When I started making the movie Two Angry Moms, school food was a topic reserved for lunch lady conferences and comedy skits. Now it's the focus of a primetime tv series and the First Lady's cause célèbre.
Dare I say that school food is now a mainstream issue?? I guess we can all pat ourselves on the back for helping to raise awareness to this level, but we still have lots of work ahead of us, both locally and nationally. This issue of the newsletter lets you know how to lobby Congress for upcoming school food funding and reform authorization.
As the conversation goes mainstream, more people want to know what to do locally to get their school cafeterias connected to the curriculum and connected to sources of real, whole, fresh food. The climate has never been better to share the message of Two Angry Moms with your community.
Let's keep our grassroots growing,
by Jacqueline Burt
Follow Amy Kalafa's advice and you might insist your kids brown-bag their lunch from now on. "Have lunch with your child in the school cafeteria one day," says the mother-of-two and award-winning documentary filmmaker. "Take a look around at what is being served and what is being eaten. Check in with your gut and see what you feel!"
Amy's guess is that you won't feel great. That's why she teamed up with Chappaqua, N.Y. mom and nutritionist and Susan Rubin to chronicle why schools need to improve their lunches, and how some have already started the process. The resulting film is "Two Angry Moms," a title inspired by former Texas Agricultural Secretary Susan Combs' comment: "It will take two million angry moms to change school food." The plan? To grow from two to two million, of course.
Amy started to get angry when the healthy lunches she packed for her daughters were consistently discarded or ignored in favor of junk food offered at school, but she reached her boiling point when reports of a national children's health crisis made headlines. The statistics were startling: 35% of American children are obese or at risk. 30% of boys born in 2000 and 40% of girls will develop diabetes. 50% of all cancer could be prevented through healthy diet and exercise. The cost of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen 40% in the past twenty years. The cost of soda, sweets, meat, dairy, fats and oils has decreased by as much as 20% in that same time. The CDC reports that "this generation will be the first in our nation's history to live shorter lives than those of their parents." (Incidentally, the American life expectancy ranks 27th in the world.)
"Two Angry Moms" is part exposé, part how-to, according to Amy. The film shows what's wrong with current school lunch programs (high fat, sodium and sugar content, for starters, not to mention artificial ingredients and additives) and chronicles the efforts of pioneering parents and chefs like Alice Waters and Tony Geraci who work to bring healthy, locally-grown, sustainable cuisine to the cafeteria table.
It's easy to join the movement for bettering school food, Amy says. One way to start is by hosting a screening of "Two Angry Moms" for parents and teachers in your school district (to find out how, go to www.angrymoms.org).
"If you're not angry about what is being served in your kid's school, maybe you ought to be!"
CONNECTING FOR CHANGE
A Bioneers by the Bay Conference Presented by the Marion Institute
October 21-24, 2010 │ New Bedford, MA
Yes, our name has changed a bit since you last heard from us, but we are still one of the most influential and inspirational conferences in the Northeast.
As a preview into the amazing and influential conference that we are planning this year, we are very happy to announce that Greg Mortenson, best selling author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, will be joining us as a keynote speaker at this year's conference.
To keep up with our keynote speaker announcements become a fan of ours on Facebook.
Lastly, below is a highlight video of the 2009 conference - finally! We hope you enjoy it!!
Enlarging Their World
By Lawrence Goodman
In 1978 Maria Lauenstein and Sonam Denjongpa moved to the Indian state of Sikkim, hoping to start a school. They had met a few years earlier at Brown, after Lauenstein's brother, who had recently returned from a stint in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer, asked her if she knew anyone on campus who spoke Nepali. A professor steered Lauenstein to Denjongpa, who'd grown up in Sikkim speaking both Nepali and English. At the time, Sikkim was still a semi-independent kingdom, and Denjongpa was at Brown thanks to its American-born queen, Hope Cooke, who had awarded him a scholarship to study there. The couple became inseparable after their first meeting and were married shortly after Lauenstein's graduation.
Courtesy Lauenstien Denjongpa Family
Maria Lauenstien (front row, left) with Taktse staff.
