It is the waiting time of year. Waiting for the first snow. Waiting for the leaves to fall off that last tree in front of the house. (and hoping it happens before the first snow). Waiting for the holidays. This year, waiting for the governmental transition. For kids it is waiting for presents and candies and a break from school. And, for kids, it can seem like the time for all these things is never going to actually get here.

While we are all in that waiting mode, as the wind whistles outside and the skies get dark mid-afternoon, maybe it’s a good time to curl up with your little one and a good book about…waiting.

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

An owl, a pig, a bear, a puppy, and a rabbit sat on a windowsill. Each one was waiting for something different. With spare language and soft, muted blues and greens and pinks, Henkes gives readers the sense of the thickness of waiting. Pegged for Preschool-K.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Kraus and Crockett Johnson

A little boy planted a carrot seed. No one thought it would grow. He took care of it anyway. And he waited. But nothing came up. Everyone told him it would not grow. But he continued to take care of it. And then…

This book is over 70 years old and is still in print. A testament to its timeless quiet approach to waiting.

Pegged for ages 4-8.

Share your favorite books about waiting.

Giving Thanks for the Boulder Food Project 2

Last year, as I was just starting out on my adventure into the world of inspiring organizations, I stumbled onto the Boulder Food Rescue. The founder, Hana Dansky, had done her own reconnaissance into our nation’s food cycle: we put “10 percent of our national energy budget, 50 percent of our land use, and 80 percent of our freshwater resources into food, truck it around the country, and then end up throwing away nearly 40 percent of everything we produce, much of which is still edible and healthy.” At the same time, there are hungry people everywhere.

Saying No to Waste

Hana is putting her body and soul into changing that.

  • Rescuing from local grocery stores perfectly fresh unused food that is slated for the garbage heap
  • Redistributing this food to people in need
  • Hosting community meals where the wealthy and the poor, side by side, cook and eat together

Check out my archived November 24, 2015 blog entry for more detail on the basic mission.

What’s New from the Boulder Food Rescue?

The Boulder Food Rescue crew has been busy since my last look a year ago.

  • In February, they produced the first-of-its kind food waste audit for the City of Boulder. The purpose is to identify the key factors that are contributing to food waste, including food donor fear of liability, a concern I’ve heard voiced over and over.
  • This year they’ve upped the total food redirected away from landfills to a whopping 1, 509,506 pounds.
  • They continue to sustain the environment by doing these heavyweight pickups and deliveries on bikes – 85% bike use, snow or shine!

Some other cool facts:

  • The Boulder Food Rescue co-founder created a web application to efficiently track the cumbersome logistics of food rescue. The app is now being used in 13 cities.
  • Ongoing research is underway that analyzes barriers and strategies to healthy food access for people facing food insecurity.

Inspired? Want to start your own food rescue? Check out this roadmap.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Share your stories of sharing food

Books to Put Us in the Thanksgiving Mood

As we prepare to give thanks, here is a beautiful book that reminds us of all that we have.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup

In a video reading of his book, Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp tells us this is “an ancient message of peace and appreciation of mother earth and all her inhabitants.” The quiet spare words of the Iroquois Thanksgiving Address are matched with the brilliant colors and flat lines of quiet spare paintings to put us in the mood of thanks. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, you might start your Thanksgiving quietly listening to Chief Swamp’s reading.

A book for all ages.

Along with the peace of giving thanks, there is the power of giving. Here is a book that shows how a small gift can go a long way.One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Kojo lives with his mother in a small village in Ghana. The people there do not have much money. But they have a big idea. Each gives a little money into a pot. Pooled together, the amount of money is not so small. It is big enough to help build a business. And when that business grows big enough, the money is paid back into the pot for another family to use. When it is Kojo’s mother’s turn, Kojo uses a few coins to buy a hen. And that is the beginning of a chain of events that leads him to school, then to build a big farm, and to help others by paying them to work on his farm. The author presents a clear and interesting introduction for kids on how this process called microlending works – from one hen to a thriving community. A small gift can go a long way.

Pegged for grades 3-7.

Share your favorite books about thanks and giving.

Thanks and Giving

Thanksgiving week has arrived. Last year, this time, I wrote about my experiences with teaching my young kids to be thankful in a materialistic world. (See archives, November 22, 2015) This year, my now young adult children are showing me the life-sustaining fruits of teaching thankfulness to children.

Many people are experiencing life-altering threats since the election two weeks ago. Some are verbal threats. A teacher friend reported on a middle school student who was told she was going to be sent back where she came from (never mind that she were born right here in the United States). Others have been physically attacked for wearing a veil or for the color of their skin. Many, many more face the uncertainty of whether they will be able to continue living in this country.

Teaching Thanks Through Giving

In last year’s blog, I suggested the idea of combatting materialistic entitlement by creating activities for your children that involve giving – making presents and delivering them to orphanages or shelters, making homemade holiday greeting cards or baking cookies for family and friends.

