Building a Bridge: Garden & Music Connections and Butterfly Wings with Educator, Gardener & Musician Paul Clarke

We are in Earth month, Spring is in the air, music’s in the air and cherry blossoms are putting on a show. The trees and bushes are sprouting their light green buds and we are surrounded by Mother Earth’s beauty. Animals and birds scurry about for food, picking at the ground for insects and seeds. The ecosystems are working in harmony and concurrent to this, Community and school gardens are gearing up to start planting for the season. According to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, research shows school gardens have a positive impact on student learning, health, and nutrition. Gardening helps students become more engaged, as it is an immersive experience which teaches them valuable skills while establishing a greater sense of community. Our guest on this episode is Paul Clarke, a retired Special Ed teacher in NYC for over 25 years, who now works part-time as the Garden Coordinator of the Vito Marcantonio Community Peace Garden, an ongoing project he brought to life originally at P. S. 50, now Central Park East II. Paul is also a life-long song writer, and he calls his genre Theatrical Pop with Conscience. Before he began teaching, Paul participated in Music Under New York, an MTA-sponsored program that promotes subway musicians. He also wrote and performed musicals with homeless New Yorkers via a not-for-profit Manhattan community outreach program. We play his tune Build A Bridge, which has beautiful music and lyrics. Paul believes that beauty, nature, and kindness are powerful healers in our broken world. For more info go to To get additional info about school gardens in NYC go to To listen to past TMSOG shows go to and Follow The Many Shades of Green on Facebook, Instagram and Threads @tmshadesofgreen. Listen to TMSOG podcast on all major podcast apps. #RaiseYourEcoConsciousness

TMSOG is proud to be on Feedspot’s list of the 50 Best Environmental Podcasts to follow in 2024

Food Scrap programs, Recycle Rangers, and yes, you can recycle used paint cans in NYS, plus more great information on the importance of local community eco-actions with Michelle Sterling and Youth Environmentalist Alexa Troob

The Power of Local community action is essential to empower communities to become resilient. Actions on the local level build a sense of ownership and responsibility and improves the effectiveness of initiatives which promote sustainability. Local governments, schools and organizations must address the climate concerns of the residents in their communities, which helps promote sustainable practices in their towns and villages in order to get green initiatives passed. What happens locally goes global! Our guest on this episode of TMOSG is Michelle Sterling, who has been instrumental in launching sustainability initiatives throughout Scarsdale and Westchester County. She is the co-chair of Scarsdale’s Sustainability committee and is on their Conservation council as well.  Michelle works with her sustainability partner Ron Schulhof, to help Scarsdale Village, as well as all seven Scarsdale Schools and a number of Scarsdale Houses of Worship, launch food scrap recycling and zero waste programs. Their efforts have made a tremendous impact within the community as well as throughout Westchester County, and they have now helped 21 towns within in the county, and several towns outside of Westchester start municipal food scrap recycling programs. We are also joined by Alexa Troob, who is a youth champion of the environment, a journalist and a student member of the Sustainability Advisory Board in the Town of New Castle New York. We discuss the Food Scrap Program in Scarsdale, the EPR Packaging Bill in NYS and the Paint Recycling Program. To reach out to Michelle email her at: [email protected]. Some helpful links are below:

For past shows go to, and Listen to the podcast on apps via Amazon, Apple, Spotify, and more. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Threads @tmshadesofgreen. TMSOG is proud to be #8 on Feedspot’s 50 Best Environmental podcasts to follow in 2024

The Essential Role of Local Journalism with Adam Stone, Publisher of The Examiner

The health of a democracy depends in no small part on the vitality of an independent press. Studies across the world continue to demonstrate that access to a robust news system, free from institutional censorship or influence, plays an essential role in effective democracy.” Quote from The Knight Foundation and Gallup, American Views 2022: Part 1

