Saturday, May 12, 2018
If you are interested in an outdoor preschool in Marinwood Park, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
By Julie Depenbrock
January 17, 2017
Chevy Chase, Md.
At Audubon Nature Preschool, a "classroom" can be a pond, a bamboo forest, a meadow, or a garden. That's because Audubon is a "nature preschool"—one of a growing number of preprimary schools where children spend all or part of their days outdoors.
Five years ago, only a couple dozen such schools operated in the United States. Today, there are close to 250, according to the Natural Start Alliance, a coalition supporting early-childhood and environmental education.
The surge in nature preschools can be partially attributed to Richard Louv's decade-old best-seller, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Louv, a journalist and author, theorizes that the shift toward nature-based education is happening quickly at the pre-K level because preschools can be less structured than K-12 schools.
"Many preschools are private or independent, so there's more flexibility there," he said in an interview.
Louv coined the term "nature-deficit disorder" to describe the price of humans' isolation from nature, including "diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses."
Louv's ideas come at a time when the prevailing trend in schools is toward more academic instruction. And many believe the level of academic rigor has ratcheted up because of the Common Core State Standards.
"Teachers are so tired of the direction that much of education has been going toward," Louv said, "toward more and more testing, toward canceling recess, toward longer school hours, toward anything but real experience in the real world."
A Different Pedagogy
In San Diego, Susan Seiguer, the founder and lead teacher at All Friends Nature School, has used the early-childhood-education program "Growing Up Wild" as her curricular guidepost.
She also borrows the pedagogy of a Waldkindergarten, or forest school. At these schools, children between the ages of 3 and 6 spend their days outdoors, either in a forest or some other natural environment.
—Julie Depenbrock/Education Week
All Friends enrolls 11 children, with one teacher for every four to six students.
"All of our days are spent outside, rain or shine," Seiguer said. "There is no facility."
"Some days we spend our afternoons building a shelter so we have a shady spot to eat our lunch or just to play in," she said. "Other days we may go on a bug hunt and see how many different types of insects are living around us, counting the different types and learning their names."
While San Diego's temperate climate may provide an ideal location for outdoor education, nature preschools have also cropped up in places with more extreme weather.
"One of the big things we say in the nature-based-education world is there's no such thing as bad weather, only poor choices in clothing," said Madison Powell, the director of the Chippewa Nature Preschool in Midland, Mich.
Every Chippewa student has a pair of waterproof, head-to-toe coveralls, as well as boots, gloves, hats, scarves, balaclavas, and changes of clothes and shoes for "indoor" school. Children spend about half the day outside, barring hazardous weather.
"If it's dangerous to be outside—if it's dangerous to be in the elements—then we are inside," Powell said. "We're not throwing them outside just because we're a nature preschool and we say we have to."
At Chippewa, four-day preschool costs around $355 per month. Eligible parents in Michigan can apply for tuition-free preschool through the state-funded Great Start Readiness Program. The Chippewa Nature Center also provides scholarship funding, so no family pays more than 5 percent of its household income.
Powell said about half of the 140 students enrolled receive some form of financial aid.
School Without Walls
At Fiddleheads Forest School in Seattle, co-director Kit Harrington said she keeps enrollment low to strengthen relationships with families. This year, 42 students are enrolled and 180 are in a "waitpool." (Tuition at Fiddleheads ranges from $330 to $780 a month.)
Like All Friends Nature School, Fiddleheads has no building affiliated with its program. Students retreat to a heated greenhouse—which has electricity and running water—when high winds make it impossible to be outside.
Otherwise, students' "classrooms" are two forest groves in the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.
"We sort of are a bridge in between what may be considered a more typical forest school approach and a more structured approach," said Harrington, a former Montessori teacher. She co-directs the preschool with Sarah Heller, whose background is in environmental education.
In winter, Fiddleheads students hike and explore the arboretum, learning about natural science.
"We follow an arc of the year," Harrington said.
