Chelsea Green Kids Archive


Connected Wisdom Webinar with Linda Booth Sweeney

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Register now for a free webinar with Linda Booth Sweeney, author of Connected Wisdom, on September 22nd at 8:00 am Central Time. Learn about Linda’s fascinating work using folktales from around the world to illustrate principles of systems thinking.

More from the Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development (SEED) website:

What does a polar bear in the Arctic have to do with the type of car you buy in China? This isn’t a riddle or SEED’s latest math puzzle…it’s a real question. The key to understanding this question is the science of systems thinking. This approach looks beyond separate parts to view things as a whole, whether it is a forest, a classroom, or the planet….“There is a lot of talk these days about how everything is connected to everything else,” explains Connected Wisdom author Linda Booth Sweeney. “Most of the time these connections are hard to see. Whether they’re found in nature, your body, your family, your school, or your city, these interconnected networks are called living systems. Living systems are all around us.”

In a Burmese folktale, for instance, a king spills a drop of honey on his windowsill, and thinks it is too little to bother cleaning up. When the drop attracts a fly, a lizard, a cat, a dog, and the owners of the cat and the dog, each armed with a stick, a civil war erupts. The king and the readers come to understand the living system of “nonlinearity,” in which an effect is disproportionate to its cause….

Want to hear more about the book, the recording, and the SEEDKIT directly from the author? Head over to our bookstore and then register for the webinar by sending an email to [email protected].

Lee Welles Makes History—in Corning, NY

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Lee Welles, author of the Gaia Girls book series, will soon be making history as the first woman to serve as deputy mayor of the city of Corning, NY.

From the Leader:

Councilman Lee Welles, D-2, will soon become the first woman to serve as city deputy mayor, pending a rubber stamp approval.

Republican mayor-elect Rich Negri recently chose Welles to fill the post.

The council will vote on the issue at 7 p.m. Jan. 4 at City Hall, during its first monthly meeting of 2010.

Negri, who vowed non-partisanship during his campaign, said Welles, a Democrat, will do an excellent job.

“She is my choice,” Negri said. “Lee is going to make a very good deputy mayor, she is non-partisan and bases all or her decisions on the facts of the situation and her personal thoughts on the matter.”

Negri said he recently sent letters to all council members and to City Manager Mark Ryckman informing them of his recommendation.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” said Welles, who will be starting her third year in office in January. “I often tell people that on a local level we just shouldn’t do party politics. We need to do what we think is best for the city.”

Read the whole article here.

Photo: Jason Cox | The Leader

Localvores Rejoice! 2008 Boasts Record Number of US Farmers’ Markets

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) division tracks the number of farmers’ markets operating in the United States. As the graph above shows, they are reporting that the number of markets operating in the country has been increasing steadily since 1994 and has topped a whopping 4,685 this year!

If you’d like to see the markets operating in your area, AMS operates this searchable database where you can find markets by name, location, or forms of payment.

It’s great to see a resurgence of local food production and local consumers. Let’s keep it up!

The chart above courtesy of La Vida Locavore.

Lee Welles Helps Launch TreeHugger Tip Videos

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Lee Welles, author of the Gaia Girls: Enter the Earth and Gaia Girls: Way of Water, helped us help our friends at TreeHugger launch their new TreeHugger Tip project. TreeHugger is compiling a library of 20 to 30 second video clips of authors, celebrities, activists, and TreeHugger readers explaining “What they do to be green.”

Lee submitted a great clip that TreeHugger loved and thought appropriate to help launch the series. Here is TreeHugger’s post about it, and the video is below. Enjoy!

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking to kids about the earth and there’s one thing I’ve noticed – they don’t want to be scared. They want to be inspired. And sure us grownups know that the ice caps are melting, the seas are rising and forests are burning, but kids want to be inspired by the magic of nature. So if you want to get green, you’ve got to get dirty! Grab a kid and head outside because nature is never boring. If you want the next generation to care about the earth, first they’ve got to love it.” – Lee Welles

Toxins in toys … scared yet?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Hey, when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll. You just can’t seem to click on your mouse without finding more evidence that parents are taking seriously the role of scrutinizing what’s in the products their kids play with. Shocking, I know. Remember the good old days? Lead paint on your metal toy? Hanging out the back of the station wagon? Good times, good times.

Around the country, parents and advocates are getting together to screen their toys for  toxins. A recent example occurred in Norwalk, Connecticut, a state where lawmakers are hoping to pass House Bill 5601, An Act Banning Children’s Products Containing Lead, Phthalates or Bisphenol-A.

And, who says Californians get to have all the fun banning these chemicals from toys.

Here’s a story on an event as reported in the Stamford Advocate.

NORWALK – The handheld device resembled a price scanner, but after it zapped his son’s Fisher Price roller vacuum toy, sticker shock wasn’t what upset state Sen. Bob Duff.

The device, an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, discovered 200 parts per million of lead, far more than the 40 parts per million that pediatricians consider acceptable on toys.

Worse than that, the toy’s paint contained 250 parts per million of mercury, said Damian Fox, who conducted the tests.

“There should be zero mercury,” said Fox, who owns Glastonbury-based Aremytoyssafe.com, a service that tests chemical levels in toys and other items.

“This is going into the garbage,” said Duff, D-Norwalk. “Actually, it’s going in on household hazardous waste day.”

EPA drops ball on danger of chemicals to children

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Just when you think there are no more shoes to drop in the Bush Administration’s march to decimate any and all public protections …  Imelda Marcos stops by after a shopping spree.

