Dawn Green – Writer

Weaving words worldwide


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Why ecological literacy is important for kids

I am delighted to feature another fabulous guest post from Ella Andrews – this one tells us how essential it is for our children to understand build a relationship with nature.

Why ecological literacy is important for kids3

Mother Nature is very important for our future. A major part of our future are our kids. We must teach them ecological literacy so as to make them learn how important it is to take care of the environment. Being introduced to nature from when they are little children will help develop in them a deep love and solicitude for their surrounding environment.

While young, kids explore and discover a lot of new things. We can help them expand their knowledge by showing them outdoor activities. The best way is if we have a garden on our property or take them to any of the nearest parks. Once we find a suitable place to play with our kids, we must do some preparations first. Playing outside may be dangerous so we have to do some efficient garden clearance first. Kids will be happy to see how plants smell and how the bees are alighting on them so take them on a trip in a garden that has lots of different flowers.

Once our kids see the beauty of nature, it is almost certain that they will turn into an adult who appreciates the small things and will take care of the natural world. Ecological literacy is important for our kids because if we lose nature, we will be lost too. Each living creature on the planet can’t survive without water and food and this is something that our kids must learn from childhood. Teaching them to take care and respect nature is maybe one of the most important lessons we have to teach them.

Planting some flowers will be very interesting to them, with this you can show them how to take care of something. After some time they will see the growth of their flowers and you will be surprised how satisfied they will be.

Another interesting thing for your kids will be for them to meet a gardener. A gardening professional will help you with not only the lawn care but also may help you with ecological education for your children.

Meeting with nature face-to-face, kids can see the different elements of our surrounding environment working together. Even doing some patio cleaning will show them how to take care of the world around them.

A good ecological literacy is something that is a must for every person in the world. As youngsters, we start understanding the importance of taking care of nature, and we can call ourselves decent people who know what is important for our health in the future. Many schools have classes that show the kids how to take care of nature. All the books and videos won’t educate kids on ecological literacy as much as looking at their parents doing some gardening outdoors and spending time playing in nature.

 


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Seven ways the Internet is changing our brain

During one of my many random internet searches where, after awhile, I forget what even prompted the search in the first place (sound familiar?), I came across this intriguing infographic.

It really sums up  our collective addiction to the Net and tells us how that addiction is actually changing our brains, and in some not so good ways.

Who reading this can relate to the first one, FOMO or Fear of Missing Out? Wow, that one strikes close to home and used to be a big issue for me, particularly with social media channels. Thankfully I have now managed to wean myself off of that unhelpful mindset and even take days off from checking social media, with positive results. I feel much more free and yet still enjoy my limited time on there, so luckily I have struck a good balance.

Good food for thought and perhaps a prompt to us all to enjoy the Net in moderation (just like with wine and chocolate). Sometimes it is good to simply turn off the screen, take a deep breath and head outdoors and notice the little things that matter in life.

~Dawn
Your Brain on the Internet
Source: OnlineCourseReport.com


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The Ultimate Guide for the Green Parent

The following is a guest post from Ella Andrews on green parenting – a topic that is near and true to my heart.

Thanks Ella!

how-to-be-a-green-parent

Credit:  moralfibres.co.uk

Embracing an eco-friendly lifestyle and being a parent at the same time can seem like a tough task. Even the zealous green activist will find it challenging when it comes to the enormous piles of laundry and the infinite numbers of diapers that need to be changed on a daily basis. A little dedication and determination can take you a long way. Green parenting is a great way to help the planet, while raising a healthy and environmentally conscious child. The following basic green parenting ideas can get you started. Of course, these tips are not prescriptive and depend on your parenting style.

  1. Eco-friendly Diapers

If you decide to ditch the conventional disposable diapers, there are several green options for your changing table. The most obvious choice is cloth diapers. These solutions have come a long way since your grandma used them. You can wash them at home or at a local diapering service. Don’t want to go through the hassle of cleaning diapers every day? Pick eco-friendly, disposable ones. These green diapers are made without fragrances, latex or chlorine. The Diapers Free movement is another alternative that might take some time and effort. You need to learn to recognize when your baby needs to “go” and take care of the business. The advantage of this method is early potty training.