"At the start of the school year, we really emphasize grounding the children in the environment, helping them connect with the space, developing a foundational awareness of themselves in relation to the environment," she said, "giving them language to describe their emotional and physical states, as well as giving them an awareness of the expectations of the setting so they are empowered to have ownership over caring for the space and caring for each other."
In the decade since Last Child in the Woods was published, the volume of studies on nature-deficit disorder and the effects of green spaces on school-age children has grown, Louv said.
A 2009 study from England's University of Essex, for example, concludes that "participating in physical activity and experiencing nature play an important role in positively influencing our health and well-being."
"Yet," the authors go on to say, "physical activity levels have dropped dramatically, and inactivity results in 1.9 million deaths worldwide annually, roughly 1 in 25 of all deaths."
Likewise, Jane Clark, the dean of public health at the University of Maryland College Park, argues that the current generation of children has been made sedentary—"containerized" in strollers, car seats, high-chairs, and all manner of accident-preventive secure seating, which allows them little free movement.
"When they get to day care—I used to say—if a parent could just pass their child through the window, they would," Clark said.
Clark drew a diagram from a study in which three generations were asked where they played as children. The grandparent drew a radius around the house, extending several miles in each direction. The parent's circle was smaller, but still included much of the neighborhood and the surrounding woods. Finally, the child drew a circle with just the house and the backyard.
There are a lot of reasons for the shrinking play space, Louv said: the advent of "stranger danger"—parents' perceptions of threats to their children from strangers, increasing urbanization, and the strong pull of technology-based and indoor entertainment.
The schools are not without some criticism, though. "Certainly there are many potential benefits to outdoor education, and they provide an important alternative to the increasing and troubling amount of 'seatwork' and teacher-directed learning that young children are faced with in preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten settings," said Fikile Nxumalo, an assistant professor of early-childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin.
But she is "also concerned about prevailing romanticized engagements with nature in many of these schools—where there is this assumed 'natural' connection between children and nature, and where nature is seen as primarily a site for child development."
Nxumalo favors nature preschools that take a more complex view of the environment and define nature education "within current ecological challenges"—for example, discussing what it means to live ethically with animals deemed "pests" and dealing with litter in the natural environment.
Problem of Access
Though she believes nature schools are a step in the right direction, Nxumalo also sees room for improvement, especially in ease of access to these schools for many urban and economically disadvantaged children.
"I think part of the risk of 'nature preschool as passing trend' is that nature preschool remains something that is not widely accessible to children and families from economically marginalized communities," Nxumalo said. "I think this needs to change."
Louv is hopeful that the more principals, administrators, and school boards get involved, the better chance nature-based education has of reaching the masses.
As for environmental barriers, he contends that even in the densest of cities, nature can be found. It may be less sprawling than it is in the countryside, but it's there—and it's vital.
"Much of our pathology, I think, as a species is we think we can go it alone. The immersion in species not our own is extraordinarily important. This is who we are—it's part of our biology, part of our humanity," Louv said.
At Maryland's Audubon Nature Preschool, located on 40 acres of nature sanctuary, students spend as much time as possible outdoors,said Director Stephanie Bozzo.
"The curriculum emerges from what the children are interested in, but we have a broad idea of which spots on our sanctuary are most appealing during the different seasons," Bozzo said.
Days at Audubon, which costs an average of nearly $800 per month, follow a familiar rhythm. Each morning, children begin outside, come together for a morning circle, and go to learning centers where they move through preplanned activities. Then, they read a story and end the day with a hike.
If the weather is nice and no one complains, Bozzo said, they might spend the entire day outdoors.
Airen Hall has had two sons attend Audubon. Before moving to the area, she said, her oldest had gone to a traditional nursery school in Syracuse, N.Y.
"In our experience, the difference goes far beyond just the kids spending a lot of time outside," Hall said. "The most important differences are in the whole philosophy of the program. [Audubon] is just such a learning-rich environment. They encourage the kids to ask a lot of questions and explore and be curious."
Audubon parents choose from five different classes: Acorns, Sprouts, Saplings, and Oaks. Acorns have class once a week for 90 minutes on the sanctuary grounds. Sprouts and Saplings divide their three hours between indoor and outdoor activities. Oaks, dubbed forest "kindergartners," meet four days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and spend half the day outside.
