Thursday, May 21, 2009

Susan Linn's Visit - Recap

I so appreciate the community's support of the Friends School's first Parenting for Peace event. We had a great response - 20 teachers signed up for our workshop "Using Puppets in the Classroom" and we had an additional 10 on our waiting list. We are estimating 80 - 100 people attended the public lecture.

In the workshop, Susan described the utility for ADULTS in having a childlike / child-identified puppet as a parenting/teaching partner. Children's interactions with the puppet may be less inhibited than with us as adults, and the puppet can say and do things, or experience situations, that open up great conversations for adults and children.

She encouraged us to make, buy, and use very simple and gender ambigious puppets to reduce the scripting that kids will bring to the interaction. Susan suggested that we might get special and larger puppets that become true characters in our lives and classrooms. Puppets that kids use can be really simple- mittens with button eyes, or gloves with magic marker faces, or sock puppets (a google search reveals tons of web sites with easy instructions). In the workshop, we also talked about how older kids can make puppets and begin a journey of self-expression through what they choose to create.

In the larger forum, Linn argued that parents and teachers are engaging children who are living in a toxic culture. She largely blames the increasing corporatization and heightened consumerism of our post-deregulation media. Kids are bombarded with the message that buying things will bring them happiness, and if they're not made happy by their things they probably need more, newer, or different things. Of course, happiness research reveals the opposite -- after we have our general needs met (and of course, these are defined by our culture), more things do not make us happier. Helping kids deconstruct and resist these messages is tough, and made harder by the fact that we all are effected and busy and stressed.

She shared some resources and ideas for creating social change (check out the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood) -- clearly, more are needed!

Books she suggested:

The Parents We Mean to Be
by Weissbourd

Free Range Kids by Skenazy (her blog is here)

Books by Nancy Carlson-Paige and Diane Levin about helping kids "play through" media violence and other trauma that they experience.

Maine State Book Award

The most recent Maine State Book Award List is ready :

It is a reading program for grades 4-8. This year's annotated list, with suggested grade levels, can be found on the Windham Library Page. Every book on the list was read and recommended by at least 4 professional children librarians or teachers from Maine. Many of the books are available at public libraries.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boys to Men

Raising Healthy Kids
Strategies for the Whole Community
With Dr. Dennis Embry

FREE Parent Night
Thursday, May 21
7:00-8:30 pm
South Portland High School Auditorium

Presenter Dr. Dennis Embry will outline how many of our current policies and practices can be harmful to youth, and how we can use just four simple, scientifically proven strategies to better the futures of all children.

Dr. Embry is a nationally acclaimed child psychologist whose work has taken him from Sesame Street to the Secretary of Defense with stops in between. He is a National Research Advisory Council Senior Fellow and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Intervention and the National Center on Early Adolescence, an author of evidence-based prevention programs, and an advocate raising healthy kids using community-wide support.

Introductory remarks by Maine's former Attorney General Steve Rowe.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Embry will present the keynote address at the annual
Boys to Men conference at USM.

For more info, check out the e-mail from Real Life Real Talk

Thursday, May 14, 2009

FW: May 30: Organizing meeting for an Economic Human Rights Campaign for Maine

A message from the Maine Association of Interdependent Neighborhoods:  
Working toward an
Economic Human Rights Campaign in Maine
For more information about this work, go to: 

