Make Schools, Not War

imagesThis morning’s paper had a compelling editorial by Nicholas Kristof, co-author of the current occupant of my bedside table, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Kristof (an Oregon native although now he lives in New York) suggests building schools in Afghanistan would more likely lead to peace and a strong Afghan society than sending in 40,000 additional US troops. How’s that Mr. Kristof?

Actually I believe the guy because I’ve got his book fresh on my brain. In both his column and in Half the Sky Mr. Kristof lays out very plainly and factually how investment in education of girls directly leads to economic development, improved health for women and children, and peace. Nations that invest in girls’ education have less terrorist activity (Kristof cites Bangladesh as an example). The converse is nations that are most repressive of women (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Congo) have much more terrorist activity as well as much higher infant/ maternal mortality rates and great struggles with economic underdevelopment.

Compared to guns and troops, schools are super cheap to build and run. There are fantastic NGOs out there that know how to build them and run them well (CARE, Greg Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute, to name a few).  What are the chances the US government, including my beloved President Obama, would turn to cheap-o schools over the economic powerhouse of war though? If you ask me, slim to none. Sure we’ll keep throwing token USAID funding at building schools while at the same time squandering our precious tax dollars on the machine of war. It so angers me that we can’t agree as a nation on funding a public healthcare option but we can go out and put our troops in harms way and kill countless innocent Afghan civilians, all in the name of peace and nation-building. It just doesn’t work. Never has, never will.


Going Green With Baby Book Signing in Beaverton – June 13th

41kuwbjbgul_sl160_1 If you’re a mom concerned about living green with and for the sake of a little one, you have to get a hold of Melissa Moog’s new book Itsabelly’s Guide To Going Green With Baby. I’ve blogged before about what a complete guide it is to being an eco-friendly eco-mom. Now you can get a signed copy of the book, meet Melissa in person (she’s really great), and enter for a chance to win a $400 stroller from Baby Planet.  Here’s the full scoop:


Itsabelly’s How to Choose Safe Baby Products Event
Saturday, June 13th at 11:00 am
Barnes & Noble Tanasbourne, 18300 NW Evergreen Parkway, Beaverton
Local author Melissa Moog, author of Itsabelly’s Guide to Going Green with Baby will offer simple and practical Baby Safe Tips including:

* Shopping tips & reviews on safe & eco-friendly baby products
* How to go green without breaking the bank
* Tips about organic and natural family living

Raffle drawing for $500 in eco-friendly baby products (Stroller System, Earth Mama Angel Baby Gift etc.)

Refreshments provided by New Seasons.

Buying Local Is Hard In Winter

I’m currently engrossed in Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year In Food Life.  In it 51seqiztr0l_sl160_Kingsolver dramatically recounts her family’s year of eating only locally grown foods. I was so inspired I decided to do a little test this weekend and only buy Oregon grown produce for our family, despite it being the heart of winter.

My little experiment would have been a lot easier had I chosen a weekend when a winter’s farmers’ market was open, but alas I did not. Instead I headed to New Seasons, thinking they’d have a similar selection to the farmers’ market, right? The produce looked amazing when I walked in but I was disappointed to come away with only the following Oregon-grown produce: shallots, russet potatoes and turnips. The kale was marked “Oregon-grown” but on closer inspection of the label it was from California.  I threw in some California baby carrots because we can’t live without those in our house and called it good.

The produce I did find will make a great stew from the free-range beef I picked up this past week from Abundant Life Farm. Next weekend the experiment continues but at the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market. I have a feeling I’ll have better luck but I’ll let you know.

My Favorites of 2008

Happy first day of 2009! Here’s a look back at my top five reads and flicks of ’08.

Fave Books I Read in 2008

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  2. World Without End by Ken Follett
  3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  4. Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris
  5. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Fave Movies I Saw in 2008

  1. Slumdog Millionaire (possibly my favorite movie ever?)
  2. Juno
  3. Once
  4. The Business of Being Born
  5. Cautiva

What are your favorites from the last year? I need ideas to read/ watch in ’09!

A Good Read: Healthy Child, Healthy World

I’m an information junkie. If I care about a topic, I read anything and everything I can find on the subject, sometimes to the point of obsession. So when the publishers of Healthy Child, Healthy World asked me if they could send me a copy of their new book to read and review, of course I jumped at the chance. The offer involved three of my favorite things – babies, the environment, and free stuff. Of course the publisher was looking for some publicity for the book and I’m happy to oblige, although I can tell you right now my buzz always includes the good, the bad and the ugly, as you shall see below.

I was skeptical at first glance of the book’s cover. In big bright letters at the top the cover announces “Foreword by Meryl Streep” and “With Contributions by Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields, Tom Hanks…” and the list of celebrities involved goes on and on. I am generally turned off by books that declare a list of celebrity endorsements. Call me a cynic but I want my information to come from experts in a field, not from celebrities with no related credentials beyond their fame.

So I definitely gagged more than once when reading some of the celebrity testimonials sprinkled throughout the book. For example, Tobey Maguire’s unimpressive contribution is that he is thinking about getting a refillable water bottle instead of drinking bottled water! Wha’? I’m supposed to be compelled by that? On the other hand I was duly inspired by Michelle Obama’s call for change in our health system, where she notes only 4 cents of every dollar is spent on prevention and public health. Others including Meryl Streep and Erin Brockovich made their own helpful contributions and I was actually glad they were involved in the project based on what they added.

Now that I’ve made clear what I didn’t like about the book, let me tell you what I did like. A lot actually. This book now holds a place of honor coveted by all other books in my house. It sits in a small pile of a few other favorites on the footstool in my study, a place reserved only for books I want to refer to often and don’t want to become lost in a bookshelf. I found Healthy Child, Healthy World, written by Christopher Gavigan of the non-profit by the same name, to be practical, helpful, inspiring and informative. The book demystifies the world of environmental awareness using science, experts and, sigh, celebrities. From craft supplies to cleaning supplies, it cuts through all the confusing information and advertising out there and boils it down to what you need to know to make informed decisions.

I also appreciated the practical advice to start making changes with the things I use a lot, such as food, and make switches in other areas later. Still at times the book felt overwhelming. After reading each chapter I could easily list half a dozen things I wanted to change right away. It was an easier read when I took it one chapter at a time and then put it away for a few days, which gave me time to process each chapter’s large volume of information.

I’ve read through the whole book once but have referred to it many times since and will continue to do so. I recommend you look it up and see if it can help you and your family live greener and healthier, hopefully more so than Mr. Maguire.