Bozzo tries to keep the children's boundaries wide—"wider than typical teachers are comfortable letting children explore," she said.
"Children don't necessarily feel like they're being watched at all times, which we think is very central to our mission—that children are exploring on their own and what they gravitate towards is whatever they're intrinsically interested in," Bozzo said.
And each day is different.
"That's the beauty of nature—that it's surprising and it's dynamic," Bozzo said
Instead of old equipment, piles of debris and a rusty truck in Marinwood Park maintenance area here our children can have an amazing natural playground next to Miller Creek
A natural playground with a "Miwok Village" theme can be built on the same site as the original 5000 year old Miwok Village at the current maintenance area in Marinwood Park. All it takes is a little imagination and will power. It will cost tens of thousands of dollars less than a conventional playground and can even be built with volunteer labor.
Why should Marinwood settle for less?We live in the most beautiful family environment in the North Bay.
Our children deserve better.
|The playground may have a Miwok Indian theme on the very site of a 5000 year old Miwok village next to Miller Creek. More ideas for natural huts HERE|
|Children love to explore water, creating dams, racing boats and more. A water feature can be easily built.|
|A simple structure like this provides hours of imaginative play.|
|This slide with thoughtful landscaping is safe for all ages.|
|A cluster of tepees invites the imagination and fanciful stories. It is also a climbing structure.|
|Just a cluster of logs invite physical challenge while minimizing risk. Artfully arranged, it can serve as a sculpture for everyone to enjoy.|
|Organic building materials can be found in the adjoining woods at no cost.|
|This preschool playground is fun for young and imaginative.|
|Even a fallen log can provide fun.|
|Kids love to climb and explore. The first step is getting our children outdoors.|
Why are we allowing this in our precious park?
A rusty dump truck is parked just yards from Miller Creek
Landscaping waste is allowed to sit for weeks.
Wood chip piles from our operations and OUTSIDE landscapers waste is often dumped here.
Endless piles of debris have been allowed to accumulate. Just a few short years ago this was a nice grassy area where people could gather.
It is claimed that we "save money" by buying in bulk but the visual cost to the community is never accounted for. We need to return to the practice of only ordering materials as needed. Would you allow a contractor to store materials on your lawn?
Trash begets trash. Spare parts and implements are left in the open to rust.
Friday, May 11, 2018
|Is this landscaping care or assault?|
|In the name of "safety" all natural beauty is destroyed.|
|Is this a park or a construction site?|
|No flower, grass or living thing was spared.|
|All living things mowed down in 50 foot path|
Dump truck left parked over the weekend in the picnic area.
Why not park it at the maintenance shed?
Why not park it at the maintenance shed?
In California’s gentrification debates, white men from liberal media silence people of color
NOTE: I’m white. That doesn’t mean I can’t call these writers and media corporations on their structurally racist bullsh*t.
Through April 20, there were 29 articles in total published about California’s proposed YIMBY upzoning bill, SB 827, across Vox, the LA Times, the NY Times, NY Magazine, CityLab (run by The Atlantic), and Slate. Every single one was written by a white person, or multiple white people. Excluding the two pieces written by the LA
All the people who wrote articles on SB 827 for Vox, the LA Times, NY Times, NY Magazine, CityLab, and Slate. (The two women are from the LA Times’ Editorial Board)
Times’ Editorial Board — 7 out of 9 members are white — these articles were exclusively written by white men.
Such overwhelming whiteness in these big media corporations is of course a huge problem in itself. But at the very least, these authors could’ve looked to the knowledge and experiences of organizations rooted in communities of color that have been fighting gentrification and a permanent housing crisis for decades.
Yet, in a shameful collective display of white arrogance, worries about gentrification and displacement were minimized or disregarded entirely as the writers nearly unanimously put forth supply-side analyses of the housing crisis.
My (extremely charitable) interpretation of why this happened: these white authors are blinded by their race and class.