In relation to a couple of recent posts related to Mark Schapiro’s book Exposed, where he is taken to task by some apologists for chemical companies, you read a story that shows that the Environmental Protection Agency has been stacking its review panels with scientists who are financially linked to chemical companies.

Take this pice of reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to evaluate compounds in products such as flame retardants in mattresses and car seats to see if they are especially harmful to children.

But it doesn’t.

The EPA’s Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program, which relies on companies to provide information about the dangers of the chemicals they produce, is all but dead.

Funding ran out last August.

If you think investigative reporting is dead, read on here.

This story only underscores a key point Schapiro raises in his book—if you think someone is paying attention to what chemicals companies are putting on and in kids’ products, think again.

Keeping kids’ toys safe

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Journalist Mark Schapiro, whose book Exposed was recently the basis for a special feature on PBS’ NOW program that focused on phthalates—a hard-to-pronounce but damaging group of chemicals found in many children’s toys—is taking on the chemical industry’s apologists.

Elizabeth Whalen took him to task earlier this year on The Huffington Post, calling him an “activist,” which to journalists is about as slanderous as it gets. Schapiro took up Whalen’s outing and used what all journalists use when they write stories—facts—to show that his book and his reporting are on firm ground, not simply based on alarmist claims.

Check out Whalen’s post here and Schapiro’s riposte.

And, in case you were wondering phthalates make plastics soft and pliable and chewy for kids—the reason why a rubber ducky is so darn inviting.

Here’s a sample of the back-and-forth:

Whalen: Contrast the activist scare about phthalates with the scientific reality: there is no evidence whatsoever—not even a hint—of health problems from phthalates in any consumer products used by children or adults. That is the conclusion of esteemed scientists from the Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and universities around the world — and a blue ribbon panel on phthalates and health chaired by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. The issue has been addressed and studied extensively.

Schapiro: Dozens of studies of rodents and, increasingly, of humans have demonstrated precisely that: the evidence suggests strongly that phthalates disrupt the developing endocrine system of infant boys (at this stage, most of the research does focus on boys because phthalates affect production of the male sexual hormone, testosterone). A study published last week in the journal Pediatrics found evidence of phthalates in every one of the 163 infants under thirteen months that a team of scientists tested for the synthetic substance. Why does this matter? Studies in Denmark concluded in 2006 that high levels of phthalates in mother’s breast milk contributed to lower levels of testosterone production in their male offspring in the first three months of life.

After challenging Whalen’s claims, Schapiro has found a new foe in Trevor Butterworth, who offers a counter-argument Schapiro’s counter-argument here. Here’s a snippet:

But there’s a problem: if you are going to muckrake with science, you need to be able to refute scientific evidence which doesn’t agree with your hypothesis. That’s how science works. Posit a theory, find evidence (or find data and posit a theory), test that evidence and theory against everything else out there.

This, Shapiro doesn’t do. He takes only the evidence that supports his position and avoids addressing the problems with it, even though these problems are substantial.

OK, Mark, the squishy phthalate-soaked ball is in your court.

The kids dig it

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Gaia Girls, that is; and why wouldn’t they?

I have been thinking for a while now that what we need are Eco Heroes in literature and movies and lo and behold up pops the brand new Gaia Girls series from Lee Welles.

Radio Gaia

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Lee Welles, author of Gaia Girls, is being audio-streamed by the Student Operated Press. Note: there’s two or three minutes of music before the interview begins. It’s a nice interview.

Cloudland Farm Is Home to a Most Peculiar Pair!

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2006

Contact: Jessica Saturley, 802-295-6300 x 106

Bayberry & Beau
by Nita Choukas; Illustrated by Gillian Tyler

“I will always remember the look of delight in the eyes, and the feeling of affection in the faces of my students, as Bayberry & Beau became part of their lives. With each chapter their anticipation grew.”
Betsy Draper, first grade teacher

Have you ever seen a cat who likes to ride horses? Nita Choukas hadn’t either, until she visited Cloudland Farm and found Beau, the orange tabby, perched on the back of Bayberry, the old brown quarter horse. They were inseparable.

While the amazing friendship between this cat and this horse is very real, Bayberry & Beau (Chelsea Green, July 2006) is Choukas’s imaginary tale of how these real-life animals became friends and the adventures that followed. Peculiar things are bound to happen when a spunky tabby and an old mare team up.

Choukas’s colorful cast of characters pulls kids into the story and unleashes their imaginations. There’s Beau, the lonely barn cat who is too kind-hearted to hunt; Bayberry, the wise old quarter horse who is afraid of mice; grumpy Aunt Ruby who refuses to keep a “lazy” barn cat; Sure Bett, a feisty horse with an attitude; and Mouse Marvin, the bravest of them all.

Through the adventures of these unlikely companions, children will experience the power of strong friendships and learn the benefit of working together and caring for one another. As the animals on the farm soon learn, they all do a lot better when they collaborate.

Nita Choukas is an actress and director of school and community theater. She has written book for two children’s musicals, Lolly On His Own and An Elemental Tale. As a mother of three and grandmother of ten, she honed her storytelling over the years, and has studied literature all her life. This is her first children’s book.

Illustrator Gillian Tyler was a Max Beckman Scholar at the Museum School at the Brooklyn Museum, a Fulbright Fellow in graphics at Kunst Academie in Hamburg, Germany, and an exhibiting nominee at the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Available July 2006 | Hardcover | $15.95 | 1-933392-35-5 | 6 1/2 x 8 1/4 | 112 pages | Ages 6 and up


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