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July 24, 2020

Summarizing a mountain’s worth of stories, current events,
creative ideas and stuff that makes us lol


my toddler, yelling from the other room while I get her a snack:
“I am LONELY and I want a BAGEL”
--Emery Lord, @emerylord

weekly survival tip

Michelle Obama is launching a podcast. Enough said. First episode drops July 29th.

trail talk

Just as the debate about reopening schools kicks into high gear, there have been some scary reports coming out about infection rates in children. But, as always, it’s important to look at the numbers closely and put them in context. That’s just what Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown University, has done in a recent blog post . After digging into the data a bit more, she explains that children, especially younger ones (elementary school age and below), do not get sick with covid-19 as often as adults, they generally do not get as sick as older people and they do not seem to transmit the virus as much, either. Her bottom line? “Deep breath. News is scary. More information is good; it helps us make better choices. But we always need context.”

If you want more on her thoughts about returning to school, here’s another post from earlier in the month and one from yesterday with a bunch of resources for school administrators, teachers, parents and others. And since Oster is at Brown, which is in Providence, Rhode Island, it might then also be worthwhile to read up on that state’s governor, too, because she's aiming to open schools at the end of August. According to this opinion writer , she’s shown remarkably effective leadership throughout this global health crisis.

Finally, if you’ve also been wondering what’s going on in Portland, Oregon, we’ve got a few pieces that should help provide some clarity. Here’s a summary from WNYC about the chaos that’s engulfed the city. And here’s a story about the “wall of moms,” the growing group of mothers showing up at the city’s nightly Black Lives Matters protests to protect the activists from federal officers who have descended there.

trail matters

As we continue to confront our nation’s long history of racial injustices, the reckoning has come to some of this country’s largest and most venerable environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club. This piece from the Washington Post explores how the group is grappling with the racist and white supremacist beliefs of its founder, John Muir. Confronting the troubling legacy of the 128-year-old organization, the nation’s oldest environmental group and among its wealthiest, is long overdue, many say. And the Sierra Club is not alone. Other organizations, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Environmental Defense Fund, are also taking a hard look at their cultures and vowing to change. Whether it’s enough is still a matter of debate especially, some say, if after all of this, funding for smaller, minority-led groups continues to lag as far behind the Sierra Club as it does now.

trail mix

Among the facts we now know about the coronavirus is that it’s far less likely to spread outside. Hoorah for us nature lovers! Also, maybe, hoorah for nature-based schooling and outdoor learning! (OK, yes, we talked about schools already up above, but there’s just so much meat on this topic, bear with us for some more!) Often seen as a sort of fringe, hippie, movement, the idea of teaching children outside, now principally to ward of the spread of covid-19, is gaining traction as fall – and the traditional school year – looms. Wondering what this could look like? Short answer is: a lot of things. Longer answers are here and here – stories about forest schools and outdoor classrooms used in the past. Also here: further proof that fresh air, exploration, and some adventure really do cure, and teach, a whole lot. So, is it time for your nature break yet? We thought so…

yard sale

If there is any way for Sex and the City to be funnier, it’s when the show is rewritten for the covid era …


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