EFS: The Key to Sustainable Communities (Spoiler Alert!)

I have a confession to make. A ten year effort to help my community become sustainable has had limited success. Early enthusiastic progress, followed by a return to something resembling the status quo, has become a familiar pattern among the institutions in my town. Each experience starts with that same intoxicating esprit de corps, yet somehow, after the public’s attention shifts, things slowly end up fizzling out. This boom bust cycle leaves me wondering— if our local institutions can’t move beyond business as usual, how can we, as a society, ever hope to achieve a sustainable future?

Read More

Jaimie Cloud Wants YOU to Say No to Waste!

Repost with permssion from: http://teachingforsustainability.com/index.php/2015/10/06/jaimie-cloud-wants-you-to-say-no-to-waste
Published October 2015

The more people I educate for sustainability, the more I am convinced that it is not our values that need adjusting, it is our thinking.

I don’t meet too many people with unjust values. I meet educators, students, community members, and people who work in non-profit organizations, businesses, and community based organizations, and governments. Our values are perfectly reasonable by any ethical or moral code. For the most part, the people I meet and work with are good people who love their families and friends, work hard at meaningful jobs, pay their bills, and want to leave this world better than we found it. So the question is, how could such good people be responsible for undermining the health of the living systems upon which our lives and all life depend?

The answer: the unintended consequences of our behavior are inconsistent with our values, and the laws that govern the physical world in which we live—and we simply did not see that coming. So what can we do about it? One of the Big Ideas of Education for Sustainability is, “Live by the Laws of Nature: We must operate within the physical laws and principles derived from nature rather than ignore them or attempt to overcome them. It is non-negotiable.” If we don’t have a choice, how is it possible that we are not abiding by them?

The 1st Law of thermodynamics, a law of physics, explains why matter and energy don’t appear or disappear from Earth—why we say there is no such place as “away”. Here is a classic example: as a result of the forces of gravity and the 1st Law of thermodynamics the stuff we have here on Earth—the water, the soil, the metals, the yogurt containers, the whole material world—is what we have to work with, forever. Everything we eat, breath and use comes from somewhere on Earth and goes back to somewhere on Earth. Since matter cannot be created or destroyed, nature up-cycles everything, creating value every time ­­­things move through the cycle of biological materials, and so life goes on. While entropy (another law of physics called the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) breaks things down over time, photosynthesis puts it all back together by producing order and structure. Think: trees, leaves, decomposition, soil; trees, leaves, decomposition. More examples of material cycles include the rock cycle, the water cycle, and the nitrogen cycle—around and around and around they go…that is how it works.

Somehow, we good people of planet Earth must have missed the memo.

We produce materials that can’t join the biological cycle and create a thing we call “waste” i.e., materials that have no use. Even things that can be composted end up in the waste stream. We produce waste and we throw it out to a fictional location we call, “away”. We have been ignoring the 1stLaw! We are, in fact, the only species that leaves behind materials that have no value to any other living system. The only one. “Waste” has become such a normal thing that we don’t even think about it. What are we thinking? We need a new normal.

A no waste society will contribute to our ability to be a sustainable society. That is where we are headed. After all, waste is, well, a waste. For every 100 lbs of manufactured goods we produce, we generate 3000 lbs of waste in the U.S. (Hawken). We waste 50% of our food in the U.S., and the same globally (USDA). Given that more and more people are going hungry in this world– especially farmers, it is as wrong as it is unfair. It is unsustainable for us to continue to use up natural resources (forests, fisheries, farmland) at a rate of 50% faster than the Earth is able to replenish them—and a huge part of our ecological footprint is waste and wasted. We have a design challenge and we have a different choice to make. The design challenge is fairly straight forward. Design and use things that can be re-used, upcycled, or continually left out of the waste stream. We already have a “techno-cycle” (a human-made invention that mimics the way nature cycles materials) for things that can’t go back to nature (plastics, metals, chemicals etc.). So let’s stop pretending that there is such a place as, “away”—and cycle things we can. We can all take responsibility for the difference we make. Simply put, we need to become conscious of where our stuff comes from, what’s in it, and where it is going when it leaves our care. It is a lot of responsibility, so it will be easier if we keep the flow of stuff, to a minimum. Anything that can go into the compost pile and back to nature contributes to nature’s ability to sustain our lives and other life on Earth. Anything that can’t, needs to be continually up-cycled in the techno–cycle. No waste. A healthy, fair and sustainable future is possible and everything we do and everything we don’t do makes a difference.


