Friday, March 18, 2022

the metrics, the threads

Greetings to all. I don't have much of a post left in me this morning, after spending the last week compiling and submitting my school's application for recertification as a Maryland Green School.  It was a pleasure to do this piece of climate action work, and yet twice during the week I faltered.  

Listening as I cycled to school on Monday morning to the ALL WE CAN SAVE essay entitled On Fire by Naomi Klein, I burst into tears wondering what the meager efforts of one public elementary school can do against "a mounting sense of peril," how effective we can be in this time she says has "a new and unfamiliar sense of promise."  I didn't feel promising at all in that moment.

I cried a second time on Thursday morning when I went to submit the 70-page Google Slides application and discovered--fairly enough--that this year the application requires an extra 14-page document:

"This survey is a required element of the 2021-2022 application. The metrics describe numerically the Sustainable Practices included in Objective 2 of the application. Please quantify all of the Sustainable Practices taking place in your school."

There is no way I could have completed this survey in time for the Thursday deadline--I had neither the time nor the data to hand.  Luckily, our application coach, who works for our district's sustainability & recycling office, responded simply to my email entitled "PANIC," 

"Heidi Do Not Panic !!!!  I have the data available and will complete the survey."

I cried a third time* in relief that there was someone whose entire job is to pay attention to the metrics--because no matter how beautifully I write about the peril and the promise, it is the metrics of the wonks, the nerds, the scientists and the mathematicians, the data analysts, that show whether we are making an impact or not.  So, cheers to Jim Stufft and the gift of data he gave us at the 11th hour.

And here we are, humanity at our 11th hour.  There's bound to be some crying, some wailing, some rending of garments.  And then, because we can't do this work alone (which is the whole point of ALL WE CAN SAVE), when we tug on the thread, someone steps in, knits up solutions.  As Adrienne Maree Brown writes in her microessay What Is Emergent Strategy? (and I think it's a haibun),


"Many of us have been socialized to understand that constant growth, violent competition, and critical mass are the ways to create change. But emergence shows us that adaptation and evolution depend more upon critical, deep, and authentic connections, a thread that can be tugged for support and resilience.  The quality of connection between the nodes in the patterns.

Dare I say love.
And we know how to connect--we long for it."

Thanks to Ruth for hosting us today at There Is No Such Thing As a God-Forsaken Town, whose haibun is ringing in my ears.  Onward, my loves. 

*Go write your congresspeople and ask for a permanent return to Standard Time, not DST!


  1. Hi Heidi! Thank you for sharing your recertification journey with us (and thank you for doing it). Have I told you about Dash's internship with the EPA, Environmental Justice section, this semester? It is very data-y.

  2. Heidi You have moved me with your post. You are indeed the true champion for change. Much like the C-19 virus can spread at an exponential growth rate, which of course is bad, so can change for good. You are doing that change for good everyday, working to enlighten the children around you, on how they and the their families can make a difference for our planet. This is where the exponential growth for good starts. Thank you for making a difference everyday Heidi :)

  3. <3

    We all work together. It's all a group project!

  4. I have cried multiple times while reading ALL WE CAN SAVE. I feel like I'm doing even less than a green school, but I have to keep reminding myself that EVERY little bit helps.

  5. The best I've been able to manage - shifting to plant-based diet, composting, growing my meager salad garden -- will never be enough, but it's something. And I couldn't do it alone. I'm grateful for a vegan son's encouragement, for a brother-in-law farmer who will indulge me with seed starters (because I'm unwilling to accept that I can't grow salad in the high sierras), for sisters (biological and others) who TRY - somewhere, somehow in their days to advocate for our earth and who challenge me - when I feel most discouraged- to lean on love.

  6. Oh, Heidi. I hardly know what to write...each emotion you describe in this post is something I've felt and then you end with, "Dare I say love?" Goodness, girl. That's whole ball of wax and a bag of chips. Pass me a tissue. Love.

  7. You've made me both sad and then glad for your work & for someone who took your work to the finish, Heidi. No matter the path, you pushed it through by that last contact. Terrific. I just read & will share next Monday a new book 1st published in Great Britain that you might enjoy, for you & for slightly older students. It's 'Kids Fight Climate Change' by a Martin Dorey, who also published 'Kids Fight Plastic'. I enjoyed it, will give it to one granddaughter who is already making us be on the lookout for palm oil! Thanks for what you're sharing.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!