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Skipping Stones
Vol. 17, no. 2
March -- April, 2005
  • The Basket Weaver
  • Furloughs
  • Where is the King Now?
  • Friends Are For...
  • Semana Santa en Espagne: Holy Week in Spain
  • A World Apart: Exchange Student Shares his World
  • Coming Together: Host Mother Shares her Experience
  • The Day I Ran with Lance Armstrong
  • A Tale From China: Confusing the Great Confucius
  • Would You?
  • Our World's Logging Massacre in Indonesia
  • Australian Wildlife
  • Nature's Island Song
  • Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt * All Natural Egg Hunt
  • Nature Poetry
  • Mother Oak
  • She Lives for the Ocean She Loves
  • Conscience * Comprehension * God, Forgive Man
  • Back Home
  • Stay Away From Brian
  • Passover: Reconnecting with my Past
  • The Annex * No More Is This Okay
  • Viking Grandmothers
  • Resources for Teaching

Regular Departments

From the Editor
Making the Best Use of our Resources

Recently, while preparing for this issue, I watched several educational videos.

"The Man who Planted Trees" is an animated movie, which shows how even one determined person can make a profound change in the world. A lone farmer who has lost his family takes upon himself the task of reforesting a wind-swept, barren land. Using a long metal rod, he digs a quick hole in the ground and then drops in a good-quality, pre-soaked acorn, and covers it up with dirt. Each day, he might plant 100 acorns on a patch of mountainside while attending to his flock of sheep.

Over a course of 30 years, he reforested more than 25 sq. kms of mountain land with oaks and birches. And what a difference did that make! As the trees matured, they helped the soil retain moisture and streams began to flow again. Grasses, wildflowers, bees, birds, wildlife appeared. The whole landscape became alive again. Very inspiring, indeed!

Another video, "Kilowatt Ours" shows the connection between our electrical energy use and the problems of air pollution, global warming, coal mining, asthma and other health impacts on children. Did you know that an average home in the Southeastern United States uses over 1,000 kwhrs of electricity-requiring one ton of coal (mined in the Appalachia mountains) each month? We can reduce our energy use by half without sacrificing the quality of life. Also, renewable energy can help us reduce further our negative impact on nature.

I have been frugal in my energy use for most of my life. But the video has rekindled my desire to reduce our energy use even further and help preserve our earth's precious natural resources. Even our ten-year-old son is being careful not to waste energy unnecessarily!

Yet, another educational video, "The Global Banquet: Politics of Food" brought to my consideration how we support the destruction of small family farms, the livelihood of people in the developing world, as well as at home. We are hurting our own health and wellbeing in the process... all as we spend our money buying food at the supermarkets. How? By the economic choices we make in buying processed and packaged food products that are transported over great distances. The video suggested we can vote with our money! We can buy locally produced, fresh and healthy foods that will help keep small family farms in business everywhere. The large factory farms do not take good care of the land or use energy and resources wisely! Giant corporations are not in the business of feeding us good food, they're in it simply to make more money for the bosses and the shareholders!

How can we make the best use of our resources? By taking a serious look at how we spend them! How does our family use energy and resources? What do we buy? Where do we shop? What do we do and how much do we get out of the energy we use? Here is a challenge to each one of us! As students of life, we can sharpen our skills in math, accounting, recording, analyzing and predicting with this exercise:

  • For a period of one month, spend ten minutes every evening, recording your family's resource use that day in a journal. Some items like water, electricity, natural gas, etc. are purchased from utility companies and their use can be recorded monthly from your family's utility bills. Others will be purchased occasionally, like gasoline or heating oil. Ask your parents to help you figure out how much gas they bought, the number of miles they drove, and for what purpose during the week. Include airmiles traveled, if any.
  • Record in your daily journal the quantity of items bought, loads of wash done, showers/baths taken, etc. Also, enter how much trash was thrown out and how many bags of recyclables, like newspapers and bottles, were hauled away.
  • Evaluate your family's energy and resource use for the month. Analyze what was really necessary and what could be eliminated. How can you change your patterns of consumption to make best use of resources? Try it! Good luck!

-- Arun Marayan Toke'

Our Lives Are Connected with Nature!

How can there be a world when we destroy it to bits and pieces during wars and conflicts? How can there be a world without the people who starve to death or are inflicted with incurable diseases? Deep inside you don't know how it feels like to care about our culture, our world and our nature. Animals pay a high price for sharing the planet with human beings. Some die to feed us, some for sports, more are brushed aside to extinction. Aldo Leopold wrote, "Man and beast, plant and soil lived on and with each other in mutual toleration, to the mutual benefit of all." Well, what has happened then to that mutual toleration?

