Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

There is a lot happening this week, especially for the organizations I work for — and Moms Clean Air Force. Please sign up for their e-mails, if you have not already done so. You all are the best! :)

The Moms Clean Air Force is running a series of videos promoting clean air. Among the speakers are author Ayelet Waldman, actress Blythe Danner (she is also Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom), Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph.

There is a reason for all this corralling around clean air now. New mercury and air toxics standards are supposed to kick in this week, but some members of the coal power plant industry are fighting them tooth and nail. All that lobbying is to the detriment of our children’s health as mercury is in our air and water and arsenic in our food. If you haven’t done so already, please take action and sign this petition to President Obama at Moms Clean Air Force and MomsRising.

It is the holiday season. If anything, now is the time to count our blessings, but also remember our unemployed brothers and sisters out there looking for work. MomsRising ran a series of blog posts highlighting the need to extend unemployment benefits beyond December 31 of this year. Among the writers were my mother and a dear childhood friend in Florida who has had to visit a food pantry to feed her family. Please read and pass along to encourage your family and friends to support extending unemployment insurance.

In related news, the Occupy movement conducted a series of actions in Washington, D.C. last week. These were my favorite actions: first, this wonderful essay by Linda Evans, a great-grandmother explaining why she was occupying D.C.. I also appreciated this Los Angeles Times story about the protesters occupying one of Newt Gingrich’s fundraisers. (Seriously, I wonder who advised him to hold a fundraiser in the same place and at the same time as the protests?) Finally, I am glad someone stood up to K Street lobbyists — here is coverage of it on CNN. Many thanks to the Service Employees International Union for getting those clips together!

And one last piece of political news: in a rare move, the Obama administration overturned an FDA recommendation to sell the morning after pill — plan B — over the counter for everyone. This is stupid for a variety of reasons as spelled out by the blog RH Reality Check.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


How to Explain Occupy Wall Street to Small Children

OAKLAND, Calif. — I suppose this could apply to any political movement. However, considering that the raids on Occupy Wall Street are happening in this very city where my children’s school is located, a lot of kids here are talking about it with each other and at home with their parents.

The other day, my kids and I spotted a couple helicopters. “I hope everything is okay,” I said out loud. “I bet they are there because of the protests.”

That’s when Ari replied (paraphrased), “Yeah, there are people protesting because one percent of the population was very greedy and did a bad thing in not sharing.”

“That’s right.”

I was surprised and also proud of my son, who at 8 years old was able to grasp the basic concept behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. But I can understand how all this shouting back and forth between the “1%” and “99%” could be confusing for small children.

Most recently, some of the parents at our school were discussing the matter online. One parent was concerned that the children were lumping people into groups of good and bad, which in many ways runs counter to our curriculum’s global philosophy.

Some of the kids don’t know what group they’re in. My own child asked me: “I don’t get it, Mama. Are we the 99% or the 1%?” Play the standard answer through the child’s mind: “You’re the 99%.” Translation: “I’m not bad. My parents aren’t bad. I’m on the right side. It’s somebody else who’s wrong.”

What are the consequences of lumping people into groups in a child’s mind?

I understand the 1%, and I can hold that information and respond to it without feeling my world divided. Can a child do that?

Another parent wrote a story to explain the “99% movement” to his first grader:

The Friends and the Cake (a story about the 99%)
Once upon a time there were 100 friends who had a yummy cake to share. (Graphic of friends and cake here.)

1 of the friends cut a great big slice of the cake all for herself, (again, graphic of a quarter of the cake sliced off)

and told the other 99 friends to share what was left.

When they split the rest of the cake between them, the 99 friends each got a teeny tiny piece. They didn’t think this was very fair. (Graphic of one of the 99 percenters yelling, “No fair!”)

What do you think would be fair?

What do you think the 99 friends should do now?

You can write or draw your ideas on the next page.

I liked the exercise at the end of his story because it allowed his daughter to explore and make up her own mind rather than have her dad do it for her. What do you think? What have you told your children about Occupy Wall Street?


Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

The Occupy Wall Street movement is going global, with protests planned in 951 cities throughout the world today, including London, Rome and Auckland. Will you be attending?

As it turns out, Rick Perry’s son would be right at home at one of these protests, because according to his mommy, he is part of the 99%. LOL and WTF???

And finally, congrats to our tessajp, who gave birth to beautiful Lilah Elizabeth yesterday. Now we’re just waiting for sherishu’s Clara to come join the party :-)

What are you up to this weekend? What’s on your mind today?