Tag Archive: education


Before contact, Europeans had very poor diets. Most people were farmers and grew wheat and vegetables and raised cows and sheep to eat. They rarely washed themselves, and had many diseases because they often let their animals live with them.

Continue reading at: An Indigenous History of North America


A blonde woman wearing faux-native headdress. Source: Native Appropriations

A blonde woman wearing faux-native headdress. Source: Native Appropriations

Culture is the tangible and intangible manifestations of a people’s heritage, such as music, language, dress, dance, foods, and so on. As social creatures, we humans thrive when we can participate in and enjoy our own culture and celebrate our heritage. And while it is important to our lives, questions of what culture is, how we participate in it, who gets to participate, and what does participation look like, are often forgotten in mainstream discussions of sustainability. Continue reading

Source: Inhabitat NYC

Once upon a time, I was new to sustainable living (hey, you can’t fault a newborn for ignorance). The internet made finding information wonderfully quick and easy, but it also meant that I had an internet’s worth of knowledge to sort through—a relatively daunting task for someone in need of guidance. I can appreciate the kind of guides out that are there that offer easy tips for “going green” or “saving the planet”. If you’re new to living the Green Life or have been thinking about it, the new year is a perfect opportunity to get on board. The Daily Green has seven simple tips you can use as your New Year’s resolutions like “Meatless Mondays” and “Get Outside Saturdays” (they also have a list of 15 resolutions for a Greener New Year that I suspect came from a previous year). Cereplast (a bioplastics company) also has a Top New Year Resolution post that reminds folks to make homes efficient . The Environmental Blog has a Green New Years [sic] Resolution list similar to The Daily Green, but it’s also worth checking out.

Tips like “Don’t waste energy” and “Ride your bicycle more often” are obviously for newbies, but it doesn’t hurt for vets to take a peek at such lists every now and then to make sure we’ve got our bases covered. I still have to insulate my new(ish) home because the downstairs leaks heat like silly, and I don’t yet make a habit of unplugging my electronics—I confess I use my microwave as a clock. What are some resolutions you’re making for the new year?

overburdened christmas tree

What do consumer capitalism, instrumental rationality, and ethnocentrism have to do with Christmas trees? Stephen Goobie at The Ecological Thoughtprint examines how this holy trinity of thinking modes shapes the purchase, disposal, in fact, the very existence of the holiday’s most well-known symbol:

In the boom of catchy “green” features on the nightly news and supplemental “eco-living” sidebars added as afterthoughts in so many popular magazines, come year-end it is common to be bombarded with environmental discussions around Christmas trees.  Typically, the dialogue is limited to Real vs. Artificial — which variety of tree has a lighter footprint on the planet?

While it is positive to see attempts to gently provoke consumers to think more about where their seasonal products are coming from (and eventually ending up), the conversation usually narrows to empirical measurements of land use for tree farms and pesticide application, or to factory conditions for manufacturing and toxicity of plastics.  We hear statistics about the 40 million farmed trees sold in North America, part of a half-billion-dollar industry; or the multiple-million China-made PVC-based “trees” purchased as a longer-lasting alternative.  Sometimes interesting compromises are offered, such as rental services which provide a potted tree to be later planted in an area for reforestation or non-profit organizations which raise money through the sale of trees.  Nevertheless, in the end consumers are left to decide which is the ”lesser evil” option.

As with all environmental issues, as students, educators, and advocates there are deeper questions we must ask.  As always, these questions are at the core of the ecological thoughtprint educational concept.  Christmas trees offer one convenient, and timely, example for contemplation.

  • What are the underlying ways of thinking behind the growing global Christmas tree industry?  In other words, what is the ecological thoughtprint of a contemporary Christmas tree?
  • Has this “tradition” always had this thoughtprint?  Or has it changed with the worldwide rise of consumer capitalism?
  • Are there alternative ways of thinking which may better support the original or potential meanings of the Christmas celebration?  Better, meaning more authentic, more meaningful, stirring more satisfaction, health and fulfilment for societies and our natural kin?

Continue reading: The Ecological Thoughtprint of a Christmas Tree @ The Ecological Thoughtprint.

Remixed from fidothe's photostream

From Kosmos 9 comes Environmental by Accident:

People do not like to be told what they have to do, especially when it means reducing their impact, cutting back on and changing their capitalistic lifestyle. (A friend recently said to me: You know, I really like your blog, but with the straight razor you went a little too far.) So what do we do? We tell them NOT to be green? Not quite, Caroline Fiennes from Global Cool believes, but the solution goes into this direction. “We can get people to live sustainably by not talking about sustainability …” .These words are part of an inspiring talk she gave at TEDxWarwick, called Promoting a Green Lifestyle Choice. …

[S]how people how cool it is to wear warm clothes (and turn down the heating) in winter, how cool it is to travel by train (and not by plane) or how cool it is to cruise around your bike (and not drive a car), etc. In short: Global Cool makes people to become green without noticing it. They call it creating accidental environmentalists.

Read the rest here.

The trouble I have with making sustainability “cool” is that, with all things called such, there’ll come a time when it’s no longer “cool”—then what do you do? If environmentalism is a trend (and not a value or lifestyle), how long will its shelf-life be?

Remembering that sustainability is a (w)holistic approach to satisfying environmental, social, and economic needs and not just the environment, here’s an article from the National Jurist on law schools that have strong public interest and social justice programs. It’s a bit dated now (2009), but it does a good job explaining what criteria were used (student involvement, curriculum and financial acessibility)—always important to know in any ranking system, even especially traditional “best schools” lists. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the American Bar Association also has a resource page for public interest and pro bono programs.

(Side note: I find it telling (i.e., sad) that a law school has to distinguish “social justice” programs; by definition, the law should be concerned with justice. But with all things, what the law is and what it ought to be are not one and the same. Traditional law school should really be called “persuasive arguing for gross enrichment” because that’s usually why the majority of aspiring lawyers attend.)

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