Clean Coal’s Dirty Little Secret

By Sarah at ProgressiveKid

Both President-Elect Obama and his former opponent John McCain endorsed “clean coal” as an important element of their energy plans. But “clean coal” is a fairy tale with a very bad ending, as in the Big Bad Wolf eats and digests Little Red Riding Hood and belches out a black cloud afterward. Continue reading

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Wolf in the Mirror: Recovery and Redemption

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid for Wolf Awareness Week

For me, wolves are easy to love, and hard not to cry about. For starters, they are beautiful animals—strong, smart, fast, muscular, lean, furry, and at times they smile. As a friend (and fellow pack member) of dogs, I feel a natural affinity with wolves too. Dogs are, after all, the likely descendants of wolves who became friendly with humans, to our mutual benefit (you toss me a bone, and I’ll guard the cave). But besides their aesthetic appeal and doggish familiarity, they reflect what I like best in me, and what I and the rest of my human clan exiled from our nature a long time ago—our free, clear, and purposeful animal selves. Continue reading

Beware the Chocolate Monsters: Keep Slave Labor Out of Halloween

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

For most of us chocolate is a happy part of Halloween. It’s hands-down the best treat in the bag—so popular, in fact, that kids have to keep an eye on their chocolate-pilfering parents at this time of year. So, it’s especially ironic that this beloved sweet treat is a living nightmare for the children who are caught in the chocolate slave trade. Continue reading

A Green Lining to Economic Downturn

25 Green and Cheap Ways to Live

by Sarah Lane at ProgressiveKid

As the struggle in the economic markets rages on, you can feel confident that your family’s particular financial concerns are pretty much irrelevant in any specific plans to slow down the slide of our economy into a likely recession. We regular people (a.k.a. nongazillionaires) are simply going to have to take care of ourselves and each other. And when it comes down to it, making like Buddha and saying to yourself (I’m paraphrasing here), “I don’t have any control over it anyway,” might be the healthiest strategy in terms of your own emotional and mental health. Continue reading

Stand Up for Your Rites

Ritual in a Changing World

by Sarah Lane at ProgressiveKid

Ritual is good for all families. Researchers tell us that family rituals make people happier (S. Harrar 2003, p. 28) for one thing. And they find in family routines experienced by kids of four years of age predictors of academic achievement at age nine (Barbara Fiese 2000). But some of the rituals a lot of us grew up with don’t mesh with the values and goals of the green movement, or they seem alien or even devoid of meaning to people with an awakening sense of concern for the planet. For example, the unsustainable practice of giving or receiving oodles of Christmas gifts can make us feel heavy and unhappy. The Fourth of July emphasis on explosions feels uncomfortable in an age of climate change, forest fires, and dwindling wildlife.

So what’s a green family to do? Here are some rituals that greenies can agree on and use as the foundation for more personalized adaptations based on individual belief and culture: Continue reading

What Comes First

Reflections on Freedom and Responsibility

by Sarah Lane at ProgressiveKid

During the Republican National Convention we’ve been hearing a lot about two key themes: personal freedom and personal responsibility. I am a big fan of both. I value and cherish my freedom and feel great empathy for people who live in places where they are severely restricted in their ability to speak their minds, to move about freely, or even to wear what they want to wear. As a corollary I also feel great responsibility: to value and protect those freedoms, to care for the place where I live and the people who live here, to pull my weight and make a worthwhile contribution to my community.

I wondered what examples candidate McCain and his running mate Palin would give in their exploration of these two themes. I wondered if there would be discussion of our important Bill of Rights and how we must defend it. I wondered if there would be talk about our responsibility to protect the land where we live, the air we breathe, and the water we drink and to care for one another.

This is what I heard: Continue reading

Beyond Climate Change 101

Discovering a Life of Purpose Along the Way

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

As with all meaningful change, there is no simple fix for our climate change crisis. There is no pill, band aid, 12-step formula, or “expert’s” advice to heal Earth or its life forms. There is no “clean” nuclear power that will preserve our current luxuries without risking even more environmental disaster, no green product that will redeem generations of overconsumption, no fluorescent light bulb that will reverse the excess of our industrialized systems, no recycling process that can restore forests, no zoo or seed bank that can preserve our world’s biodiversity, no replacement planet we can relocate to. For worse and for better we are stuck here with our mess and our weakness, our solutions and our strength. Continue reading