wouldn't you love it if . . .

Want to Go to College Free?

Yes, free. That’s no typo. It’s called the Horace Mann Scholarship. Application deadline is February 15, 2012. With a Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), you might even avoid the $8,628 cost of room and board. That makes the deal worth roughly $141,000.  The only catch is that you have to move to wonderful, beautiful Ohio.

Here’s the scoop: Antioch College in Yellow Spring, Ohio, has re-opened its doors and needs students. The college, which was founded in 1850, went bankrupt and had to close in 2008. But, many of  their alumni were not willing to see that become a permanent reality. So, they got together and found money to improve and re-fund their endowments and to give them an extra bump of support. Then, they convinced the right people to come back and work there. “We don’t want economics to be an impediment to a high-quality liberal arts education,” Antioch President Mark Roosevelt said. “By providing four year, full-tuition scholarships, we make attending Antioch College a realistic option for the best and brightest students, regardless of their family’s economic situation.” And with that, the college is back up and running. The first class had 35 students; now they are up to 75. The school wants to have 300 students by 2015.

So what can you study there? The school is offering a dozen areas of concentration, ranging from environmental and health sciences to languages and social sciences. “We are a 160-year-old start-up institution with a lot of history,” Cezar Mesquita, Antioch’s dean of admission and financial aid, told MoneyWatch, according to UPI.

According to the Antioch College website:

The College is the only liberal arts institution in the nation to require a comprehensive off-campus cooperative work program of all its students. Cooperative education links theory and practice and supports the development of independence and accountability. All students will alternate between terms of study and terms of full-time work (cooperative education). Learning to live and work productively in the community, and to participate in governance, will remain among the most important skills students will acquire in their learning and living within the community on and off campus.

Antioch College will award the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees upon successful completion of degree requirements in four divisions: Arts, Humanities, Science, and Social Science. Students will plan their courses of study with their advisors. Areas of concentration may be either disciplinary or interdisciplinary based upon the concentrations offered in each division. With the early support and leadership of educators at the College, there is broad participation in a long-range planning effort to capture in detail the structure to support the new concept of an Antioch College education. In this planning effort, the curriculum has been designed to engender an understanding of the historical context and the intellectual roots of current issues while emphasizing contemporary issues of local, national and global importance such as governance, energy and food production and innovative alternatives to time-work approaches to academic and practical matters.

Antioch College counts the late civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, actor Cliff Robertson and “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling among its long list of illustrious alumni; why not add your name to the list?

Rock on!


teens had some compassion?

Well, here’s a story about some teens who really did manage to think about how they’d feel in someone else’s shoes.

An average teen who lives in Ravenscroft in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, Krissi Fajgenbaum has helped thousands of low-income teens to look and feel their best. She got the inspiration after watching a documentary about the poverty and unemployment in the nearby community of Robbinsville.

“In tenth grade I watched Diane Sawyer’s “20/20” documentary on children of the Appalachians and the poverty in which they live. I was devastated to learn that this kind of poverty exists right here in NC, only five hours away from where I live, and was compelled to start Teens 2 Teens,” says Fajgenbaum.

The organization takes donations of used clothing from teens. The clothes are sorted and cleaned by teens. The shop, called Krissi’s Kloset, is run by teens. “All teenagers have the same wants and needs no matter who they are or where they come from,” says Krissi. “Teens want to feel good about themselves. They want to feel self confident and they want to fit in. By offering teens in need gently used clothing, they can feel good about themselves at school and feel more confident and comfortable when they go on class trips and college visits.” And so, the teens in need are allowed to shop for free. That’s right, the clothes and shoes are FREE.

Krissi is now in college,  a freshman biomedical engineering major at UNC Chapel Hill and a Robertson Scholar – you might think she would be busy pledging a sorority, or trying out for teams or drama, or just studying hard. But, busy as she is, she still makes time to work with Teens 2 Teens, providing those in need with a sustainable way to receive clothing, shoes, and accessories that have been gently used by others. And, in July 2010, Teens 2 Teens partnered with Communities In Schools of North Carolina in an effort to reach and provide clothing to at risk teens in the Appalachians. Our first joint effort  is a shop for free boutique in Bryson City which is centrally located in the Appalachian Mountain Region of NC. This boutique, also called Krissi’s Kloset, will provide clothes and shoes to  needy teens in eight counties in the NC Appalachians.

