We live in crazy times. Yet, with chaos comes opportunity.

To unlock the opportunity, remember: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” -Einstein

The Green Sugar Project looks broadly, explores connections and learns through doing. With nature as our guide, we work on What’s Possible. Designing for abundance is an idea whose time has come. But that idea needs legs.

Take a deep breath. Start stretching. And join us on the journey.

All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -George Bernard Shaw

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Education. Change the Debate.

Before bashing the teacher’s union or school budgets, let’s consider the existing model.

I wrote about it at What the Hell’s Going On?

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Food System

Teaching kids to eat veggies is nice, but it’s not the answer.

Acknowledging the connections is the first step towards systemic change. So much is possible…

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Model of Education

I like talking with my barber, Felicia. While she makes quick work on my hair, she gives me spanish to practice. Last week, I had no time for espanol. While Felicia cut, I read. I couldn’t take my eyes away from an article on transforming education in the 3rd world. For the last few days, my mind keeps asking: what’s the applicability to our schools?

Even if we know the truth, Continue reading

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What the Hell’s Going On?

When I began this journey (Environmental Education), I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I figured, if we get kids outside to play and to learn about how nature works, we’ll improve our health and accelerate the transition towards an economy where our species ‘fits in.’ Now, years later, after reading everything I could get my hands on, loads of heated debate and time in hundreds of classrooms with thousands of kids, I know a little. Continue reading

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Great Lakes Bioneers

bioneers 2013 postcard

GLBC Youth Flier 2013

bioneers image

Great news. Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago just announced we’ll have an afternoon of programming for high school students. Bioneers is a national movement of people and organizations working on solutions inspired by nature. This November 1st-3rd marks the 2nd year Chicago has hosted a gathering. It’s an event of solutionaries, by solutionaries, for solutionaries. See the attached flier for more, or http://www.bioneerschicago.org

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Education: Reform or Transform?


You’re not going to get into an argument when you say “our education system could do better.” For sure, reformers are trying their best and efforts are nearly everywhere. Most of the prevailing public school reform efforts tend to focus around longer days, narrower curriculum with more testing (think ‘test prep’ and route memorization) and holding teachers accountable based on the results of those tests.

Who are those efforts serving? Do the kids benefit?

What if the model’s outdated and efforts to make it better only make things worse? If that’s the case, why would we charge ahead with this same model?

Free education for the masses helped transition independent farmers into wage earners, working for someone else.
We charge ahead because it still serves the needs of those who run the system. We want graduates (in debt) to become cogs in the wheel, and certainly not question the status quo.

Fortunately, there are people working for something else. Again, most people agree we ought to do better, but there are alternatives to the neoliberal/business model of education reform. It’s not about reform, but rather transforming the model. It’s about understanding kids aren’t widgets and subjects shouldn’t be silos. From teacher strikes to kids walking out of school to Sir Ken Robinson hits to ‘Educate the Whole Child’ movement to place-based education, millions see the current model doesn’t serve the needs of children, nor the needs of the 21st century. Millions are creating something different. What are you doing?

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Playing in the Mud. It’s just the start of it.

“If no pediatrician would deny that the healthiest adults spent their childhood rolling around in dirt, why obsess over keeping kids squeaky clean?”*

Learning happens in exploratory play. And it’s been going on for tens of thousands of years. It’s different than organized play. It’s play where kids have time to wander, to make up games, to use their imagination and to fall in love with the world around them.

So, what holds us back from allowing our children more unstructured time? Is it the lure of electronic devices? Safety, or space concerns? Are organized sports really more fun?

Consider this: while kids accrue immediate benefits, from unstructured time in nature, e.g. physical, mental, spiritual health, there’s also the long game. In addition to becoming happy, resilient, confident problem solvers, kids who grow up understanding how nature works and our connections with it, are better poised to thrive in a 21st century where change will be constant.

Isn’t that worth getting our hands dirty for? Let’s have some fun.
International Mud Day is here.*

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If we don’t know what’s going to happen, how do we prepare our kids?

Young scientists exploring

Even as we adults work individually to keep our own lives headed in the right direction, the world around us is in chaos. A polarized and paralyzed Washington D.C. can’t handle our runaway debt and stubborn unemployment. Globally, only climate change dwarfs the challenges of entrenched poverty and hunger. We have no idea what the world’s going to be like in ten years, let alone when your child retires in fifty or sixty years. The craziness is unprecedented.

One thing we do know: the world is hiring problem solvers. Continue reading

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Bioneers= Solutionaries

No matter where we turn, we’re fed news and information about all the world’s activities. TV, radio, magazine and the web, we’re connected. With a limited attention span, the headlines demand our attention and they bombard us with disturbing stories that cause concern: chronic unemployment and rising income inequality. Continue reading

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The Third Teacher

Should we broaden the definition of intelligence?

I like to skim through some of my favorite books, to remind me of useful thoughts I’ve forgotten. Touring Ogden International School’s new building last night inspired me to re-read The Third Teacher, 79 Ways to Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning. As soon as I picked up the book, my mind began racing. Consider: A child entering 1st grade this fall will graduate college in 2030 and retire around 2065.

The world’s changing fast (as is what’s required from graduates), yet a teacher from the Victorian age Continue reading

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