According to the American Journalism Project, local news bridges divides in communities, showcases opportunities for community connection, highlights community perspectives, and sheds light on how policy issues affect readers and their neighbors. Most local issues require the thoroughness, understanding, and diligence that only local, on-the-ground reporters are equipped to provide. The national media is astoundingly out of touch with Americans, with 1 in 5 newsroom employees based in New York, Los Angeles, or Washington, DC. Local news is an essential check on local government and helps improve communities. A robust press is vital to a healthy democracy and newsrooms need resources to create reliable news that is accessible and free from influence. We need to know who is holding local elected officials accountable, who is reporting from the state legislatures, who is covering all the town councils, school board and pubic hearings, court proceedings, environmental policy, school sports, town events and so much more. It is local news publications that provide this vital information, and carry out their important function in keeping the public informed. On this episode of TMSOG, Adam Stone, Publisher of The Examiner, a local print/digital newspaper covering Westchester County, NY discusses the importance of local news as a check on democratic institutions. Adam’s article about how the failure of New York State in operating certain disability programs, which had disastrous effects on local disabled individuals, was highlighted by the New York Times on its list of outstanding local journalism.  It is a prime example of local journalism at its best: (see The Examiner News, New York: How the state’s disability program fails locals). Please support local press! For more info go to and check out new and archived articles.

For past shows go to,, and Follow TMSOG on Facebook, Instagram and Threads @tmshadesofgreen. Listen to the podcast on all major podcast apps (Apple, Spotify, Amazon, iHeart via and more). TMSOG is proud to be on the Feedspot top 50 Environmental podcasts to follow in 2024 (TMSOG is number 8). For info go to:


Teaching Kids to Garden with Karen Bazik Super Gardener and Educator

There was an animated TV show in 1991 called Captain Planet, which brought the need to protect planet Earth to the forefront. Gaia, the spirit of the planet, assembled a diverse team of “Planeteers” who were able to combine their powers to summon the appearance of superhero Captain Planet, who worked with the Planeteers to defend Earth from pollution caused by villains. It is a series that should be revived and perhaps tweaked a bit for 2023, to help children understand the need to protect the Earth. The program led to the formation of the Captain Planet Foundation, which gives grants to youth gardens and youth climate education. According to the youth garden movement has grown steadily in the past decade as more educators, caregivers, and families get excited about garden-based learning opportunities for kids. With that, the number of national and state grants available for youth gardens has increased. Teaching kids to be stewards of the earth is essential in creating new generations who are aware of the need to be proactive in protecting Mother Nature. Our guest on this episode is Karen Bazik who is working to educate kids about nature and gardening.  She does wonderful innovative and impactful work with kids and young people as a native plant nature educator and mentor in her role as the leader of the Chappaqua Garden Club’s “Junior Garden Club” program.  Karen is doing incredible native planting work with kids at the Chappaqua Library and will be hosting the “Great Pollinator Planting Event” taking place June 2nd 3-5 at the Chappaqua Public Library. Also visit New Castle Healthy Yards on Facebook.

For past shows go to and Please subscribe to TMSOG podcast on Spotify, Apple, iHeart, and more. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @tmshadesofgreen #RaiseYourEcoConsciousness

The Rewilding School with Founder Eric Stone

We are living in stressful times, and connecting with nature is a way to become calmer and more centered. Being in a forest, on a beach or any open space adds to ones sense of well being, and provides a needed respite from the day to day grind of life. While being locked up during covid was horrific on so many levels, it brought more people outdoors, as walks in the woods or any open space provided exercise and benefits to your psyche. Children especially needed to connect to the outdoors and play in a park, make a snowman, build a sand castle, climb a tree, spot fireflies or listen to the songs of the birds. In our busy work-a-day lives, it’s good to know that there are people who help us connect with nature, and with each other. In this episode we talk to Eric Stone, who is a true nature connector. Eric is the founder of The Rewilding School, an outdoor education organization he runs with his partner Megan, which is dedicated to building connections between people and the traditional lands of the Wappinger and Lenape that we now call The Lower Hudson Valley. The Rewilding School runs preschool programs, hands-on summer programs, parent child classes, and workshops for school-age kids. For more info go to and @rewildingschool

