Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Doubly Great Recycling ... Turn unused/outgrown bikes into better futures!


Click here to download/view the complete Bicycle Recycling Program Flyer

2nd Chance Bicycle Recycling Program!

We have partnered with the Oregon Youth Authority to recycle unwanted, broken, or damaged bicycles back into the community for a nominal fee. These bikes will be repaired by the OYA youth residing in enclosed youth facilities. The youth will be learning bicycle repair skills and in turn will be giving back to the community.

Our bike donation will be held 10am-2pm, June 2nd, in the Salem YMCA back parking lot! If you have any bikes that you would like to donate please bring them by on June 2nd! We will be glad to take them off your hands and give you a donation receipt.

We are also in need of tools, a list can be found in the brochure (see link above this article).

You may also know of a child in the community or in your program that is in need of a bicycle. We would like to know their story and why they deserve a bicycle, we will have a limited amount of bicycles to donate back to the community. We plan to have repaired bicycles ready for purchase and donation by mid July.

It is our ultimate vision that the 2nd Chance Bicycle Recycling initiative be self sustaining.  This initiative has a variety of positive outcomes associated with it.  Focusing on adding another educational component for OYA, providing bikes to children of low income households, encouraging and promoting physical activity, community responsibility, and sustainable transportation; all while recycling and reusing unwanted bikes.

More good Straub stuff: Tonight, 5/29, and Thursday 5/31

TONIGHT! Tuesday, May 29, 2012 6:30-8:30 pm

Climate Series:
Home Energy Savings Course

Straub Environmental Learning Center

The second installation of our Climate Series brings Gerry Munzing, a trainer with Conservation Services Group and Energy Trust of Oregon, to discuss Home Energy IQ. He’ll educate homeowners about energy efficiency, conservation, your house as a system, and the behavior changes that lead to reductions in energy use and energy-efficient improvements. He’ll discuss topics such as: the importance of weatherizing for health, comfort, safety and savings; water heating savings; energy efficient solutions; heating more efficiently; and figuring out which solutions are right for you. Munzing delivers educational workshops to consumers throughout the Pacific Northwest and is a primary driver in the delivery of online and classroom based training initiatives. Munzing proudly represents Energy Trust of Oregon by providing homeowners and residential professionals with education to make homes more energy efficient, comfortable and safe. The class is part of our six-course climate series but is open to the public. Class is $5. RSVP to 503-391-4145 or fselc@fselc.org.

Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:00-9:00 pm
Soil: What’s in it for me?
Straub Environmental Learning Center

In this two-hour workshop, Geercrest Farm owner Jim Toler will define healthy soil in terms of chemistry and biology and explain how and why organic or naturally grown foods are healthier than most of what we buy at the supermarket. Toler founded Willamette Organics LLC in 2003 to provide support for organic farms and landscapes. He began working with Oregon Tilth in 2006 to create an Accredited Organic Land Care program similar to the one introduced on the east coast by the Northeast Organic Farmers Assn. That program was introduced here on the west coast in 2010.

He is also president of GeerCrest Farm & Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit based at the historic 1847 Geer homestead east of Salem. The non-profit is primarily engaged in preservation of the farm, local history and agrarian culture. Much of their activity is centered on farm-life experience classes for school aged children. No RSVP is required, but space is limited. Seats given on a first come, first served basis.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Most Important Job Posting in a Long While

If you seek a job with meaning and a chance to do some world-class good, here's one:
Job Announcement: ORGANIZER

Are you ready to make history?

Health Care for All-Oregon is a new coalition of 45 organizations (and counting) mobilizing to win a unified, equitable, publicly funded, comprehensive health care system for everyone in Oregon and the United States. We have active chapters around the state, thousands of contacts, and a solid leadership structure, all of which has been built by volunteers. Now we are ready to hire our first paid organizer to help us solidify our organization and build our momentum.

Duties include but are not limited to:

1. Create leadership development program to identify, train, and support leaders in HCAO chapters and member organizations

2. Organize new HCAO chapters in priority areas

3. Assist existing chapters and member organizations in developing greater capacity through assessment, planning, leadership development, training, and ongoing support.

4. Assist board and executive committee in developing and implementing strategic plan, regional and statewide meetings

5. Coordinate maintenance of supporter database

6. Collaborate with Communications committee to produce effective communications to supporters and the media

7. Collaborate with Fundraising committee to raise funds through individual donors (major and minor), monthly sustainers, organizational contributions, events, grants, etc.