SB 827 was dubbed “Urban Renewal 2.0” by the Black Community, Clergy, and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), and was vehemently opposed by nearly everysingle tenants’, anti-gentrification, and low-income advocacy organizationacross the state that took a stance on the proposed legislation. A coalition of 37 progressive grassroots organizations from LA, for example, argued that the bill would “exacerbate the very issue it seeks to remedy, especially in low-income communities and communities of color.” Meanwhile, it was supported by reactionaries like the California Apartment Association, the California and LA Chambers of Commerce, and tech CEOs.
But this was not the picture presented to the millions of readers of these mainstream liberal publications. The authors of these articles consistently framed SB 827 as a courageous and progressive approach, if perhaps slightly flawed, that would make huge advances towards ending California’s housing crisis — if only those cranky NIMBY (“Not In My BackYard”) homeowners would get out of the way.
These authors think of themselves as objective arbiters of truth, but their worlds — the newsfeeds they scroll through each day — are filled with other upper-class white people and their perspectives. Matt Yglesias is more likely to engage with worthless pundits like Josh Barro and this economist from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center than he is to read material published by Causa Justa, Right to the City Alliance, or Defend Boyle Heights (check out this article).
They live in a lily-white bubble, and this shapes how they learn about issues and whose knowledge they consider legitimate, resulting in the shallow, white-centric understandings of gentrification and the housing crisis that we get from these pieces.
A “housing bill” or a “displacement bill”?
Right off the bat, the framing of SB 827 as a sweeping solution to the housing crisis, and the near-universal presumption that this bill would actually make things better, shows what perspective these journalists are writing from.
Headlines abound with language like: “SB 827, a sweeping new bill that addresses California’s housing crisis” (Vox); “Sacramento’s sweeping housing bill” (LA Times); and “momentum builds for radical action on housing”(CityLab). Even otherwise nuanced takes on the damaging impacts of SB 827, like this one from Liam Dillon at the LA Times, is misleadingly and patronizingly titled “A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here’s how it went wrong.” You have to read past “major” housing bill that “aimed to help” these ungrateful residents opposing SB 827, before getting to a hint of the bill’s failure.
The presumption that SB 827 would actually improve the housing situation seems to underlie most of the reporting beyond the headlines. For typical examples of this, look at the first few sentences from these two articles by the LA Times and NY Times — though the winner in this category is surely this article by Henry Grabar of Slate, which says explicitly in the headline that SB 827 would “solve state housing crisis.”
It’s not that these characterizations are plainly wrong. They could be true, but only from the vantage point of those that can afford to live in the new units that would result from SB 827.
For others, this bill spells intensified displacement and the loss of their communities, as argued by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Housing California, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation: “SB 827 will fuel the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color by investors and speculators who seek to build higher-income developments. Even with the March 1st amendments, nothing in the bill prevents or mitigates both the direct and indirect displacement that will occur as a result of the proposal.”
But not once do we see SB 827 referred to as a “gentrification bill” or a “displacement bill.” It’s clear whose opinions are really being reflected in this coverage.
Even when concerns about gentrification and displacement are mentioned, they tend to be mid-way down the article, and they certainly don’t capture the stakes involved in what is fundamentally a life-or-death struggle for entire communities. The journalists act as if mentioning opposition from poor people and people of color is a box they have to check before moving on.
(Finally, some articles act as if there is no opposition at all from low-income communities, completely ignoring their existence. See these two from Matt Yglesias, and pieces by Thomas Edsall and these three YIMBYs that were given platforms by the LA Times and CityLab.)
“Capitalism works for me, so it will work for you, too”
Another troubling pattern involves the supply-side understandings of gentrification and the housing crisis that we get from nearly every single author. Look at how the default framing in all these articles is that the current crisis is caused fundamentally by a lack of supply. “Almost everyone agrees”that California has an “acute” or “longstanding” or “severe housing shortage” due to the “basic problem [that] it is difficult to build housing in California.”
