Yes! Magazine tells us to "take back your education"!

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgWhew, we've survived the first week of school. Only 1 week in, and I'm already overwhelmed: 25 things on my Omnifocus list of things to do, and one of them, due Wednesday, is "revise paper." Yikes. No wonder I'm blogging first.

I decided during our road trip that I was giving short shrift in my life to the little things that really matter to me, the little reminders that make me feel like life isn't just about my job. Some of those things include:

  • singing in a choir
  • going to the farmer's market
  • gardening
  • reading novels before going to bed
  • cooking dinner for others out of lots of fun things found in the garden

I know, they're little, right? It shouldn't be too hard to not sacrifice them all the time, and they make a world of difference in how I view my day.

i-3febb9cabaa7941e38152f3105eeb3a4-Fall_Yes_Mag-thumb-170x227-18413.jpgWell, one more of the little things arrived in the mail this week, on a day where I was just bushed, a little bit beaten down, and dog tired. It's Yes! Magazine, which bills its mission as "to support you and other people worldwide in building a just, sustainable, and compassionate world." It doesn't ignore the fact that global warming is the preeminant problem of our time, or that millions of people live without access to clean water or enough food, but it does allow us to focus some time whenever it arrives in our mailbox to focus on some inspirational folks doing work that really *really* needs to get done.

This issue, we find articles on the theme of education, in particular:

  • An article by John Taylor Gatto, a former Teacher of the Year for New York (and author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling and Weapons of Mass Instruction) on quitting his teaching job and trying to rethink our educational systems
  • An interview with Parker Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach on how becoming more reflective can help us be better citizens, whether teachers or anything else professionally
  • A profile of 13 organizations engaged in "radical acts of education," including 4 college grads in a bus interviewing people across the country "whose careers have taken inspiring turns," a public art project in Santa Fe that help kids "turn their heritage stories and immigration experiences into writing, paintings, photographs, and journals," a publication project called FOXFIRE where kids interview community elders in southern Appalachia, a woman who reenrolled in elementary school to relearn some skills we forget as adults (she blogs at, an organization called Capacitar International where volunteers teach people in traumatized communities (like in Guatemala, Israel, Rwanda) "healing arts" to help them learn how to heal themselves, and many others.
  • A story of someone helping teens in jail how to learn how to write poetry, and another of someone learning to permaculture garden
  • A report on activists in the Western Sahara who are trying to resist the invading Moroccans through non-violent means
  • A Native American community -- the Tohono O'odham Nation, in Arizona -- who are reintegrating their traditional foods back into their communities after their community's health has been destroyed through bad US/BIA food policy

There are more stories in this magazine too; I read through it, and my heart hurts less. I feel less paralyzed to inaction because of the size and scale of our global problems; I even see more things I can help with in my own little corner of the world. So, Alice, add to your list: you must make time to read Yes! Magazine.

Sure there is a lot out there still left to do. But it can help to remember to see those places where people are successfully making their corner of the world a little bit better -- more just, more sustainable, more communal, more respectful.

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We could all use a little good news on a regular basis. Seems like the bad stuff is always there.