  1. Wipes

Let’s talk about the other baby product that you use on a daily basis – the wipes. This is your best friend when it comes to efficiently and professionally cleaning the mess. Disposable wipes are filled with chemicals that are bad for both your child and the environment. Pick ones that contain only organic ingredients. To be completely sure that your wipes are safe, make them yourself. You will need a roll of heavy duty paper or cloths if you want reusable wipes, 1 ¾ cups of boiled water, 1 table spoon of pure aloe vera and the same amount of pure Witch Hazel, olive or almond oil, Liquid Castille soap. Fold the paper or cloth wipes in a container and pour the mixture.

  1. Toys and Baby Accessories

When selecting your child’s playthings, keep in mind that your baby likes to touch everything and put toys in their mouths. Your best bet is wooden and organic cloth items. Most plastic objects including the baby bottles contain Bisphenol-A, which is an artificial estrogen. Look for wooden toys with water base-stains or unfinished solid wood. As for the cloth items, get products made out of organic cotton and other natural fabrics.

  1. Cleaning Products

Cut the use of potentially hazardous chemicals, by choosing eco- friendly alternatives you can find on the market or in your kitchen cabinet. Make your own green cleaners by using nontoxic ingredients such as lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar and borax. If you are not into homemade cleaners, you can find great organic alternatives on the market.

  1. General Green Tips
  • Reuse, reduce and recycle – borrow or buy gently used items you will need only for a short period like bouncers and cribs.
  • Recycle bottles, clothes and paper.
  • Green eating habits- breastfeeding and organic food are super healthy for your baby.

 


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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog.

Thanks everyone for having a look at my sporadic postings throughout the year on a variety of topics ranging from kids’ screen time to the plight of community newspapers.

Wishing you all much happiness for 2016 – the new year has 365 blank pages…what will you fill it with?

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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The changing face of the community newspaper

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As audiences demand more access to online content, community newspapers across the globe struggle with finding a delicate balance between the old and new. Photo by Colette Cassinelli, Flickr.

When news of the massive mudslide reached editor Nicole Trigg on her day off in July 2012, she didn’t hesitate. She dropped everything, jumped in her car and sped down to the scene. Mesmerized by the incredible force of nature at work, Trigg got to work at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, gathering shots of the damage to the resort using her personal camera and conducting interviews with eyewitnesses who were clearly still reeling from the experience of witnessing such formidable destruction. The resulting video of the breaking news aftermath, as well as a breaking news article, was posted by Trigg on the Columbia Valley Pioneer newspaper’s website and not long after, the video was picked up by national media, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As Trigg noted, herein is an example of the power of online journalism, which, as she says, is “great and far reaching.”

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Debris from the mudslide that swept through the Columbia Valley, BC on July 15, 2012. Photo by Nicole Trigg.

This is a tale occurring across the land as not only media giants but the humble community newspaper struggles to shift and adapt in the changing seas of digital media. Where in the past a journalist would snap a couple of photos that would appear in print later that week, this video was posted online within hours of the event and quickly spread across the country.

It’s obvious that adapting is the key to survival in these uncertain times of descending subscription rates and changing needs of audiences.

The evolution of the audience

And audiences are indeed changing.

Jay Rosen, media critic, writer and professor of journalism, captures the essence of this shift in his blog, The People Formerly Known as the Audience, wherein he explores the new expectations of the audience in a mock letter to media people.

He describes the new audience as the writing readers, the viewers who use video, the formerly atomised listeners who now have the power to connect with each other and speak to the world.

Formerly on the receiving end of the highly-centralised old media system that was top-down, that had high entry fees and a few companies in competition to talk loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation, in the past audiences had little power to influence the media other than to write letters to the editor and phone in to their local radio station.

My, how times have changed.

Rosen describes how the invention of the blog has delivered freedom of the press to the people; once the editors of the news, now citizen journalists can edit the news and choose front page material; while shooting and distributing video was once the realm of Big Media, nowadays users can make and share videos in a way never seen before, thanks to YouTube and other social media outlets.

The champion of the citizen journalist, Dan Gillmor writes in his book, We the Media, that we stand at a time where people can bring strong alternatives to mainstream media.

“…the grassroots are transcending the pallid consumerism that has characterized news coverage and consumption in the past half-century or more. For the first time in modern history, the user is truly in charge, as a consumer and as a producer.”

This shift in power is tangible in the way that users engage with media, as Tom Curley, CEO of the Associated Press points out, “The users are deciding what the point of their engagement will be — what application, what device, what time, what place.”

