I saw the article “In the Book Bag, More Garden Tools” on the New York Times a week or two ago and meant to point it out, but it kind of fell off my radar. Finals are coming up and the spouse is concentrating on studying. Thereby leaving me to do more of the necessary cleaning, childcare, etc. things around the house. Enough excuses. This is something very cool happening in New York City. I worry about nature deficit in my own child, but for these kids it’s much more of a problem. We drive by farms and cows, garden in our backyard and go to the farmers’ market on a regular basis. My kid doesn’t interact with nature as much as I’d like him to, but really, he’d have to work pretty hard to avoid nature all together in the area where we live. For kids growing up in New York City, that isn’t the case. Schools are stepping in to fill the void and help kids understand the natural world and natural cycles through school gardens. Some of them have to be located on rooftops for lack of space on the ground. They’re working very hard to use those spaces for all sorts of classes. Art classes go and draw the plants and the skyline, math classes go on the roof to study angles, science classes go up and talk about the weather, ecology, agriculture and any number of other topics. I’m so glad they are giving kids these opportunities and I hope more schools figure out how to create these types of spaces for their own students.
Another New York Times article I came across earlier today is “To Stop Climate Change, Students Aim at College Portfolios.” The article is about college students putting pressure on their institutions to sell off endowment holdings in fossil fuel companies. I’m not really old enough to remember it, but apparently students did something similar in the eighties with regard to institutions selling off stock in companies that worked with the apartheid government of South Africa. It’s unclear whether students’ efforts in the eighties had any impact on the South African government, but it did get the conversation started on what could be done to pressure South Africa to end apartheid. Many endowments have vast amounts of money and coal, oil, and gas companies are usually part of the investment mix. Perhaps universities selling off their holdings in these companies won’t force change on them, but after this last election where climate change was all but ignored, this action would (hopefully) get the government moving on climate action again. I admire these students’ verve and hope their idea spreads. Read more about the divest from fossil fuel movement at www.350.org.