As pointed out on the website, most high schools have a community service requirement. Also, most colleges look very favorably upon an effort that meets a local need but does not garner lots of attention. They’d rather see someone work to combat a problem that to get credit for the hours. Well, Krissi started out that way, but has not shunned the attention, and the increased donations that brings. She and Teens 2 Teens have been featured in People Magazine and Cary Magazine, on Good Morning America’s AmeriCAN segment, and as ABC 11 Person of the Week on her local station. Still, Krissi has not let her 15 minutes of fame go to her head. She urges others to

Start a chapter of Teens 2 Teens at your school. Small towns all over America have been hit especially hard by the poor economy. Unemployment is high which means many teens are going without basics such as jeans, sweaters,  coats, and shoes. Contact me to learn how to start a partnership with a school in need. I hope you will consider starting a chapter at your school




And according to the Donations page on the Teens 2 Teens website;

All donations are extremely appreciated and will go to needy students who desperately need them.  

 Please remember to include your name and address with your package so we can send you your tax-deduction form.

Please send your donations to:

Krissi’s Kloset

CIS of Swain County

100 Brendle Street

Bryson City, NC 28713

 or you can contact Krissi herself at krissi@teens2teens.net.

I encourage you all to donate, clothes, shoes, accessories, or money.  And to Krissi Fajgenbaum,

Rock on!


you could get water out of thin air?

Now, someone has. In future, you will too.

An Australian designer from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne is the winner of the 2011 James Dyson Award for his “Airdrop” – a low-cost, low-maintenance technology for farming in arid areas.  (You may remember that, James Dyson revolutionized the vacuum cleaner with his stronger vacuum pump.) Both Linacre and Swinburne University of Technology received checks for  £10,000. Dyson, said Edward Linacre’s invention “shows how simple, natural principles such as the condensation of water can be applied to good effect through skilled design and robust engineering.”

Asked what inspired him to create water from air, Linacre said,

The effects of climate change on Australia are accelerating at an alarming rate. . .  the worst drought in a century, lasting 12 years and resulting in irreversible damage to ecosystems, widespread wildlife decline and catastrophic bushfire conditions. Agriculture suffered record losses. An alarming figure of 1 rancher/farmer a week was taking their own life, as years of drought resulted in failed crops, mounting debt and decaying towns. . . The southwest corner of the country has experienced its driest year to date. Scientific projections indicate as temperatures continue to increase so too will the severity, frequency and duration of droughts worldwide.


While there are various atmospheric water harvesting technologies that exist today, most are high-tech and expensive  – out of reach for most small farmers. And so, Linacre’s invention, which “is a low-tech, self sufficient solar powered solution; the pipe construction was born through investigations into the principles of air-flow. . . other elements include the turbine – designed to maximize air intake, to operate freely in high wind and switch to battery power in low wind.” So, farmers can use the Airdrop under almost any conditions, and without spending money for the energy to run it. The solar pump uses natural, free energy – the same energy used to grow the crops.

Linacre explained how it works on the Dyson Awards Winner Page,

Moisture is harvested out of the air to irrigate crops by an efficient system that produces large amounts of condensation. A turbine intake drives air underground through a network of piping that rapidly cools the air to the temperature of the soil where it reaches 100% humidity and produces water. The water is then stored in an underground tank and pumped through to the roots of crops via sub surface drip irrigation hosing. The Airdrop system also includes an LCD screen that displays tank water levels, pressure strength, solar battery life and system health.


