I love that video, and it hits close to home for me. I've been knee-deep for months now in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the newest city in the United States (I serve on the steering committee) and I am pleased to report that the close-to-finished-draft includes major elements of new urbanism. Walkability. Bikability. Connectivity. Usable, public green space. Smart Growth. A "life-long community." Sustainability aspects at every turn. Here is our current Vision statement
Vision of the City of Dunwoody
When our plan is adopted by our City Council, I'll be sure to post it here so you can see what a group of citizens and government leaders, working together to create something that can withstand the challenges and embrace the opportunities of the next twenty years, has created.
And so, just as the light shifts and the rains pour down (we got totally soaked this past week in Atlanta, if you haven't heard the news--although my family and home is fine, there was much destruction and some lost lives around Atlanta, so please keep us in your thoughts), I shifted gears all week as well. Two other initiatives on which I've been working (in between things like work, taking care of family, and sleep!) are
Guaranteed Daily Recess for Our School Children.
Please, folks. If your child is one of the 40% of elementary school children in the United States who does not have daily recess (or is at risk of losing it), please stand up and speak out. Here is my Sustainable Dunwoody post about this (I particularly love the photo), which includes an excellent toolkit as support for this needed break in our children's day.
FYI, I was asked to be the chair of the Environmental Committee at the supposed new "green school" in my city. Not only do I think unstructured daily play time is the building block of environmental stewardship, but I said that I could not imagine the ideas I had being embraced if the school could not even assure me that all children would get guaranteed daily recess of at least 15 minutes. And also, something in my gut tells me this particular school is not where I am called to be right now (except for the usual support of my child and her classroom).
(An aside: I did my "life pie" recently, where I divided up a literal cherry pie to represent the 168 hours in the week--you take out sleep, work, chores, meals, and getting the kids from here to there and then decide how you want to spend your time to make the vision for your life a reality. I designated 14 hours a week for pro bono/volunteer projects and I intend to maximize the impact of those hours by only volunteering where I truly believe I can make a measurable, sustainable difference.)
The good news--our county's Board of Education is probably going to mandate guaranteed daily recess for at least 15 minutes, preferably outdoors, that cannot be taken away for any reason (including punishment or to finish up work), as early as January, 2010 (stay tuned). Other good news--my daughter's teacher is really trying to maintain daily recess in her classroom and I greatly appreciate the effort she is making even though the administration does not support it. I am also willing to check my child out for 15 minutes each day (if it comes to this) and discussed with the teacher what time of the day would be the least disruptive to do this. My daughter and I have also created a "Rainy Day Recess Kit" for the teacher that includes decks of cards, dice, checkers and chess.
FYI, I gave my ideas to the teacher who is in charge of forming the Environmental Committee to use as she and the eventual committee see fit. You may find these helpful in your child's school as well
The proposed Environmental Committee would help insure that the school adheres to the newly-adopted Go Green standards of DeKalb County Schools, as set forth in its Go Green Operating Manual .
How to Start a Community Garden Near You
And finally, there are many groups of citizens who are trying desperately to start community gardens and hitting roadblocks at every turn. I wrote this predominantly to help other groups in my county, and have since adapted it for the Metro Atlanta Community Gardens social networking site I started, but I believe with just a few tweeks, you may find things helpful in this article for you as well
How to Start a Community Garden on Public Land
As for our new community garden? Its gentle slope helped it survive the storms. Now, we're mulching and replanting some stuff. And praying for sunshine.