Students’ Green Billboard

Carbon Footprints Billboard
Carbon Footprints Billboard

Citizen Schools students unveiled their green billboard about carbon footprints. Over the semester, they also got to design sneakers and learn about their environmental impact. Rock on!

“Working with the students has been extremely inspiring,” said Morris. “Through the billboard, we are not only engaging students in learning about climate change and their carbon footprint, but helping to give them a loud and powerful voice in the fight against climate change. This is about empowerment and education as much as climate change.”

Color Illusions, Theory

Color Illusions
Color Illusions

The green and blue spirals in the above image are the same color. Akiyoshi Kitaoka boggles our minds and simultaneously schools us in color theory on his site. It’s a slice of Josef Albers meets RGB.

And if you’re a designer who struggles with color (like myself), huzzah, Mark Boulton has a Five Simple Steps series on Colour. (He’s British. There’s an extra ‘u’ in his name, too.)

[Via Lost at E Minor]

With great forgiveness and fortitude

I brood. I wallow. I worry. In short, I think too much. I am embarking on a career switch (already?) which entails jumping into the deep end of the pool and praying I don’t sink. It’s scary, and it’s hard on the ego, this whole business of starting something new, risking loads of failure, and living with all the doubts, uncertainty, and zero self-confidence that comes with unfamiliar territory.

One small example shall suffice: I am volunteering to help further develop a literacy program for teenage parents to encourage them to read aloud to their babies among other things. In our first meeting, I realize that I have zero experience with babies 0-3. Suddenly, I am afraid I have nothing to offer the program, will have no common ground to share with the teenagers, no connection, no authority, no nothing. And that’s in addition to all the anxiety I have about working with high schoolers in the first place. Doom, gloom, etc. Add this worry to the pile, and I can quickly become a morose sack of despair.

That may sound a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it feels some days. And talking it out with someone who will only try to calm me down with blanket reassurances doesn’t really help me get over it. (Not that I don’t appreciate the comfort and intention.)

But I can turn to my books. When my friend returns Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I promptly flip to the India section again.

“Groceries, you need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.”

On first glance, this seems a nearly impossible task. Control your thoughts? Instead of the other way around? But imagine if you could? This is not about repression or denial. Repression and denial set up elaborate games to pretend that negative thoughts and feelings are not occurring. What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they came from and why they arrived, and then—with great forgiveness and fortitude—dismissing them…It’s a sacrifice to let them go, of course. It’s a loss of old habits, comforting old grudges and familiar vignettes. Of course this all takes practice and effort. It’s not a teaching that you can hear once and then expect to master immediately. It’s a constant vigilance and I want to do it. I need to do it, for my strength.”

I can do this if I write—to myself and for myself. So I will try this. Each time the worries and doubts start to bog me down in heavy grayness (and I begin to doubt my entire journey), I will create and fill out a form for each negative thought:

  • Admit the existence of the negative thought:
  • Understand where it came from and why it arrived:
  • With great forgiveness and fortitude, dismiss it:

I fill out my form. I write. It leads me to remember fairly simple yet meaningful things such as “I am still learning, and that is okay” and “I have experiences worth sharing.” My self-confidence and my self-forgiveness often get lost in the doom and gloom. Writing the negative thoughts down and addressing them on paper helps clear my mind. What feels like an hour’s argument in my head usually amounts to a scant number of written sentences. They become tangible, and I can deal with them.

Once down on paper, whether I dispel them through direct action or dismiss them through practice, I am learning that I can deal with my worries, doubts, and stresses… with great forgiveness and fortitude. Goodness knows I’ll need it.

Short on Curtains

Thrifty shorts
Thrifty shorts

Thrift store slacks + scissors ( – hem ) = the boy’s shorts for summer.

I saved the fabric scraps for as yet unknown cleaning purposes. But when my brother questioned the heat in our kitchen, I noticed that we had a curtain rod with no curtain for the room’s south-facing window.

After I ripped through the seams of the pant legs and laid the fabric pieces flat, I realized I didn’t even need to sew—the rod would fit through the hems. Curtains in under a minute. Sweet.

Voila. Curtains.
Voila. Curtains.