Meanwhile, they ignore inconvenient facts that seriously complicate this interpretation, like Oakland, New York City, and San Diego County all possessing more vacant homes than homeless people, and the state of California sitting on a surplus of 300,000 units for renters with above-moderate incomes. They don’t ever mention the role of AirBnB in taking units off the market and driving up rents, nor the foreign investors and Wall St. firms (like the private equity giant, Blackstone) pouring billions of dollars into urban housing markets. (Here’s a notable exception from Benjamin Schneider.)
Ultimately, they completely discount alternative analyses that argue forcefully that capitalist institutions — and the system of capitalism itself — built on a political economy embedded in white supremacy, lie at the root of the crisis. For example, this 80-page report from Right to the City Alliance states plainly that “corporate and individual control of property to maximize private gain is the fundamental problem with the current housing model.”
BCCLA’s statement also directly refutes these supply-side theories: “It is an insult to your own intelligence and to our history of struggle to suggest that the powerful financial interests that every day evict us, engage in predatory lending, and rob us of our limited wealth are suddenly in favor of policies to break up their lucrative system that profits from our continued oppression and exploitation.”
But capitalism has been good to these white guys. They worked their way up our so-called meritocracy and now have jobs writing for big media companies. Again we can see how their race and class shape how they see the world, and lead to their analyses that tell us the way to solve the housing crisis is to expand the reach of the market, that we shouldn’t focus on the people and corporate institutions making a killing off of squeezing and displacing poor people, and that strategies like rent control actually do more harm than good. Meanwhile the profit (and eviction, and displacement, and resegregation) machine keeps on spinning.
Ultimately, the narratives coming out of these large media corporations benefit the powerful white people and white-dominated institutions that make enormous sums of money actively investing in real estate. They also serve to comfort a large portion of their readership, white yuppie city-dwellers who, instead of being made to feel like they’re partaking in a destructive system rooted in “capitalism, white supremacy, and colonialism,”can simply think of themselves as rational consumers in a housing market with artificially constrained supply.
I’m not saying this is conspiratorial. Matt Yglesias doesn’t ignore the existence of people of color that disagree with him and write trash takes on gentrification because he’s in cahoots with real estate interests and gentrifiers. And the larger problem of the whiteness of corporate media is in large part structural, a product of these media companies existing as capitalist institutions and being accountable only to their shareholders.
But we should be aware of who profits when all these white writers refuse to even consider arguments that label racial capitalism as a fundamental part of the problem, and downplay concerns over displacement. There are material consequences when these are the narratives seen by influential people that read these liberal publications. In this case, real estate investors win, and poor people and people of color lose.
Update 2:23pm 5/10/2018: This piece has been edited to include specific reference to “A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here’s how it went wrong” by Liam Dillon. -Knock Editors
Editor's Note: In general, I think there is far more ignorance of cultures than outright racism. The author does have valid points that much of the coverage is from elite, college educated urbanists who ASSUME their plans improve lives. They are not listening.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Here is the Maintenance Shed proposal by former Marinwood CSD Director Bill Hansell on May 8th. The proposal calls for 4400 square feet of structure and the demolishment of the existing buildings and portable office. It will definitely cost the district upwards of $250,000 for a shed structure where a standard maintenance shed could cost the district less than $80,000 , take 1/4 of the space . Aside from the encroachment on the creek conservation area and cost, the Hansell design is rectangular and will make access less efficient for accessing tools and equipment. Vehicles would have to be moved in and out for access to the back of the shop. Pathways would have to remain open to allow movement.
In contrast, the "shed bay" design allows each individual vehicle to move independently and tools and material storage will line the walls. A bay could be emptied for temporary projects and the entire structure is much smaller and less expensive. Virtually EVERY Maintenance department in Marin County has a "shed bay " design facility. And NO government facilities, including the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Civic Center have fancy buildings for work trucks. Space is at a premium and work efficiency must drive design. I have included three practical and attractive "shed bay" designs at the end of this posting.
What is not readily apparent in the Bill Hansell proposal is that the building will occupy virtually all of the space on the fire road and will block the view of the nature trail, possibly creating some security concerns. You can see the proposed building footprint compared to the existing footprint on the first building slide. I am also concerned that the awkward access to the horizontal building will mean that vehicles and materials will be regularly parked outside the structure creating even MORE of an impact to our precious park area.