8. Perform other related duties as assigned by HCAO Executive Committee.

· Minimum five years experience in grassroots organizing, including all aspects such as fundraising, coalition-building, leadership development, strategic planning, communications;

· Ability to work independently and under supervision, prioritizing numerous and varied tasks;

· Ability to inform and inspire others through public speaking, meetings, and one-on-one relationships;

· Experience developing new programs and projects;

· Valid driver’s license and dependable vehicle (mileage to be reimbursed);

· Willingness to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and travel statewide.

Additional desired attributes

· Background in health care policy and advocacy;

· Experience working with diverse constituencies, such as rural communities, communities of color, low-income communities, small businesses, etc.

Salary of $40K+, depending on experience; health insurance; paid vacation.

To apply, by June 18, 2012
Send cover letter, resume, and three references as Word attachments to singlepayoregon at gmail dot com, with the subject “Organizer application."

For background on Health Care for All-Oregon, see the (soon to be replaced) Oregon Single Payer Campaign website: http://oregonsinglepayer.org/.

Monday, May 21, 2012

For those with more gardening urge than space

From the good folks in Marion-Polk Food Share's Community Gardens program:

Hello folks.

A few gardens in the area still have available plots. See below for gardens with availability. Contact the listed coordinator to rent a plot. Plot sizes and prices vary.

For gardens outside Salem/Keizer, scroll down.

Salem & Keizer

Northeast Salem

Fuente de Vida
3295 Ladd Ave. NE
Coordinator: Pamela Lyons-Nelson

Hammond Community Garden
4900 Bayne St. NE
Coordinator: Michelle Bertholf

Highland Neighborhood Garden
Corner of Hazel and Columbia NE
Coordinator: Cassy Hedberg & Karen Hill

South Salem

Julie's Garden
590 Elma St. SE
Coordinator: Cindy Kimball

Southeast Salem Neighborhood Garden
410 19th St. NE
Coordinators: Marcia Hoak & Nicole McDavid

West Salem

West Salem Boys & Girls Club Community Garden
925 Gerth St. NW
Coordinator: Erin Boers


John Knox Community Garden
452 Cummings Lane N
Coordinator: Mary Jo Emmett

Whittam Community Garden
5205 Ridge Drive NE
Coordinator: Kathy Whittam

Marion County

Silverton Grange Community Garden
601 Division St.
Coordinator: Leonide Martin

Planting Communities Gardens
950 N. Boones Ferry Rd., other locations
Coordinator: Ian Niktab

Mt. Angel
St. Joseph’s Community Garden
925 S. Main St.
Coordinator: Sister Marcella

Mill City
Mill City Community Garden
Kimmel Park, Mill City
Coordinator: Susan Chamberlin

Polk County

Common Grounds Community Garden
775 E. Ellendale Ave.
Coordinator: Landon Pegg

Grande Ronde
Grande Ronde Community Garden
825 Grande Ronde Rd.
Coordinator: Angella McCallister

Ian Dixon-McDonald
Community Gardens
Marion-Polk Food Share

T: 503-581-3855 x329
C: 503-798-0339
F: 503-581-3862
E: imcdonald@marionpolkfoodshare.org
1660 Salem Industrial Drive NE
Salem OR 97301-0374

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Maybe worth some time: Oregon's Kitchen Table

Hard to say whether this will turn out to be an innovative idea or just another way to chew the same ideas over and over -- why not sign up to take part and push it towards actually discussing meaningful ideas?

Go here to sign up:  http://oregonskitchentable.org/

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thought for a Lifetime

From the Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity:
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money, then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Taming the Zoning Monster : Casaubon's Book


Hugely important insight:  Salem, like nearly every city, likes to toss the word "sustainability" around but it's absolutely against sustainable practices by residents.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yay! Pop some corn in celebration

Department of Good Stuff
Web MD - Popcorn, already known to be a good source of fiber, has higher levels of healthy antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables, according to new research.

"Based on fiber, whole grains, and antioxidant levels, popcorn is the king of snack foods," says Joe Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton. 

Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The losing game

The one thing we should NOT be doing is buidling more autosprawl . . .
NY Times's Frank Bruni:
 What if we have it backward? What if the 310-pound man trying to jam into the middle seat and the 225-pound woman breaking into a sweat only halfway up the stairs aren't the undisciplined miscreants of modern American life but the very emblems of it? 
What if fatness, even obesity, is less a lurking danger than a likely destiny, and the surprise isn't how many seriously overweight people are out there but how few? . . .

