Join or Publicize the Student Action Team!

One of the most popular programs Next Generation has offered over the years is returning! The Next Generation Student Action Team is forming! The Student Action Team is an opportunity for middle and high school students from around Marin to come together to learn more about environmental, peace, and social justice issues; develop leadership and activist skills; plan and run campaigns; exchange ideas, experience, and inspiration; and to have a good time while making a difference. Are you a middle or high school student? Come to our first meeting! It’s going to be: · Wednesday February 4, 3:30-5:30. (You can come late or leave early if needed.) · At our office in central San Rafael: 1363 Lincoln Ave, Suite 5. About a 10 minute walk from the Transit Center. · FUN and INSPIRING! Are you a teacher or parent, or do you know students who might be interested? Please let them know! Check out this photo of the Next Generation Student Action Team, circa 2005!...

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When It Rains It Pours – an Abundance of Lessons!

For months now, I (Nora) have been going back and forth with several busy teachers from 4 different schools — Davidson, Miller Creek, Redwood, and San Marin — to try to schedule lessons. For whatever reason, it was taking a lot of effort to get these particular lessons scheduled. Well, yesterday I did three hour-and-a-half lessons at Redwood about civic engagement and activism, and was even more excited to get these other lessons scheduled when I walked into the office today. The interesting thing is that while I didn’t actually take any action today as a result of that excitement to schedule more lessons, requests for lessons from all these teachers started rolling in out of nowhere! A teacher I hadn’t heard from since November emailed me requesting lessons on alternative energy. Another teacher I hadn’t heard back from since early December emailed me requesting our Food for Thought, Deconstructing Advertising, and Economics of Sustainability lessons. A teacher who I’d been emailing back and forth with since October called, and we set up 16 lessons on alternative energy and food issues. And a teacher I had never heard of but who had gotten our flyer contacted me about doing civic engagement lessons for her class! All in the last 24 hours! It can sometimes be frustrating to be taking the actions you know to take, following up, and not seeing the immediate results — in this case, scheduling these lessons. But perhaps something shifted in the world! Maybe it’s the inauguration of our new president, who is highlighting the need for service and environmental sustainability. Either way, as the adage goes, it seems that when it rains, it pours....

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Neil Cummins Elementary School Science Fair

Students, parents, and teachers from the Neil Cummins Elementary School in Corte Madera enjoyed an evening of wacky science experiments including larger than life bubbles, a bike powered smoothie machine, telescopes to observe the night’s sky, toothpick marshmallow structures, static electricity balloons, worm bin compost, and cow eye dissections at the science fair on January 14th. At the fair, Next Generation presented a water conservation and pollution demonstration to empahsize the value of the Earth’s fresh water resources. After adding to the “water pollution soup” and signing a water conservation pledge, the students created the following list of actions to green their lives. “Garden. Don’t litter. Bring a plate for hot lunch. Turn off the lights. Drive cars that suck up carbon dioxide and run on oxygen. Don’t waste water. Turn the heater off when you are not at home. Walk to school. Recycle. Don’t waste paper. Put solar panels on your roof. Take my shower shorter.” Please enjoy their words of wisdom as an inspiration to take action for a more sustainable world in your own daily lifestyle....

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The Human Face of War

Wow. Some days I (Nora) don’t realize how lucky I am to have the job that I do — to be working for sustainability and peace. Like virtually all jobs, sometimes it occurs as an obligation — like I “have to” go to work in the morning. Well, not today. This morning, we (Paul and Nora) went to visit with a three-year-old Iraqi boy, Mustafa, and his father, Ghazwan, who were flown here thanks to the financial support of The Ruth Group and No More Victims. In June, a US missile landed next door to Mustafa and Ghazwan’s house, killing three neighboring children and causing Mustafa to go deaf. There are not currently medical facilities in Iraq to provide Mustafa the cochlear implant surgery he needs to recover his hearing, hence the inspiring and generous efforts by the above organizations to help. You can read more about his story here. We met with them to consider how we can bring this story of the human cost of war to the youth we work with. Each missile dropped on Iraq that may or not make the papers here causes untold damage to innocent kids like Mustafa and adults like Ghazwan (a professor in Iraq). The most memorable part of my experience, besides playing by the dollhouse with the adorable Mustafa, was saying something I felt compelled to say to Ghazwan. I’m not sure he understood, but I got teary when I said, “I am so sorry for what our country has done to you.” We will keep you posted on how we will bring Mustafa’s important story to our students and beyond, and appreciate feedback....

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Back to Work … Making a Difference!

Back to work! Our office closes for two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s, in keeping with the school schedules, so it’s been a while since we’ve all seen each other and been at the office! While we all enjoyed our breaks — Rebecca went to Mexico, Nora to Santa Cruz, and Marijanna and Paul enjoyed staying local in Marin — we are eager to get back to the business of inspiring young people to make a difference. We’ve begun to prep for Redwood’s Sustainability Festival, are making plans for next year and writing grants accordingly, scheduling more lessons and assemblies, and are back at it in the garden! It’s of course nice to have a vacation, but we are excited to do even more good work the second half of the year!...

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