NYC DOE CTE | Cloud Partnership & EfS Programming

The Cloud Institute is proud to announce our new partnership with The NYC Department of Education's High School Career Technical Education (CTE) Office, Envirolution One, a leader in sustainability education and career development in NYC, green industry experts, and Rubicon Atlas, the Curriculum Mapping Software.
NYC High School Career and Tech Education has over 300 CTE programs in 120+ schools, serving more than 120,000 students annually. The goal of the CTE Sustainability Education Initiative,  is to educate for sustainability across all career pathways over the next several years.  In this first year, we will work with faculty from Automotive, Solar, Green Building, Electrical, and IT to develop, map and pilot exemplary units of study that meet the Cloud Institute's EfS Enduring Understandings, Standards and Performance Indicators, as well as industry standards appropriate to each career pathway. The exemplary units will be piloted during the 2015-16 school year. This program is one of the ways that educators and students in NYC can contribute to the goals of ONEnyc 2030, which encompasses The Mayor's Sustainability and Resiliency Initiatives.

Help the Green Bronx Machine build the National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55 in the South Bronx.

Help the Green Bronx Machine build the National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55 in the South Bronx.

The Green Bronx Machine (GBM) has just inherited a 60 x 25 foot empty library in a 100+ year old public school building as their future home, and they are working to turn it into the National Health and Wellness Center in the South Bronx, an innovative and engaging wonderland where students can increase their academic performance and can grow their way towards a brighter future. 

GBM believes that healthy students are at the heart of healthy schools, and healthy schools are at the heart of healthy communities.  By integrating plant-based teaching with core school curriculum, they will grow healthy food, healthy students and healthy academic performance. 

So just what is the National Health and Wellness Center?  It is a place of inquiry and wonder, inspiration and aspiration, a place full of tactile and experiential learning opportunities for students and teachers.  

To make all of this possible, they will have the following four components:

  • Indoor Teaching Farm - we will teach students hands-on about food from seed to harvest, and will connect lessons to classroom curriculum.
  • Teaching Kitchen - we will teach students how to prepare and cook the vegetables they have just grown to create delicious, healthy meals.
  • Media and Resource Center - students will have access to computers for data recording and analysis, and internet for research and inter-classroom lessons with other schools across the country and internationally.
  • Indoor Community Farm - we will grow enough food to send 100 students per week home with bags of fresh vegetables, 52 weeks per year.

Educator and GBM CEO Stephen Ritz says, “It is easier raise healthy children, than fix broken men." With his work, he is simultaneously changing the way kids eat and learn.  Here is what the National Health and Wellness Center will allow him to accomplish within Public School 55:

  • Increased student engagement - He wants students to show up to school excited and ready to learn.  We want them to enjoy learning and develop a hunger for knowledge.  He will nourish their bodies and their minds.
  • Improved academic performance and test scores - as students experiment hands-on, they learn, and as they learn, they perform better!  He wants all of his 4th grade students to pass the New York State 4th Grade Science Exam this year, and he wants to send the first group of PS 55 students to the Bronx High School of Science.
  • Healthier students - as students understand where food comes from and how it grows, they will make better, healthier food choices.  Steve and GBM will provide ongoing, reliable access to healthy food right in school all year long.