I believe we have done bigger things but not better things. We have learned to make a living but not a life. We've cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. These are times of fast food and slow indigestion. I believe when I die, I will keep on living, and nature and culture will have my heart to see them through.

As definite as the rising and setting of the sun,

-- Shiela Sibozi Muzhamba
Zimbabwe

Being Beautiful

Does blonde hair make you pretty?
Does being a size 2 make you hot?
Does having blue eyes make you gorgeous?
No, Absolutely not!
Who defines beauty?
Why do they get to chose?
Do they just not realize,
That is emotional abuse?
Does beauty make you perfect,
Or does intelligence count, too?
To me what is beautiful
Is what makes me diverse from you.

-- Katrina Jacobs,
13, Pennsylvania.

Conscience

As he walked downtown, he looked around
He shook his head at the broken apartments
Broken windows, broken doors, graffiti on the cheap brick
A muffled scream pierced his ears, but he shrugged it off
Nothing could be done, he thought
As he continued walking, a homeless woman tugged on his pants
She asked for money, but he pulled away with a disgusted look on his face
Her once pretty face was crusted with dirt and thin with hunger
He had plenty of money to spare

As he drove through the suburbs, he felt not perturbed
He smiled at the well-kept houses
Perfect lawns, perfect fences, all houses beautifully painted and clean
A shout for a football issued from one of the backyards
And he remembered the joyous days of his upbringing
A child ran out in front of his car to get a soccer ball
He gently pushed the brakes, slowing just enough to let the boy cross
Everything was pleasantly quiet, not a siren or scream to be heard
And he though this is the way things should be

As he went to bed, never a thought entered his head
Of trying to lend a hand
To anyone but his wife, himself, his now grown children
A long time ago he did think about it
He thought that he couldn't make a difference
What would it matter if he did help?
He was only one person
Nothing could be done
So he falls asleep comfortably every night
His conscience seemingly clear.

-- Ryan Duvel,
grade 8, Michigan.

God, Forgive Man

To you belongs the seas deep
fathoms and fathoms below
and to ye belongeth the stars
lightyears and lightyears above

In the triangular heart you made
you filled love, man invented hate
you opened to him a successful life
but man insisted on closing the gate

You gave him whatever he begged
but he denied all your favours
God, forgive the sinner, selfish man
he will never stop fighting with neighbours.

-- Aftab Yusuf, 15,
Mumbai, India.

Ode to My Dog

I praise my dog. His fur
Was soft as a cloud.
He ran like a horse running
Through the wind.
I would hear him scratch
The door when he wanted to go
Outside. He would start
Barking to let us know if
Something was wrong.
When I would grab
The flying disk, he would start
Jumping up like popcorn.
When I tossed the
Flying disk, he would jump up
Like a lemur and catch
It. When another
Dog came into the yard,
He would stand
Still like a golden
Statue. Then the day came:
He was running like a wild horse
until he got hit by a car
His fur stopped moving, he was
Hardly breathing...the last
I ever saw of him.

-- Edwin Aguilar
Latin American
Arizona

A Tale from China:
Confusing the Great Confucius

Confucius was a wise man and great thinker. He lived in China from 551 BCE to 479 BCE. The Chinese called him Kong Qui or Kongzi.

One day, as he was passing by, he saw two boys arguing with each other.

"Closer," said one.

"Farther," said the other.

Confucius asked them the reason for their argument. "I think the sun is closer at noon and farther in the morning," said the first boy. Kongzi nodded and turned to the other boy.

"I believe that the sun is closer in the morning and farther away at noon," said the other.

"Can you explain why?" asked Kongzi to both the boys.

"It is hotter at noon, cooler in the mornings. It gets hotter because the sun is close to us. It is cool in the morning because the sun is far away," said the first boy.

He pointed at the sun that was beginning to set in the west.

"And what do you say?" asked Kongzi to the other boy.

"You can see the sun clearly-as a round big red ball-in the morning. During noon, you can hardly make out the sun. Isn't it bigger when it is closer, and smaller when it is farther?" asked the other boy.

The great man didn't have a reply to this complicated question. Do you? When do you think the sun is closer?

-- Chitra Soundar,
originally from India, Singapore.

Would You?

If the world was against you,
Would you fight back?
If nobody listened,
Would you keep talking?
If no on believed you,
Would you think you're wrong?
If everyone left you,
Would you stand strong?

-- Luke Paulina, 13,
Pennsylvania.

 

 

Skipping Stones Magazine
P.O. Box 3939
Eugene, OR 97403 USA.
Telephone: (541) 342-4956