In April, M.A.I.N. was involved with events in Maine at which Cheri Honkala, national coordinator for the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, spoke.
Economic Human Rights include the RIGHT to: quality health care; a job or income, living wages, equal pay, and the ability to join a union; affordable housing; adequate and nutritional food; free education, and a decent standard of living.
As a result of Cheri's visit, there are many in Maine who are hoping to have an active Economic Human Rights campaign in Maine that will work toward those rights as well as having a connection to national efforts.
We want you to join with us to make noise, make a difference, and make change.
You invited to help in several ways:
(1) Comment on the "Economic Bill of Rights for Maine" that M.A.I.N. created in 1999. (go to,
(2) Attend a meeting on May 30, to plan strategies for making economic human rights a goal and reality for every resident in Maine.  It will be held at the office of Maine Equal Justice, 126 Sewall St., Augusta (for directions, go to:
Following the meeting at 12 noon, there will be a large "Feet on the Street" rally for "National Health Care For Everyone--For Life" across the street at the State Capitol Building in Augusta.
(3) If you can't attend the May 30 meeting but have ideas or want to be active on some part of an economic human rights campaign, contact Larry Dansinger.
(4) Attend the national conference on abolishing poverty on July 16-19 in Louisville, Kentucky that the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and the Social Welfare Action Alliance are sponsoring. Look for more information on the web site.
For more information about this campaign or the May 30th meeting,
contact: Larry Dansinger, 161 Stovepipe Alley, Monroe, ME 04951, (207) 525-7776, 

To learn about the Poor People's Economic Human Rights campaign, go to:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Susan Linn in Falmouth May 12th!

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers

CCFC's Director, psychologist Susan Linn, will be giving a special lecture at the Friends School of Portland this Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00 PM.

Children's creative play is crucial to their growth and development. Play is the foundation of learning, and creativity and is essential to self-reflection and the capacity to make life meaningful. Play comes naturally to children, yet in the 21st century United States its very existence is threatened by an unprecedented convergence of sophisticated screen technology and rampant commercialism. Psychologist Susan Linn discusses the inseparable links between play, creativity and health, identifies the modern threats to make believe, and lays out strategies for nurturing play in a culture that dictates against it.

This event is open to the public.

When: Tuesday, May 12, 7:00PM

Where: Friends School of Portland, 1 Mackworth Island, Falmouth, ME

For more information please click here or contact

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
A Program of the Judge Baker Children's Center
53 Parker Hill Ave
Boston, MA 02120

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

FW: Women's Leadership Action Day at the State House

Join the

Women's Leadership Action Coalition

Wednesday, May 13, 2009,
8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Hall of Flags
Maine State House, Augusta
+  Connect with other women from around the state.
+  Learn how the legislative session will affect women.
+  Develop your advocacy skills.  
+  Use your voice to influence the political process.
AGENDA for the Day

8:30 - 9:00   Registration, Coffee, Advocacy Displays
Registration is in the Hall of Flags, located on the 2nd Floor of the State House.  Get some coffee and a muffin, view the organizational displays, connect with other women.
9:00 - 9:15  Welcome by Legislative Women Leaders, Overview of the               Day-Welcome Center, 1st Floor of the State House
9:15 - 10:15  Current Legislative and Budget Issues
Overview of current Women's Economic Security Agenda issues before the Legislature and the impact of proposed budget cuts on women and families
10:15 -11:30  How You Can Influence Policy Decisions
Hands-on training on how you can use your voice to influence the political process and public opinion
         1)       Introduction to Advocacy/Citizen Lobbying-Welcome Center   
         2)      Mock Public Hearing-Room 105, Cross Office Building lower level
         3)      Tour State House-meet in Hall of Flags
11:30 - Noon  Wrap Up of Morning and Next Steps-Developing Your
 Advocacy Plan and Steps
12:00 - 1:00  Lunch-Bring your own Brown Bag or eat in the State House        Cafeteria (Arrange ahead of time to meet with your Legislator)
1:00 - 2:00   Optional Action Activities
·        Attend a public hearing or work session
·        Connect with/shadow your Legislator
·        Tour the State House/Participate in Scavenger Hunt
Complete Evaluation Form

Maine Equal Justice is a member of the Women's Leadership Action Coalition.
For more information, contact:  
Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community
at 1-800-442-2092.
To register,e-mail:
OR register online at

Fwd: Join us at Working with Girls on Wednesday, May 20th in Portland, ME

You're invited to…
Working with Girls: A Training in Facilitation and Group Dynamics
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