This year, my children are choosing, without any prompting from me, their own ways of giving. One daughter is signing up to volunteer at an immigration organization; another is using her skills as a lawyer to help those in need of free (otherwise known as pro bono) legal assistance; my third daughter is planning to join a march to protect women’s rights.

This week, communities of families and friends across the country will break bread together. It is an opportunity to voice thanks for what we have and to share ways of giving to others who are in need. Let’s make the most of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Share your stories of thanks and giving.

Sweet Land of Liberty

There has been a lot of airing of our divisions lately. It is enough to make anyone, no matter what side you take, curl up in despair. But there are some things basic to who we are as a nation, regardless of our individual politics, that we must stand up for. One of those is liberty.

Our Inalienable Rights

Our founding principles, set down in writing in the Declaration of Independence include “inalienable rights… [to] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But to ensure our historical commitment is lived out in the present day, we must work hard to protect these rights.

Defenders of Liberty

The American Civil Liberties Union is, perhaps, our most venerable non-governmental organization protecting our right to liberty. Nearly one hundred years old, the ACLU works everywhere liberty is challenged: in all branches of government — the courts, the legislature, and the executive branch; and in communities across the country.

You might think the ACLU only defends rights that liberals support. But that is not true. The ACLU is nonpartisan. It has defended the rights of groups on the right and the left.

When there is a deep sea change in government like we are currently facing, the potential impact on liberty is uncertain. This can make us as individuals feel scared and powerless. Groups like the ACLU, with its vast experience and deep talent pool can inspire: Inspire in us the sense that we are not alone, inspire in us the sense that we are not powerless, and inspire in us the incentive to work together.

Strength in Numbers

Since last week’s election, over 100,000 people have turned to the ACLU to lead us in protecting individual liberty: Donations to the ACLU since November 8 top 7 million dollars.

We, the people, are standing up to protect our nation’s commitment to liberty. That is inspiring.

Share your stories of defending liberty

Now What?

I am back from my weeklong post-election hiatus. For half of our country, day-to-day assumptions about what our nation stands for were completely turned upside down. Maybe most heartbreaking were the children, looking to their grownups to explain. So here are a couple of books that might reassure just a bit.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

A baby bird, newly hatched, falls out of his nest into the big scary world. He decides to set out in search of his mother. He finds a lot of animals out in the world – a cat, a hen, a dog – but none of them are his mother. He begins to wonder: Did he have a mother? But the baby bird is intrepid and he doesn’t give up. You probably have guessed there is a happy ending – read this satisfying book with your little ones to find out exactly how baby bird’s world is set right again.

Pegged for preschoolers.

For the slightly older set…

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Sixteen-year-old Kit has her life upended when her grandfather dies and she must leave her home in Barbados to resettle in colonial Connecticut in 1687, a place of intolerance where people look with suspicion on Kit who behaves so differently from them. When a deadly disease spreads through the community, the townspeople turn on Kit, accusing her of being a witch. Can Kit’s bravery and the support of her small circle of friends save her from the community’s wrath?

A Newbery award winner in 1959, this story reminds us that there have been many uncertain times in history but that the human spirit endures.

Pegged for 5-8 grades.

Share your favorite books about landing in a scary world.

Some Days Are Like That…

Have you ever read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well, today was one of those for me — a rough day at the office. And I have to admit, I wallowed in it a bit. Not a great day for me personally. But as the day went on, I lifted my gaze from my navel and here’s what I saw:

  • On this November 4 in Chicago it was bright and sunny and 67 degrees!
  • 5 million people descended on our center city celebrate the baseball team that – for over a century – could not find a way to win but is now world champion!
  • My boyfriend gave me a bear hug and my daughter called just to say Hi!
  • The election is now only 4 days away!
  • I am going to a dinner tonight to celebrate one of my good friends who has give countless hours, days, years to inspiring me and others to use our gifts for the good of the world!

Tomorrow, I may make a bigger, better contribution to the world around me. Today, I am reveling in the contributions of others. Inspiring!

What do you do when you need a pick-me-up?

What’s this thing called the electoral process?

The election is less than a week away. I remember the days when my children were young and their excitement in accompanying me to vote. What’s it all about? Here are a couple of good books to explain.

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

When Grace’s teacher rolls out a poster of all U.S. Presidents from George Washington forward, Grace is shocked that there are no girls on there. She decides to run for President herself – at school. Her opponent is a do-it-all-well BOY.

Each kid in the class represents one state and decides how to cast that state’s electoral votes. Wouldn’t you know… the boys hold a slight edge in electoral votes. Can Grace win anyway?

It’s a good time to introduce kids to the electoral process….and a female candidate!

Pegged for ages 9-12.

For the slightly older set…

Voting and the U.S. Government a papersalt book

This spiral-bound book is chock full of well laid out and colorful information. When you get done with this book you will know all about the constitutional foundations for elections, the branches of government and the election process.

Great for middle school and high school.

Share your favorite election books!