By 1978 Sikkim had been incorporated into India, and the transition was rough. Lauenstein and Denjongpa wanted their school to help preserve indigenous culture, an approach that Lauenstein says the Indian government treated with hostility. Four years after Lauenstein had arrived in Sikkim, she received a telegram from the government saying she had ten days to leave the country. She and Denjongpa moved to Massachusetts, where for the next twenty years they ran a catering company.
Every year, though, Denjongpa returned to visit Sikkim, and when he went back in 2002—this time with Lauenstein—he found himself sitting around a campfire with friends talking abut Sikkim's school system. "In that part of the world, education is based on a nineteenth-century British model," says Lauenstein. "It was designed to create clerks for the empire." The emphasis, she says, is on handwriting, spelling, and staying within the margins of a sheet of paper. When a member of the campfire group threw out the idea of starting their own school, everyone agreed it was sorely needed. Two years later, $460,000 had been raised and contractors broke ground on construction.
The Taktse International School opened in 2006. It now has around 150 students and runs up to the start of high school and has become an oasis of progressive education high in the Himalayas. Students sit on carpets laid out in a circle on the floor, and the size of classes is limited to twenty, about half the number common in nearby schools. The Takste School also rejects some of the country's more antiquated educational traditions. "We weren't going to allow beating in the school," Lauenstein says. "There wasn't going to be any public humiliation."
The Taktse curriculum focuses heavily on instilling a love of reading, but also involves frequent class trips to local government buildings, doctors' offices, and rice farms. "Educating is connecting to and understanding the world around you," Lauenstein says. She notes that parents were distrustful of the school's approach at first. "The parents wondered what kind of learning could be going on when the children were having so much fun," she says.
Taktse's goal is to help children cope with the onslaught of industrialization and modernization by giving them literacy and other practical skills while teaching an appreciation of the environment. "Kids who would not speak can now articulate full ideas," Lauenstein says. "We see kids who were basic readers now reading to enlarge their world."
Taktse International School is a Serendipity Project of the Marion Institute.
Interview with Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey (b. 1952) is an author, scholar and teacher, known primarily for his popular nonfiction books on spiritual or mystical themes, beginning with his 1983 A Journey in Ladakh. He is the author of over 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, Journey to Ladakh, The Return of the Mother and Son of Man. His last book is The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism. He now lives in Oak Park, Illinois, Chicago,where he writes, conducts workshops, leads tours, and offers spiritual counseling services by telephone.
Andrew speaks with Joanna about his mystical experiences, his defense of animals, sacred activism, the Nets of Grace…To listen, click here.
Interview with Brad Lancaster
Brad Lancaster is a dynamic teacher, consultant, and designer of regenerative systems. He is the author of the award-winning, best-selling books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, the information-packed website HarvestingRainwater.com, and the Drops in a Bucket Blog. He lives his talk on an oasis-like eight of an acre in dowtown Tucson, Arizona, by harvesting over 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year where just 12 inches per year falls from the sky.
Brad speaks with Joanna about all the aspects of rain harvesting: “planting the rain” - a concept learned from an African farmer, how to begin, the social effects of rainharvesting…To listen, click here.
The FuturePrimitive.org podcasts are dedicated to assisting people in participating in the shift that is occurring at this moment in our way of life. We as human beings are experiencing a renaissance of awareness that is taking place as we dream it together. We invite dreamers and activists to articulate their vision of the future rooted in a respectful understanding of the past.
- Joanna Harcourt-Smith, Future Primitive Program Leader
This photo was taken this week at the Paracelsus Biological Medicine Network Conference on Approaches for Regeneration and Immune Modulation presented by Dr. Thomas Rau, Chief Medical Director of the Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle Switzerland. (This clinic is the largest clinic for Biological Medicine and Holistic Dentistry In Europe leading in natural treatment of autioimmune diseases and cancer.)
Dr. Jeanne Hubbuch, is my own doctor and has been trained by Dr. Rau in Switzerland and attends his conferences here in the US. She practices in Newton MA and treats those with high levels of heavy metals in their bodies as part of her practice. She is amazing!
I am deeply appreciative of the Marion Institute who sponsored this event through its Paracelsus Bioloical Medicine Network, (PBMN), headed by its director, Barbara Christian. For information on this incredible network, please visit them at:
Karen A. Vilandry
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