Monthly Archives: December 2009

Back to Africa.

Today Kerri and I are heading to the birthplace of humanity. This will be Kerri’s first time landing in Africa, and my third trip back. Although I’m not looking forward to the 25+ hours of travel ahead of us, I am very excited to visit Egypt for the first time, and to see friends in Kenya and Uganda. Of course, our absence means that we probably won’t be posting for the next couple of weeks, but you know what we’d say anyway…

If you don’t. Here it is: GIVE WHATEVER YOU CAN TO THOSE WHO NEED IT.

Your dad doesn’t really need that Snuggie as a holiday gag gift, but there are people on the very edge of survival who do need your help. And they need it right now. This morning I gave $500 to Oxfam, the largest single investment I’ve made in ending international poverty. I’m hoping that some of you will match that, or give even a percentage of that amount. Remember, someone’s life depends on it.

See you in 2010!

Warmly,

Christopher & Kerri

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Action Alert: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

We know that the holidays are a time for thoughtfulness and caring, so today we’d like you to be thoughtful and caring about the future of health in this country. So this post is a call to action for you from our friends at Center for Science in the Public Interest. We wrote to our senators this morning, now it’s your turn. In the season of giving, we’re giving our elected officials our input, and the chance to make our voices heard.

As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate health reform bill, we need your help to urge your Senators to champion the prevention provisions! The current provisions have already been cut by almost 75 percent in an attempt to decrease the overall cost of the bill. We cannot afford to lose the remaining funds dedicated to preventing chronic diseases, which account for 75 percent of our health care costs.

Currently in the Senate health reform bill, the prevention funds would increase over time to about $2 billion a year.

It’s time to let Senators know that prevention is not negotiable! For too long, health care has focused on treating people after they have become sick, instead of keeping them well in the first place. The public health investment fund and national prevention strategy would lower disease rates, improve quality of life, and help reduce health care costs for families, businesses, and the government.

The current prevention measures also include a national menu labeling policy. This policy would result in nutrition information on the menus and menu boards at chain restaurants across the country, bringing this popular policy, which has already passed in 16 local and state legislatures, to all Americans.

Please contact your Senators today and urge them to protect and champion the prevention measures currently included in health reform!

Thank you for your support!

Warmly,

Christopher

P.s. If you haven’t pre-ordered our book…do it today! (See the links to retailers on your right)

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Christopher Speaks Up in New York Times “Room For Debate”

A recent article about food stamps in the New York Times created a flurry of fascinating comments on the New York Times website last week, and to further the discussion, the opinion editors asked six different people to contribute a piece for their “Room For Debate” section. The piece itself was supposed to be limited to 250 words, making it difficult to choose what to write about (we devoted a whole section to food stamps in our book). So I chose to focus mainly on the challenges that people in our area face, and to mildly ignore the word count restriction by about a hundred words. I figured that other writers would say many of the things that I wanted to (which they did), and thus decided to write about something that none of them would: San Diego.

Please take a minute to read all of the entries. It is an honor to have my voice next to political food legend Marion Nestle, and I hope that you’ll enjoy the discussion.

– Christopher

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Cover Art is Here.

We just wanted to share the cover art for the book with you!

Enjoy…and please pre-order with vim and vigor.

– Christopher & Kerri

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Life Labs and the Community Charter School of Cambridge.

Students at Community Charter School of Cambridge show their surprise when learning that Christopher lost 14 pounds during the One Dollar Diet Project. Photo by Katie Rieser.

During our recent trip to Boston, we had the pleasure of visiting the Community Charter School of Cambridge as guest speakers. At the invitation of a friend and colleague, this visit was both a chance for us to speak to students about our projects related to food and economics, and for us to observe a school that is far different from the ones we teach in.

We spoke to three different classes of ninth grade humanities students, and when we were finished, their questions, and overall inquisitive natures, forced us to reflect on how things have been going, and how our experiments continue to shape our daily lives. These students also knew about the power of this type of experimentation and reflection first hand, as they had recently finished projects of their own.

Over the summer, I had the privilege of being a fellow at the Ahimsa Center for Nonviolence at Cal Poly Pomona, and during my time there I spent two weeks learning about the lives of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. As a requirement for the fellowship, participants needed to create two lessons for classroom use that would help our students better understand these men, and about some of the concepts related to their lives.

For those who have studied Gandhi, it is clear that he saw much of his life as an experiment. In fact, his autobiography is titled, “My Experiments with Truth” and so I decided that one of my lessons would ask students to do the same thing. They would have to change one thing about their lives for the period of one month in order to learn more about the subject, the world they live in, and ultimately about themselves. I named the project “Life Lab”. While I played around with the idea, a new friend of mine from the institute liked it so much that he decided that he would do something similar with his students in the fall.

Which is what brought us to CCSC. My colleague, Henry, had his students do a “sacrifice” project in connection with their humanities content. In fact, his students completed their projects before my students even began theirs. Like us, students had to do without something, and blog about their experiences. After we were done speaking, the students reported to us that throughout their projects they found that their grades went up, the number of detentions went down, and for some of them it was their favorite assignment to date.

The fact that the concept of our One Dollar Diet Project could be elevated to a class assignment where students choose their own topic and find meaning through experimenting with their lives, is both a powerful testament to trying on new ways of living, and humbling for us as teachers. If only  more schools like CCSC had teachers like Henry who found engaging and unpredictable ways for students to learn, we might just unleash the genius that resides in each student who would otherwise be counting down the minutes on the clock.

– Christopher

ps. In the future, the LifeLab assignment handouts and description will be posted on our site…so, stay tuned!

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