While I am delighted that we are finally getting around to rebuilding the maintenance shed, I think it is important that we fully vet this project with the public and the workers who will actually be using the facility. Our parkland is too precious and we need to use space wisely.
|The project footprint is roughly 45' x 150'. This is massive and spans two backyard fence lines. The alternate designs below span about half the space.|
|The design is attractive but has poor vehicle and material access. This vantage point is from the drainage ditch and will not be seen. The ordinary view will be the gates on either end on the fire road.|
Here are alternate designs from Modular Building companies start at $10,000 installed. They are more functional and save space, too
|Architectural Drawing HERE|
These designs could have a fourth bay added and would have a foot print of roughly 24' x 55" and would span only 1 fence line and still allow visual access to the nature path. A small office on the end is adequate for daily use. It is about a third of the size of the Hansell initial design. The access is far easier for daily work and fits the conventional layout of maintenance facilities. The building is essentially as long as the existing office trailer and twice as wide. Much space can be saved with a design of this type and would allow the creation of a childrens nature playground and/picnic area next to the creek.
Jeff Naylor prohibits public communication with CSD Manager, Eric Dreikosen, Board issues threat to arrest public who offend them, Firehouse project still delayed. Largest Budget in history approved without much discussion, Custom Maintenance Shed proposal discussed IGNORING input from public in April 2017. and more rollicking fun, from the Marinwood CSD
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Scott Adams sees the future with Elon Musk’s help. https://t.co/2ldGi6in3W— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) May 8, 2018
The billionaire promises materials for affordable housing, but it’s unclear how much supply they will create.BySarah McBride
May 7, 2018, 3:58 PM PDT Updated on May 7, 2018, 6:02 PM PDT
Elon Musks's Boring Company to Get Into the Brick-Making Business
Move over, candy and flamethrowers. Elon Musk tweeted out plans Monday for yet another side venture: alleviating the nation's housing crisis.
"The Boring Company will be using dirt from tunnel digging to create bricks for low-cost housing," he wrote in a tweet about his nascent tunneling enterprise.
A company spokesman confirmed the plans, saying the bricks will come from the "excavated muck," and that "there will be an insane amount of bricks.” Musk has also suggested he has plans to sell them, and the company said future Boring Co. offices will be constructed from the company’s own bricks.
How many affordable housing units those bricks will create, though, is a different matter, says Juan Matute, a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, and associate director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies.
Musk’s tweet "assumes that housing costs are driven by construction materials, and particularly, construction materials that can be replaced by bricks," Matutue said. "That's not the case." At least in California, the only state where Boring Co. has started digging a tunnel, land and labor drive prices more than anything else.
Going forward, a spokesman said, the company plans to make bricks out of excavated mud from all Boring Co. tunnels, not just the one currently under construction in Hawthorne, California, on land owned by Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
When it comes to actual housing construction, bricks tend to be expensive, in part because assembling brick walls takes more work than other options, such as putting up panels. And because bricks don’t stand up well to earthquakes, a major concern in fault-riddled California, building codes typically require buttresses such as reinforced steel and rebar when bricks are used.
On its website, Boring Co. says bricks could potentially also replace concrete in a portion of its tunnels' linings, which it says would help the environment as concrete production creates significant greenhouse gas emissions.
Musk seemed well aware of the possible risks in a separate plan for the tunneling byproduct that he tweeted out in March. Boring Co. could soon sell "life-size LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures and buildings," he wrote. "Rated for California seismic loads, so super strong."
Another potential hurdle: Chemicals have contaminated much of the land under Los Angeles. Any contaminants showing up in the excavated Boring Co. soil would complicate efforts to make that material into bricks used for housing.
Challenges around the idea may not prevent Musk—who has a track record of delivering on projects that others dismiss—from getting it done, Matute said.
"That doesn't mean the Boring Company can't buy some land and build a few low-cost houses, with a partner like Habitat for Humanity," Matute said. "And say, 'Look what we did.'"