For those like me who are low-tech ourselves, that means taking air and cooling it in pipe networks until the water comes out of it.Farmers can install and maintain the unit themselves. Linacre’s prototype, installed in his “mum’s backyard,” made about 1 liter of water each day. This proves that the concept works, and the award will hopefully allow creation of a commercial model for farm use, since that was Linacre’s goal. Could this finally be a way for farmers to have water for their crops without any boundary or waterway issues and without drought concerns?

All across Australia farmers are waiting with baited breath. And I am waiting, hoping for it to be available in drought stricken areas all over the world. Meanwhile, I say to Edward Linacre of Australia,

Rock on!

there were some way to make landfills less of a problem?

I mean, really.  They smell.  They take up lots of land.  Building a new one is always another game of NIMBY.  And, once they’re filled up and closed . . . well, then all they do is smell!

Most people don’t give much thought to the science behind landfills, but they’re a highly engineered environment, designed to safely contain decomposing waste and methane while keeping out the elements. Clean energy advocates have looked at landfills for years as a ideal location for solar power installations, but encountered problems because as waste breaks down over time, their shape can shift and damage solid structures. Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/13Jfx) And that’s where the Spectral Cap comes in. Using of a geomembrane (made of thermoplastic polyolefin) and flexible solar panels, the Spectral Cap covers thousands of acres of landfill, allowing the solar panels to collect energy. The landfill highlighted in the video below is one of only 3 such installations in the United States – New York, Texas, and the largest in Georgia is seen on the video.

The geomembrane is  interesting all by itself, made of a durable kind of plastic and easy to use alone or with other rolls – which can be attached by welding them together on site. But the thing that makes the Spectral Power Cap innovative is the7,000+  integrated flexible solar panels. Each Teflon-coated panel carries 144-watt and is “factory bonded” to the geomembrane, shipped to the landfill and unrolled on site. The PV panels are  durable enough to walk on, and connected by a million feet of wire to four inverters that sends the solar energy onto the grid. This grid has a total capacity of enough power to operate 224 homes! And, the owners of the landfill, Republic Services, have a deal to sell the power back to Georgia Power at wholesale prices, providing clean energy for their commercial customers.

So, all in all, this is a great way to convert all those old landfills we’ve got lying around the country into something wonderful! Unless you’d rather have another ski resort, like the one in Mt. Brighton, MI.

Rock on!

preteens knew what to do with themselves?

I can’t vouch for all of them, but here’s a story about one 12-year old who knows exactly what to do with her spare time!

You see, there are some very happy people in Rachel’s Village near Leogane, about 1 hour’s drive from Port-au-Prince, Haiti these days. Why? Because 12-year old Rachel Wheeler, for whom the village is named, raised over $250,000 to build 27 homes. Many of the new home owners are first time homeowners, indeed, first time home dwellers who had to be taught to fit a key into a lock! And Rachel’s not done yet. She says that she plans to build 20 more homes and a school. So, how did this all start?

A little over two years ago, just after the devastating 7.2 earthquake hit Haiti, Rachel attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting with her mom. She was just 9 at the time, and her mom wasn’t sure that she even understood the presentation. Except to have nightmares from the horrific images in the slide show. And then, Rachel stood up on a chair and said that she was going to help. And she got busy fast . . . Rachel collected funds by organizing bake sales, passing a donation can at homecoming games and selling homemade potholders at her Deerfield Beach, Fla. school, according to the Huffington Post. Not afraid to ask people she knew to donate, Rachel approached her parents’ friends and her church for help and got two large checks from Lighthouse Point Chamber of Commerce.

“Little children will lead us and teach us how to do things,” Robin Mahfood, President and CEO for Food For The Poor, told the news outlet. “It is amazing. She is a tremendous girl.”

And Rachel isa tremendous girl. She wants to build a school for the 250 students who lost theirs in the earthquake. “I want to build a school because they need education to make their lives better so they can learn and teach their own children how to have a better life,” Rachel told Food for the Poor. You might think that she’d take a break, having already passed the  halfway mark in her fundraising efforts for building the school, but she’s determined not to quit too soon. She wants the kids to go to school so that they can improve their lives. “I don’t believe I can snap my fingers and change Haiti overnight,” she told NBC. “I know I have to work at it.” And so, she does. To help Rachel reach her goal, please go to http://support.foodforthepoor.org/site/TR?pg=fund&fr_id=2091&pxfid=4112

 Rock on, Rachel!

kids could fly as high as their dreams?

