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Celebrating Peace Day with Tender Sapling

Origami Peace Crane

Origami Peace Crane

We are so excited to be headed momentarily to the Green Festival in Washington, DC, where we will be hosting a Peace Day Celebration tomorrow! We will also have a booth with a small shop set up all weekend featuring our products already available online, as well as many new offerings. Come visit!

The Green Festival DC blog shared this about tomorrow’s Peace Day Celebration – which we hope all your DC area people can attend:

   “Green Festival attendees are invited to celebrate International Peace Day this Saturday at 12 noon in the Green Kids Zone. Participants will join in a worldwide Peace Wave at the start of this fun program by Tender Sapling that includes a little yoga, a little storytelling, a little origami, and a lot of fun.

   “Kids and the young at heart will engage their minds, hearts, and bodies to practice peace and create a symbol of peace to take with them. Kids will like that the origami craft will be led by a 10-year-old boy who will walk peacemakers through the steps to transform a square sheet of paper into an elegant crane – a Peace Crane. A simpler craft will be available for smaller hands. Messages will then be written on the peace symbols, to send wishes for peace out into the world. Plus, attendees will be offered complimentary “Love all the World” temporary tattoos and stickers, which feature Tender Sapling’s original take on the continents as interconnected hearts.

   “Enthusiastic origamists of all ages are invited to fold and donate additional Peace Cranes throughout the weekend-long Green Festival as a contribution to the Children’s Peace Monument in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, where some 10 million cranes are offered each year by people the world over. Tender Sapling will collect these cranes at their booth (#743) next to the Green Kids Zone.

   “This interactive peace program was designed especially for the 2013 Green Festival DC by Tender Sapling – Charlottesville, Va, creators of fun, inspired, eco-friendly products and resources for kids and the young at heart. The peace program captures Tender Sapling’s motto “Have Fun. Grow Noble.” What does it mean to grow noble?…”

–> Read more here.


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The Story of Stuff: Individual and Collective Action for Real Change

The Story of StuffDo you have too much stuff in your life? We are constantly amazed by the deluge of stuff in an American life, even when we try to control it and reduce. I know I’ve often wondered how we got here.

That’s part of why I love The Story of Stuff . If you haven’t seen it before, I urge you to stop what you’re doing and watch it right now (it’s about 20 minutes long). Seriously!

Since it was first posted online in 2007, more than 15 million people have watched this wonderful little video by Annie Leonard and Free Range Studios, but I expect that a significant portion of those people have no idea that Annie and crew have produced seven more short films in the same style since then.

The original film is a terrific, child-friendly introduction to “the way we make, use and throw away stuff.” With simple yet engaging animation, it introduces a number of ideas that children and many adults may not have thought about and connects the dots from planned obsolescence to our disposable culture. One of its greatest virtues is that, far from blaming or shaming, this story may stir outrage but it spins it toward empowerment and action. What can each of us do to reduce our consumption and our part in this cycle of consumption?

As a parent, I especially enjoyed seeing my kids get the concepts quickly. It is a great learning tool and one worth repeating every now and then when the cultural tide of material consumption pulls on them.

Since the original, Annie and her team have produced pointed explorations of the life cycle of specific product industries (electronics, cosmetics, and bottled water), all in the same no-nonsense, fun, and down-to-earth style as the original. Perhaps even more interesting, though, is that, recognizing that individual action is not enough by itself to make lasting change, they have begun exploring education for collective change.

With The Story of Citizens United vs. the FEC, the team explains in layman’s terms what this case means and why it is significant. Yes, it is outrageous that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes corporations as people and grants them the same rights to free speech as individual citizens. Now what can we do about it?

In The Story of Broke, the team skewers the explanation that many politicians give for why the U.S. government can’t afford new programs or even to maintain old ones. They explain that the government is only broke because it first provides huge funding to corporations and their interests. Many of us suspect this already, but the way it is done is so subtle and obfuscated that we the public are kept blissfully ignorant, even as the economy tanks around us and we wonder why corporate profits keep rising even as individual bottom lines plummet.

Most recently, in The Story of Change, they approach collective change head-on, advocating for a grass-roots call for a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision and clarifying that corporations are not individuals.

