Monday, September 28, 2009

CSA: It's still just for rich, old or single people, apparently.

I just had a parenting moment.

But first, some context:
CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically you kind of "subscribe" to a small local farm and eat seasonally. I am really interested in trying this, especially because we have kids and why not teach them what actually grows each season in SoAz? Not to mention the environmental payoff, etc.

We went to an informational meeting on CSA at Elle tonight. I had to take the kids because Rich is busy. We walked in and they were holding the meeting in this long room with a long table set up. Wine bottles were in racks up and down every wall. Napkins were still neatly folded, and there was a pristine stack of polenta cubes way down the table. The all-adult and mostly middle-aged female group blinked at me. Waitstaff was bringing out bread, olive oil, other snacks. I had prepared the kids that it was a grown up meeting, but we had rushed out without toys, books, etc. because the meeting was at 6:00 and we had just scarfed dinner. Nobody (and I mean nobody) (No, wait, one person helped us get a chair for G.) made a move to pass any bread down, engage the kids, or even make sure we had enough chairs.

Immediately (and I mean immediately) G. asked what he could do that was fun. Olivia was quiet at first but then got down off my lap. G. tried teaching her to count wine bottles, but that was too loud (and had my nerves on edge). They talked and wandered into the lobby area and started jumping around the bottles of wine on the walls. The guy from Agua Linda farms was talking about the whole CSA idea and how popular it was getting and basically it's function for farms and for consumers. Nobody made a move toward eating the food, so I felt embarrassed to reach halfway down the table for bread for the kids or to ask for someone to pass some. Eventually, I couldn't focus on what the man was saying anymore and I walked out in tears. G. then decided to sit in the seat at the table instead of come with me. I had to actually go back for him because he let us leave-- all the way out to the parking lot. I chewed out the kids all the way down the block & sent them to their rooms. I was totally embarrassed and frustrated.

But here's the rub. Whose idea was it to have this meeting in an elegant restaurant with absolutely no effort made to accommodate kids? Yes, it was elegant and we got to feel very special with gourmet hors d'ouvres and wine on the walls. But here's a question: Shouldn't CSA be marketed to FOLKS WITH FAMILIES WHO CONSUME A LOT OF GROCERIES & HAVE GROWING KIDS? WHY HOLD A MEETING IN A ROOM FULL OF WINE BOTTLES? And then the farmers' market on Fridays doesn't start until 8:00, when most of us family folks are well on our way to work.

I am half mortified with embarrassment for even trying to take my kids to that meeting and half outraged. So much for learning about how we can participate in CSA. That's okay, though. Apparently we aren't their target market, anyway. We're supposed to shop at big box stores and buy cereal and fruit snacks that are half mercury tainted corn syrup. We buy tomatoes from Mexico in large amounts at Costco. We buy apple juice from China when it's on sale from Target. Maybe one day, when I can pay for a babysitter for 45 minutes on a weeknight or when I am old and my kids play video games in their rooms and ignore me, then I can enjoy the luxury of locally grown, healthy produce.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Diving into Podcasting with my Students

Well, I just signed up for my podbean account. And now I'm swimming in that timeless vacuum that is the learning curve of new technology. New for me, anyway.

If anyone has any tips or experiences using podcasting with their students, please let me know.

For now, you can see my podbean podcast at There are no entries on there, yet, but I plan to put a sample podcast on there soon.

My students' first assignment will be to create a video podcast using Windows Movie Maker (easily available at school). I'm a little worried about producsing .wmv files-- not sure those will work the best for podbean or iTunes. But the time involved to switch file types? Makes me pause. If anyone knows how to export different file types from Windows Movie Maker, please let me know.

My students will be studying an era in American Literature and producing a script that explains the era to an audience of high school students. I hope they will use the sense of audience to make their reports engaging.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Did you know that Arizona has no budget, yet?

I just posted this and shared it with my Facebook friends...

Did you know that the AZ legislature has passed basically the same budget that was vetoed in early July, and that it has been sitting on Jan Brewer's desk for (I think) close to two weeks, now? Public opinion may make a difference. It only takes a minute to call her office. In my opinion, she needs to be encouraged to consider other revenue sources besides an additional sales tax, which is a slam to the middle / low income folks out there. I'm sharing this with many of my Facebook friends; I'm not sure that all of your political views are the same as mine, but I think it is really important that we all consider what is in the long-term best interest of our state. Feel free to share with anyone who cares.

The following is excerpted from Steve Farley, AZ representative for district 28, in his Farley Report:

"There are two clear ways out of this [budget impasse]:

1) Republican leaders must stop playing games and enter serious negotiations with Democrats that include adequate funding for education, public safety, and services for the most vulnerable of our citizens, along with revenue sources that will help stabilize our revenue structure long-term so we are never faced with such a crisis again.

2) While she is right in demanding increased revenues, the Governor must drop her obsessive insistence on a temporary sales tax increase as the only revenue option she will sign.

There are many options for increasing revenues that are fair, stable, and position our state to grow our way our of this recession. Democratic budget proposals throughout the past year have highlighted many of them.

Arizona is more dependent on sales taxes than any other state. During a recession, people buy fewer things, so sales tax revenues decrease dramatically. And people with lower incomes are hurt proportionately more by sales taxes than by any other form of tax. Raising our already high sales taxes will only dig us in deeper and keep us financially vulnerable into the foreseeable future.

If Governor Brewer were to approach the negotiating table by recognizing she and Dems both agree that we need an additional one or two billion in revenues, and then invite us to discuss options, we could get an agreement fairly quickly that would get all Democrats on board. Paired with some carefully chosen business tax cuts, we could develop a package that would attract enough Republican votes to get ourselves a budget.

Right now, this scenario is not developing, but I can't see any other scenario that will work. And we need a budget NOW.

Unfortunately, there are a number of influential Republican legislators who are gleefully embracing the imminent destruction of state government on ideological principles. They are emblematic of the national problem with the Republican Party that has exploded forth in the Republican-inspired sabotage of the healthcare debate using outright lies and fearmongering."