TEDxMeritAcademy Speaker Allen Green

Thrilled that we are hosting a TEDx event at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz! Join us on Aug 14, 2017 at 7 pm.  Get your tickets for TEDxMeritAcademy at  Meet Allen Green, one of our speakers!

Allen Green

“Re-Dreaming Democracy - From Plato’s Cave to Folktopia”

Allen invites us to imagine a city of possibilities, called Folktopia - since this vision of brighter futures flows from the minds of folks from all walks of life…including children and elders (rather than a singular author or lone genius). In this imaginary city, we all are called to act as visionaries to champion common causes that elevate us all. In this democratic construction, we radically restructure our social institutions - from schools, to jails, from churches to congress, using new memes to form our next norms. The dynamism of our imaginary city is driven by an economy 
of synergy that springs organically from ethical imagination applied to everyday environments. You’ll see! 

About Allen Green:
Allen Green is a futurist, facilitator and educator whose work taps the power of social imagination to advance green planning with interactive design. By combining group facilitation with multimedia communication, Allen helps draw vision into action for common causes that unite diverse interests. 

With advanced degrees in several fields, Allen has taught collaborative community planning, visionary multicultural leadership, advanced communication and landscape architecture at U.C. Davis, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, U.C. Berkeley Extension, and San Jose State University. In addition, his energetic seminars are known for inspiring involvement in civic life by people of all ages. 

His grant funded collaborations span from a music video on the San Andreas Fault to urban greening projects ranging from digital simulations to hands on site works in community gardens, ecosystem restorations, educational environments and business renovations. 

Allen has helped plan, design and organize pioneering partnerships with local leaders, service groups, public agencies, urban youth, volunteers, consultants, contractors, educators, elders and artists in every phase of project development - from fundraising to groundbreaking. 

Wild Blackberries

Living up in the Soquel Hills, we have wild blackberries everywhere.  The only problem with wild blackberries is that it’s almost impossible to get to the blackberries because of their thorns.  A few years ago, I put in stakes and tied ropes between them to give the blackberries something to hang on. 

This year, I wrapped each branch around the ropes and trimmed them back so the stronger, fruit-bearing vines would grow.  Last week I picked our first batch of wild blackberries, and it was easy to pick.  I love blackberries in my granola and on my desserts! It’s so rewarding to harvest your own fruit.

Should We "Ban the Box" For College Applications?

Students applying to colleges know that they have to answer lots of questions on applications so the colleges can size you up to see if you fit the profile they’re looking for in their incoming class of freshmen or transfer students.  Questions focus on academic records, parent education and employment, school and extracurricular activities, and legacies.  At the end of most college applications, students are required to check 2 boxes that inquire about suspensions/expulsions and criminal records.  If they check either of the boxes, students are required to write a short essay explaining the circumstances.  Louisiana recently barred public colleges from asking about and making admissions decisions based on a student’s criminal past.

There is a growing movement supporting this ban because many students who have criminal records are not dangerous to others (petty theft) and were minors at the time of the incident.  By making it difficult for these students to become productive members of society with a college degree, we may be forcing these young people into criminal activity as adults.

Students who check the box about a criminal past are often discriminated in the competitive application process.  As a result, many students simply don’t apply to colleges and leave higher education out of their reach for future careers. 

On the flipside, should colleges have the right to know about a prospective student’s criminal history?  Let’s say the student was involved in violent behavior – or convicted of rape or other heinous activities.  Withholding a student’s record of violence, drug abuse, or other activities might prove to be a mistake when colleges build incoming classes.

This is a sensitive issue.  One on hand, teens make mistakes and should be given the opportunity to right their wrongs.  On the other hand, colleges have the right to know about their students’ past activities (academic, extracurricular, and criminal) so they can make appropriate decisions. 

Public colleges already give students the opportunity to explain the criminal record, but it appears that college admissions officers aren’t sympathetic to these types of lessons learned.  One of my female clients was sexually assaulted by a teen boy.  She punched him when he harassed her in school, and then she tried to scare him with her car as she drove past him in the school parking lot.  She was suspended but the boy walked away with no record. Granted, this was not acceptable behavior but she was denied admission from several public colleges.

What are your thoughts about “banning the box”?


Eat a Peach, From My Garden!