Following in the heavy footsteps of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "The End of Overeating," "The End of Food" and much else, "The Weight of the Nation" makes an especially persuasive case that gluttony isn't Americans' problem. Agriculture and abundance are.

Over the last century, we became expert at the mass production of crops like corn, soybeans and wheat — a positive development, for the most part.

We also became expert at feedlots for livestock and at processing those crops into salty, sweet, fatty, cheap and addictive seductions. This has downsides.

Densely caloric and all too convenient food now envelops us, and many of us do what we're chromosomally hard-wired to, thanks to millenniums of feast-and-famine cycles. We devour it, creating plump savings accounts of excess energy, sometimes known as love handles, for an imagined future shortage that, in America today, doesn't come.
. . .

John Hoffman, an executive producer of the documentary, told me: "Evolutionarily, there was no condition that existed when we were living with too much fat storage. We've only known a world of plenty for maybe 100 years. Our biological systems haven't adapted to it."

This is probably summed up best by Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin in their book "The Evolution of Obesity." "We evolved on the savannahs of Africa," they write. "We now live in Candyland."

Our systems aren't just rigged to gorge. They're also rigged in many cases to rebound from weight loss and put pounds back on, as Tara Parker-Pope explained in a cover story for The Times's Sunday magazine last year. So we're fighting againstthat bit of nature, too.
. . . 
 If we're going to wage a successful war against unhealthy weight gain and obesity, we need to understand all of that. We need to stop vilifying obese people, who aren't likely to be helped by it
And we need to rethink and remake our environment much more thoroughly than we seem poised to do.

The kind of consciousness-raising and corporate prodding being done by Michelle Obama — laudable as it is — won't be nearly enough. Neither will the extra green space for exercise that cities like Nashville have commendably created, or New York City officials' admirable exile of sugary sodas from public school vending machines.

These important steps, plus others under consideration, are just the start. Let's move, yes. But let's do it a whole lot faster, because what we may be trying to hold back is a near inevitable tide.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What hideous company we keep -- Oregon should join the civilized world and abolish the death penalty

Death-penalty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty will sponsor a free discussion and showing of the documentary film “Race to Execution,” beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at Ike Box coffee house, 299 Cottage St., in downtown Salem.
    Despite Gov. John Kitzhaber's November moratorium on executions, Oregon taxpayers are still paying over $20 million annually to maintain a flawed death penalty system.  In these times of DNA evidence freeing more and more wrongly convicted inmates of crimes they did not commit and of fiscal austerity, a discussion is long overdue.

    Guest speaker will be Frank Thompson, former superintendent of the Oregon State Prison, who supervised the only executions in the state in the past 50 years.

    Rachel Lyon's film, “Race to Execution,” is an original and compelling exploration of the death penalty and of how race infects the nation's capital justice system. The film reveals potential racial biases of victims and perpetrators alike in the media, particularly as such depictions may bring out any prejudices in jurors' minds.

For details, see the website for Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, www.oadp.org or call (503) 990-7060
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More on schools and their willful blindness to the impending changes


Imagine the world decades from now, during an era of collapse to a post-carbon world with a new and changing climate, with former fossil-fuel addicts thrashing around trying to find food and water and other stuff, but not understanding who/what caused all this pain and suffering or what to do about it.  That's a world in which the education system has failed miserably to do its most important job:  prepare people for the future based on a factual understanding of the past, combined with tools for the real (not virtual) future.  The author of this article is one of the damn few educators who gets it.
cheers anyway,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Even after bankruptcy, trapped by student debt


This is ultimately going to be what forces schools to change from top to bottom -- that the universities and colleges are producing thousands of people who are not prepared to grapple with any of the significant problems and challenges facing their own society, much less the plight of people in less advantaged places. 

Eventually word gets out, and the market for overpriced degrees collapses, at which point the absurdity of making high-school nothing but a college-test-prep program will be evident for all to see.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What if schools were not school?



What if schools were not school?

