Showing posts from March, 2011

Bullying, a Broader Issue.

The angst that develops from school bullying tends to put the focus heavily on individual schools, school principals and classroom teachers. The Government's answer is to send a stern letter to school boards and to ignore the real causes of bullying behaviour. A strongly worded letter will only support the idea that schools are responsible for solving the ills of society and everyone else can get on with life as usual.What we really need to do is have a close look at our  society and recognize that the general environment that our aggressive children come from is the real cause of the problem. So what are the contributors to the bulling behaviours, that a significant group of children are displaying, and where is the evidence? I would suggest that the first area to look at is parenting, not to shift the blame fully onto parents but to look at how our society supports good parenting. It is widely recognized that at least 25% of our children experience poverty, the homes many c

Cut, Slash, Sell up and Borrow?

I readily accept that, in their initial responses to the Christchurch earthquakes, this government has  provided useful financial assistance for those in need, however this flow of funds will shortly dry up. As we all should know Neo-Liberal Economics is advanced through crisis, whether it be real or created, and this National Government has reached the end of its benevolent tether. The opportunity to advance their real agenda is too tempting to miss and now we have been told that the only ways to manage the rebuild of our second largest city and the general slump in our economy is through cutting, slashing, selling up and borrowing. Russel Norman and the Green Party advanced the idea of a one off levy that would come out of incomes over $48,000, but this was vigorously rejected by Finance Minister, Bill English. His claim that levies incurred at this time would damage any economic upturn just doesn't make sense, yet his own solutions will cost us dearly over time. It is obvious

Essential Reads for Green Activists?

My list below has already been widely distributed for comment and debate. It would be good to have an ongoing discussion about which books should be essential reading as Green activists and I would be grateful for your thoughts on this blog.  I have just received in the mail some copies of James Hansen's "Storms of My Grandchildren" in preparation for his presentation in Gore on May 19. I am anticipating this book will become part of my top ten. MY TOP TEN GREEN MUST READS “I can’t read all the books in the world so it’s a good thing that not all books are worth reading” (Ashleigh Brilliant) I think this is a useful quote because as busy people we want to ensure our precious reading time is used effectively and that we do get around to reading the really useful ones. I want to share the books that have had the most influence on my thinking and world view, and I hope others feel able to share thei

Real Men Have Big Gardens

For the last three years my sister, Robyn Guyton, has roped me into running a workshop on Autumn planting at the Riverton Harvest Festival she organises with her husband, Robert. I wish I had taken photographs of the festival itself as there were numerous colourful displays of nature's bounty and useful workshops on preserving and processing home grown food. I have had to make do with a picture of a recent tomato harvest from my small greenhouse and earlier photo of my own garden. The quarter acre with the vege garden at the back was once accepted as normal, but greater work pressures, less time and the convenience of supermarkets saw sections being subdivided and patios, barbecues  and landscaped garden "rooms" taking precedence.  The vege garden has all but disappeared from most homes now, however, after three years the festival has become a well supported local event with growing numbers of people embracing the joy of growing their own food. I liked the poster I

Credibility is everything.

I have heard many people voice the opinion that National will win the next election, not because they have been a particularly successful government but because Labour has not defined themselves as a credible alternative. Goff has not managed to counteract the relaxed amiability of John Key and Labour has had to re-establish itself as a party of the left after three terms of supporting the many flawed financial and regulatory systems that led to our current economic crisis. National has no master plan for taking New Zealand confidently into the future other than letting market forces rule. With the current increases in the cost of fuel and the looming crisis in oil supply, Gareth Hughes asked the Minister of Finance to explain the Government's plan to manage this important issue. Bill English's reply was to the effect that they didn't need a plan, market forces will dictate. National has clearly stated where their interests really lie, it is not with those struggling on

Mono-culture education threatens our future.

It is interesting being both an educator and a parent as you begin to see education from both a delivery and consumer's perspective. My children are now both in their senior high school years, experiencing NCEA and the extra-curricular opportunities open to them. Earlier this week I watched my son performing as Macbeth in a 15 min adaption of the famous play as part of a local secondary school Shakespearian festival and he is currently in Dunedin representing his school in a two day debating competition. My daughter has been spending time, after school, coaching a junior school aerobics team and she is spending today as part of "Stage Challenge", a secondary school dance and performance competition that she has been involved with for the past three years. Obviously I am exceedingly proud of my son and daughter's achievements (well beyond what I achieved at the same age) but I am also extremely grateful for the time, goodwill and passion shown by the teaching staff

Power Shift Down South

Our local body elections have been and gone and what a dramatic change we have in our councils. Different people are now sitting in the seats of power and different ways of thinking are being stirred into the stagnant mix we had before. Environment Southland has, in Ali Timms, a Chair who actually speaks out in favour of the environment instead of as a mouthpiece for Federated Farmers and the Invercargill City Council has members who set personal goals that seem to be borrowed direct from Transition Towns. We in the South do have some testing challenges ahead with the proposed lignite mining and the impending putrification of the Waituna Lagoon, but now we have some real champions for environmental common sense in places where they can really make a difference. We have hope.