Friday, April 29, 2011

Canoe Trip on the Chicago River

Preparations underway to canoe 7 miles down the Chicago River starting around Foster /2900 north and travelling to the edge of Chinatown at 2200 south.  So far the weather promises to be 50 degrees and sunny. To prepare for the trip, consider reading:

Encyclopedia of Chicago article on the history of the Chicago River   AND

Friends of the Chicago River, advocacy page

The purpose of the River Journal entry is to inspire you to deepen your relationship with the Earth, and to develop a greater awareness and caring for the Earth.

Ideas for Writing your River Journal from the Sierra Club:

Listen to Nature's voice, literally and figuratively, and provide descriptive words and details for mountains, rivers, streams, flowers, trees, creatures, and the way the natural world interacts and is engaged in daily activity.

Consider how you are part of that ecosystem and that diversity. Look at Nature as if through a lens. Study sounds, movements, atmosphere.

Incorporate your feelings, mood, observations, and those you might attribute to the  river.  Provide Nature with a voice.

Begin writing. and et your writing flow.

Write as if writing a letter to yourself or to a close friend or family member. Create a narrative account, write a story for yourself.

Write prose or poetry or a combination of both - you need not consider yourself a writer or a poet!

Draw pictures with words; incorporate drawings/photos  into your journal.

These ideas adapted from  Bonnie Johanna Gisel the Curator, LeConte Memorial Lodge, Sierra Club, Yosemite National Park, and the author of Kindred and Related Spirits: The Letters of John Muir and Jeanne C. Carr. 

Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (read by Juniors and Seniors)

Glen Canyon Dam - see Google Images
Lake Powell - see Google Images
Lee's Ferry - see Google Images
visualize while you read:  Geodesic Dome  or here's a picture of Edward Abbey's 1975 Cadillac for sale on ebay:

Epigram discussions:
"This book, though fictional in form is based strictly on historical fact. Everything in it is real and actually happened. And it all began just one year from today."

"Resist much. Obey little". Walt Whitman

"Now. Or never".  Thoreau

Why does Abbey give us these epigrams prior to starting the book?  To let us know what will be happening. Non-traditional values will be glorified.

What laws are broken?
Drinking and driving
Steals cop car
Destruction of public and private property
Swearing at police officers
Public nudity
Burning/cutting down bill boards
Multiple wives - polygamy
Terrorist conspiracy
False imprisonment

Possession of illegal firearms

Are these characters likable based on how they approach the law?

bumper sticker:
Wildness is a beautiful thing....
The laws are stopping from being what we really should be -- just as much as industry....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Twitterverse is Surprisingly Quiet on Mortensen and CAI

Some recent tweets:
The Heroic Lie: A Brief Inquiry Into The Fake Memoir via @The_Rumpus #Mortensen

RT @vali_nasr: Regardless of what you think of Greg #Mortensen's books, the principle of "three cups if tea" is true. That he got right.

Nick #Kristof is right: Greg #Mortensen of #3cupsoftea is a visionary, not a CEO. Things got seriously offtrack at CAI

Is it a scandal if the info was rt in front of U? Lessons learned from #Mortensen #3cupsoftea via @Philanthropy

The most frequently re-tweet:
RT : I'm beginning to think Greg Mortensen only drank one or two cups of tea. 

Greg Mortensen's Twitter feed: Greg is in hospital & asked this to be shared   thanks for blessings [ this is Kristof's 4/20 piece]

Sadia Ashraf, CAIs Outreach, keep you informed while Greg hospitalized. Go to for new updates on developing story - here is a comprehensive statement on CAI. So it seems like they are trying to get on top of the story.

From the LA Times Book blog:

The latest in the Greg Mortenson controversy: His climbing partner responds

April 26, 2011

It's very difficult to know what to think about this episode....can't even find a damning story on the Drudge Report!

Starting to Read The Monkey Wrench Gang

First Edition Cover
Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang definitely has a "70s zeitgeist". From a 21st-century viewpoint, the Gang does not conform to the American media's portrayal of environmentalists — the book's characters eat a lot of red meat, own firearms, litter the roadside with empty beer cans and drive big cars.The Gang attacks American Indians as well as whites for consumer habits and sneer at the Sierra Club. The Gang sees the "enemy" as those who would develop the American Southwest— despoiling the land, befouling the air, and destroying Nature and the sacred purity of Abbey's desert world. Their greatest hatred is focused on the Glen Canyon Dam which Abbey thinks is destroying the Colorado River and its environs.

Both juniors and seniors will be examining environmental issues through the lens of justice.

What's justice got to do with it? Do we have a responsibility to future generations?

IGSS students are concerned about the Gulf Oil Spill, our carbon footprint, the great Pacific garbage patch, alternative energy and water conservation.

Poor environmental practices lead to unjust living conditions for citizens of a lower economic class, main third world citizens.

We have a moral obligation to respect the earth and the land we use so that future generations can use it.

Sustainability seems to be a fad; buying local food is a better idea than buying organic food. Conventionally grown foods are better when you consider shipping and traveling distances.

Repurpose-ing:  fashion designers use older materials to recycle and reuse. Industrial hemp is unfortunately illegal in this country.

Further discussion:
Excerpt from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson:
1. What are Carson's most persuasive points and why?
2. In what ways is Carson's writing prophetic?
3. Which current environmental issues would most stick in Carson's craw?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is Greg Mortensen a "Big Phoney"?