Five years after we planted 17 new fruit trees, we finally got a bumper crop of peaches.  We harvested our first batch recently.  There’s nothing as wonderful as biting into a perfectly ripened peach that you just picked off your tree!  They’re beautiful, juicy, and sweet! 

100% organic with no pesticides!  Surprisingly, the bugs and birds didn’t get to them before we did this year. 

Come on over for some fresh peaches and peach pies!

Dirty Dozen Fruits and Veggies

Some fruits and veggies require more pesticides that others, and the Environmental Working Group just released the list of the fruits and veggies that have the most pesticide residue.  For these, it’s best to buy organic or grow them yourselves.  But if you can’t afford organic produce or don’t have time to garden, you can wash them with veggie soaps or select other veggies and fruit that you can peel. 

Bottom line: don’t skip the veggies and fruit!  Most people don’t get enough in their diets and this message is not intended to scare you into eating less fruits and vegetables!

The Dirty Dozen 

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Peaches
6. Pears
7. Cherries
8. Grapes
9. Celery
10. Tomatoes
11. Sweet bell pepper
12. Potatoes

Buy these organic – if you can.  Always wash your produce before eating.  Eat lots of healthy and fresh vegetables and fruit.


Changing It Up; Bright Colors!

I’m a simple person.  I don’t have fancy furniture; I build functional pieces that have specific purposes. And, I keep my furniture because they have that function and sentimental value.  I built my bed 37 years ago when I couldn’t afford a bedroom set.  It is one piece of furniture that has 14 drawers, 8 cubbies, 3 storage spaces (for skis and equipment) and a huge space for luggage and quilts. I even need a step stool to get into it because it’s over 3-feet high!  Back in the 70’s, it even held a waterbed.  Yup! A waterbed…

After 20 years with the same upholstery, I changed it up with an expressionist twist of bright color strokes. I searched for this in every fabric and upholstery store in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz for months. I love the way it brightens the room and it makes me happy when I wake up in the morning.   Now I think I’m set for another 20 years!

Our Food Crops Are Doused With Round-Up Just Before Harvest!

I’ve been getting angrier and angrier at Monsanto and farmers for using Round-up – a known carcinogen – on the crops we eat.  But I just found out that farmers spray crops with weed killer just before they harvest.  That means that the chemicals are fresh and they lace the vegetables we serve our families.  Yup. 

They obviously don’t need to do this to get rid of weeds because they spray 2 weeks before harvest.  The reason for adding pesticides that late in the growing season is simply to speed up the drying process. This is prevalent in the Midwest and Canada where they have more wet weather than the south and west.

Are you fuming yet?

If not, you should be.  Once again, Monsanto and farmers consider profits before the health and the well being of their customers.

What can we do about it?  Buy ORGANIC and buy from local growers you trust.  Or, grow your own.  The best way to change self-serving practices of large corporations is to hurt them where it counts: their sales.  If we don’t buy their products because they’re using Round-up on them, they’ll stop using it!


The secret behind Finland’s successful schools

Secret behind Finnish schools' successRather than teach individual and isolated subjects like math, language, science, and history, Finnish schools focus on real-world issues – like climate change – and then dissect it from academic perspectives.  Sure, we’ve had our share of theme-based classrooms with holistic approaches to education in the past.  But the difference here is that the Finnish schools also teach the core foundation classes like mathematics, science, and language in regular class settings and the topic-based courses to stimulate group problem-solving discussions.  Their primary school system was ranked #1 in the world in 2016; we were ranked #39.  Hmm.

Read this article "Finland's new, weird school 'courses' say a lot about how we teach our kids" by James Gaines.  What are your thoughts?

Good news for those who DIDN'T get into a UC!

Good News! You can apply to 3 UCs and start in Jan 2018!The University of California just announced that several of their campuses will accept undergraduate admission applications for students who would like to start in winter or spring 2018.  This is good news for those who applied and didn’t get in.  By completing the UC application by July 31st, 2017, you could start at a UC as soon as Jan 2018.

Here are the campuses that are accepting applications between July 1-31, 2017:

UC Merced: Accepting applications for first-time freshmen and sophomore, junior, and senior transfer students for spring semester (starts Jan 2018).

UC Riverside: Accepting applications for sophomore, junior, and senior transfer students for winter quarter (starts Jan 2018).

UC Santa Cruz: Accepting applications for junior transfers for winter quarter (starts Jan 2018).

This is a great time to apply to these UCs because the applicant pool will be considerably smaller.  Good luck!