Earth Day, Every Day
It seems a bit ironic that I forgot to mention Earth Day in this week’s meeting, with Earth Day coming up on Friday and many related events happening all week.
But then again, this club came into being because of my daughter’s vision of making every day one in which we protect and care for the Earth’s fragile environment. And what better way to celebrate both Earth Day and the return of gorgeous weather than to get outside in the courtyard garden beds and get our hands (and knees, and faces…) dirty?
Earth Day and Family Night
Dublin’s Family Night is this Thursday. Why not combine family night with an Earth Day volunteer activity? All manner of tree planting, community clean-up, and gardening events are happening this week throughout the area. My family pitched in on Saturday at Northwest Library’s “Garden Party,” planting trees and weeding, and it was such fun. https://www.earthdaycolumbus.org/Unfiltered.php
Raking out old leaves and pulling up weeds were the main tasks of the day for this week’s Earth Club meeting, and the kids threw themselves into the work with relish – as did the adults. In less than an hour, we nearly filled four lawn bags, and yet there was time for learning and discovery as well. Exclamations such as “Look, an old bee hive!” and “Hey, there’s a toad!” (as the kids encountered the resident toad – Scotty, I think its name was) were frequent. And, following Principal Barley’s lead, the students were soon learning to distinguish the daisies from the dandelions (easy enough when they’re in bloom, of course, but with the leaves just coming up, the distinction between weed and plant was sometimes tough).
3rd grade teacher Mrs. Whipple also joined us for a bit to help guide the work and share in the discovery – for example, of a clump of wild chives with their tiny bulbs and unmistakable onion-like aroma.
This club meeting – spent mostly outside, after being stuck inside for the first two meetings due to cold and rain – confirmed for me what I’ve seen time and again with my own children: they are happiest in the “great outdoors” (even if it’s just the enclosed courtyard of the school or our tiny patio at home). And not just happy, but focused, engaged, eager to help and eager to take in the sights, sounds, scents and new information.
I felt a strong sense of community in this meeting. We were joined by Quinn’s older brother, who walked over from Davis at the end of the middle school day to lend a hand; and Taylor’s dad, who volunteered to help out also. Add in sibling members Bridget and Henry, and me and my daughter, and our group for the day included four pairs of relatives. Having family members join in definitely makes the work more fun and meaningful.
The meeting also further highlighted what caring and supportive staff we have at OSE. How many other school principals spend time pulling weeds with their students? 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Wardrip joined us at the first two meetings; and she and Mrs. Barley will return and other staff have also volunteered for later meetings. A big thank you also needs to go to custodian, Mr. Neff, who seemed unphased by all the dirt that was tracked into the hallway from the courtyard. From the first day that I proposed this club a few months ago, the response from the school has been wonderful: enthusiastic support, ideas for this year and for future years, and concrete help in getting this endeavor off the ground.
Although most of our time was spent working in the courtyard, we did take several minutes to talk about the connections between that work and helping the earth, using the book, “Where Once There was a Wood,” to generate discussion. This beautifully illustrated book has a thought-provoking message.
Where once there was a wood, a meadow and a creek
Where once the red fox rested and close his eyes to sleep…[and it goes on to describe many other animals, plants and birds that once were there]
Sit houses side by side, twenty houses deep.
I asked the students if they thought that means we shouldn’t build houses, or schools. “No!” But, they had ideas for lessening the impact of all that building – which we are certainly seeing happening at a rapid pace in many areas of Dublin. Building smaller homes, perhaps; living more like native Americans was another idea; and, of course, creating gardens to provide a habitat for at least some of the wildlife who have lost their homes.
Listen to the Children
Where once there was a wood, there is a school; and in that school… a lot of recyclable paper ends up in the garbage. You never know what kinds of ideas might come to light when we give the kids some time to talk and share. Tessa told us that she had noticed, not for the first time, that there was a lot of paper in the garbage cans instead of the recycling bins; and she wondered why the recycling bins are so much smaller than the garbage cans. An interesting insight! We discussed the possibility of having a team of students whose job it is to oversee classroom recycling. Other schools have implemented such student “green teams,” who collect recyclables and enforce waste reduction, with great success. A possibility for next school year?(https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/schools-recycling-team-means-that-its-easy-being-green/2012/05/11/gIQAdtuJIU_story.html).