Category Archives: Environment

Hands up-Don’t shoot!

Dear Readers,

I made this drawing after the horrifying and maddening news of Michael Brown’s death by police shooting in Ferguson, MO.

Don't Shoot!
Don’t Shoot!

Here are a few articles and videos that have caught my eye since:

From Melissa Harris Perry at MSNBC: “No rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

On the connection to climate movement by Deirdre Smith via Common Dreams.org

From Last Week Tonight’s  John Oliver

And some satire, too -How we’d cover Ferguson if it happened in another country- by Max Fisher at Vox

Love and peace,

Elana

Robin Williams and wanting to hide under covers

Dear Readers,

After what feels like months of crying over so many things, the news yesterday of Robin William’s death hit me hard. Like so many others, I wish I could stay home and hide under the covers. It’s hard to get up and go out and be in the world.

I wrote this last night as my Facebook status–it is all that I can manage for now.

“Can hardly even write through tears at learning of the loss of this deeply talented man. He made me laugh out loud and he made me cry and I loved him from the Mork & Mindy days, and beyond. So sad to lose a great artist who brought joy, love, and laughter to our world which is in desperate need of joy, love, and laughter. Robin Williams was truly one of a kind.

Thank goodness he shared his tremendous gifts with us for as long as he could. Carpe diem.”

I made this quick sketch this morning because I woke up with eyelashes that stuck together because I cried myself to sleep and I had to force my eyes open, and wash away dried tears, and this was all I could do.

I made this  before going out into the world, which is harsh, but also beautiful, in which no one is safe, really, no one is, from heartache and sadness. And many of us  (is it all of us?) fight that feeling, to hide under covers, to stay home, to give up.

Please don’t give up today. Please seize this day, even while crying and sad. Please be kind to your self and others. If you need help, please reach for it. There is always a need for more hugs and understanding. There is always a need for more love, joy, and laughter.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

With love,

RobinWilliams

Thanks for the warm welcome back!

Dear Readers,

I was NOT expecting such a warm welcome back. A whole bunch of new people subscribed. I heard from old and new friends. Very cool.

Been nodding my head, YES,  to this:

image-11

Thank you for the follows, likes and reading!

Love and peace,

Elana

Some signs of spring today:

Snow on driveway that hasn't melted yet
Snow on driveway …melting…slowly….
Our resident groundhog
Our resident groundhog

photo_3-14

treebuds
Tree buds
Crocus shoots
Crocus shoots

 

Day 29: The intangibles and my time in the desert with students

Dear Readers,

This  post by Frank Nappi from The Badass Teachers Association  is fantastic! I  relate to it in a few ways.  A long time ago, I was an educator /counselor in the Israeli army education branch (Gadna) of the IDF in 1985-1987 for my two-year service. I worked in a poor and disadvantaged rural community in the Northern Negev. Many of the children I worked with had illiterate parents with minimal grade school or no education of their own. They were some of the most warm, welcoming, caring, and generous people I’ve ever met. And they were also suspicious of me, the army, and outsiders in general.  They held patriarchal, conservative,  religious, and superstitious views of society. Women’s roles were  defined as wives, mothers, caregivers, food makers, house cleaners–traditional, old world views that were entrenched in their lives and viewpoints which they had brought with them from the social norms of the day in various Middle Eastern countries.

treegrove

They had been placed in these remote settlements, in my opinion, wrongfully set aside and marginalized by the establishment of the country. They felt ignored and for good reason. They made the best of their situation as they had no choice. One family grew flowers. One had fields of radishes. Their homes were small but very clean. They made delicious food and hung laundry on clothes lines outside.

laundry1

The women  seemed to work harder than the men, and they showed it in their  bodies which appeared older than their ages, always serving others. They were tired, but never stopped. They always wanted the best for their children.

laundry2

laundry3

greenhouse

carnations

When  I entered their homes, I was  treated with respect and the well-known, Middle Eastern hospitality; immediate offers to sit down, and an abundance of food and drink placed before me in an instant. It was considered an insult to refuse and I learned quickly to always accept tea, water, a delicious pastry–something. The children I worked with ranged from elementary school to high school and beyond. I taught in classrooms, in fields, in bomb shelters, around kitchen tables,  on the side of dirt roads, etc. It took a while to gain their trust. To do that,  I made house calls. One house at a time, meeting the parents and grandparents, explaining why I was there. Showing them that even though I was a woman and in the army (which they generally disapproved of), that I was a decent person, that I meant no harm, that I was there to help their children. I  listened to their stories.

