Environmental Leader Spotlight: Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is an author and activist and has dedicated her life to climate change and unpacking the choices we make that has large consequences on our environment. She is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (2007) and “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies” (2001). She is currently working on a new book and film on how the climate crisis can spur economic and political transformation. You can follow her on Twitter at @NaomiAKlein.

In this TED talk she speaks broadly about climate change and specifically about the complexity of human choice and risk that enables oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, the lunacy of oil extraction in Alberta’s Oil Sands, and our willingness to push mother nature to its extreme limit and thus our existence on this planet.
Throughout the talk, she often refers to the ‘jump shot’. The ‘jump shot’ involves following solutions that are pushing the boundaries of science, that are untested and require a stretch of the imagination–seemingly magical solutions to our most pressing problems. One highly publicized solution to the Gulf Oil leak was to shoot golf balls into the leak. This ‘jump shot’ solution came after 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea. It highlights the lunacy and zeal that we pursue to meet our energy wants–not ‘needs’.

She also highlights Alberta’s Oil Sands as another example of our lunacy and zeal. In a previous post, David Suzuki, a prominent Canadian environmentalist, speaks specifically about the massive effects of oil sand extraction and how it represents some of our last efforts to exhaust our fossil fuels. The process of oil sand extraction involves 3 times more pollution than conventional oil extraction. Furthermore, it produces large amounts of toxic by-products that sit in a tailing pond and have been reported to be leaking into major water ways that supply thousands of people.

The main point that she makes throughout the talk is about the risks that we are willing to take to continue living our lavish lifestyles. We continually ask ourselves, “how much hotter can we let the planet get before we HAVE to change our lifestyles?” This question is absurd on its own, but is also irrelevant. We have to change our lifestyles because we have pushed our limits already. Check out some science at the 350.org, a popular climate change movement, on which Naomi Klein sits on the Board of Directors.

How to Educate a Planet

I was inspired to call this blog post, “How to Educate a Planet” based on a research study that was highlighted in the Harvard International Review. The purpose of the research was to investigate the connection between the personal computer and educational attainments in developed and developing countries. In the study, they highlight two major education initiatives: the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) goal of establishing universal primary education (UPE) and Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program. The programs are identified has representing two very different approaches to improving education on a global scale.

Continue reading “How to Educate a Planet”

The Multiple Disciplines of Early Childhood Education

In The Multiple Disciplines of Early Childhood Education I look at how various disciplines all contribute to the growing and evolving field of early childhood education. I reflect on the disciplines of my teammates and friends that are doing amazing work across the world and how what they learn can contribute to my own passions and aspirations.

Continue reading “The Multiple Disciplines of Early Childhood Education”

The Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands

I was honoured and privileged to have attended a special event at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for an advanced screening of a new documentary by filmmaker Niobe Thompson and environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki. The film is called The Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands which will be featured in a special 2-hour episode of The Nature of Things on CBC on January 27 at 8pm on CBC-TV.

Continue reading “The Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands”

Success Spoken Here: Preparing Citizens of the World

The John Stanford International School in Seattle immerses students in global awareness through a focus on technology, art, and music. This school is a great example of innovation in the educational system as teachers, administrators, parents and children embrace new approaches to education that is researched-based and culturally-aware. In this video, the confidence and self-esteem that comes with global awareness and language proficiency becomes very obvious through the student and teacher testimonials.

To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.jsisweb.com/
I learned about this innovative school through the Edutopia website at http://www.edutopia.org

Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience

| Design Project:

Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) Content Management and Rebranding

| Brief:

The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience is an academic department at the University of Waterloo that is strategically placed to continue the work of SiG@Waterloo in its emerging leadership role in generating new inter-disciplinary knowledge about social innovations and the social innovation process in Canada. This will be achieved through collaborative research across UW academic units, inter-institutionally, as well as, across sectors in society. Application and mobilization of this knowledge will be achieved through design and delivery of a range of new curriculum offerings and training opportunities, including the new Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation.

The University of Waterloo’s reputation as Canada’s most innovative university, its recognized expertise in a range of disciplinary areas concerned with systems, complexity and innovation, and its demonstrated commitment to cross-sectoral collaborations, provide a rich and supportive environment to create the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience. WISIR will be housed within the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development in the Faculty of Environment.

WISIR will further reinforce and realize UW’s statement that, “in the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow.”

Visit the Website

Be Nice to Spiders

Be Nice to Spiders, by Margaret Bloy Graham

“A little boy is moving to a new apartment that doesn’t allow pets.  Not having a place for his pet spider “Helen” to stay, he decides to leave her in a box at the front gate of the zoo.  Inside the box is a note asking that the zookeeper take care of her.   When the zookeeper opens the box, Helen escapes and makes her way into the lions’ cage.  Before the arrival of Helen, the lioness and her cubs were miserable, covered in flies from mane to paws.  Helen, whose favorite meal is flies, sets up her web in the corner of the lions’ cage and begins to feast.  A week later, Helen has eaten all the flies in the lions’ cage and so moves next door to the elephant house.

This weekly migration of spinning, eating and moving on continues and the zoo becomes a peaceful, fly-free place for all.  The harmony is broken when the zookeeper decides the zoo needs to be cleaned up for an upcoming inspection by the mayor.  Despite a protest from one of his assistants that “spider webs are supposed to be sort of useful,” the zookeeper decides that all spider webs must go!  With that, the balance among flies, animals and Helen is broken.

To avoid the cleaners, Helen disappears into a crack in the ceiling of the camel house and remains hidden there for several days.  At first, the zoo looks spotless.  However, with Helen gone, the flies begin to come back after a few days.  Helen spins her web at night in the camel’s cage but does not travel around to other cages for fear of being swept away by the zoo attendants. All the other animals once again begin to look miserable, except for the camel.  The zookeeper and his assistant finally realize the role Helen has played in maintaining harmony within the zoo.  The “ah-hah!” leads the zookeeper to establish a new rule at the zoo:  “Be nice to spiders.””

This story that is read in Early Childhood Classrooms highlights the social conflict that occurs when people view conflicts as short-term rather than long-term. This story teaches the importance of viewing a conflict from a broader perspective, that is, viewing the benefits of a spider in catching flies rather then the unattractiveness of the spider’s web. Ultimately, the point of the story is to be nice to spiders because they provide a value to the system, in this case, the zoo.
This story, used in the early childhood classroom, can provide an introduction to learning about living systems. Living systems is an, “animate arrangement of parts and processes that continually affect each other over time” (Sweeney, 2008). Through learning about the interdependence of the parts of a system, children can begin to understand many issues surrounding environmental sustainability, biodiversity, living cycles, etc. which are all very important social issues.
Sweeney, L. B. (2008). Principles of Living Systems. Taken from [ http://www.farmbasededucation.org/page/systems-teaching-and-farmbased ]

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