To listen to current and past shows go to and Follow TMSOG on Facebook and Instagram @tmshadesofgreen. Subscribe to our podcast on all major podcast apps. #RaiseYourEcoConsciousness

How to Teach Your Kids about Climate Change with guest Harriet Shugarman

Our guest this week, Harriet Shugarman, wrote the book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change:Turning Angst into Action, which provides tools and strategies for parents to explain the climate emergency to their children and galvanize positive action. Harriet is the Executive Director of ClimateMama, a professor of Climate Change and Society and World Sustainability, and Chair of the Climate Reality Project, NYC Metro Chapter. She is a nationally recognized influencer, connector, and trusted messenger for parents on solutions to our climate crisis. Harriet is a recipient of the prestigious Climate Reality Green Ring Award, and has been praised by Al Gore as “an outstanding Climate Reality Leader, who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to her role as a climate communicator and activist.” For more info go to,, and Tweet us your thoughts @tmshadesofgreen #RaiseYourEcoConsciousness

Listen to “Harriet Shugarman – the Climate Mama” on Spreaker.

Food Systems, Community Gardens, and the pandemic

The current pandemic has highlighted problems with our food system, as food waste and food insecurity must be addressed more than ever. On this show Green Divas Meg, Max, Lisa and Elly delve into topics about food, how to get fresh food to communities in need, and how Community Gardens help in that area. We also discuss the need to build your immune system in the era of COVID, the Drawdown Project (, cows emitting methane (and no, it’s not cow farts), and the importance of growing your own food. Guest Dr. Susan Rubin talks about teaching children to garden, food pantries, gorilla gardens which helped start the Community Garden movement, and more. Check out the 50 Shades of Green Divas Podcast on Spotify, Buzzsprout, Stitcher, Apple Music, iHeart, and Ask Alexa or Siri to play The Green Divas podcast, and check out the webpage

#1617: Green Sex For Climate’s Sake

Green Sex for Climate’s Sake (Yes, Green Sex is a shade of green)

There is no single solution for climate change…but separating sex from childbearing represents an under appreciated opportunity to forestall climate disaster…for the climate, family planning’s potential benefits are profound.

Those are the words of my guest this week, Alisha Graves, who is the co-founder of the OASIS Initiative (a project of UC, Berkeley which focuses on reducing population growth and poverty in the Sahel region of Africa). Her recent article, “Green Sex for Climate’s Sake,” debates the link between carbon emissions and population, and the need to educate young women, as well as young men, about contraception, family planning and health. For more information go to: and

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Get the Lead Out

By Susan Lutz

Tests came back from our school’s water samples. The results indicated elevated levels of lead and copper in faucets throughout the system. Drinking fountains were shut off; signs posted. Our school initiated testing, something they did voluntarily. Many samples were “first draws,” from the water sitting in the faucets during the night. Fixing water supplies is a difficult and expensive task. I threw extra water bottles for my son into his backpack. He’d been in some of the rooms that tested positive. Water fountains are located right in many of the rooms. He loves drinking fountains. I’ve watched kids saunter up to fountains after a good romp on the playground. They are empowered, quenching their thirst on their terms and rewarding their body and mind for a job well done. Clear and cold, the water tasted great and at the same time, full of toxins.

Flint, Michigan. Once the words meant simple a town, now they spell a disaster. Many schools around the country report problems with their water supply. Old buildings mean aging pipes. Schools struggle with budgets to keep up everything from teachers to infrastructure. The story in Flint raised a flag of the dangers in our waters supply across the country.

I’ve always worried about toxins in water. When I lived in Central America, water was checked for the levels of cockroach droppings in it. Chlorine was a regular addition to many water supplies. I tried keeping up with buying bottled water, but news reports showed even that supply was tainted, and, the price kept going up. Bottled water adds yet another dimension to the environmental impact that fills the land with plastic. Many of the brands of bottled water are not better than the water from the tap and the cost can be 2000 times more than tap water. Yet, now what? Does bottled water now return as our water source? What do we do?