Facilitating group work with girls can be as challenging as it is rewarding.  While building the group into a safe space, nurturing girls' voices, and helping them speak to their experiences takes effort and time – and it can be difficult and messy we also know that providing girls with the space and supports they need to connect, challenge and talk about their world is essential to girls' healthy development.
That's why we're offering a special training on Wednesday, May 20th from 9a-4p in Portland, Maine.  The training, Working with Girls: A Training in Facilitation and Group Dynamics, is an opportunity for you to learn concrete strategies for:
¨       Appreciating girls' differences and standing with girls
¨       Becoming self-aware as a facilitator and group member
¨       Observing, listening and tracking a group's voice and growth
¨       Practicing the 3 levels of listening
¨       Recognizing & handling resistance
Participants will also have the opportunity to practice facilitation techniques and look at group case studies.
Our trainer is Lael Couper Jepson, the owner and principal of SheChanges, a coaching and consulting firm based in Portland,Maine.  She is a professionally educated and seasoned practitioner of organization development as well as a certified coach.
This workshop is designed for teachers, guidance counselors, school administrators, health service and social service providers, parents, and anyone else who wants to learn more effective approaches to bringing out the best in girls!

Join us for this groundbreaking training and find out how we can all create a better world for girls.

Find out more about Working with Girls

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

Registration fee is $95  if received by May 13th; $110 afterward. A 15% discount is available for groups of 3 or more people from the same agency who register together. For more information on the training please visit our website (, contact Hardy Girls Healthy Women (207) 861-8131 or
We hope to see you on May 20th.
Megan Williams, Executive Director
Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Inc.
PO Box 821 / 14 Common Street
Waterville, ME 04903-0821
207/861.8131 (tel) / 207/615.0514 (fax)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Re: Parenting for Peace: Free Public Lecture - MAY 12 -- Please Forward!

This week's NYT magazine featured an article by Peggy Orenstein about the importance of free play for young children.  []   We are so pleased to offer an opportunity for child care providers and  parents and teachers and community members to discuss this idea, with a national expert.   

Susan Linn is the director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and recently wrote : The Case for Make Believe which uses developmental psychology and current research on media  to help adults think about the role that pretend play has in the lives of young children, the role of adults to engage in that play (or leave it alone), and the role of social forces in scripting, limiting or encouraging make-believe.  

Although Susan, a ventriloquist, takes this work very seriously, she brings with her an audacious friend "Audrey" who adds a much needed dose of humor to the conversation. 

The talk is FREE
May 12th 
Begins at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30)
at the Friends School of Portland ~ Mackworth Island

ASL interpreting will be provided 

Please come and please share this with friends! 

(p.s.  I'm sorry to send repetitive reminders, but please do pass them on!) 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Who Does She Think She Is

I attended the Maine Women's Fund's screening of Who Does She Think She Is on Saturday, with two dear friends, but I wished that the room included everyone close to me. The movie is so powerful and resonates so deeply that I think some of the themes (particularly about how extraordinary and how risky consciousness can be) come up for us as we experience the film. I have that sense of having to sublimate some of my deepest connections with the women who were profiled, because I don't have the time, support or emotional energy to follow the threads where they might take me -- but it is good to have some new threads to pull on, when the time comes.

The film is about mothers who are artists and about artists who are mothers. This provides very rich ground for women across generations, occupations, and family experiences to connect. For some of the women in our audience, the resonance came around their experiences of ambition, sexism, and caregiving. For others, the important part was about how a creative impulse can be life defining and how biting back self-expression is tantamount to self-destruction. And yet, how following one's creative energy can cause a lot of harship, saddness, logistical problems, etc. for people. As one of the artists said, about her own experience: Now my dream is out there, and it isn't safe and I'm not safe.

The statistics about women's representation in the art world were horrifying -- while women compose upwards of 75% of art students, they are barely shown in big galleries or national museum collections. The data on NYT book reviews of women authors, of women screen writers, etc. are equally depressing (links to come to the sidebar when I have more time).