radishes

I realized early on that the children primarily needed attention and love along with help channeling aggression and frustration. They needed me to show up and wait for our group meetings even though no one came at first. I told them when I’d be there and I waited. Eventually, they started coming. Just a few, then more, then all the kids that could. We played theater games and role played situations to help them deal with all kinds of issues and problems. I did art projects with them and we played for hours. I had a general curriculum we were expected to follow, but within that, I had a lot of flexibility to do whatever worked with my group. I made sure to follow what was prescribed to us, but I made it as fun as I could, and I often added my own topics or ways of delivery.

sheep1

One of the older students was the leader and all the others followed her. She was smart,  funny,  cheeky, and gave me the hardest time. I started bringing a camera to my meetings and visits. I started photographing the children and showing them the pictures. Many suffered from  low self-esteem, so I decided that showing them how I perceived them, how I saw their surroundings (they thought it was ugly, but I saw beauty in it), would maybe help them start seeing themselves as worthy and beautiful human beings.

sheep2

It worked.  It also gave me chance to hand my camera to the students themselves,  and I showed them how to use the camera. A camera was not something most of them had, so it was a novelty. My father gave me one of his Nikon cameras to use. That was kind of big deal. I was always afraid it would get ruined by the sand and dust that was everywhere, but it survived just fine.

bikes1

The students had a blast posing for the camera and thought it was silly that I kept telling them, Just do your thing and I’ll grab the pictures. You don’t have to pose. But pose they did. Showing off bike tricks, running, “Look what we can do!” I praised them for their strengths and abilities and offered support and help where they lacked confidence or knowledge. I often helped them with homework, never doing it for them, but tutoring and helping them arrive at their own answers. The most difficult student came around to me. She loved the camera and taking pictures. Once she accepted me and started changing her attitude, the rest followed suit.

students

Long after I finished my army service, I learned that she had become a photographer. It was a truly gratifying moment.  I wondered if  my work with her had anything to do with her choice to pursue photography. I’ll never know for sure, but it could be, and that’s enough to think about how much one person can influence another when you’re able to  teach in the best possible way. No tests or punishments. Just love,  attention,  communication, and learning to develop a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The information and academics followed from that and were weaved in between the games, playing, conversations about things that mattered to the students. All the topics got covered, but first the work was about building relationships. They had to trust me first. I had to meet them where they were.

theboys

dirtroadfield

As was written in The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery:

“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Love and peace,

Elana

Decisions

Dear Readers,

IMG_9108I adore Mary Oliver and her poem, “I Have Decided” (from A Thousand Mornings, Poems). When I read this  (or much of her other work), I feel understood. Yes, that’s  what I mean to say  —what I think  —what I believe —want to believe… Yes, I’m following you. This is a precise capturing of  complicated thoughts and feelings  distilled into what feels to me like having the best ice cream sundae with a cherry on top on a  sunny day where everything is clear and you’re with your favorite people.

IMG_9105

I love that such big ideas are expressed in so few words. There’s nothing like reading something that resonates and feels true at exactly the moment I need to receive those words. They swirl around in my head, reaching into things I need or want to think about, or work on. They inspire me and answer questions I have and raise more questions, too. Gratitude to Mary Oliver.

Love and peace,

Elana

Ihavedecided

 

IMG_9109

Merry and Bright

Dear Readers,

Belated Chanukah wishes…

Window dreidls
Window dreidls
First Night
First Night of Chanukah
Lights
Lights
made in school, kindergarten
made by Max in  kindergarten

Got this lovely card from my mother with a donation that she made to the American Bird Conservancy for Chanukah.

Tiwi, Photo by Jack Jeffrey, www.jackjeffreyphoto.com for more on ABC visit www.abcbirds.org
Tiwi, Photo by Jack Jeffrey, http://www.jackjeffreyphoto.com for more on ABC visit http://www.abcbirds.org
Dreidlcat
Dreidlcat
We call this time of year--- the Festival of Boxes.
We call this time of year— the Festival of Boxes.
window lights
window lights

 

a holiday gift to us made by Max, age 6, in Kindergarten
a holiday gift to us made by Max, age 6, in Kindergarten
More school handiwork for the holiday season, by Max
More school handiwork for the holiday season, by Max

Another bit of cuteness from school. Max says Snowman Soup is  delicious.

Snowman Soup recipe and snowman --another bit of cuteness form school. Max says these are delicious.
Snowman Soup recipe and snowman

I received this holiday card from an old friend.

Saw-whet owls, Photo by Art Wolfe. From a Sierra Club card. www.sierraclub.org
Saw-whet owls, Photo by Art Wolfe. From a Sierra Club card. http://www.sierraclub.org

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you health, love, peace, laughs, joy and all things merry and bright!

Thank you for reading and being there. 

Love,

Elana

"After the Storm"
“After the Storm” copyright Elana Halberstadt 2012