6 Ways FairTrade Makes Chocolate Sweeter To Eat

(ref: Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International )

What can make a chocolate bar more wonderful than it already is? Answer: Making the bar from cocoa beans where the farmer was paid a fair wage for their product, where no slave labor was used, and where earth-friendly and sustainable growing standards were adhered to.

That’s what you get with a certified FairTrade bar of chocolate. An estimated 14 million people in the developing world depend on cocoa production for their livelihoods. FairTrade helps ensure that they can make a real living and we get a better and safer product. Sweet!

Continue reading


37 Rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

(ref: UNICEF, http://www.unicef.org/crc/)

Image from a card handmade in Rwanda

"Wishes come true" - a card handmade in Rwanda

NOTE: October 24th is United Nations Day

The United Nations  Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights — civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. On November 20th, 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not.

The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too. All UN members except the United States and Somalia have ratified CRC. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (California) is urging United States ratification.

  1. Children have the right to live. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.
  2. All children have the right to a legally registered name, officially recognized by the government. Children have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country). Children also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.
  3. Children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are. Governments should respect children’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties.
  4. Children have the right to live with their parent(s), unless it is bad for them. Children whose parents do not live together have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child. Continue reading

8 Stages of Successful Social Movements

(ref: Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership by Berit Lakey, George Lakey, Rod Napier, Janice Robinson)

Bill MoyerBill Moyer, a United States social change activist, developed a strategic model for waging successful nonviolent social movements in the late 1970s. This model is called the Movement Action Plan (MAP). Here is a summary of this model as described by George Lakey, the founder and retired executive director of Training for Change.

Stage One: Business as Usual
In this stage, relatively few people care about the issue. Small groups are formed to support each other. The objective is to get people to start thinking about the issue and start spreading the word. Small action projects may be taken on in this stage.

Stage Two: Failure of Established Channels
The general public is unaware of the injustice and largely uninterested in learning about the issue. The public is thinking (or hoping) that established structures are taking care of the problem. “Surely the government is watching out for the safety of our ground water.” “Surely, corporations know which chemicals are safe and unsafe and are already ensuring that workers and the public are not being exposed to the unsafe ones.” In this stage, small groups research the issue and the victims of the injustice. They may sue government agencies or corporations and will usually lose. Nevertheless, these actions are a necessary exercise in building public awareness.  Stage Two polls will show 15% to 20% of public opinion leaning towards the change.
Continue reading

20 Quotes from the Nonviolent Resistance Front

(ref: After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance, Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien)

Mohandas Gandhi’s birthday is October 2nd. In honor of him, the United Nations in 2007 adopted this day to be International Day of Nonviolence. Here are some quotes from leaders in nonviolent resistance that inspire me.

  1. Nonviolence is an intensely active force when properly understood and used. – Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)
  2. If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children. – Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)
  3. The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions. – Thich Nhat Hanh (1926- )
  4. If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone, will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. – Thich Nhat Hanh (1926- )
  5. I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving in. – Rosa Parks (1913-2005) Continue reading

37 Success Factors for Cultural Competency in Teachers

(ref: Teaching With A Cultural Eye Program, BayCES.org)

Most educators have heard the term “cultural competence” – but have never received adequate preparation to appropriately respond to the challenges of a diverse classroom. How do teacher and administrator’s own cultural identities influence their interactions with students, parents, and colleagues? Here are some success factors proposed by Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES)

  1. Knows students well: academically, socially, emotionally
  2. Builds relationships with students as people
  3. Involved in the cultivation of the relationship beyond the classroom
  4. Demonstrates a visible connectedness with each student
  5. Immersed into the students’ culture
  6. Provides a supportive classroom structure for academic, social, and emotional success
  7. Welcomes students into the classroom as a place that is theirs and not just the teacher’s (making it visible in how the classroom is set up)
  8. Provides necessary routines that help students become learners and feel safe in the classroom
  9. Emotes a "we’re all in this together" affect
  10. Encourages a community of learners who are responsible for each other inside and outside the classroom
  11. Promotes psychological safety in the classroom
  12. Promotes the intellectual leadership of students who are educationally, economically, socially, politically, and culturally disenfranchised
  13. Apprentices students into a learning community
  14. Has high academic standards and expectations for each student / all students
  15. Exudes publicly, positively, enthusiastically belief that each student can achieve those standards
  16. Knows very well and loves the subject matter, and conveys that to students (is not cynical about area of content knowledge or enthusiasm about it)
  17. Legitimates students’ real life experiences by building those experiences into the curriculum
  18. Makes every effort to welcome and celebrate their culture (urban youth culture, African American culture, Latino culture, etc.) as an integral part of the learning environment and process
  19. Helps them to code switch, know why, and also values their home culture and language
  20. Provides scaffolding into cognitive skills to think deeply about content
  21. Differentiates teaching and learning by learning readiness, interests, and learning styles (including culturally sensitive adaptations)
  22. Sees teaching as an art and themselves as artists
  23. Helps students make connections between their community, national, and global identities
  24. Views knowledge (hence curriculum) critically; develops students’ "habits of mind" to enable them to take a critical stance on their learning
  25. Helps students develop skills to participate fully in the construction of knowledge
  26. Helps students develop what Ladson-Billings calls their "socio-political awareness"
  27. Treats students as competent and developing
  28. Understands own race and its consequences (personally, historically, systemically)
  29. Is calm and non-reactive, but firm, fair, consistent
  30. Understands cultural behavior patterns (as a result, does not send more African American boys out for discipline)
  31. Does not ‘dis’ students in front of their peers
  32. Is not (if White) paralyzed by racial guilt or liberal paternalism
  33. Is (if a person of color) aware of the possibility of internalized racism and resulting low expectations or over-protectiveness of students of color
  34. Is their own selves with students, honest and human
  35. Has high self-esteem and a high regard for others
  36. Observes other culturally competent teachers interacting with and teaching students
  37. Participates in an equity centered professional learning community so as to be committed to ongoing growth and development in these areas

Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES) based in Oakland, CA is working to dramatically improve educational experiences, outcomes, and life options for students and families who have been historically underserved by their schools and districts. Reach and Teach and Design Action are proud to have been involved in creating their organization’s website.

Please check out “My People Are… Youth Pride in Mixed Heritage” an iPride film promoting positive racial & ethnic identity in ALL children and highlighting the multiracial experience.

12 Things About Pete Seeger

(ref: Pete Seeger Appreciation Page, How can I keep from singing by Sarah Van Gelder in Yes! Magazine, and other various sources)

  1. Seeger went to Harvard but left after two years just before final exams in 1938. He made his way to New York, where he eventually landed a job with the Archives of American Folk Music.
  2. On dropping out of the communist movement: “I was never enthusiastic about being somebody who was supposed to be silent about being a member of something.”
  3. In 1955 before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Seeger used the First Amendment rather than the Fifth as his reason for refusing to discuss his politics and associations. “Using the Fifth Amendment,” Seeger explained, “is in effect saying, ‘you have no right to ask me this question’; but using the First Amendment means, ‘you have no right to ask any American such questions.’
  4. Libby Frank, in 1952 insisted on singing “my brothers and my sisters” instead of “all of my brothers” in the Seeger/Lee song “If I had a hammer”. Lee resisted the change at first. “It doesn’t ripple off the tongue as well. How about ‘all of my siblings’?” Lee later acquiesced. (ref: www.mysongbook.de)
  5. Pete’s famous banjo reads: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” (ref: Yes! Magazine)
  6. Testimony to his strong faith in his country’s ultimate and necessary commitment to freedom of expression, Seeger wrote the words to “Bring them Home” which includes the line “…one of the great things about America is that we can speak our minds…” during a time he was being regularly blacklisted and his words and songs were heavily censored.
  7. Seeger popularized “We shall overcome” when he published his version of the gospel song in People’s Songs in 1947. It later became one of the most memorable anthems of the civil rights movement in the 60’s being sung at rallies, vigils, and protests.
  8. On traveling with Woodie Guthrie, “He taught me how to hitchhike and how to ride freight trains. You don’t get on a freight when it’s in the station—the railroad bulls will kick you off. You go about 100 yards or maybe 200 yards outside to where the train is just picking up speed and you can trot alongside it. You throw your banjo in an empty car, and then you throw yourself in. And you then might go 200 or 300 miles before you stop.”
  9. “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”, an allegorical anti-war song written in 1967 during the war in Vietnam was published by Columbia records but deemed too controversial and never sent to retail stores. It was The Smothers Brothers that made it possible for the world to know about the song when they invited Pete Seeger to be a guest on their television show. The song was edited out before air time by TV executives but The Smothers Brothers got the last word when they went to the press saying, “CBS censors our best jokes, they censored Seeger’s best song. It ain’t fair.” (ref: www.peteseeger.net)
  10. In October, 1994, President Clinton awarded Seeger the National Medal of the Arts praising him as “an inconvenient artist who dared to sing things as he saw them.”
  11. A Pete Seeger quote, “Learning how to do something in your hometown is the most important thing. … If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things.”
  12. Pete Seeger’s birthday is May 3rd. He turns 90 in 2009.

Read At 89 Pete Seeger’s Still A Rebel! at Reach and Teach.

10 Interesting Facts About This Land is Your Land

(ref: Freedom Song by Mary Turck, woodyguthrie.org, wikipedia)

  1. In 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote This Land is Your Land because he was tired of the radio overplaying Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” which he thought was unrealistic and complacent. [wikipedia]
  2. The tune for the song was taken from a gospel hymn “When the world’s on fire” recorded by the Carter Family in 1930.
  3. A verse that is normally left out when performed…
    Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
    A sign was painted said: Private Property
    But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
    That side was made for you and me.

  4. Another verse that is normally not sung…
    One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
    By the Relief Office I saw my people
    As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering
    If this land was made for you and me?

  5. Various artists who have performed the song include: Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, the Limeliters, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, and Bruce Springsteen
  6. The song was most recently sung by Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger (with the usually omitted verses intact) during President Obama’s Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
  7. The soundtrack to the movie Hard travelin’ includes an original recording of Woody Guthrie singing the song with his son Arlo Guthrie digitally mixed in to sing the omitted verses as taught to him by his father.
  8. Guthrie’s original “copyright” on his song reads:
    This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.
  9. Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. Guthrie was disabled by and died of Huntington’s disease which ended his life in 1967.
  10. A Woody Guthrie quote [woodyguthrie.org],
    “A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it or it could be
    who’s hungry and where their mouth is or
    who’s out of work and where the job is or
    who’s broke and where the money is or
    who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.”


Freedom Song by Mary Turck is available at Reach and Teach