I just got home for the weekend. Last week, I was in Stockholm, speaking at SETT. Monday, I fly to Switzerland to speak at the St. Gallen Symposium. And on Saturday, UnCollege Research Apprentice Marlon Paine will be moving to San Francisco to start working fulltime! We've been working on a lot of exciting new programs and material, which includes the just-launched UnCollege Hackademic Camp:
From July 30th to August 3rd we will bring ten of the brightest young minds from around the world together in San Francisco for an intense human accelerator. They will learn from and connect with a network of thought-leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, investors, and successful dropouts. But more importantly, we will work together to create solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems—namely education. This is a chance not only to learn from experts and increase your own knowledge and skills, but also to make an impact—solving issues with those who have the power to make changes. If you think you're a hackademic, we encourage you to join us!  To learn more and apply, click here.

What if schools were not schools? Insight Labs, a Chicago-based think tank, recently posed this question. They brought together experts from around the world to discuss the issues with the public education system in America. Their conclusion? What if schools were fundamentally different entities, focusing not on the output of students—i.e. test scores, as schools are currently measured by—and instead on cultivating citizens: what if schools were "the birthplace of the citizen ideal?"

But let's backtrack. A recent report from the Center for American Progress illuminated many of the current failures of the education system. Federal spending has increased three fold since 1970, while dropout rates and academic performance have changed insignificantly. America, in comparison to other developed countries, ranks only mediocrely when it comes to education, yet it spends more per student than any other country except Luxembourg.

The Center for American Progress suggests several ways to make budgets more effective, but I think the problem is bigger than that. School currently mass-produces students to be competitive, individualistic, and value numbers rather than tangible results. The goal of American schools seems to be to create a population that can compete with other countries and maintain America's economic supremacy. But this often comes at the neglect of the community.

What if the emphasis was instead on making the entire world better as a whole? What if the purpose of schools changed from producing the highest test scores to a place where kids learned to be a member of their community—focusing on cooperation, not competition? In the words of GOOD Magazine's Liz Dwyer, who recently wrote an article about this issue, what if school were a place where students "learn to live a life of selfless service on behalf of the community; it's where (students) find the path of virtue, subordinating inner self-interest as individuals to the interests of the community, the good of the whole." What if schools were, essentially, "the birthplace of the citizen ideal?"

Imagine the impact of students dedicating over twelve years of their lives not to learning information geared towards a test, but learning about, and working on, the challenges the world currently faces—starting at a community level. The results would be a tangible difference in their own community, not a piece of paper with numbers and letter-grades. What if students had the ability to work on projects that interested them, and worked with teachers to integrate the learning of necessary skills into their projects—learning how to apply them in the real world?

This would obviously be a big change: it would take a whole community—educators, businesses, parents, etc.—to work with the school system to solve these problems. But the results would be exponentially greater that the cost: an entire population of students working to better the community. School could be, as stated in Insight Labs School is not School Manifesto, "a dynamic social engine for entire towns and cities that drive every citizen toward a higher, greater good: the public interest." Students discover their interests, how to solve problems, and use this knowledge not just for themselves, but to create a better community. Students work as, and learn to be citizens, not detached individuals.

At this point, the entire college question would be irrelevant: by the time a student graduates from high school, they will have experienced the real world, learned their passions, their skills, and put them into action. The ideals of apprenticeships and entrepreneurship would be engrained into students before college applications were due. Students that want to start businesses could turn that into their lesson plan; students that want to be writers could actually write what they want to. And then, inevitably, these students would learn how to describe and explain what they have learned—a skill so valuable, yet completely neglected by traditional schooling.

This plan is extremely idealistic—turning the entire education system on its head. But that's what we need. We need drastic changes to the current system so that it works with, and not against, the students. Imagine what the entire population of K-12 students could accomplish for their communities, and themselves, if instead of being stuck in a classroom, their time was spent creating value in their communities. The only thing holding us back are the deep roots of the current system—people are terrified to uproot, or even challenge it.

Apprenticeship programs and fellowships are starting to pop up, offering students a valuable alternative to college.  The mainstream is catching on: I'm going to speak with NBC about these opportunities next week.

What if these alternative programs became the education system?

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please forward it to friends and encourage them to join the movement at uncollege.org!

Hack on,

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Advantage of Self-Education

JohnGearLaw.com  -web      971-266-GEAR  -office & 24-hr message line
888-782-0181           -fax      503-339-7787     -office line

Begin forwarded message:

From: UnCollege <dale@uncollege.org>
Date: February 25, 2012 3:29:03 AM PST
To: John Gear <John@JohnGearLaw.com>
Subject: The Advantage of Self-Education
Reply-To: UnCollege <dale@uncollege.org>

The Advantage of Self-Education
The advantages to self-education
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View it in your browser.