GBM’s focus now is to embed their work into the entire culture of PS 55.  They know they can do this because they have generated incredible results in other schools, including: 

  • Targeted daily attendance rates increased from 40% to 93%
  • 100% graduation rate among participating students
  • 100% passing rate on NY State Regents Exam

Please support Steve Ritz and the Green Bronx Machine’s National Health and Wellness Center at Public School 55 in the South Bronx.  Find out how you can contribute at https://www.barnraiser.us/projects/the-green-bronx-machine-can.  

100% of the tax-deductible funds raised in this campaign will be used toward the purchase of equipment, facility upgrades, content creation, and operations in order to set this vision into motion. 

TNT's Dramatic Difference Features Green Bronx Machine

Repost from: http://www.tntdrama.com/video/?oid=679812
Original Post Date: January 2014

Educator and Green Bronx Machine Founder, Stephen Ritz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz discuss urban farming, sustainable education and opportunities for youth in the Bronx.

Learn more at http://greenbronxmachine.org

Mobile Edible Wall Units: Growing Healthy Food and Minds

Repost from: http://www.njfarmtoschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014-01NJF2S_News-03.html

Original Post Date: January 2014

What do you get when you put an inspiring technology into the hands of high school students? You get real life applications of 21st Century Skills which can be translated into job skills in industries related to agriculture and the sciences.

The Mobile Edible Wall Unit, better known as a "MEWU", which is pronounced "mee woo", is the invention of Green Living Technologies, a Rochester, New York-based company founded by New Jersey native, George Irwin. These walls are increasingly being used in schools for indoor school gardens, in school greenhouses and are broadening the biology and science related learning taking place in high schools that have them.

We first heard about MEWUs from teacher Steve Ritz, who was the keynote speaker at the Green Schools Alliance Conference in New York a few years back. Steve was using the walls in his classroom at the time at Discovery High School in the Bronx. His students were keenly interested in the hands-on applications the walls provided and were seeing first hand what the technological applications were for growing plants and food. Fast forward to 2014 and some of these same students continue to be hired to work on professional job sites, using the skills they gained while incorporating Green Living Technologies' educational programs into their day to day class instruction.

Here in New Jersey, the first school to purchase a MEWU was Monroe Township High School, where Nancy Mitrocsak, the food service director for the district, learned about the walls through the New Jersey Farm to School Network and went on a mission to find funding to bring them to the high school. With the support of District Supervisor of Sciences and Social Studies, Bonnie Burke-Casaletto, the school incorporated the walls into their expanded greenhouse program and teacher Christian Jessop and his students have been using them ever since. In a recent email exchange, the team updated us on their progress, "As a quick and exciting update-we're collaborating with Helen in our Food Service department to harvest a complete wall of basil! It looks and smells wonderful and Mr. Jessop has done much under tough weather conditions during our holiday break to keep our student-created growth projects thriving on-site. Things are green and flourishing."

Meanwhile, at South Hunterdon High School in Tiffany Morey's Floral Design Class, FFA (Future Farmers of America) student Mitchell Haug contributed the following report about the use of a MEWU with fellow students Charles McDaniel, Patrick Charles, Collin Leary, and Isaiah Jones.

"Ever since we unloaded the Green Wall that was loaned to us by New Jersey Farm To School on December 6th and set it up in our Ag Shop, it's been nothing but good times. From packing the boxes with soil to seeding, watering, and overcoming a few engineering challenges, the Wall has provided us with a challenging yet rewarding learning experience.

As the five guys in the floral design class, we weren't always as excited when it came to putting together centerpieces or assembling corsages and boutonnieres, but we did all share a passion for agriculture. When our advisor came to us with the offer that we could use class time to grow and take care of plants in an innovative way, we were thrilled. It wasn't long before we were putting together the wall and loading it up with soil.

Since then we have seen promising results. While there were some early issues with a water recycling system and soil erosion, these issues have since been resolved and we have begun to see germination and the beginnings of life. We currently have six varieties of lettuce planted that we plan to use in the school's cafeteria and culinary classes. We look forward to continuing with the wall and seeing what we can produce!"