As a political person, I feel passionate that there is a link between creating economic security (economic human rights) and allowing women's creativity to have some space. How do we create our art if we're working two jobs and don't have paid sick leave? But others in the audience were quick to point out that there is a psychological and cultural dimension as well -- we need confidence, we need quiet enough to hear our own inner voice, we need patience, we need access to the histories and experiences of other women and other mothers. And to that end, the film provides an extraordinary jumping off point.

It is my huge hope that the women's fund will find a way to offer a lot of public screenings, since the film is not yet available to the public... but if not, you can sign up for an e-mail when it is released.

Raising Healthy Kids - From Medical Care Development

Dr. Dennis Embry: Raising Healthy Kids

Join us for a (free!) evening presentation by Dr. Embry, a nationally acclaimed child psychologist whose work has taken him from Sesame Street to the Secretary of Defense with stops in between. Dr. Embry will outline how our society’s current policies and practices are harmful to our youth, and how each of us can use just four simple, scientifically proven strategies to better the futures of all children. Anyone who is responsible for the health and well being of children and adolescents can benefit from this presentation including parents, teachers, social workers, guidance councilors, coaches, nurses, law enforcement, policy makers to name a few.

Instructions: Pre-registration is required for those seeking certificates of attendance, as well as those requesting childcare during the event. For all others, pre-registration is strongly recommended, as seats will fill up fast. Registrations will be confirmed by email or phone and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the cutoff date or until the conference is full. For registration questions, please use the contact info on the left hand side.

Driving Directions: From I-95 North and South take exit 45 (RTE 1/ SOUTH PORTLAND) Follow to Rte 1. Turn left onto Rte 1 N at the traffic light, go through 2 traffic lights. At the third light (MEINEKE MUFFLER on RT) Bear Right onto Broadway. Keep in the right lane. At the second traffic light bear Right onto Evans St (Amato's Sub Shop is straight ahead). About ¾ of a mile up the street at the crest of a small hill is the South Portland Community Center on the left, just after that is Nelson Rd. Turn left there and drive toward the football field. Parking is in the lot on the left. The South Portland Auditorium is at the top of the hill to the right.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Labyrinths are used for mindfulness and peacemaking. Labyrinths provide opportunities for reflection and settling oneself. Some teachers suggest using finger labyrinths with children, to help them focus and settle.

On Sunday, May 17th, from 12 - 4 Lifeworks Chiropractics will offer "Labryinth : A Moving Meditation" -- they say:
A labryinth is a winding path used for contemplation and transformation. Join us for this FREE event where you can walk the labyrinth and experience a gentle spinal alignment to release the spine and relax the body."
Of course, we have a beautiful labyrinth on Mackworth Island. Below are some links for ideas for using it, or bringing one to your home garden.

Real School Gardens offers a bunch of resources, including this pdf about garden labryinth rituals

Labyrinths in School is a whole organization / site devoted to this idea.

This article explains how to make finger labyrinths from clay -- a nice way to start summer, perhaps.

(x-posted with Friends School of Portland Parents blog)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Paid Sick Leave, DUH!

Momsrising articulated my fury at our Governor's / President's call for people to stay home when they are sick without creating a paid sick leave law. Schools are planning to close for up to a week if the Swine Flu hits, but what are parents going to do? The intersection of recession and flu calls for public policy response and offering everyone paid sick leave is the very least we can do.

Jody Heymann
writes about what happens in poor families when parents need to work and can not find or afford childcare -- children are left home alone at younger and younger ages, or are left in the care of other children, or are left with elders who might also need care. (Her book, Forgotten Families, is a must read!)

A fact sheet by Heymann

The Chicago Sun Times and US News and World Reports have articles about this particular dilemma

offers easy activism at the national level and the Maine Women's Lobby is working on paid sick days for the state.

In this emergency, however, we might need emergency measures if we really want children and parents to stay home if they are sick, and we don't want to cause a secondary public health crisis by leaving young children home alone.