Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

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Newspapers – A Boon or Bust

November 30, 2008

When I was little, my mother would gather me upon her knee to read the newspaper with her. Not just the comics, but the whole paper. Hard news, features, recipes, the entire thing.

I learned to read this way. But, more importantly, I learned to think. Many of the beliefs I hold today were formed then – discussing with my mother the meaning of the words we sounded out. As we read about the gas crisis, she explained why it was important to care for our resources and how our actions impact not only ourselves but those around us. She spelled out for me that we live on a small island, and therefore need to be even more considerate of our ‘āina so that it can continue to provide food, clean water and shelter. I am an environmentalist today because of discussions we had when I was five.

As I grew older I learned that our practice of using the newspaper as a learning tool is a family tradition, dating back five generations to a time when Hawai‘i was the most literate nation in the world.

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In the late 1800s nearly every Hawai‘i adult could read and write. And, they were encouraged to write down everything – stories, myths, blessings and curses, as well as news – and to send them to one of the myriad of Hawaiian language newspapers. These papers were literally the nation’s history.

It was during this heyday of people’s journalism that one of my kupuna began assembling his children to discuss news items. Understanding that the Hawaiian culture and nation were under attack, he used the newspapers to teach his keiki who they were as Hawaiians and how they fit in both the ancient and modern worlds.

Therefore, it is with pride that I carry on this tradition with my child. Just as my mother did before me, I gather my son on my lap and we pour over the day’s news. Recently, we discussed what it means to vote, how to decide which candidate to support, what election topics are important to us and why.

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Imagine my satisfaction as my son made his own decisions on significant issues. When he learned that his teacher and I stood on different sides of the Honolulu rail transit debate, he questioned each of us on why we believe as we do. Taking the gathered input, he made up his own mind.

I couldn’t be more proud. My seven year-old has shown that he will not be a mindless voter. Instead, he will seek out information and deliberate upon it before deciding what is right for him.

If only every voter would follow his example.

Yes, the newspaper has been a wonderful tool, introducing my child to the broader world. But, it has also had its drawbacks.

Now that my son knows how to read, we can no longer skip over unpleasant stories. This weekend’s paper detailing the horrors of Mumbai and the senseless holiday shopping deaths have left both of us with larger questions of life and death and of right and wrong.

I’ve tried to teach my son that people are not bad, but sometimes they do bad things. We can hate actions, but not each other. These distinctions are becoming much harder to preserve as he reads and learns more. And, I’m wondering if I’m doing him a disservice by introducing him to too much too soon.

While I am grateful to my mother and kupuna for giving me the gift of loving newspapers, will my son see this as a gift or a curse?

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‘Tis the Season to Be Green

November 17, 2008

Now that the holidays are officially bearing down, here are a few tips on how we can enjoy a more sustainable season courtesy of Kōkua Hawai‘i and Kanu Hawai‘i. Check out their websites for more tips and to make a simple declaration of your intent to green your holidays.

– When buying a Christmas tree, consider a live potted one. If you do get a cut tree, find one that’s locally grown. Don’t forget to recycle with your green waste after the holidays.
– Give teachers, coworkers, and friends edible gifts, plants, or gift certificates instead of “stuff” that will get stuck in a drawer somewhere.
– Start eco-friendly traditions. For example, when you go out caroling in your neighborhood, take an empty trash bag and pick up any litter you see along the way.
– Reuse wrapping paper and bows or try repurposing newspapers, brown paper bags, maps, or art work to make your own unique, eco-friendly packages. Reusable grocery bags are also a good gift-wrapping option, and then it’s a gift inside a gift. (If you don’t have reusable grocery bags, here’s a great place to get them and the proceeds go to charity).

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– Give reusable or homemade gifts. Shop for gently used gifts at thrift shops or on-line at www.Craigslist.org or www.Freecycle.org. Give gifts of time like certificates for a massage or a car wash. Treat a loved one to ‘ukulele lessons or tickets to a sporting or cultural event.
– When shopping for holiday food and gifts, try to plan ahead and consolidate trips in order to save fuel and reduce pollution. Also, don’t forget to take along your reusable cloth grocery bags to use instead of the disposable ones!
– During the holiday season the most rewarding gift of all is giving back to your community. Make it a family tradition to donate to or volunteer for charitable causes during the holidays.

Here are few more sites that may give you some green ideas this season.
Green Holiday Tips from the Sierra Club
Green Guide from National Geographic
Earth Easy’s Green Christmas
The Guardian’s A-Z Tips for a Green Christmas
Oliver Heath’s Tips for a Green Christmas
Newsweek’s How to Have a Green Christmas
Green Expander’s 10 Tips for a Green Christmas