To learn more about the Mobile Edible Wall Unit, click here. Green Living Technologies and the New Jersey Farm to School Network are collaborating on a program to bring more MEWUs into New Jersey schools. If your school or district is interested in learning more, please email us at info@njfarmtoschool.org and put MEWU in the subject line.

The Black Run Preserve - A Suburban Pinelands Oasis

Repost from: http://www.sustainablecherryhill.org/the-black-run-preserve-a-suburban-pinelands-oasis
Original Post Date: September 26, 2013

Unbeknown to most area residents, just two miles from the The Promenade retail complex in Marlton lies over 1000 acres of undeveloped land called the Black Run Preserve. An isolated fragment of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Black Run is an amazingly diverse and wonderful retreat from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced suburban life that lies on its doorstep.  Though not contiguous with the rest of the Pinelands National Reserve, Evesham Township’s Black Run Preserve boasts a pristine ecosystem accessible to thousands of nearby residents.  

Black Run gets its name from the stream which originates in the Preserve, fed by an underground aquifer of pristine-quality water. Its protected status means this lush, forested watershed is abundant with native species – including at least twenty rare and endangered plants. The absence of urban development has prevented pollution and invasive species from leaving their footprint here, providing an unspoilt natural ecosystem that feels as remote as anyplace along the East coast.

On a recent guided hike led by John Volpa – founder of Friends of the Black Run Preserve – we saw the impressive biodiversity native to the area.  A lush, open grassland savanna is a verdant, exotic landscape reminiscent of the Florida Everglades. Nearby, wild blueberries can be eaten right off the bush. Black Run also boasts rare or endangered hawks, tree frogs, turtles, salamanders and the barred owl. Even in the mid-summer heat, the shady trails of soft, moist peat made for an easy, comfortable hike.

The public may use Black Run for hiking, cross-country skiing, biking and bird-watching, as there are several miles of trails which give access to various parts of the Preserve. The area also provides a unique, hands-on educational opportunity for local schools, who have conducted wildlife monitoring programs here. The Pinelands Preservation Alliance has also held the Black Run Summer Teacher Institute, where local educators and students learned about the ecology of the Preserve from Pine Barrens experts.  

As a newly-emerging public open green space, Black Run also faces some challenges. There is an initiative to establish designated parking areas, as for now users must park alongside the road near one of the trailheads. There are also plans to provide bathrooms as well as to improve trails. Unfortunately, periodic clean-up is also needed for debris left behind by illegal dumping. However, as more people learn about the Preserve, there will be more incentive to increase its accessibility and usability.

You can help support Friends of the Black Run Preserve by becoming a member or volunteering for Preserve maintenance and improvement projects, and also by getting out and seeing this amazing natural treasure for yourself. An excellent five-minute promotional video provides an overview of the Preserve’s history and uniqueness. The public is invited to attend the Black Run Preserve Visioning Event on Wednesday, October 23 at 7:00pm at the Evans Elementary School in Evesham Township, where the public can give their inputto help develop a long-range Master Plan for the Preserve.

So take a step back from it all, and step into the magical world of the Black Run Preserve.

Author: Paul Hanley is a long-time Cherry Hill resident, New Jersey Learner, freelance writer and Environmental Science professor at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Vertical Gardens Bring Greenery to Cities

Repost from: http://www.today.com/video/today/51619345#51619345
Original Post Date: April 22, 2013

Stephen Ritz, a teacher in New York City public schools and the founder of Green Bronx Machine, shows how vertical “living wall” gardens can teach kids about protecting the environment and bring a little green to concrete jungles.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sustainable Jersey and The New Jersey Learns Program

Repost from: http://blog.grdodge.org/2010/02/15/new-jersey-learns-mondays-2
Original Post Date: February 15th, 2010

By Winnie Fatton of Sustainable Jersey

When I first heard about NJ Learns, it was an exciting, untried idea that the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was supporting. Teams of educators, admins, parents, municipal representatives, and the general public – anyone who was committed to Educating for Sustainability (EfS) – were invited to apply for the program. I was working on “Green Jobs for NJ,” which was a pilot project to infuse EfS into the curricula of Career and Technical Schools. I brought 2 teachers to the first training session – one from the Mercer County Vocational Technical School District and one from Essex County Vocational Technical School District. I felt that it would be a great opportunity to learn from a “master” and to introduce classroom teachers to what I believe should be one of the most important educational themes in our schools.