My son runs to a water fountain with such glee. The water flies out, and he takes a sip. I can’t always stop him. Even in school, signs are posted to not drink out of certain fountains. My child can’t read those yet. At the library, the shopping center, or any other public places, water now makes me worry. We make messes that become so hard to clean up. From the little plastic, disposable coffee K-cup, to the use of plastic bags, to glow-in-the dark plastic wands, I have a choice to consume these or not. Though not always easy to avoid, I feel maybe I have a fighting chance. With water, however, we as a nation must deal with it. We start with schools, and then we must move on to open our eyes and not ignore the problem that most likely is flowing everywhere we drink.

WECAN: Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network

Maxine-Abba-Meg_2This weeks episode takes us to the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the UN, sponsored by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). This event was attended by women from over 50 countries. To have such a collection of amazing women in one place, who presented stories of courage and resilience in combating climate change was deeply touching. Women play a key role in adapting solutions to climate change, and it was an honor to speak with WECAN founder Osprey Lake, environmentalist visionary Sally Ranney, as well as Neha Misra founder of Solar Sister, Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama, Executive Director of CELF Katie Ginsberg and student Coreena, and Patricia Gualinga-Montalvo, Indigenous Leader of Ecuador, whose interview was translated by Amazon Watch’s Executive Director Leila Salazar-López. For more information visit


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#1538: NY Senator Liz Krueger

liz-krueger-500How compassionate is the New York State Compassionate Care Act of 2014 legalizing the use of medical marijuana? My guest this week, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, a lead advocate for legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and also for recreational use, gives us some insight into the pros and cons of the current bill, and why it needs to be enhanced to allow coverage for more diseases. Senator Krueger has also sponsored the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act to limit the investment in oil and gas stocks in NYS pension funds. For more information go to: or send a tweet @LizKrueger

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Science and Slaughter: Are Dissections A Waste?

Do educational institutions face a dilemma in the way animal anatomy is taught in school?

By Michael Kohlberg

Do educational institutions face a dilemma in the way animal anatomy is taught in school? Should animal dissections and vivisections be conducted in Science classes at all? LaGuardia Community College, a CUNY school, says no to cat cadavers, instead replacing them with clay models of humans. It seems, that the areas of debate, lie in 3 main ethical questions which I will describe in this article.

The first is the question of respecting animal rights as they relate to dissections and vivisections. Then comes the question, is animal experimentation necessary for understanding anatomy? In other words, do students learn best by dissecting? Are alternatives like virtual dissections comparable or even superior learning tools?  Finally, I will briefly explore broad Sustainability Issues that dissections pose to Society.

America has acknowledged the value in respecting basic animal rights as shown by the Animal Welfare Act, a Federal Act passed by Congress in 1966. In general, this reflects the idea that our Society has adopted some moral standard for respecting the rights of animals. The United States Department of Agriculture puts it best, calling the Animal Welfare Act a “minimum, accepted, standard” of animal treatment “in research, exhibition, and transport”. However, many educated animal lovers believe that this minimum standard is set too low and that not enough is done to enforce existing federal laws.

In Biology classrooms, the animal rights argument is clear. Many of us have pets and therefore very personal and emotional connections with dogs, cats, and maybe even frogs, snakes, or mice. Performing dissections and vivisections on these types of animals can pose moral dilemmas for students taking part. Studies show that many students feel a moral dilemma when taking part in animal dissections. One study, by Arnold Arluke and Frederic Hafferty, interviewed 40 Pre-Medical students about how they felt before, during, and after using a dog as a test subject in the lab. They found that prior to the experiment, there was “widespread uneasiness” regarding moral implications, but during and after, students were able to “neutralize the moral dirty-work”.

