Friday, March 19, 2010

Go Me and Green!!!

We are so excited that Me and Green has earned its first award finalist title! Our book is a finalist in ForeWord Magazine's 2009 Book of the Year Awards in the category of Juvenile Non-Fiction. The awards are designed to discover distinctive books from independent publishers across of variety of genres The finalists, representing 360 publishers, were selected from 1,400 entries in 60 categories and are examples of independent publishing at its best!

As many of you already know, Me and Green was written by Therese Tappouni of the ISIS Institute, Mary Tappouni of Breaking Ground Contracting and, yours truly, Catherine Burkee. The focus of the book is designed to help children and their families understand their connection to our home, Earth, and how our choices impact this beautiful planet.

The winners of the 2009 Book of the Year Awards will be announced at a special program at BookExpo America in New York City on May 25th. Here is a link to ForeWord Magazine's site for additional information:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Me and Green Goes to School

On Friday, February 19th, Mary, Therese and myself, the authors of Me and Green, traveled to St. Paul's School in Clearwater, Florida, to work and play with children in grades pre-K through 8. We went on a mission to see what these kids know and what they might want to know. What we found is what every good teacher comes to realize very quickly....that we do not necessarily always teach kids, but that kids often end up teaching us!

First off, we found that pre-K kids know a lot! They know that they are connected to their home, Earth, and when asked the question, "What happens when we make bad choices about how to treat our Earth?" they respond with something as intense and true as, "The Earth dies!" So we stand in awe of the 4-year-old teachers who are the future environmental stewards of this planet. We read from Me and Green, and had students engage in an activity about reducing, reusing and recycling, and imagined what happens when 300 million people in our country alone choose NOT to do this!

We also connected with 5th-8th graders. What a remarkable experience to talk and work with kids who are already well on their way to understanding the impact their choices make on the Earth. St. Paul's School is already involved in the Green Cup Challenge where the students track energy and water use and report their findings on line. Our challenge to them: you are the ambassadors, the mentors and the role models for those who follow. We talked about this responsibility and how they can manage it well. They are on board. These kids are aware. They are living it. And in a 2 minute activity about why it is important to preserve our Earth for those who follow, they created charts with responses such as, "So that future generations may have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink," and "So that species of animals will not be extinct." These are the same kids that we sometimes stereotype as having no sense of anything other than texting and iPods.

We had similar experiences with the 2nd and 3rd graders, who were truly excited and involved in discussing and participating in activities related to green! Again, refreshing and empowering.
Me and Green was written to assist teachers, parents and children with understanding connections to this planet, Earth, and we are excited and privileged to be talking with kids about these connections, and working with them to expand their knowledge about how to take better care of her. Education is always the key to change. It is the most rewarding work we can do.

Are We a Contractor or Educator?

The answer is....both! As Director of Education for Breaking Ground Education Services, a division of Breaking Ground Contracting, people often remark about how unconventional it is that a construction company also promotes education. Each time I hear these remarks, it becomes even MORE clear to me just how much sense it makes that a successful construction company like Breaking Ground Contracting blaze the trail of education in green, sustainable and LEED* building and workplace safety. After all, buildings use the greatest amount of energy...WAY more than our vehicles. So, it stands to reason that we do our part to enlighten the industry to environmentally sound ways of doing business. We don't just believe it, we live it! The foresight of President, Mary Tappouni, began many years ago with her passion for building, nature and the environment. Her vision drives her company, and those of us who have the privilege of working for Breaking Ground Contracting have been infected by her passion for green building and the desire to couple sound building practices with environmental responsibility. It is our mission to educate other contractors, architects, engineers, subcontractors, developers and anyone else who wants to listen and learn, about the ways we can all do our part in building green for the future...the future of our industry, our children and our world.