Vol. 18, no. 2
March -- April, 2006
© 2006 by Skipping Stones, Inc. Opinions expressed in these pages reflect views of the contributors, and not necessarily those of Skipping Stones, Inc.
Waste reduction: Reuse, Recycle, Reduce!
About five years ago I discovered MacRenewal in Eugene-a garage converted into a workshop space with tons of computers and peripherals. There, several people worked to rejuvenate old Apple computers for reuse by non-profit organizations and low-income families. Although Lorraine Kerwood, executive director of McRenewal had a regular "job" that earned her livelihood, refurbishing old computers (that would otherwise clog the landfills with hazardous waste) was her real passion.
No doubt, Lorraine's work is much needed in the community, for she has been able to attract hundreds of volunteers to sort, test, and repair donated computers, parts, peripherals, devices, and monitors.
Recently, I went to their newer 10,000 sq. ft. facility. The bulletin board has several newspaper clippings with publicity and praise for Lorraine's Computer Recycling and Reuse Center CRRC, (www.lanecrcc.org). A Guatemalan traditional weaving, appreciating the center's donation of computers, decorates one of the walls of the reception area.
CRRC is a busy hub of activity. Volunteers scurry around to take care of donations. I counted six cars pull in with donations during about half an hour that I was there!
They also have a thrift store to sell refurbished computers, cables, cards and parts, as well as other electronic devices for very low prices. I talked with Lorraine about this eco-asset that she has created for the community. She explained how they have expanded the recycling and reusing to all sorts of electronic equipment-not just for Macintosh or Apple computers. They assemble complete systems for folks-disabled, old, or others who cannot otherwise afford to buy them. CRRC has donated in excess of 1,000 computers since opening this new public facility two years ago. Recipients also include social service agencies and schools (ESL and Special Education classrooms). Only shipping and handling costs are the responsibility of the recipients. CRRC recently donated a complete G4 Mac system to Skipping Stones. This will help us sail into the 21st Century with high quality desktop publishing and fast internet connection.
Lorraine said she likes to donate computers to overseas schools and nonprofits, but only when there is a working partner organization or other knowledgeable contact person in those communities. This is important because the computers need to be set up and networked once they reach their destinations, and then serviced when necessary, to make sure they are working efficiently. She does not want computers to become a liability or an e-waste in overseas landfills. She's very concerned about ecology, conservation, and protecting our planet's resources.
Today, CRRC has over 100 volunteers. After 30 hours of work, volunteers are even eligible to get a free computer. April, a hard-working woman I've seen working there, volunteers almost every day. The center now has a budget of $200,000, employing three full-time and three part-time workers.
Recently, the CRRC received a grant to buy a van which will allow them to transport donated computers and electronic components. A new contract with 22 school districts in western Oregon will increase their reach even further. And now they are able to do business pickup.
CRRC accepts all electronic devices, whether working or not, just to keep electronic devices out of landfills. Many of them contain hazardous materials. Whatever cannot be fixed and reused gets transported to appropriate recycling centers in the region.
We know there are other concerned folks in other places working hard like Lorraine. The Associated Press reported that 13-year-old Jacob Komar of Connecticut, who founded Computers for Communities, was recognized by the Hall of Fame for Caring Americans in December 2005. His group has also brought over 1,000 refurbished computers to needy families in three states.
Let's learn to reuse, recycle and reduce waste of our precious resources!
-- Arun Toké
Our Source of Life
Color changes, swirling in and out, together and apart, weaving themselves together on a loom of golden rays and silver moonbeams. With each toss and turn the colors change, leaping through the blue of night, glowing with pearly stars. Soaring through the hues of dawn, lavenders and rosy pinks intertwine on the loom of nature.
Outside my window rain beats, pattering on the streets and marching up to rap on doors and windows. Darkness clouds the houses like a cape, refusing to let any ray of sun come through and light the world in a golden glow. But when the sun does conquer the darkness, sparkling rainbows will dance in the crystal clear pools of water that have formed upon the ground. When the leaves fall red, brown, orange, yellow and gold, and the squirrels run through the forest floor, dappled with sunlight, that is color. When all else is quiet, the ocean is alive. It tumbles through the stillness of the air and frolics with the minnows, dancing atop its endless waves. The ocean rolls onward when only the lanterns hung by angels light the skies.