In addition to being a great educational tool advocating for individual change and individual action, the Story of Stuff is also a great resource for being part of the urgent need for collective change and true reform — both for the environment and for social justice (and seeing how closely intertwined those issues are). Go Annie!


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Can Individuals Make a Difference?

We believe, and we teach our kids, that every individual is important and that our individual choices make a difference in the world, whether talking about saving the planet or any other social justice issue. But some would argue, at least in terms of the success of the green movement, that that’s debatable.

Boy in Monticello garden

For example, Continue reading


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Homemade Yogurt Grows Good Cultures + Character too!

Want a fun food project to enjoy with the kids that’s healthy, green, globally-loved, and cultivates some wonderful qualities of the heart too? Look no further: Yogurt!

How can all these lessons be packed into one food? Here’s a quick run down:

* Healthy: Yogurt is considered a health food. We’re talking ideally homemade, no sugar added, real yogurt. Historically, yogurt is credited with curing at least one king from an incurable case of diarrhea. Yogurt is a great pro-biotic with awesome bacteria for your body, which I recently learned that 90% made up by microbes according to this fascinating article by Michael Pollan. (While our yogurt-making experience is solely with cow’s milk, there are non-dairy options and recipes out there, if you prefer that route.) Continue reading


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Migrate to Mongolia: A Tender Sapling Travelers Cultural Adventure – Part 2 (Prayer Wheels)

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series and Part 2 of a 3-part installment on Mongolia. See Part 1 here.

After a wonderful introduction to Mongolia, covered in our Part 1 post, our oldest son was ready to focus on an area of interest to present on at our monthly Culture Club homeschool cooperative. In past years’ learning about Mongolia, his interests veered toward the incredible dinosaur discoveries of Roy Andrew Chapman and team (see book recommendation in the Part 1 post). But this year, he chose to focus on the Mongolian Prayer Wheel.

What’s that? Read on to learn about this fascinating prayer tool, if you will. Plus, use objects around the house to create your own! The step-by-step craft instructions follow the prayer wheel intro:

MONGOLIAN PRAYER WHEEL

Mongolian hand prayer wheel

Our oldest tender sapling found the Mongolian prayer wheel interesting from several perspectives: its design, its spiritual significance, its history, and its recent rebirth as a sign of the revival of Mongolian culture following decades of repression. Here are some of the points he enjoyed learning and sharing with the thirty other children who had each been studying Mongolia on their own: Continue reading


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May Day Fun: Dandelion Soup Recipe

Picking dandelions.

Picking dandelions.

You know the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?

Well, we decided to apply that to dandelions last week!

It all started when we walked outside to see a sea of dandelion blooms dotting our grass with happy, yellow splotches. It brought to mind my friend Heather’s brilliant easier-than-weeding plan to arrest the spread of the dandelions in her yard. She hired her four boys to pick them, paying them per flower.

I offered a deal that couldn’t be turned down to my two oldest boys: 1 cent per flower. They paused and I feared they would scoff at my low-ball offer. But, seeing as they have precious few opportunities to make money around these parts (something we’ve been meaning to remedy), they got busy. Pails in hand, they fanned out across the yard, hunched over in determination to rid the yard of the splashes of sunshine. (Can you tell I have mixed feelings about losing out on their beauty? Plus childhood seems so much sweeter with plenty of dandelions to make wishes on and blow their seeds into a carefree dance on a spring breeze.)

My father arrived soon after and, learning of the kids’ mission, mentioned that we should use the dandelion flowers to make soup! He had tried a dandelion soup while living in China and liked it. We had used dandelion greens in salads before, but I had a long list of to-dos that day and making dandelion soup was not high on it. Yes, I know, my father’s words can be well worth listening to, but I tried not to this time. Continue reading


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Show Love to Mother Earth this Earth Day

What will you do to show some love to Mother Earth this Monday? That’s right, Monday, April 22, 2013, marks the 43rd Earth Day – a day that has inspired people across the globe to engage in more than a billion acts of environmental goodness in the last two years alone!

This year’s theme is The Face of Climate Change. What’s the big deal about climate change? Check out this video by our oldest tender sapling for his summary of the issues.

Everyone can do something to spread green love on our planet this Monday or this weekend if that’s easier! You can keep it simple and stay home to: Continue reading