Earth Day

Water_Pollution_with_Trash_Disposal_of_Waste_at_the_Garbage_BeachSince 1970, people have recognized April 22nd as Earth Day. But we don’t mean earth as in soil or land, we mean the Earth or the entire planet. Sometimes we need to be reminded of this. And a good way is by looking at why Earth Day started.

In 1969, a pipe split off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, spilling 3 million gallons of oil into the ocean. Up until that time, it was the biggest oil spill the world has ever seen. Thousands of seabirds, seals, sea lions, and dolphins were killed in addition to countless fish and microorganisms in the ocean.

Don’t forget the ocean this Earth Day. Remember that 71% of the Earth is covered by water.

What can you do? Here are the top three.

  1. Limit plastic products. They find their way to the ocean and kill ocean life.
  2. Support sustainability by promoting sustainable ocean industries and only consuming sustainable products.
  3. Watch that carbon footprint! Global warming is raising the temperature of the oceans, which will affect life cycles and continuing species.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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Jean Lafitte’s Love of Louisiana

DSC_0203Last year I visited the six locations that make up the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve for an assignment with AAA Southern Traveler. Had a blast. I learned things I didn’t know about Cajun culture and history (I think there’s a book in there some where).

Yet the six locations throughout southern Louisiana are actually quite different. In addition to Cajun culture, it’s about battlefields, swamps, and yes, New Orleans. All the amazing things that make up Louisiana.

For more about Jean Lafitte NHP, you’ll find the article here.

My favorites of the pictures I took can be found in AAA Southern Traveler, but here are some more of plantation house at the Chalmette Battlefield and the Barataria Preserve.

 

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National Library Week

From the time I was born, my family moved around a lot. Perhaps not as much as some military brats I knew, but we moved enough to keep me off balance. But one place I’ve always felt at home are at libraries. Particularly public libraries, which possess just the right mix of familiarity (thank you, Dewey Decimal system) and exploration.

I particularly enjoy older urban libraries housed in architecturally detailed buildings, some with gargoyles! These libraries have often existed in the same location for many, many years. When I enter such a library, I get hit with a wonderful aroma of books that can’t be found in suburban or rural climate-controlled facilities. The only other place I’ve found that engaging smell is older independent bookstores.

I also enjoy university and special collections libraries for expanding that wonder. Anything I want to know can be found in a library. Yes, I know Google has similar capabilities, and I might have a panic attack of historic proportions were Google to vanish, but libraries possess information and knowledge that hasn’t made its way to Google yet.

The public library is the great equalizer. Anyone can go there. Anyone can check out books. Knowledge is shared. I believe that without libraries, literacy would be in real trouble.

I’ve often written about famed early aviator Bessie Coleman, who as an adult learned French so that she could study aviation and get her pilot’s license in France. Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language as an adult? It’s hard. But Bessie had little choice as an African American woman in the early 20th century.

As a child in rural Texas, Bessie loved school. She loved it so much that she didn’t mind the four-mile walk she had to make to get there (not to mention the four-mile walk home). But there were often times that she couldn’t go to school. When it was time to harvest the cotton. When she had to take care of a sibling who had fallen ill, because her mother couldn’t spare a day off from work.

But Bessie had a traveling wagon library that she could borrow books from. She read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and about the life of Booker T. Washington. I firmly believe that having an available library helped Bessie Coleman become one of the first licensed African American pilots in the U.S.

Even with the Internet, I spend a lot of time in libraries. I do it for work and for recreation. I research existing projects, get ideas for new ones, discover new authors, and enjoy current favorites.

So, thank you, Benjamin Franklin and friends. You had a great idea.

Happy National Library Week!

 

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Oklahoma SPRINGS Forth

Union_City_Oklahoma_Tornado_(mature)Spring in Oklahoma has arrived. Actually, it was banging rather loudly on the door in February when daffodils briefly flashed their cheery yellows. Thoughts of spring usually bring a smile to our faces and a bounce to our steps. After all, we’re emerging from the cold grayness of winter. But spring in Oklahoma is different.

 

DSC_0021Spring in Oklahoma can be clear blue skies or tornados that change lives forever.

Spring in Oklahoma may be greenery and new growth or record-setting allergies seasons.

Spring in Oklahoma could be warm sunny days or high winds that feed wildfires.

One thing that’s always the same about spring in Oklahoma? It’s never boring.

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Why We Need Women’s History Month

Another Women’s History Month has come and gone. It’s important to reflect on how it started and why continue it each year.

An awakening began in the U.S. in the 1970s. Women were largely invisible in the history books. For that matter, so were Americans of different races. A group in California decided to hold a Women’s History Week in 1978. It was decided that the best time to do this would be around International Women’s Day—March 8, an event first celebrated in Europe in 1911. Other schools decided to join, and within three years, Congress passed a resolution to establish National Women’s History Week.

More schools and groups became involved in recognizing women in history. Organizations like the National Women’s History Project formed and began creating materials since traditional history books were lacking. Women’s History Week evolved to Women’s History Month.

Our identities are shaped by many things. One influence is role models. Certainly, a girl interested in space might have Neil Armstrong as a role model. But think how powerful role models like Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, Ellen Ochoa, or Sunita Williams might be.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”

Nineteenth century Japanese feminist Toshiko Kishida had another way of saying it, “History is no longer just a chronicle of kings and statesmen, of people who wield power, but of ordinary women and men engaged in manifold tasks. Women’s history is an assertion that women have a history.”

 

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