The former audience is now the active audience that is very much involved with the media and wants to share, discuss and create, which means the press is now divided into pro and amateur zones that have a degree of overlapping and interacting.

As Rosen says in his blog, “The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable.”

Community newspaper dilemmas

So let’s turn our attention now to the humble community newspaper existing outside the parameters of the big smoke, yet working with this new audience just described. How are they coping? Are times changing for them as well or are they operating in a time warp compared to modern fast-paced city newspapers?

Trigg, the editor of The Columbia Valley Pioneer, whom we alluded to at the start of this story, has a lot to say about this topic.

Located in the small mountain town of Invermere, in BC, Canada, the Pioneer publishes 6,400 print newspapers to locals and visitors to the valley each week. Trigg says that while she has seen an increase in regional sharing between sister papers due to easy access to online stories and an increase in the newspaper’s social media presence on sites such as Facebook, the print newspaper still rules.

“Print is still king for my area and print ads are still the main economic driver,” she explains. “This is likely due to the tabloid full-colour format of the free paper I publish as well as this being a tourist destination with lots of visitors who like to pick up the paper to have something in their hands while they’re here. The paper is also a coffee table favourite among locals. It’s actually company policy not to let online draw attention away from the money-making print product. Online access to the subscription-based paper I put out is protected by a paywall.”

So apart from breaking news posts, photo galleries and teasing stories on Facebook and Twitter, time and policy constraints don’t leave much room for online activity, laments Trigg.

She describes her dilemma as her bosses started pushing for more of an online presence but then cut her staff which, she says, keeps her scrambling to stay on top of the newspaper print edition.

“I think one point to make is how difficult the transition to online can be when a news team is already swamped working on the paper product, which actually makes the money because advertisers are preferring to see their ads in print rather than online. Online sales here are negligible. Ideally I would hire someone who could make online their main focus, something I have yet to see materialise despite my many requests.”

Clare Ogilvie, editor of the Pique Newsmagazine in Whistler, BC echoes Trigg’s sentiments.

When she took over as editor of the community newspaper five years ago, the first thing she did was re-launch the digital website and move to a seven-day-a-week staffing model.

“With such a tiny staff it is really impossible to do justice to the news that is happening daily but we try,” she said in an email, adding that reporters struggle as they are being asked to do more for less money than they have ever been asked to do before.

Ogilvie notes that they have a reporter on staff who makes amazing videos (an example can be found here) which they try to use, but the reality is there often isn’t enough time to post videos.

“We don’t make any money from it… so it is pretty far down the list of priorities,” she said.

So once again we see how the role of the community newspaper has changed dramatically over the past decade. Ogilvie says that there are several factors contributing to this. One reason lies in the staff cutbacks at large papers, so the daily newspapers (dailies), such as the Vancouver Sun, now frequently take stories from the weekly newspapers (weeklies), such as the Pique, rather than do their own research. Dailies and weeklies often “share” content, which is another strong solution, she adds.

She is quick to point out that at the root of these changes is the fact that the world has gone digital.

“People want information now,” she notes. “And they don’t want to pay for it either — and since they can mostly get it for free, the digital side of media has not been able to figure out a way to monetize it. Dailies have been forced to go digital in a big way, but they are not making any money from it.”

The move to digital has also forced community newspapers to keep up.

At the Pique newsmagazine, this has led to the seven-day-a-week staffing situation, constant updating of the website, as well as social media postings throughout the working day. Her staff are active on Pique’s Facebook and Twitter sites and there is an expectation that reporters will post to social media when they are at events, even if they are not working.

So it seems that our community newspapers are facing some unique challenges in this new digital era, ones which are ultimately attached to the newspaper business model.

But there is optimism in amongst the grim facts of overworked and underpaid staff labouring away at community newspapers all across the country.

Ogilvie says that as a result of all these changes, communities now rely more and more on their local newspapers for information, and this should be seen as the silver lining in an otherwise challenging situation.

“This gives local news organisations a unique opportunity to become indispensable, and is one we should all embrace.”

 

By Dawn Green

~ Originally posted on the COMM5602 blog for the unit Online Journalism at UWA. November 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Screen-time versus nature-time

There’s a sad trend unfolding in households all around us – while many of us adults can remember vividly the hustle and bustle of neighbourhood games on the street before shouts from mums came floating over kids’ laughter, announcing it was dinnertime, today this can often be a dramatically different scene. The streets instead are empty and silent. Where are the kids? They are indoors, hunched over their various technology, engrossed in screen-time.