This study not only suggests that many feel innately compassionate towards animals, but it suggests that humans have the capacity to subdue that compassion and “learn” desensitization. This raises the question, what do dissections really teach students?Along with anatomy, are our educational institutions teaching humans a lack of compassion for animals? Are we prepared to change our way of thinking about animal dissections if the answer to the previous question is true?

That leads us to our next question. Do today’s students actually learn better by dissecting, or do they learn better by using technology they are familiar with already, such as the computer? Do virtual dissections and vivisections compare as as educational tools? Many students and teachers say yes and site other benefits as well. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal rights organization that among other things, provides practical knowledge in dissection or vivisection alternatives. Their website has a page with resources dedicated to just this subject. According to the document “Cutting Out Dissections”, studies have shown that computer-based teaching methods saved academic and nonacademic staff time … were considered to be less expensive and an effective and enjoyable mode of student learning [and] … contributed to a significant reduction in animal use” (PETA 2013).

Also, teachers in the United States have been advocating for few dissections. Ten years ago, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) amended its official position statement to acknowledge the educational effectiveness of non-animal teaching methods and to support teachers’ decisions to use them as complete replacements for animal dissection (NSTA 2005).

Another example of how effective non-animal anatomy learning can be is the example of LaGuardia Community College. The Cuny Newswire reported that “LaGuardia is one of the first community colleges in the nation where its students will be learning the muscles of the human body not by dissecting cat specimens but by applying clay muscles to a [human] skeletal mannequin.”

“Studying human muscles is one of the hardest and most difficult areas,” said Professor Carol Haspel, “so we are always trying to find ways, mechanisms and pedagogical techniques that assist our students in learning the basics that they need to know.  The clay models are a key factor in helping them.” (LaGuardia Community College 2011)

Animal dissections may actually pose a barrier to students’ learning. As researchers find out that more and more students are morally against dissections, the issue becomes worrying for education itself. One study done by Theodora Capaldo on the psychological effects of reluctant, obligated dissection participants indicates that “cognitive abilities may become impaired, resulting in less learning”. The study concludes that their findings, “present a compelling argument for the 100% replacement of the harmful use of animals in education.” (Capaldo 2004)

To shift gears, let’s examine some of the Economic Sustainability issues. In order to asses whether the school would be better off, the costs of dissections must logically be compared to the costs of alternatives, which could vary depending on the type and manner in which they are implemented.

Since animal specimens are expensive for many Biology Departments, we might ask the question will a school that bans dissections and vivisections all together be better off financially? To make sense of this question let’s use a real life example. One specimen retailer, Bio Corporation, sells a class set of 15 cat corpses for $373. Theoretically, if you have 20 lab classes per semester at a University and replace specimens each semester, the cost would be $7,460 per semester on cats alone. That number does not even include any auxiliary equipment, like proper protection, tools, et cetera.

PETA’s informational pamphlet entitled, “ Animal Dissection and Interactive Anatomy Software” factors in many of the auxiliary costs which they total at an additional $759 per five year period accounting for 30 students. In the event that a school keeps their cat specimens for 5 years, PETA calculates a grand total of $3906.05 for a class of 30 students. In the same article, PETA compares the costs of virtual cat dissection, which amounts to $800 per 5 year period of 30 students. Obviously, a university like Brooklyn College has a much higher dissecting student body than 30, so the costs would be significantly higher.

From the data found, it seems that the long run economic viability of switching from perpetual spending, (in our hypothetical example that is $7,460/ Semester) to more fixed spending like dissection software or clay molds, would be a cunning financial move for the Brooklyn College school board to consider.

In Conclusion, the economic costs associated with animal dissections that most students and faculty members might not be aware of are high. Furthermore, the documented psychological stress that many students undergo while performing obligational dissections has led psychological researchers to believe that the practice of dissections and vivisections does not promote learning(Capaldo 2004). Students and teachers have repeatedly advocated for bans on dissections and vivisections since 2005. And basic marginal benefit analysis of switching to dissection alternatives has suggested that the change would be more than cost effective.

Would it not, in theory at least, be more practical, for all, to ban dissections all together?