Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Promised So Here Goes, Mom

"I, Suw Charman-Anderson, will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people do the same."
Suw met her challenge honoring Ada Lovelace's birthday today, and I'm helping take it over the top with my pledge to honor a woman in technology who I admire. She's my Mom, Kathy Krauss. Those who know her admire Kathy for everything but technology, so let me explain (save your eye rolls, siblings!) Mom is a scholar, mostly retired now, who she teaches one perennially sold-out course each spring called World Religions. Today we met for lunch and she asked me how to set up a community space on the Web where she, her students and guests could continue their conversations beyond the weekly class. After figuring out the functions they might require, I agreed to set up a wiki for them. (PBWiki has a new "comments" function that makes any page more blog-like; I think that's the wiki platform I'll use.) I told her to poll her class for the wikiliterate and to put someone in touch with me who could be point person, populating the site and helping students familiarize themselves with its functions.

I kind of bent the rules with this post-- Among the 1,000 women celebrated today, my Mom isn't likely to come in in the top tier of female technology innovators, yet she deserves a shout out for being solidly in the game. I'm impressed that Mom constantly wants to improve her teaching, and sees the value of connecting her students in new, significant ways. I'm impressed that she isn't daunted by the specter of new technology (but you'll notice I did a work around on having HER manage the site.) This is going to be a lot of fun.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Spring

When First Lady Michelle Obama spent her Friday (the first day of spring) turning over soil for a new White House garden, I could imagine the smile lighting up Michael Pollan’s face. Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and point man for eating locally, Pollan has been an outspoken advocate for converting some of that South Lawn to garden beds.

But best of all was the news that fifth-graders from Bancroft Elementary in the District were on hand to help. They’re already green thumbs, thanks to their school gardening program. Their trip to the White House sounded like more than a photo opp. The students will be invited back to help with planting, and again to harvest and cook with fresh produce. Lots of learning opportunities ahead.

The Edible Schoolyard concept has spread far and wide since California chef Alice Waters got things growing at a middle school in Berkeley, Calif. Developing and sustaining a strong outdoor education program, including gardening—that’s takes ongoing effort. In my hometown of Portland, Ore., Lewis Elementary School has engaged the community in developing a multifaceted outdoor learning program that makes use of gardens, greenhouse, rain barrels, and even a covered outdoor classroom. (Hat tip to Principal Tim Lauer.)

Garden season has me thinking about what Pollan said during a lecture stop in Portland earlier this year. Convincing the new president to be an advocate for sustainable agriculture will require a strong push from the people, Pollan said, adding, “He needs to feel the wind at his back.” Maybe he just felt a little breeze from the South Lawn.
Photo by Tim Lauer