I believe that sustainability is a theme which offers teachers from almost any discipline a way to get students involved with issues that are significant and relevant to their daily lives and to their future career choices. At career and technical schools, for example, EfS could be incorporated into the construction and HVAC trades (think green, high performance buildings), landscaping (management of stormwater run-off, recapture/reuse of wastewater, xeriscaping and other low maintenance plantings), culinary arts (school gardens, safe food/local food, composting), automotive (hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid cars), or a multitude of other career clusters. These are the jobs of the future.

But green jobs aren’t the only reason to think about sustainability; there are so many other linkages to science, math, English, history, even graphic arts. It takes some creativity, but teachers can develop lessons that relate real time/real world issues to what students are studying. Equally important, teachers can help foster the creative thinking we will need to come up with the solutions to these major challenges.

Now, in my work with the Sustainable Jersey program – a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, control costs and save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term – I have the ability to work with a lot of different audiences. Sustainable Jersey offers over 64 different “actions” which municipalities can take to become more sustainable, from creating a Green Team, to doing energy audits for municipal buildings and establishing the carbon footprint of the municipality, to doing communication outreach and education. All of the actions in the program are supported by a series of tools which are available on the Sustainable Jersey website, as well as through training programs and workshops. Each action or “tool” is fully resourced and includes a description of the action: who should be involved, how much it will cost, how long it will take, as well as resources for helping municipalities to complete it.

My initial focus was on helping to develop “tools” which relate to the “education” sector – and in the second round of the program, Sustainable Jersey will be offering information about “Education for Sustainability” as well as “School Based Energy Conservation Programs.” The School Based Energy Conservation Programs focus on helping students, teachers and all school staff members to make behavioral changes, which can reduce energy consumption. Some participating schools have even reduced their energy bills by almost 20% through behavior modification alone. And the Education for Sustainability tool offers ideas and resources for teaching about sustainability, including, of course, the NJ Learns program.

Over 250 communities in NJ have signed up to become certified through the Sustainable Jersey program since its inception in February, 2009. Sustainable Jersey and NJ Learns offer opportunities for communities to share inspire and learn from one another as we all work together toward a sustainable future. By giving people an understanding of why it is important to be sustainable, as well as the tools we need to be a more sustainable society, we have begun to create a process that will foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve success. The knowledge that there are so many great people out there working toward a sustainable future is very gratifying, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.

* * *

New Jersey Learns introduces teachers and community leaders to Education for Sustainability. Education for Sustainability (EfS) is a whole system approach to schools and communities learning together for a sustainable future and includes the Cloud Institute’s EfS Core Content Standards. The program brings community-based teams to participate in one year of introductory training, implementation, coaching and assessment activities. Want to participate? 2013-14 NJ Learns applications are due March 15th. Apply now.

NJ Learns | Smart Growth and Livable Communities

Repost from: http://blog.grdodge.org/2010/03/03/new-jersey-learns-wednesday-edition

Original Post Date: March 3, 2010

By Angela Clerico

In a profession where the goal is to plan better communities it seemed to me that we were going about things the same way we had been for decades. Sure, over time the focus shifted away from sprawling communities and toward “smart growth” – building homes near major transportation corridors, protecting the environs. But, there had to be something more… a better way, still, to create more livable communities and communities that thrive, not just survive.