You guessed it! They can! At least, in Tucson, Phoenix,  North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts and Florida.

A non-profit 501(c)3 organization called Wright Flight,Inc.  was started in Tucson, Arizona, by a retired Air Force Reserve fighter pilot called Robin Stoddard. Stoddard said that he had noticed that planes have a profound effect on kids. He decided to use that fact to make a difference in their lives. He developped a flight training program and materials for kids. Then he found other volunteers to help teach the kids to fly. Next, he put out the word that any kid who wanted to do it badly enough could learn to fly for free.

Well, that “free” really caught the attention of kids and parents alike. And while the parents truly don’t pay anything for the flying lessons, the kids do.  They have to keep their grades up in school and they must volunteer in the community. Once they have met their hours requirement, they turn in copies of their report cards and get a teacher to recommend them.

You may wonder how I know all this . . . well, my grandson, who has just signed up for the program, told me. For him, this was a no-brainer decision to fulfill his dream of flying. He comes from a middle class family whose income stretches well for the family, but would not allow flying lessons at $129.95 a session. (And that’s the low end in Tucson.) So, he knew it wouldn’t happen unless he made it happen. And so, he found Wright Flight and got the ball rolling.

But, most of the Wright Flight kids are not so self-motivated and don’t have my grandson’s self-esteem and self-direction. That’s exactly why Robin Stoddard started the program. As of 2011, approximately  10,500  successful students have graduated Wright Flight Training –over 750  in the Tucson area during this school year! Stoddard keeps 21 pilot-instructors and over two dozen volunteers working so that those successful kids can have their flight lessons and time.

Wright Flight, Inc. was selected to receive the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Public Benefit Award by the National Aeronautic Association. On September 15th, Stoddard received the award on the steps at the US Capitol building.  “While it’s certainly a mark of distinction for the organization,” Stoddard said, “this award really honors our sponsors, volunteers and the countless children who have not only raised their grades, but experienced the profound challenges of flight. The emotional response that we get from every child that takes off in a Wright Flight airplane is a weekly reminder that we are doing the work we set out to do. “

Rock on!

teenagers could find something useful to do? part 2

I saw a headline just briefly as I clicked past the news feed. By the time I got back, the link was gone. But, I went to the laregest search engine and wrote in what I thought the headline said, “High School Students Build A Farmer’s Market In A Food Desert.” Turns out I have a pretty darn good memory, because that exact headline appeared and I read the whole story this time.

The folks in Bertie County, North Carolina are apparently just like the rest of us – “largely obese .” I would not have intended, and do not intend, the pun! Anyhow, it’s an agricultural county, which you would think means that they have access to lots of high quality, farm-fresh produce. Except they don’t. Because Bertie County grows tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and soy that are sent away. So, two teachers,  Emily Pilloton and  Matthew Miller led a class of high school students in designing and building a  farmer’s market . Their program is called Studio H, which the website describes as:

  a different kind of classroom. Studio H is a public high school “design/build” curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, built projects. Over the course of one calendar year, students earn high school and college credit, and are paid a summer wage to build the community project they have spent the year designing and prototyping. We design, build, and transform.

So, in this case, the students combined their design and building skills with the solution to a community problem: no access to fresh grown fruits and vegetables. The idea for the farmer’s market pavilion came from both the students and the local community. “It was something the town wanted,” explains Pilloton. The pavilion is the third project from Studio H students, and their first large-scale project.

And, because the idea came from the students and their community, the teachers noticed that the kids were more dedicated to the project. When asked about plans for next year, Emily Pilloton said that she wants the idea to come from the students, so that they can “find something that they’re going to be passionate about.”

Teenagers who would otherwise be bored all summer, high school and college credits, wages, a farmer’s market and dedication.

Rock on!