2016 Copy

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Happy New Year!

I'm looking forward to 2017 and will be posting new ideas and thoughts here and on my Blog -- still named "Up North Clipboard."  I did finally get around to replacing my photo with an even older photo but one that has been modified with a photo editing program called GIMP. Unfortunately there is little that can be done with raw material. Work on the whole look and feel of the website needs attention. I hope viewers will check back from time to time looking for changes. Suggestions are always welcome.

This year will certainly challenge everyone with even slightly progressive persuasions. Even those with deep conservative and especially religious traditions will challenged to fit a new and emerging political framework within a personal puzzle of consciousness. As I try to maintain some open mindedness about the administration of the new president, it is fairly obvious that there are going to be some very dramatic changes in our politics and by extension our economy and social conditions. The legacy of Barack Obama will likely be ripped to shreds by the Republicans in Washington DC, but there is every reason to believe that the Obama's had their hearts in tune with much of what America needs. I do wish they had had less than the huge economic challenge to start and more time to accomplish worthwhile initiatives. The Republican Congress provided debilitating leadership that was far outside the bounds of civil government. Now they will fully own the future.

2016 is Flying Away

This year has been dominated by adjustment to a new environment that is so rich with potential that I have been challenged to adjust my rhythms and find the systems that fit my struggles with new directions. Leaving Herbster behind is still incomplete but the legacy of living there for nearly two decades is definitely getting a smaller amount of my attention. I am emphatically and decidedly looking forward to 2017.  That, amazingly, in spite of the most disturbing political and potential social upheaval anyone can remember.

My early life and times were dominated by the Russian threat and the Cold War that included the heavy potential of nuclear holocaust and a long nuclear winter that would make human life on earth all but impossible. Then with Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall, a brief sigh of relief was followed by the realization that the threat was not just Russia but the masses of people on earth consuming too much energy and too many materials, destruction of biodiversity, and the massive pollution of our air, soil and water. Climate change denial driven by narrow economic interests, flawed dogma about markets, and religions that seem utterly out of touch with reality is enough to keep anyone willing to reflect plenty busy.

The challenge for 2017 will be to find a productive path for those reflections. My strong bias is toward creation and engagement of social organization and institutions. Speaking up and writing out about our human situation cannot be ignored. Nor will it be.

I hope you will be part of my audience . . . and my mirror.

Best wishes and warm personal regards for a wonderful Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year.

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Move To Amend

Move To Amend is the National Campaign to End Corporate Personhood and Demand Real Democracy.

I contributed to Move To Amend shortly after it started. When the SCOTUS ruled in favor of Citizens United I knew that our democracy was going to change and not for the better. Corporate influence on elections and through lobbying Congress and state legislatures had already skewed our laws to fortify profits and markets for corporations. The only realistic way to override the SCOTUS decision is to AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.  Doing so requires organization and that takes money. The specter of a billionaire buying the presidency is alarming to say the least. The barrage of advertising for conservative candidates now on television is so obviously the work of PAC money that the shape of Congress and state legislatures will very likely be a bulwark opposing future reform. Accordingly I intend to resume donations to Move To Amend. 

Moving On ... 

Last Saturday we moved on. We moved from our home in Herbster. The place is rented  and we have less reason to go back than we had  last week, last month and last year -- for over twenty years. Thomas Wolfe said, “you can never go home again.” Perhaps Saturday marked the time when we will never return to Herbster in quite the same way. Our home is now in Minneapolis.

    Home is about the systems that support life. That is ecology. A house is a shelter and one of the essentials for life support. Homeless people need to seek shelter in order to enter a state of unconsciousness or sleep on a daily basis. We saw homelessness in Herbster but now see evidence of the homeless nearly every day. The price of poverty is way too high!

    We are, thanks to a lifetime of work in socially acceptable occupations, not homeless. In fact we have an apartment home that costs a lot of money and those rents will undoubtedly increase. We are located in Minneapolis in the near downtown area and are thrilled with the amenities both in our home and in our new but still very familiar city.

As we continue to grow individually and together we will make and take the rich resources of the Twin Cities for a new physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual ride. Walking, biking and particularly the fabulous public transportation system -- not an automobile -- will physically become a healthy alternative for meeting a necessity of life. Transportation and the Internet will open doors to new relationships with people and institutions never all that easily accessible in Herbster.

    Now with the move, and a pending sale of the Herbster house,  there is going to be more time to reflect on what has passed and what great ideas will be taking us forward. My personal hope is that there will be new opportunities to share ideas with others. I understand that sharing will be greatly advantaged with the use of social media. So far my uses of social media have been limited to FaceBook and LinkedIn. In each my contacts number about 500 with some conspicuous overlap. In addition I still have a rich contact list from the days of writing the weekly blog TGIF.

    A new school year is just around the corner. Our grandkids, Hunter, Sawyer, Wyatt, Kiera & Riley, will all be returning to school this week and next. My son Brent and his wife, Erin, have already returned to their school in Las Vegas and are preparing to see their students again; getting their “Kid Fix” as Brent would put it. They were in Minneapolis recently and we had a great time attending the wedding of my nephew Stuart and Maureen “Mo” . Stuart, with graduate school recently behind him, and Mo are traveling in Europe.

    Life is a trip. I hope my travels will bring me to many new places in many of these United States. Along the way I will carry forward new and, I believe, important ideas about education. My writing has never ceased from the weeks of over ten years of preparing and sending the essays of TGIF -- Taking Great Ideas Forward. My new blog will eventually get a new name, but in the meantime I will continue using TGIF as well as the Up North Clipboard to keep in touch with all of my friends, and contacts.