Three Cups of Tea was the IGGS summer read in 2010.
Question for debate: Is Greg Mortensen a "Big Phoney"?

It was devastating to learn that Greg Mortensen's memoir, Three Cups of Tea will be under investigation by Viking Press after allegations by 60 Minutes that events didn't happen as recorded by Mortensen and also that Mortensen has been accused of using his charitable foundation money as a personal ATM machine.

Watch the "60 Minutes" segment here. Read the "60 Minutes" story here.

Publisher of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ to Conduct Review

Mortensen has admitted that some poetic license was taken by his ghost writer David Oliver Relin and that basically he's "not a journalist".  
Do librarians need to re-shelve his books under FICTION?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Speaker on HUD and Affordable Housing Activism

1916-1970 Great Migration - blacks moving north to Chicago and other northern cities

7 million African Americans moved north: 500,000 moved to Chicago to find jobs

Racial Segregation through Policy and Violence

  • restrictive covenants;
  • redlining
  • blockbusting

Chicago Housing Authority established in 1937 to oversee public housing.
Welfare for the wealthy - Federal Aid for the Highway Act of 1956 - led to suburbanization and home ownership subsidies

Trumbull Park Riots 1953

In 1966 Dorothy Gautreaux and other CHA residents brought a suit against the CHA, in Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority. It was a long-running case that in 1996 resulted in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) taking over the CHA and the Gautreaux Project in which public housing families were relocated to the suburbs

Chicago Housing Authority eventually tore down highly concentrated high rises. Many received section 8 housing vouchers - if they qualify to pay 30% of income (for those making under $25,000 per year for a family of 4).

North side of Chicago has never been very integrated. Vouchers don't cover affordable rentals.
Larger trend on relying more toward privately managed apartment buildings.

There's no housing shortage right now.

Lathrop Homes Project (along Chicago River)

300 Empty Units? Open them UP! Lathrop Homes residents are Ready With a Vision

Strategies for battling with Chicago Housing Authority:
1. testify at CHA hearings
2. many meetings - find allies withing private developers and yuppie neighbors
3. policy proposal - got funding to have architects envision re-hab
4. Lathrop Maintenance Survey
mold issues found; housing shown to be uninhabitable to CHA who was forced to make some renovations without removing the residents

Northwestern University has joined the Lathrop Connection Project to try to save the Lathrop Homes. "Right of Return" granted to some public housing if you left earlier, a decade ago, when many folks were evicted. No communities on the North side of Chicago are eager to have public housing.

What does public housing mean for property values? What about Winnetka? There is very little evidence that it has a negative effect on stable affluent communities.

Why was Cabrini Green torn down? Interests of residents was not put first. Our very strong mayor appoints committees who basically must rubber-stamp what the mayor's office wants. Structural design of the high rise apartments was not ideal. No way for parents to monitor children. City farm remains, which is a public garden project.

Do you foresee change with a new mayor? Rham Emmanuel was not present at many meetings.
Wants to make Chicago a global city. His initiatives may not deal with public housing. Do you see problems with state budget cuts? Yes, privatization is expected to replace "entitlements".

watch video:
Chicago Housing Protest Feb 25 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization

Spring Institute day speaker Yong Zhao was quite provocative, interesting and well- informed as he explained his answer the questions: Are schools emphasizing the knowledge and skills that students need in a global society--or are they actually undermining their strengths by overemphasizing high-stakes testing and standardization? Are education systems in China and other countries really as superior as some people claim?He debunked some myths and calmed some fears leaving teachers to think that our school is doing fine in not tying everything we do to Illinois State Standards.

His book is available in the New Trier Library. Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization Call# is 370.973 Z63 It's also available on the library Kindles as an ebook.

Questions for senior discussion today:

What will you be doing in 5 years?

Has this school provided opportunities for learning

Was New Trier a happy comfortable place for you?

Lively discussion about opportunities, stress, not fitting 'the mold', etc.

Juniors: 5 Change Agents and "Black Power and the Black Power Party"
Ten Point Platform - October 1966  - What we Want and What we BelieveThe demands included freedome, full employment, reparations, decent housing, education, exemption from military service, end to police brutality, freedom for all black men in prisons/jails, and trials by peer groups from their black communities.

Would this 'radical' platform achieve something? 

Oral history: the power of the spoken word in a social movement
Readings/discussion on these excerpts from these change agents:

MLK, Jr. 1963

Stokely Carmichael, 1965
Malcolm X 1965
Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965
Fred Hampton, 1968

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Civil Rights Movement in the United States

Civil Rights Timeline: Milestones in the modern civil rights movement

Watching Lunchcounter sit-in at Nashville  from Eyes on the Prize documentary. Student sit-ins spread to 69 cities

"The workshops in nonviolence made the difference... the philosophy... the tactics, the techniques, how to... take the blows and still respond with... dignity."
—Rev. C. T. Vivian, Nashville activistMartin Luther King's creed of non-violence surprised many Americans. Though conceding that King's methods were effective, black psychologist Kenneth Clark called the philosophy of loving one's enemy "psychologically burdensome." In a 1963 interview, Malcolm X accused King of working "to keep Negroes defenseless in the face of an attack." Nevertheless, King's approach achieved success in Montgomery, Alabama, and other civil rights hot spots.
See the PBS American Experience website for more summaries of episodes of the Civil Rights movement.

New Trier Organic Garden