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After meeting at the park for some fun on the playground, our group traveled across the street to the Arizona Historical Society Museum (http://www.arizonahistoricalsociety.org/) for a tour. We checked out exhibits on population growth and its effects on the environment and animals. We also enjoyed the outdoor Greenline Exhibit about water conservation in the desert. Ten year old Sammi responded to one exhibit about Japanese-American interment camps in Arizona during WWII. She was outraged at the injustice, as she associates Japanese culture with beauty, good food, and origami--many thanks to R&S cultural events in 2005 (see 8/05)! We talked on the way home about hate crimes and discrimination, the fact that these atrocities still occur in our society, and how NonViolent Communication is one approach to dealing with intolerance.
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After six year old Alex's brother was hospitalized earlier in the year, he decided he wanted to do a project to help the children at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Together, he and his mother thought of a wonderfully fun project to help. Our group had a tour of the Stuffington Bear Factory in Phoenix, where each child helped make a special bear to donate to the children at the hospital. Our tour of the factory taught us not only how the stuffed animals are made, but how the Teddy Bear got its name from President Theodore Roosevelt. All together, our group donated 17 bears with birth certificates, along with coloring sheets, books and toys to the Phoenix Children's Hospital. A family visiting the United States from Japan also contributed 1,000 origami cranes, a common gift in Japan to wish well someone who is sick. This event received coverage in two newspaper articles in the Arizona Republic as well as a brief TV news segment on ABC 15.
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Six families traveled to Roosevelt, Arizona, to visit the Reevis Mountain School of Self Reliance (http://www.reevismountain.org/). We enjoyed fresh fruits and nuts right off the trees in an orchard of some 70 fruit and nut trees, petted turkeys, helped collect eggs and learned about organic gardening and solar power in this sanctuary from the hectic pace of the modern world. We gathered herbs and sampled cattails. Our families shared a delicious dinner of farm grown greens, freshly baked bread and other delicacies, along with herbal teas made from the herbs grown there. After dinner we made arts and crafts with Indian Clay gathered from nearby. The trip was a wonderful opportunity for children and parents alike to reconnect with nature, earth and spirit.
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(http://walk.jdrf.org/) A PA R&S family team, "Preston Prescription for a Cure," joined an estimated 23,400 walkers with 500 dogs at this event that raised nearly 1.9 million dollars for diabetes research. Along the three mile walk, we passed a crowd including new reporters gathered around a man carrying a small monkey in a diaper and on a leash. Our children expressed concern that it was wrong for this creature to have been taken from the wild, opening a discussion among our parents and children about primates in captivity.
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Together with the Phoenix Permaculture Guild (http://www.permaculture.net/phxguild/), the Phoenix Slow Food Group (http://www.slowfoodphoenix.org/index.shtml, and the Urban Farm (www.urbanfarm.org), we hosted a nonprofit educational table at the Ahwatukee Farmers Market during the annual mesquite bean milling. People had the opportunity to bring mesquite beans collected during the summer months to be ground into flour by volunteers from the Phoenix Permaculture Guild. Our group baked mesquite cookies in a solar cooker and gave them away while speaking with shoppers about Roots & Shoots and about solar cooking. We gave out the recipes on quarter sized sheets of paper that included the www.rootsandshoots.org website. A newspaper article the day before this event helped publicize our presence there. http://www.azcentral.com/community/ahwatukee/articles/1104ar-market1104Z14.html
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We learned about permaculture from Farmer Greg while sampling organic fruits, veggies and herbs from his yard, otherwise known as the Urban Farm (www.urbanfarm.org). YUM! Greg showed us his new outdoor kitchen and plans for an outdoor shower, both designed to facilitate the flow of gray water into the gardens. Animals are a vital part of growing food at the Urban Farm also. Earthworms create rich compost while reducing the amount of waste that would otherwise go to the landfill. Chickens provide eggs as well as fertilizer for the gardens. Our group ordered three fruit trees to plant in January at Save the Family, Child Crisis Center, and Paz de Cristo.
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Together with the Jumping Chollas Roots & Shoots group from Fountain Hills, we planted cacti around the newly completed trailhead at Lost Dog Wash Trail (http://www.arizonahikingtrails.com/hikingpages/lostdogwash.html) in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (http://www.ci.scottsdale.az.us/preserve/). It was fun to appreciate how much our children and our group have grown since we last did a re-vegetation project in the Preserve on 3/18/05!
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This day we had a presentation about Fair Trade by WHEAT (http://www.hungerhurts.org/), the World Hunger Advocacy, Education, and Training organization. We learned who makes Fair Trade items and how it helps them to be a part of fair trade with some hands on activities. We split into groups, and each learned about a Fair Trade item, then presented back to everyone else by showing on a world map where the item was made, of what materials it was made, and how the craftspeople benefited from Fair Trade. We played with Fair Trade toys and made art work in the style of Fair Trade artwork. Finally, we had the opportunity to shop. Children and parents together generously spent $254 on Fair Trade items. Every $1500 that WHEAT collects can support a family of four for a full year.
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REI sponsored this event as part of an ongoing revegetation project at Papago Park in Phoenix. It was a cold morning, but we warmed up quickly digging holes for bushes, trees, and cacti, and planting them in the ground with a mixture of soil and manure, then fetching buckets of water for them. The park rangers were awesome to work with, and REI fed us lunch and gave us volunteer shirts. Seven year old Mikal said before the event: "What I really like about revegetation projects is not only that we get to help the environment, but it's DANGEROUS. We get to use tools, like picks, and work with cactus."
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Although President Franklin Roosevelt declared Pearl Harbor Day a day "that will live in infamy," we celebrated the common wish for peace of children in the US and Japan with a tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden. Before the tour, we read some history of this day in history, as well as a heartwarming news story entitled, "Japanese attackers, U.S. survivors of Pearl Harbor attack reconcile in Hawaii." The Garden is the product and shared cultural vision of the Sister Cities of Phoenix and Himeji, Japan. The children/s favorite part was looking at the Koi fish that gathered when we were on a bridge. We also shared the 1,000 origami cranes, photos and letters from the R&S group in Kanagawa, Japan, where we sent 1,000 cranes for R&S International Day of Peace in September (see 9/14/06).

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