Are we all capable of learning?

When I met filmmaker Astra Taylor in Brooklyn in December, she raised the same question as she did in her speech at the Walker Center: "What makes society so sure most people couldn't handle self-education?" 
Astra was unschooled until the age of thirteen, drifted in and out of high school, tried out Brown University but didn't like it, and eventually ended up with a Master's from The New School in New York.   
She, like me and many other unschoolers, has often had people say "Unschooling worked for you, but admit it won't work for everyone." In her talk, Astra points out that this is a compliment in disguise.  "On one hand," Astra says, "it implies that my family is gifted. On the other hand, it implies that most people are not gifted, and they need to be guided, molded, tested, and inspected." 
I don't think anyone needs to be guided, molded, tested, or inspected.  Over the course of the last seven months working on my book, I've talked to people who have come from every background imaginable to do everything imaginable.  I've talked to individuals who grew up in the slums of Dehli and middle class Londoners who have gone on to do everything from become world-renowned DJs to senior executives at British Petroleum.    
Anecdotally, it seems that where you come from, the background of your parents, your socio-economic level, and so on has little to do with your success outside school.  However, all of these factors are a huge determinant upon your success inside school.   
There is data to support this thesis.  The first study I want to highlight was done in the United Kingdom in the late 1990's: 
Children taught at home significantly outperform their contemporaries who go to school, the first comparative study has found.  It discovered that home-educated children of working-class parents achieved considerably higher marks in tests than the children of professional, middle-class parents and that gender differences in exam results disappear among home-taught children.
Homeschool Legal Defense Association provides a nice summary a more recent study they commissioned in 2008 on their website.  Some of the highlights include: 
Whether either parent was a certified teacher did not matter.
Certified (i.e., either parent ever certified)—87th percentile
Not certified (i.e., neither parent ever certified)—88th percentile
Spending on home education made little difference.
Spent $600 or more on the student—89th percentile
Spent under $600 on the student—86th percentile 
To be sure, there is a delta between 86th and 89th percentile.  But that delta is quite small when the national average is the 50th percentile. 
I'm writing about this data because I've been reviewing in preparation to debate Vivek Wadhwa next Wednesday at TED in Long Beach.  Vivek and I have debated before, both on TechCrunch and NPR, and we'll have a lively time next week.   
Vivek likes to make accusations like home or unschooling only works for the elite.  No, I say.  Everyone is capable of self-education regardless of their socio-economic background, parental education level, gender, or whatever other ways Vivek considers me privileged. 
Yes, both my parents have college degree, but they aren't wealthy. Money was tight as a child. I started selling fruit from our backyard to make money when I was 10.  I subsequently delivered flowers and sold photocards to pay for my self-education.   
This time when I spar with Vivek I have data to refute his accusations.   
If you enjoyed this week's newsletter, please forward it to a friend, post it on Facebook, or Tweet it.  
Keeping on hacking,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When did you first realize that the US lost the Cold War?


     This story crystallized something that had been forming in my brain for some time, the sad realization that, contrary to popular image, the US had actually lost the Cold War, not Russia (then operating as the chief gangster in the gangster's USSR).

     Think about it:  since time immemorial, the definition of victory is that you get to impose your will on your defeated enemies in return for cessation of hostilities; they have to adopt your values and become like you, rather than the other way around.

     By that standard, then the US is the clear loser of the post-war period of paranoia and balance of terror called The Cold War, which is popularly misunderstood to have ended with the dissolution of the USSR.  With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the gangsters in charge of the old Soviet Union no longer had to bear the crushing burden of maintaining a military all out of proportion to their needs; rather, they could immediately shrink their military dramatically, with no loss in security, and set about spending on themselves rather than trying to placate a loose confederation of historic tribal enemies and victims of Stalinist repression. 

    So while they don't seem much like the winner, they obviously are when compared to us, because, by the end of the Cold War, the US had adopted every last one of the values of the old Soviet system, from a gigantic secret political police bureau (KGB/CIA) operating without any oversight, from an insanely overmuscled military whose care and feeding required ever greater sacrifice from the proles at home, and finally to the willingness to completely obliterate individuals through torture, all in the name of "homeland security."  Like the Soviets, we insist on being able to listen to phone conversations of the natives, we force the populace to undergo random searches before engaging in internal travels, we greatly fear anyone crossing the borders and subject them to intensely political scrutiny, barring dissidents with strange ideas like "freedom."