Days like yesterday, I just want to burn shit down.
I, like so many, woke up to news about dozens dead and hundreds injured after an angry man opened fire on a sea of strangers in Las Vegas. And then I went through what many of us have experienced so often before: Shock. Anger. Sadness. Frustration.
The terror, then grief, thrust upon hundreds is absolutely needless—and preventable. That’s why I am so furious: Because events like those in Las Vegas (and Orlando, and Sandy Hook, and San Bernadino, and Aurora, and many more) are predictable. They will keep happening—unless we as a country do something about it.
I’m still riding the enthusiasm and excitement from the back to school season over here. Peeper is already adjusted to her half-days of pre-K (no tears, just a quick squeeze before we say goodbye!). And Kiwi just started homeschool preschool—more on that later! But not every child has what she needs to excel in school.
School supplies lists can get expensive (the average family spent $100-200 on the required pens, pencils and binders, according to a national study), and that’s not even factoring in other expenses like clothes, electronics (required by many schools) and other items.
I wrote about how we can help ensure all the kids in our community start school ready to learn and thrive in my latest column for PDX Parent.
In it, I explore how even families with little kids—who don’t have many opportunities to volunteer in the traditional sense because they’re too young—can pitch in.
There has never been a more important time to raise a conservationist. Every day headlines bring more bad news about droughts, climate change, melting polar ice, threatened species and deforestation. I couldn’t blame you for being depressed.
Yet there is room for hope, and perhaps the best way to ensure a better world for our children is to raise a conservationist right in your own home.
After all, kids are more likely to teach each other lessons that will stick. (Have you ever heard a kid tell a peer to recycle something or turn out the lights? They’re way more likely to listen than to another parent’s lecture!)
Kids also encourage their families to make positive changes for the environment. I remember becoming a vegetarian in high school, largely because of environmental reasons, and sharing what I learned with my parents. I definitely didn’t convert anyone (nor was I trying to), but my parents started to serve more plant-based foods that had a smaller environmental impact.
Perhaps the most impactful (and easiest) way to raise a conservationist is to simply get outside: A study from Cornell University found that the more time a child under the age of 11 spent outdoors, the more likely he or she was to care about the environment as an adult. The impacts of Vitamin N, as outdoor time is sometimes called, translate into action, too: Adults who spent time outside when they were growing up were more likely to take action to protect the environment.
You don’t have to stop there, though. These 7 ways to raise a conservationist won’t take a ton of effort but can mean a world of difference for the planet.
Six years ago, Syrian teen Nabil fled Syria with his family. They stayed for four years in a small apartment in Jordan, all the while doing everything they could to find a permanent, stable, safe home. Now Nabil and his family have settled in Seattle, where he plays forward on his soccer team, volunteers with a Muslim organization to reach out to local homeless people and welcomes other Syrian refugees as they arrive and begin to rebuild their lives.
This World Refugee Day, which is marked across the globe on June 20, nonprofits, governmental organizations and regular citizens like you and me can recognize the immense resilience of refugees like Nabil. I got to interview Nabil for my work with Microsoft Philanthropies, which is sharing stories of refugee youth to direct donations to its nonprofit partners such as the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, the UNHCR and more. And stories like Nabil’s, and the tens of thousands of others like him, inspire us to want to know how to help refugees.
When each of my girls was born, the steady delivery of meals was an enormous help. I couldn’t figure out how to breastfeed, much less feed myself, so the food friends brought nourished me in a way I deeply needed. In addition, their visits proved to be a much-appreciated and reliable contact with the regular adult world whose primary concern was not how many wet diapers the baby has had today. So if you’re considering making meals for new moms, I say to you: DO IT.
Since my big girls are no longer babies, I’ve had the opportunity to pay everyone’s kindness forward. I’ve brought quite a few meals for new moms and their families, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about what to do—and what not to do—when delivering meals to new moms.
So if you’ve signed up for a meal train, YOU ARE AWESOME. Know that by making a meal (or bringing takeout—that’s totally not cheating!), you are showing this new mama that she is loved, supported, cared for—and that her village will help lift her up as she undertakes the most monumental change of her life.
She is a new mom, and you are helping her become the best mother she can be.
(And that’s a big deal.)
If you’re not quite sure what to bring or what to do, though, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to making meals for new moms, I share these 12 tips to help you make life easier for the family more focused on umbilical cord scabs than dinnertime. Read more
Misery may love company, but activism adores it! And the thing is, the more I practice everyday acts of kindness and political action, the more optimistic I feel. In February, I (mostly) succeeded in my resolution to do good every day, and I came away with this as my main takeaway: We can do even more good, develop relationships that build community and get out of our Facebook bubble when taking action with others.
A post was recently circulating on Facebook that said, basically—and I’m summarizing here—that President Trump really is making America great again. After all, community involvement and participation is the highest I’ve ever seen, citizens are educated and vocal about our government, and nonprofits are receiving record support. What’s more, it’s not only grown-ups standing up for justice. Family activism seems to be growing, too.
My girls are definitely accompanying me on my journey becoming a more active and outspoken citizen. So it felt natural to make protest signs with my kids.