Keeping Faith in Love and Light


Dear everyone out there in December...just past the solstice and approaching Christmas Eve and the first evening of Hanukkah tomorrow.  Tonight there is a clear sky with so many stars in Vermont.  And there is a dusting of new snow on the ground. And our family is here or on the way, our sons, daughters-in-law, and grand children.  We are so very grateful to live in this place and time.  Grateful for our family, our home, our place, the good earth, our good work. We send you all our very warmest and best wishes for a lovely holiday season and joy and peace now and in the year to come.

Louise and Ashley


Post Proof


Krista Tippett and her radio show On Being is a great inspiration to us always and especially now.  Driving to Boston a week or so ago we listened again to Krista's pre-election interview with Muslim founder and leader of the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, Eboo Patel, and poet and Poet Laureate, Natasha Tretheway.  The title of the show is "How to Live Beyond This Election."  It is an enlightening, heartwarming, real and wise conversation.


Toward the end of the show, Eboo Patel said this...

— a great radio host named Norman Corwin, who was kind of the Krista Tippett of his time, if you will...


DR. PATEL: ...he hosted these beautiful radio productions. He’s got this line that I say to a lot of 20-year-olds on campuses. “Post proofs that brotherhood is not so wild a dream that those who profit by postponing it pretend.” That’s your job, right? Post that proof. Just do that. It is a religious act, however small it might be. Just post your proof that brotherhood, sisterhood, empathy, solidarity, is not so wild a dream that these other people think it might be.

That seems like a very wise idea.  We all do it anyway.  We literally post images and articles and sights and sounds that are inspiring in this uncertain time. Now, more than ever, that is what we are called to do.  Post Proof! That justice, love, dreams, doing what is the right thing to do for ourselves, all people everywhere, all creatures, the planet is happening right now.

Today, we post proof by sharing what Middlebury College has accomplished in the last decade by taking a group of students' proposal seriously and committing to a very big dream...becoming carbon neutral by 2016.  And in December, 2016, they have done it.

This is such a milestone to be so proud of.  Middlebury College...students, trustees, faculty and staff, parents...thank you for your leadership now and into the future.  Click here and watch the short and inspiring video of how this happened.


Affirming our Unwavering Commitment to Children


We read the Exchange Every Day newsletter from The Childcare Exchange regularly and are inspired and informed by all of their topics and resources. The letter below came from their editor, Sara Gilliam, last week.  Sara's words eloquently express our feelings, thoughts and commitments.  We are posting her letter here because it is a beautiful call to renew our collective commitment to empower children in our own lives and in our global community.  Our best wishes to all of you as November turns to December and we all have work to do.  As Sara writes...Let us grow together and unite in our determination to nurture a new generation of wondrous and resilient...human beings.

A Statement from ExchangeNovember 21, 2016

"Many things we need can wait, the child cannot.... To them we cannot say tomorrow, their name is today."-Gabriela Mistral

We at Exchange affirm our unwavering commitment to empowering children in our own lives and in our global community. Children have certain rights that must endure despite changes in leadership and the political landscape. These include the rights to safety, health, thoughtful education, freedom from bullying and fear, and the unconditional acceptance of unique individual gifts. All children—regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, economic means, or learning abilities—deserve love and respect.

In a time of increasing—and often alarming—divisiveness, we have faith that the early childhood community can build bridges between those with differing opinions and priorities. In solidarity with your efforts, Exchange remains committed to supporting early childhood professionals worldwide in their efforts to create early childhood environments where adults and children thrive—environments that foster friendship, curiosity, self-esteem, joy, and respect, and where the talents of all are fully challenged and justly rewarded. Let us grow together and unite in our determination to nurture a new generation of wondrous and resilient flowers.

  • Sara Gilliam, Editor-in-Chief, Exchange magazine

In the November/December issue of Exchange, Debbie LeeKeenan and John Nimmo provide the following guidelines for helping children understand what is happening around them including:

  • encouraging children to ask questions.
  • supporting children to communicate their ideas and emotions through conversations, drawings, writing, dramatic play, creative arts, music and movement.
  • being a good listener; paying attention to words and feelings; looking for the underlying meaning.
  • answering children’s questions immediately and directly, with information that is appropriate to their developmental level and experience.
  • recognizing that there may not be simple answers, but that there are answers that can help children.
  • avoiding responding to current events and issues in highly emotional or dramatic ways.
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  • providing resources to help children manage fears or uncertainty they might feel or express.

Recognizing Young Children as Citizens


Last Wednesday evening Ashley and I attended one of a series of presentations and exchanges of the Boston Area Reggio Inspired Network.  This one was presented by Ben Mardell and Megina Baker of the Pedagogy of Play project at Project Zero.

We were inspired, as always, by the work that Ben and Megina presented that featured the innovative, creative work of the Boston Public Schools.  Ben and Megina were lead developers of the curriculum called Focus on K2 which focuses on inquiry into how the world works.  The curriculum creates the contexts for students' voices and ideas to take concrete form and contribute to our communities.  One of the main objectives of this program is for students to become internally driven, self-motivated, high achieving contributors to the social justice of our neighborhoods.

Last year, all Boston Public School kindergarteners received a letter from the mayor, Marty Walsh, asking if they would help imagine ways that Boston could be more interesting and more fair for children and families and then build models of their ideas.  Their ideas included playgrounds that had lockers for parents' cell phones so that they could really play with their children and bigger equipment for adults to play on, as well as a Tree House playground with rooms for homeless families.  These models were displayed and celebrated at city hall in the spring.

Ben shared how proud he is of this successful, innovative effort by an urban school district with 31% extreme poverty and 47% dual language learners.  At the gathering at City Hall, Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education in the City of Boston said:

This is what learning looks like when learning comes to life. Certainly learning looks like reading and writing but it also looks like kids using their hands. It looks like cutting boxes and playing with egg crates and glue. It looks like working with your friends. 

Thank you Boston Public Schools, and thank you Mayor Marty Walsh and Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey and all the teachers, families and young students who are working together with imagination and creativity, confidence and clarity to build a more interesting, more fair place for people of all colors and ethnicities to live and thrive and enjoy life together in this diverse, democratic, big city of Boston.  This is what learning and thriving looks like in our democracy.


Happy Halloween

cadcollabOn this rainy day, I was struck by the bright yellow and crimson leaves on the grass on an afternoon walk around the Arnold Arboretum.  This weather and this season make me think of our holiday coming up...always right before important elections for our country.  I think of all the Halloweens that I have spent in schools, the parades and treats and children as animals, heroes, characters from books and movies, angels, devils, princesses, and kings. I think of all the Halloweens with our own two sons growing mice, and moose and wizards in costumes often fashioned at home.  And now, I make and find costumes for our grandchildren and we attend a rollicking neighborhood party and pot luck in Boston with them and their parents right around the corner.  It's a funny holiday where adults and children can be someone else for a day or an evening, be totally zany, take on another identity. It's a time to celebrate playfulness.

I include here a few of our family's costumes going back to my mother in 1915!

We wish all of you everywhere a festive, fun, and happy Halloween.