Showing posts from November, 2013

Urban Post-Disaster Interim Housing

I was in Brooklyn a few weeks back, which also happened to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. As I walked from my hotel to DUMBO, I engaged with a construction site infographic located at the corner of Red Cross Place and Cadman Plaza East, just North of Whitman Park.

The site is a parking lot that measures about 40' x 100'. The construction fence was "wrapped" in that heavy-duty fence wrap that had large-scale texts and graphics printed on it.

Content of the texts and graphics described the reason and process for building emergency Post-Disaster Interim Housing, a prototype of which was being built behind the fence.

"Fantastic!" I thought. The genius being not only the project itself but the communications around it.

Through the Prototype Program, the City is creating a multi-story, multi-family interim housing solution that will work in urban areas all across the country. Interim housing is post-disaster housing. It's used af…

Raise Up MA - Update!

For the past two months I've been part of the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition working to gather signatures across Massachusetts for a ballot initiative that would see two questions added to the statewide ballot next November (see previous Posts: Raise Up Massachusetts; PDM). These two important initiatives would index the minimum wage and require employers to provide earned sick time to their employees.

The coalition has been successful! We succeeded in our signature drive - - gathering more than a quarter-million signatures, far surpassing our most ambitious targets. And, PDM has substantially exceeded its own ambitious goals. I was one of many familiar faces at the Farmer's Market each Tuesday from mid-September through the end of October and at several Town events. I also made a personal commitment to knock doors in my precinct - pleased to say that goal has also been achieved!

The impact of Raise Up's statewide campaign has led the state Senate's leadership to ad…

Will Congress Expand Early Education?

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a new partnership with states that would provide universal, high-quality, full-day preschool for 4-year olds from low- and moderate-income families. Last week, Secretary Arne Duncan joined members of Congress, business and military leaders, law enforcement officials, educators, and parents to voice support for a landmark early learning bill.

Introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), the Strong Start for America's Children Act would improve and expand high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age five.

If signed into law, the new bill will accelerate the progress that states already are making to implement high-quality preschool programs and ensure that these programs are accessible to children who need them the most.

Early nurturing, nutrition, and stimulation increase a child's ability to learn and thrive over a lifetime. Read the Bill Summary of t…

Media Literacy Education

Advocates in support of the Media Literacy Bill (S.213) were in good company in Room A-1 of the State House on the morning of October 31st. Below is the testimony of Christina Brown on behalf of the Massachusetts PTA, followed by my testimony on behalf of the MASCLegislative Committee.
My name is Christina Brown; I am a parent, educator, and a proud member of the Massachusetts Parent TeacherAssociation, an affiliate of National PTA, the oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association in the country, here to speak on behalf of the needs of families, parents, and children. 
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on the critical issue facing children in the 21st Century, media literacy. Right now there are children all over the Commonwealth who have in their hands, in their lockers, and in their backpacks devices that connect them to the greatest collection of marketing, images, information, videos, social media, and personal data collection tools in the history …

Public Hearing on Media Literacy Bill

I spent the better part of Halloween morning at the Massachusetts State House, specifically in Hearing Room A-1, for a Public Hearing convened by the Joint Committee on Education. The hearing was dedicated to proposed bills on curriculum in K-12 public schools, that included teaching of genocide, Civics education, and more. It was standing room only. Seats were filled and walls lined with staff, press, teachers, students, and advocates in attendance to hear testimony in support of a range of bills that would impact K-12 curriculum in public schools. I was there to testify in support of the Media Literacy Bill (S.213/H.472) on behalf of the MASC Legislative Committee.

Bill S.213 is unique in that it is not written as a mandate for teachers or districts to teach a particular subject. Rather, Media Literacy is a methodology, a pedagogy, a way of teaching that incorporates strategies for critical analysis in a way that is relevant and engaging to kids. Teachers recognize the need for med…

Literacy Today = Media Literacy

Lexington's community forum about the positive and negative impact of media on societal behavior and the development of children got me thinking about our current media landscape and what individuals, families, and communities can do to improve positive outcomes. The forum was held on October 10th at Lexington High School and was co-sponsored by the School Committee, League of Women Voters, and numerous Town and School Department groups, and individuals.

The impact of media on children is always a topic of concern and today's media landscape has dramatically changed over the last decade; all of us are now living in a world of 24/7 media saturation. One startling finding of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey (2010) showed that young people are devoting more than 7.5 hours each day with entertainment media - an increase of 1 hour and 17 minutes since 2004. The survey also found that:
"...because they spend so much of that time 'media multi-tasking' (using more than o…