic of serious conversation on the lips of many. People are talking about driving less -- or at least buying Priuses, about new laws and regulations...even about cow burps (and the stuff that comes out the other end). The connection between global warming and who's at the end of our forks, however, has been largely ignored and is only now beginning to see any press. But, it IS starting to find its way into global conversation.

The non-profit organization Vegan Outreach has created an "A Truly Inconvenient Truth" page with quotes and links from media and academic research about the impact of eating animals on global warming, and the positive implications of adopting a veg diet.

As VO says, "There are lots of things each of us can do to make the world a better place. However, eating vegetarian is likely the most powerful and immediate way to have a profoundly positive impact to improve the world."

So, the next time your friends, family, students or co-workers are discussing global warming and wondering what they can do to have a true positive impact, point them to VO's page and encourage them to pay attention to who they're having for dinner.

~Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Relativism and Absolutes

Once again, I was confronted with an either/or, and found myself thinking “yes, and....” The subject was moral relativism versus absolutism. You know the issue, too often painted in a broad stroke that delineates the religious conservative against the liberal elite. One caricature happens when some anthropologist-type insists that he or she can’t judge another culture or social norm, but can only study and report on it. Then you have a group insisting that this other culture or social practice is evil and its traditions must be stopped. It’s not uncommon that this is a fundamentalist versus progressive battle, or so it’s portrayed. And in my mind, this does a disservice to the problems and challenges we face in creating positive change for all.

I see relativism as a perspective that is key to understanding, appreciating, and communicating with others with different beliefs, values, traditions, and behaviors. And I see absolutism as a perspective that is key to protecting all of us from cruelty and exploitation. In other words, I believe in practicing both when applicable (in other words, in a relativistic way).

Here’s an example, one that turns the “religious conservative” versus “liberal elite” on its proverbial head. I’m opposed to female genital mutilation (FGM). In my mind, ending FGM is essential; it’s not a practice we should accept as a relativistic norm of another country or religion. Girls should not have their genitals mutilated, period. But the way to end FGM is to ask questions, communicate fully, and engage respectfully with the people whose cultural norms and religious edicts perpetuate this practice, so that this same culture and religion can progress toward greater embodiment of its core values, rather than continue abusive traditions that violate individuals’ rights. We can end FGM through dialogue, understanding, communication, and openness, and ultimately through laws that are accepted by the majority.

If we choose to bring a “Yes, and...” attitude and approach to what confronts us, we may more often be able to offer different paths, as yet unseen, that are even better than the either/ors that confront us. They’ll likely be more complex, and they won’t force us into pigeon-holed labels like “religious” or “godless,” “conservative” or “liberal,” which belie the complexity of the vast majority of our beliefs, values, and choices. There is a reason that FGM continues, and it is understanding and saying, “Yes” to the fears, concerns, hopes, and needs of others to which we can add, “And” to the equation and help find paths that solve the needs without the abuse.

~Zoe, IHE President

Photo by said&done
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