    The topics I touch on when writing are part of what I am increasingly seeing as a passion for educational reforms that embrace a more systems-based way of seeing education in a framework of ecology and economics. In that sense I will echo the late Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who founded Earth Day and famously said that Economics is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Environment. This means that we must develop economically while finding new ways to support the wholeness of our environment. Natural Capital is the richest resource for living and sustaining our home on Earth. Our planetary imperative is to impress our billions of people with new approaches to education that can take our human species back from the brink of a World AT Risk.

While I will continue writing essays and sending out blogs on a daily or near daily basis, my hope is that you will help me meet new people and visit new places. I will carry messages of hope for New World Learning that embraces an ecological view -- that is to say, a systems view -- of education. I passionately believe that learning is not confined to schools and that our access to rich resources throughout a lifetime will enable humanity to construct a new consciousness that will better serve a World At Risk from poverty, inequality and exploitive pollution of soil, air and water as well as extractive exploitation from earth’s crust.

After all is said and done, I hope to have done more than just talk about educational reforms. Communities of geography and communities of interest are inclusive if not integrated. Our futures are bound to integral messages that propel action-learning through strategic doing. My hope is to promote dialogue that is a way of knowing through building new relationships. Education Ecology is all about building relationships. I am moving on and looking forward to constructing and connecting rich new relationships. Let’s Keep In Touch!


Keeping up with new content is a task that takes dedication and concentration. There is plenty to report on and blog about with fresh ideas that can be trotted out in new clothes. Wearing these new duds however takes creative effort to get the right match of my color preferences and style as well as a good fit. Now, that painful but unmixed metaphor aside, here is something relatively recent for readers to consider.

I have for longer than memory serves, been interested in the connections between our emotions and thinking. The strength of certain emotions on memory has been evident but neuroscience has been providing evidence that the brain structure or structures involved include the amygdala. Potential implications for education are huge.

Now it has come to my attention that these implications have been the focus of work at several locations including Boston and Los Angeles. The East-West key link is Mary Helen Immodino-Yang who has recently (2013) produced a book that everyone involved with education should take time to read. Emotions, Learning and the Brain; Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience begins a dialogue or conversation about emotions and learning that can no longer be ignored. Immordino-Yang connects the coasts with an Ed.D. at Harvard with Kurt Fischer and a faculty position at the Rossier School of Education at USC where she collaborates with neuroscientists Antonio and Hanna Damasio.

Taking Great Ideas Forward

For over ten years I enjoyed many followers of a weekly newsletter/blog that was sent out by email every Friday morning. From the first effort I used TGIF. These weekly essays focused on economic development, educational reform, and environmental values. As a consultant in northwestern Wisconsin, I kept in touch with much of what was happening regionally and took considerable pride in being able to help individuals and organizations make the connections that advanced their visions and missions. Much of the effort involved nonprofit organizations including schools, colleges, economic development agencies, local governments and environmental efforts. Scientific principles of Ecology and the Biological Sciences  guided my efforts to make a difference. For several years I took a notable measure of pride saying that I may have been the only economic developer who was also a member of the Sierra Club. Yet relationships such as that emerged from my longstanding belief that science and innovation could support commerce that carried a small footprint and advanced environmental values. Business success and strong environmental values did not need to be in conflict. The messages of the TGIF essays frequently spoke to these values and the people who I admired as enablers. 

After abandoning my weekly newsletter and essays, TGIF -- Taking Great Ideas Forward, in late 2014, I intended to replace TGIF with a new blog called Up North Clipboard. That just didn't pan out. I have now moved on and am no longer attached so closely to NW Wisconsin. I have been enjoying life since December 2015 in my "Urban Cabin" in Minneapolis. But concerns for economics, education and the environment are still very close to my heart and mind.

Education Ecology

Beginning in January, I set a pact with myself to pursue the writing of my thoughts about education. That has gone well and I am now very close to completing a first draft (brain dump) about Education Ecology, a book which tentatively carries the subtitle "Why Teaching, Testing, Textbooks and Technology are Not Enough.

I am now ready to begin vetting the ideas that are emerging as I write about Education Ecology. For this vetting I am inviting you to participate by commenting on sentences, paragraphs and chapters. These will be first published as blogs in Up North Clipboard. Comments on these blogs are warmly encouraged. Comments will be moderated. This means that before comments go live, I will look at the comments and make judgements about whether the comments add to my thinking in a constructive way. I will also welcome direct communications via EMAIL.

My Working Outline. I will append and edit this outline and you will be able to track developments by consulting this outline from time to time. When additions are made to the Up North Clipboard as blog entries, a notation will be made to the outline in the form a date with a hyperlink to the blog site.

My Reading for this Project. At this point the bibliography includes only book titles and authors. This list will provide links to new pages in which I will provide annotation about the content of the books as well as other entries. My hope is that readers will use these annotations and find a link to Amazon for purchase of the books. (FULL DISCLOSURE -- I am an Amazon affiliate and will receive compensation from Amazon when you purchase one or more of these books.)

Biology dictates reality ... At the center of our concept of Education Ecology is the critical role of understanding our biology and applying biological principles in thinking about educational practices as we trip and dance our way through life. Understanding our life processes and how these processes are managed by our brain, mind and consciousness is a matter of great importance to individuals, their social cohort, and the social institutions that attempt through power or persuasion to shape a human presence on earth.

Habits of Mind

The ability to memorize is, to some extent, a habit and a valuable one to cultivate. How many children are actually taught how to memorize something? For example, a very, very long time ago I was told by Sunday School teachers to memorize verses from the Bible, particularly the New Testament. But I don't recall anyone, teacher, or parent, coaching me as to how best to actually memorize those verses or anything else. (READ MORE)

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