Go Ahead and Make Your Kids Work

Raising kids is hard, raising them to be above-average productive members of society is even harder. Indeed, one of those hard things about raising kids is hearing endless advice on how to raise kids “right”; so don’t listen to everyone and their ideas. Instead, listen to the science and collective wisdom of really smart people. It turns out that making kids do chores is a good way to help kids be better adults as it engrains in them a mentality of helping and “pitching-in” when needed.

In the Harvard Grant Study, the longest running longitudinal study in history, (spanning 75 years and counting–from 1938 to the present), researchers identified two things that people need in order to be happy and successful:

The first? Love.

The second? Work ethic.

And what’s the best way to develop work ethic in young people? Based on the experiences of the 724 high-achievers who were part of the study (including people like future-President Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, the Watergate-era editor of The Washington Post) there’s a consensus.

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Thanks to Liz!

We All Benefit When We Build Safe Streets

Good Street from Streetmix

The climate crisis requires solutions at all levels and that includes the streets. Safe streets for pedestrians and cyclists ensures that more people will use sustainable transit (and not drive polluting cars). New York City has earned a reputation for redesigning their streetscape to be for people instead of cars, which has been praised here on this site and elsewhere. This reputation was fostered under the previous mayor and now the new mayor, Bill De Blasio, isn’t living up to his predecessor’s urban design philosophy. We can’t ignore that the debate has moved from just needing bike lanes to needing safe bike lanes – New York City is still ahead of other cities. Let’s hope all cities can have more elevated debates about safe transit infrastructure.

Let’s stand back and look at what’s going on. The problem is the absence of an infrastructure that gives bikers, pedestrians, and even delivery trucks what they need so they don’t go to war against each other for the rat-infested crumbs of asphalt the city has them fighting over. Cyclists need protected lanes and prioritized lights all over the city. Give that to them and they won’t swarm the sidewalks, they won’t drive the wrong way all the time, and they won’t go through intersections when they shouldn’t. Give pedestrians the wide and safe sidewalks they need, the benches their weary legs desire, the trees that make shade in the summer, and calm streets in which the majority of space is devoted to the majority of people who are not in private cars. This has been proven to work — it’s not a risky leap, it’s been ridiculously successful in cities across the world, particularly in Europe.

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Thanks to Aidan!

Download This Home

the suburbs

The standard North American home (pictured above) is horrible inefficient and quite bad for the environment. As the climate crisis conies to worsen we need to change the way we provide shelter for people: and that’s exactly what Phoenix, Arizona did. Arizona is experience such extreme heat that everyday objects are melting and car tires explode, sometimes the airport can’t function either. This led the City of Phoenix to launch a competition for making the most affordable and environmentally friendly home.

The winning home building plan is available for free online from the city, meaning you can download a home.

The winner of the contest, Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, went even lower. The studio’s affordable, three-bedroom home, dubbed HOME nz, has an impressive HERS rating of zero. A $100,000 prize went to Imirzian’s firm, and the design is now available for widespread use; the City of Phoenix has made the construction plans for HOME nz available for free to encourage the public to build more eco-friendly homes. “The city of Phoenix has a very visionary sustainability director and department who are looking for leadership for built work in the Phoenix area,” says Imirzian. “[The] goal was to show how simple moves could result in significant [environmental] changes.”

Since Phoenix’s dry, sun-bleached environment involves extreme heat, the design incorporates high-performance glass, which reduces heat transmission from outside, and retractable fabric screens for greater shade and passive cooling without the help of an AC unit. But HOME nz is a useful and applicable model no matter the climate. “If the volume performs well in terms of the separation of the interior and exterior then no matter where you build your house, it will be managed optimally by what you’re surrounding the house with,” notes Imirzian. “It would do just as well in a very cold climate or [a place] where you need conditioning or heating.”

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Global Climate Strike – TODAY

The Global Climate Strike is today! People who care about the world are out on the streets today to send a message to politicians and those who don’t care that we need to ACT NOW to stop catastrophic climate change.

You can participate!

Get out on the streets
Make some posters
Speak your mind on Twitter

Participate in the Climate Strike to Meet Others who Care

protest

Earlier this year Kate Black (not the person in the picture) wrote an article in Masionneuve about what’s it like to feel alone against the world. For years people have been showing up to rallies, writing letters, signing campaigns, and more, but nothing seems to change. That’s how climate activists have been feeling for decades and it wears people out. After all, going against the richest corporations on the planet is no small task. Black wrote about the efforts of Nestar Russell as a way to capture the feelings of inadequacies and frustration that many climate champions feel. It’s worth acknowledging the emotional toll on activist so we can better learn how not to burn out.

The climate strike is tomorrow and you should join in to, at the very least, provide a confidence boost to those of us that need it. The worst thing that can happen is that the world gets a little better.

Several news outlets and well-intentioned bloggers responded to the depressing onslaught by publishing steps normal people can take to reduce their carbon footprint, like taking public transit or eating less meat. People on the internet didn’t like this either, and with reason. The individual steps, no matter how drastic, seem impossibly small when compared to the toll taken by massive corporations. Two leading climate research institutes report that 70 percent of industrial greenhouse gas emissions created since 1988 can be traced back to no more than one hundred fossil fuel companies.

Most people do seem to want to do something about the environment. A 2015 report found that 73 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on a brand if it’s “sustainable,” whatever that means. It’s no surprise that every company seems to be greenwashing itself—trying to look carbon-conscious without actually doing anything meaningful, like how Starbucks is phasing out newly unpopular plastic straws with sippy-cup lids that use even more plastic than the straws they replace.
Of course, the planet doesn’t have time for ineffective, small changes anymore, let alone corporate greenwashing. “It’s becoming clear that we don’t have the luxury of slowly wading into the shallow end,” Wynes says. He is also wary of what he calls “techno-optimism,” the idea that new inventions like electric cars and planes are going to “bail us out.” It could be years before an electric plane is efficient enough to make long flights.

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