When I was introduced to the NJ Learns program, I was interested because I had an interest in the topic of sustainability. It has been called the largest social movement this planet has ever seen – only you don’t actually “see” it happening. Millions of people all over the world in town halls, school libraries, and community centers are getting together to implement their visions for change. They’re organizing events to inform their local officials and the community-at-large. It’s a movement alright, and I wanted to learn how to better communicate the concept. I learned more than that!

Participating in the NJ Learns program, I had many “aha” moments. From learning how to teach the concepts about and the data for sustainability to a better understanding of how people perceive sustainability and their concerns for changing behavior, I could see how the shift would not only have to come from the community, but that the local leaders would have to set the example. The lone planner in a room full of educators, I began to see how educating my audience would be a little different since I am not a teacher, per se, but that it could be just as powerful. Now, every time I walk into a planning board meeting the topic of sustainability is on my mind and is communicated through my work.

The hard part is that it is a process and results may not be seen overnight. In the NJ Learns program, we participated in a simulation where, in groups, we were fishermen. We had to fish the ocean in a manner that, with an average replenishment rate, the ocean would remain sustainable. The ocean would continue to produce fish for us to catch to maintain our livelihoods. The problem, however, was the same all around: everyone “crashed the system” by overfishing. It took many of the groups several tries, if not more, to figure out that we just had to make it through the down times in order to remain sustainable. Instead, different mentalities took over. “Everyone else was taking more than their share, so I should too!” “I could see this was not going to work, so I jumped on the bandwagon.”

These mentalities translate right into our communities and it is hard for residents and local leaders to see the benefits, when it is such incremental change.

There are a few popular phrases in local government that tend to set the tone for creating sustainability strategies. One is “How can we get the biggest bang for our buck?” Local leaders want to do right by their taxpayers, providing quality of life, but they don’t want to enforce practices that may cost money. The other is “Let’s look at the low-hanging fruit.” This is a good strategy for getting something off the ground. It is a quick way to get a project done and shows that the local leadership is doing something for the community. It also provides momentum for a larger-scale project that may take more time. However, it often doesn’t take into account the bigger picture.

The topic of sustainability is a tough web to untangle and make sense of. Land use planners are typically the ones to break down these issues and present them in a meaningful way so that local leaders can make decisions. Planners guide the development of ordinances, policies, and regulations, at the same time, supporting community-wide campaigns for residents to become more aware of how they can green their lifestyles. If all planners were speaking a shared language of planning for sustainability, we could create a paradigm shift toward sustainability and livable communities from the top-down and the bottom-up.

My NJ Learns training and practice of the program continues every day I am working to create more livable communities in NJ.

 >  >  >  > Learn more about the New Jersey LearnsProgram<  <  <  <

NJ Learns | From Action to Thinking and Back Again!

Repost from: http://blog.grdodge.org/2010/03/01/new-jersey-learns-mondays-4
Original Post Date: March 1, 2010

David Hallowell

By David Hallowell, President of Sustainable West Milford

When I first learned of the NJ LEARNS Educating for Sustainability opportunity, we were well on our way to making changes in West Milford. We had established a nonprofit called Sustainable West Milford and grown our membership from 6 to over 400 people in just one year. We had a variety of action-oriented and educational programs including: monthly educational presentations; “Buy Local” campaigns; an organic community garden: and an annual GreenFest.

We were excited with the prospect of learning more, getting some new tools, and making some connections with other groups around the state to help move our efforts forward. The NJ Learns program delivered all that and more. I was in the first year of the training, and even continued my training for a second year! Not that I’m all that remedial, (well, maybe a little!) , but that fact is, I learned even more in the second year. And more importantly, I learned different things that have shaped the way I think about sustainability.

After the first year of Educating for Sustainability (EfS), my focus was on using the wonderful tools and information provided to better engage community members and convince them of the need to change their actions, for as Jaimie Cloud points out, “everything you do or DON’T do, makes a difference.” After the second year of the EfS training, I have become keenly aware of the need to change the thinking of our community in order to change their actions.

