Saturday, May 02, 2009

Aging gracefully

The Earth Day Groceries Project turned sweet sixteen this year. In human terms that's just entering adulthood, but in Internet years, well, we're talking ancient. Pleistocene, at least.

The years have brought changes to the website of course. It's now a 501c3 nonprofit (donations welcomed). There have been posters, patches, and free bags....

This year I fiddled with .asp pages and didn't break anything in the databases that hold thousands of records of participating schools. Couldn't afford to hire that part out this time. Still firing on all cylinders, fingers crossed...

But the biggest change came out of self preservation, when I stopped hosting pictures from schools on the web site. This was a huge deal for hundreds of schools - to get pictures of their kids/bags on the Internet, so it made me very sad. But, in eliminating picture hosting, I've been spared dozens of hours of work in the past few days.

So what to do... I should have done this months earlier, but I started up a Facebook Group and a Flickr Group, hoping people might put pictures there. Considering the lateness of getting the word out, I think response has been not too bad. Below is a slideshow from the Flickr Group, which contains 105 pictures, at this writing:

I believe these are moves in the right direction, e.g., keeping in step with the times and using the the tools and networking sites widely used by the general public. What does not feel good is that the vast majority of schools cannot access them (Flickr and Facebook), at least in the US. I don't know what to do about that. Maybe if enough teachers railed against their tech department filter watchdogs for a good cause, something might happen. But I doubt it. That part is discouraging.

But what keeps this activity going year after year, and brings me hope, is the excitement and enthusiasm that children bring to their communities with this activity - and the stories they share on the project website.

If you're worrying about the direction our world is going, or thinking there just is not enough goodness and caring in people anymore, take a few minutes and Read Reports on the project website. Click on any state, Canadian province, or any of the 35 countries listed there. Here are some examples:

Heather Stewart
Jack Fields Elementary
Humble, TX USA

We decorated 342 bags!
About our project: The students at Jack Fields Elementary were so excited to begin this project! It is a great way for our students to make an impact in their community. This project allows their voices to be heard...the fact that they are able to make a difference is SO powerful!!!!

Michele Pietrzak
St. James Sewickley
Sewickley, PA USA
We decorated 400 bags!
About our project: This was A HUGE success for our FIRST year of participation. The students loved decorating the bags. Our school is in a small community (a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA). The local grocer was generous enough to buy the paper bags for us to use since they don't regularly stock them. Earth Day is celebrated school wide among our students and staff. We had school t- shirts made for the occasion, had a big assembly, and did individual class service & clean-up projects within the community. WE CAN'T WAIT TO DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR!

Gheban Liliana
scool Gen. I.D. Sirbu
Petrila, Romania
We decorated 150 bags!
About our project: This is the third year we participate in the Earth Day Groceries Project. The kids really enjoyed this activity. They picked one slogan that they wanted to design their bag around or on their pizza boxes (we decorated 200 pizza boxes in the project national-Pizza mesanger). The kids were very eager to show off their artwork and creativity with the rest of the community, so they got right to work! We invited the the local press Gazeta Vaii Jiului . They were glad to take part to our activity and to become soldiers of our Planet. Our great successes were to make students feel the necessity of living on a clean planet! Inst.Gheban Liliana ,Prof.Barbu Elena , Prof. Ambrus Georgiana and prof. Chinta Cipriana School Generala I.D.Sirbu-Petrila ROMANIA
submitted on 4/25/2009

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