National Princess Week?

National Parks Week, National Library Week, Earth Day all worth recognizing, but National Princess Week? No way! Just what we need. The last week of April set aside to encourage princess dreams in girls. We laugh when a child says he or she wants to grow up to be a horse, but act like growing up to be a princess is a legitimate future goal.

Have you been to Disney lately? All the little and not so little girls dressed as princesses trying to enjoy a theme park in long dresses, with tiaras, and dress shoes. Not exactly the ideal apparel for Splash Mountain or the Grand Prix Raceway.

I hate to think that anyone falls for this marketing gimmick by Disney and Target and the Julie Andrews Collection. I guess Julie Andrews is a natural spokeswoman for National Princess Week since she provided instruction on princess how to in the Princess Diaries, (a movie I enjoyed) but she seems to have taken this whole princess thing a bit too seriously. Writing numerous princess books, a princess app, and a list of 30 Ways to Celebrate National Princess Week. I wish she’d go back to Mary Poppins or Maria Von Trapp, strong women instead of the helpless princess characters.

Pink, a great color. Princess, a great character. But there’s so much more than pink and princess. Why not a little more balance? We definitely don’t need a week to celebrate princesses.

It may be time to revisit Not Just a Girl. Jaime C. Moore’s photographs remind us there are so many alternatives to the idea of princess for girls.




Celebrate Earth Day:Shake and Fold

Last May I posted a Ted Talk given by Joe Smith, demonstrating how to use fewer paper towels and reduce paper usage. As a three or four towel user, I became a “shake and fold” convert, and have never used more than one paper towel for the past 365 days. I’m proud to say I’ve made a positive change to reduce paper towel waste.


And since this message changed my behavior, I wanted to share on Earth Day…a good day to shake and fold!

Make One Change for Planet Earth

IMG_4662Tomorrow is Earth Day. A day set aside to mark the anniversary of what’s considered the birth of the modern environmental movement which began in 1970 when groups fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife came together as they recognized they shared common values.

In 1970,  Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, those in cities as well as rural areas, labor unions and business interests came together for a common goal which resulted in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act.

So glad Ocala’s finally embraced recycling.

By 1990 Earth Day went global with over 140 countries recognizing the need to address environmental issues and led to significant recycling efforts.

While there are still many who make changes to protect Earth’s resources, unfortunately, many businesses, lobbyists, and politicians now work to dismantle the positive work from the past 44 years.

With the 45th anniversary of Earth Day one year away, it’s a good time to commit to making one change this year for the health of Earth. There are so many options:

  • Increase recycling efforts
  • Carpool
  • Plant a tree
  • ALWAYS use reusable bags at the grocery instead of plastic
  • Stop drinking bottled water
  • Eat less meat
  • Turn up the AC a degree or two this summer and turn down the heat in the winter
  • Buy less of everything


No more bottled water!
No more bottled water!

I know this is a huge waste of resources as well as money, and how can I continue this practice and then complain about the companies pumping water from the aquifer? I still don’t want to drink the water from the tap, but I’m investing in a water purifier instead of buying the bottled stuff.

What will you do?

Make one change for planet Earth!





Go Green

When I was in sixth grade in 1970, we celebrated the first Earth Day.  I remember numerous news stories on TV and in the newspapers about pollution problems in the Jacksonville area. There were pictures of who knows what being discharged from factories in to the St. John’s River. Of course, the paper factories were a major industry in Jacksonville and the odor emanating from them was a constant reminder of the air pollution problem in the city.  At that time plans were being formulated to protect the bald eagle since there was a real danger that our national symbol could become extinct. Looking back, it’s pretty amazing that so much focus was placed on the environment by the government and the media. What a successful campaign!

Jacksonville, FL 1960s
Jacksonville, FL 1960s

Schools were encouraged to spend time studying the issue of protecting the environment. That’s why I remember the news reports. We were to watch the news and cut out articles from the newspaper to share. My teacher, Mrs. Boyle, assigned research papers (an excellent way to get 12 year olds interested in the environment) and my project was on water pollution. But the important thing about that first Earth Day is that it started a conversation about the very real problems people were causing and how we might make changes to reverse the damage.

Many improvements have been made as a result of our nation’s focus on environmental protection. You no longer see the haze surrounding large cities. In the 1960s and 70s smog and other air pollution caused a visible haze especially noticeable when approaching a city. The air no longer has an odor associated with pollution except of course when fires are burning due to drought (or when you’re in Palatka where you can still smell the paper mills). Many rivers and lakes in the U.S. are in much better condition than 40 years ago, but I fear that some of that progress may be lost due to relaxing of some of the protections enacted during the past three or four decades. That’s why it’s more important than ever that each of us do our part to make a difference.

St. John's River algae blooms replace chemical spills in the 1960s and 70s.
St. John’s River algae blooms replace chemical spills of the 1960s and 70s.

I remember your Dad complaining about the crazy woman who would bring all of her mesh bags to Publix because she objected to cutting down trees to make paper bags. And at the same time my Uncle Bill was encouraging everyone he knew to ask the bag boys to double bag their groceries to help the paper industry. We weren’t very environmentally friendly.

While our nation is backsliding on environmental issues, more citizens are taking an active role in the protection of resources and the environment. So 43 years after the first Earth Day I want to remind you to make every day Earth Day and do your part. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan of Earth Day campaigns is the best way to issue these reminders. Do your part: reduce consumption, reuse resources, and then recycle. You can make a difference.




Resuscitating Silver Springs


I’m looking forward to the new state park at Silver Springs. As a child, my family visited Silver Springs on a family vacation to the Sunshine State. In fact, I still have the photo we purchased of my family on the Jungle Cruise (funny how I remembered it as the Glass Bottom Boat). Parents, brother, sister, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins all visiting the park together. I also found a picture of John’s family taken on the Glass Bottom Boat at Silver Springs. Both pictures were taken in the 1960s at a time when the park was famous not only for its crystal clear water and glass bottom boats, but for the television shows and movies filmed on the river.

Over the years we’ve visited and taken our children to the park and even swam in the springs one summer in the 1990s. Yearly passes provided fun days on the river, strolling through the park, and eating ice cream while sitting in rocking chairs overlooking the water, but recent years haven’t been good to the park. Overpriced admission. Short hours. Unpredictable schedule. The result…too few visitors to enable the management company to properly maintain the facility.

Joining the Florida State Park system provides an opportunity to bring back the park as an attraction noted for its natural beauty. Concentrating on hiking and bicycling trails, canoeing and kayaking, and restoring the park as an environmentally friendly facility is something to celebrate. Let’s hope that next year at this time, as we celebrate Earth Day 2014, the state park at Silver Springs is on the way to recovery as a place focused on the real Florida.