Often during presentations on sustainability, I am asked to describe what sustainability “looks like” in the community or in a school. My old answer used to include the usual suspects – they recycle, use renewable energy, buy local, compost, etc. In short, promoting different actions. Now, my answer begins with “they think differently – and that thinking leads to different actions”.

The old expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” provides a wonderful analogy to describe our shift. We have done a great job of leading the horses (tons of information and reasons why we should be acting more sustainably) and providing the water (actual opportunities to act differently through our programs), but not all were drinking. Many were, and indeed, many more did with each additional opportunity we provided. For example, Sustainable West Milford’s Farmer’s Market initiative was so successful last year that we attracted 14,000 shoppers. That is 14,000 people promoting our local economy, local agriculture, and effectively acting more sustainably.

But how do you get more people to drink the water? The answer is in helping them to start thinking differently. If we follow the problem of unsustainable actions “upstream,” to their source, we find faulty thinking. For example, in our culture, we tend to focus relieving the symptoms of a problem rather than the problem itself – we take a pill to lower our blood pressure while ignoring our lack of exercise, poor diet, and excess weight. This is an example from EfS of a phenomenon called  “Shifting the Burden”. It is an Archetype in the system dynamics lexicon. Using this thinking leads you to working hard to resolve the symptoms of a problem while essentially ignoring the fundamental problem. With that approach, we address the symptom in the short run, but over time, we make it harder and harder to address, and then we create new problems. Similarly, SWM’s efforts have targeted community member actions while largely ignoring changing community member thinking – the fundamental problem.  By addressing the fundamental problem, you can achieve win win win solutions. This is a better idea. [This paragraph has been editted for clarity: original text at http://blog.grdodge.org/2010/03/01/new-jersey-learns-mondays-4]

Make no mistake: this strategy of changing community members’ actions by providing information and opportunities to make real changes has been extremely effective and essential in building momentum, exposure, and support, but like most strategies, it has its limitations. For one thing, it is not fast enough – our window for change is a narrow one, and for another, we can only do so much!

So, this year, in addition to our action-oriented strategy, we introduced a companion strategy to address this need for a change in thinking. If community members change the way they think, they will lead themselves to make the choices that will result in a truly sustainable community. As Jaimie reminded us during our training, there is never just one reason for a problem and there is never just one solution!

 >  >  >  > Learn more about the New Jersey Learns Program  <  <  <  <

The Las Vegas Downtown Project

The Cloud Institute is proud to announce that Jaimie Cloud will be a special consultant to the Education Initiative of the Las Vegas Downtown Project . We are working with an all-star team to create a 21st century state-of-the-art school system that works in partnership with the community to educate for a healthy, happy and sustainable future. We will begin with an early childhood center. This first learning community will enroll ages 6 weeks through kindergarten. The project involves the green renovation of an old and beautiful church building and grounds and is designed to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces for learning, growing, celebration and reflection.

Connie Yeh heads up the Education Initiative and Dr. Meg Murray is leading the research and design efforts of this extraordinary project. Jaimie Cloud joins Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Marie Alcock, Pat Wolfe, Trish Martin, Michelle Gielan, Ellen Booth Church and Cecilia Cruse, Ginny Streckewald and Debi Crimmins on the global think tank team to create the new paradigm for 21st century teaching and learning designed for the future we want.

Learn more about this exciting project here: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/dec/13/planning-zappos-school-long-community-involvement

Students from the South Bronx Green the Hamptons

Steve Ritz has served as an educator in South Bronx for 12 years, and has been a friend of The Cloud Institute for almost as long. Steve has consistently generated 100% passing rates on NYS Regents Exams in Math and Science with some of the most challenging students in NYC. He has personally sponsored and arranged scholarships for students, facilitated monetary donations as well as hundreds of computers for South Bronx Youth. Steve recently founded the Green Teen Program and has secured funding for over 2,200 local jobs in line with cultivating minds and harvesting hope.
Read More