Photo by Paul Rogers

Photo by Paul Rogers

Addiction to screens is certainly not a new concept but the research continues to pile up and should not be ignored. Evidence backing its nasty side-effects all point to the fact that too much screen-time can be detrimental to your health on many levels.

It’s gotten so bad in places like China that doctors there now consider screen addiction to be a clinical disorder. The documentary “Web Junkie,”  illustrates the tragic effects on teens who become utterly addicted to video games, playing non-stop for dozens of hours at a time. Many come to view the real world as fake.

As a result, special rehab centres in China have been established where affected teens are confined for months at a time, completely isolated from all media.

Internet addiction. Source: YouTube

Internet addiction. Source: YouTube

While this may seem to be an extreme measure, there’s no denying that youth all over the world are similarly affected by Internet addiction, where they are plugged in for far more hours of the day than experts consider health for normal development.

The American Academy of Paediatrics advises for children under two years to have no exposure to electronic media.

“A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens,” the Academy said in its policy statement.

It also recommends that teenagers should spend no more than two hours a day looking at screens.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, agrees.

“We’re throwing screens at children all day long, giving them distractions rather than teaching them how to self-soothe, to calm themselves down,” she said.

“Kids need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”

Ms Steiner-Adair added that parents must act before their kids get an unrealistic take on reality.

“Children have to know that life is fine off the screen,” she said.

“It’s interesting and good to be curious about other people, to learn how to listen. It teaches them social and emotional intelligence, which is critical for success in life.”

My gut feeling is that as this information becomes more and more mainstream, parents will react and do their best to help their kids by limiting their screen time despite the lure of using TV as an ‘electronic babysitter.’

Only time will tell but it is my greatest hope that instead, kids will get used to getting home from school and getting shooed out the back door to play outdoors before dinner, just like we did when we were their age. And that’s when nature-time as opposed to screen-time will develop into a far greater influence in their lives and time tumbling in the sand and climbing up limbs of trees will create long lasting positive effects in their lives.

So I’m backing nature-time over screen-time.

What do you think?

Imagination Grove. Source: www.slate.com

Imagination Grove. Source: http://www.slate.com


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Risky parenting – the debate

My friend and I debated this the other day, as we meandered in a wetlands, collecting rubbish at the insistence of her four-year-old. While her two daughters and mine galloped around, touched pricky bushes, tripped over and dusted themselves off again, we pondered what exactly risky parenting meant to each of us.

While it’s easy to talk about allowing kids to jump off rocks, take risks and be responsible, it’s  also so true that when you are actually a parent, and you’re actually talking about your own daughter or son, it’s a whole different ballgame compared to sitting on the sidelines and judging other parents for the decisions they make.

So while I do feel strongly that kids need to have more freedom to roam (think Free-Range kids) and not be faced with ‘helicopter parents’ always hovering close by, the thought of one day letting Jarrah hurl down a mountain bike track on her own or walk home from the library without me turns my blood to ice. That crazy strong protective instinct kicks in and I just want to shelter her from the world.

Photo: justinjensen/Flickr

Photo: justinjensen/Flickr

Yet, as Katie Arnold writes so eloquently in a recent article in Outside Magazine, at the end of the day it’s all about making responsible decisions for our children’s safety while allowing them to expand and grow.

“But we can’t slow our children down. Not really. Their whole purpose in life is to grow and change and need us less until they hardly need us at all. We can urge caution in the moment and good judgment over time, but we can’t arrest their development. At times we cheer their progress, at others we’re heartbroken by how quickly they are changing. Either way, it’s our job to help them grow so we can let them go. The hardest thing about being a parent is knowing where to draw the line between reasonable, healthy risk and careless negligence, between hands-on guidance and helicopter parenting.” (Katie Arnold, 2015)

And my friend and I agreed. We don’t sweat when our kids trip and fall, and getting dirty is cherished and promoted, so we feel we are on the right track. Will I still fret when Jarrah goes off on her first crazy wilderness experience on her own? You betcha, but the important thing is that I will be there to hug her when she gets back and share in her excitement, after all, that’s what parenthood is all about.