Day ceases, vanquished by the approaching darkness. Yet, the sun still glows in the deep red sky, resisting for a few more moments. Deeper grow the shadows as the sun sinks behind the horizon. The mountains melt into the sunset as the light of the world is slowly diminished. While the brightest star gives way to snowdrops, glistening in the sky above, night descends upon the world.
As the sun's warm, rosy glow spreads across the heavens, the air is filled with music that cannot be heard. The music of the rising dawn. As it rises above the rolling blue oceans, its reflection blurred on the tumbling waves, all else seems to fade, just as night faded with the first light. The sun emerges from behind the swells, born into a sky of palest lavender, fringed with blue at the furthest edges, while golden clouds float upon the horizon. And that, that single moment of joy, is color.
-- Maria Blesie, 10
Grow a Garden on School Grounds!
Spending time outside communing with nature has always been an essential part of my life. When I was a child, I used to sit in school classrooms gazing out the window and wishing that we could be outside, enjoying and learning about nature. All year long I looked forward to our annual family camping trips in the mountains, and I wished that my urban neighborhood and schoolyard could become more like the diverse habitats I enjoyed on those trips.
Then, when I was in 6th grade, my school started building an outdoor classroom. Right outside of our classroom windows, they planted little trees and dug a pond. I went back to visit this school over 30 years later and found that the formerly barren corner of our schoolyard was now filled with a grove of towering redwood trees, a pond, stream, meadow, and a whole vegetable garden full of food!
That outdoor classroom in California is a continuing source of inspiration for me in my current job in Oregon. I am the Executive Director of the School Garden Project of Lane County, a grass-roots, nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering hands-on, schoolyard-based learning experiences for children by creating vibrant and sustainable school gardens and habitats. We currently work with seven Partner Schools and six Member Schools, plus we have connections with more than 30 other local schools.
In order to help schools create outdoor classrooms, even those schools that are far away from Lane County, Oregon, we have created a website with lots of relevant information and links to other relevant websites. If you want to create a garden at your school, or improve an existing school garden, visit, www.efn.org/~sgp and click on "How-To, Teaching Ideas, and Resources." For your school garden to be able to live and grow for 30 years like the one at my former elementary school, be sure to choose your site carefully and plan systems for irrigation, weed control, composting and storage.
To create a successful school garden, you need to get lots of people to help. It is easier to convince people to help if you can give them good reasons for having a school garden. Recently, there has been a lot of publicity about the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. School gardening provides solutions to this problem in many ways. When kids participate in the planting, growing, harvesting, and preparation of fruits and vegetables, they are much more eager to eat these healthy foods, or at least try them. Gardening also gets kids to be physically active, as they dig in the soil, turn compost, and push heavy wheelbarrows. Those are the obvious benefits of wellness from school gardening.
School gardening also provides more subtle wellness benefits. The influential new book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, documents the importance of a relationship with nature for a child's healthy emotional and spiritual development. This book provides compelling evidence that the rising rates of childhood ADD and depression may be better treated with a dose of nature than with drugs.
Instead of experiencing nature only on field trips, kids can get a dose of nature from school gardens on a regular basis and in a way that makes them feel connected to all of life. Students participate in making their own cafeteria waste into compost and then growing new food from that compost. They plant a seed and grow a plant they can eat, and grow seeds they can plant to start the cycle over again. There is so much meaning and wonder in even the smallest garden that can never be duplicated in the classroom.
In addition to providing these wellness benefits, school gardens can also benefit students by awakening their senses, providing opportunities for experimentation and observation, inspiring academic achievement, building community, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and integrating the curriculum. As students benefit from school gardens, our society and the Earth benefit by gaining citizens who are more ecologically literate, responsible, cooperative, concerned, and empowered. But besides all that, school gardens are just plain fun!
I hope that I have inspired you to stir up some enthusiasm at your school for enlivening your school grounds and your school days by growing gardens and a healthy habitat. Good luck and have fun!
-- Sharon Blick, Oregon.
A former high school biology teacher,
Sharon founded the nonprofit organization,
Nearby Nature. She also visits local
schools as "The Bug Lady" with her bug-petting zoo.
A Child of Influences
Skipping Stones Magazine