For the Birds-No Such Thing as Away

Sustainability advocates and others tout the phrase “There is no such thing as ‘away'” when talking about trash or making something go, well, somewhere else. People and things don’t go away, they end up somewhere else. CBS Sunday Morning’s design episode today (May 19, 2013) included a segment on the ‘designer of fine bird houses,’ Tom Burke (Home Tweet Home),

Beyond the elaborate bird house designs, many of which replicate the homes of well-known actual home owners including Martha Stewart and artist Jaime Wyeth, a short portion of the segment attracted my attention. Tom Burke’s ‘design’ studio is in the basement of his Wilmington, Delaware condo. According to the CBS segment, Burke uses the space rent-free in exchange for what the segment writer called “recycling.” Burke uses items his condo neighbors throw ‘away’ in constructing the bird houses. Some commissions are more than $20,000, so you know these bird houses are really the ‘Four Seasons’ of aviary space.

Consider this: if we spent a little time really thinking about whether we need this item or that item, perhaps we wouldn’t have so much “stuff” that we want to go “away.” Circling back to the original thought: there is no such thing as away, how many times do you run out to the store to pick something up, then find a few days, weeks or months later that you had exactly what you needed at the house, apartment, garage or office and really didn’t need to buy something else. You are left with all this stuff that needs to go ‘away’ at some point.

Jane Pauley’s “Life Re-imagined” segment on The Today Show May 17, 2013, featured Barbara Chandler Allen’s non-profit program “Fresh Artists” that uses proceeds from art pieces created by students and purchased by donors and corporate sponsors to fund school art programs that have dwindled in the past 10 to 20 years. A project such as this prevents us from throwing away talent and creativity that is squandered under the guise of funding cuts.

Collaboration, brainstorming and solid team work are ways to prevent things from going away. The old saying, “God closes a door and opens a window.” is a good one; we put willing, able-bodied, creative minds in a room and come up with solutions to problems. We find ways to make programs and ideas sustainable. We connect people so they can listen, talk and share ideas in order to continue and expand programs. We enable others to join the fray and find productive, creative ways to engage others . Whether it’s an elaborate bird house, children’s talent for art or a valuable program teetering on the edge of extinction, when we step up in any capacity we can, the results are indeed sustainable.


Living in a Box

Why is it that some people can’t see past their own nose? There are so many brilliant, creative, forward-thinking people in our lives every day. It seems that the one person who just can’t get out of their own box clogs up the works.

I spent the day at a Rutgers University event focusing on online and hybrid learning. I felt like a sponge just soaking up the information and technology that I can be part of and take advantage of in the teaching I do and with other aspects of my

Dr. Jeff Borden, Pearson - Innovative thinker

Dr. Jeff Borden, Pearson – Innovative thinker

personal and professional life. At the one seminar offered by Dr. Jeff Borden, Director of the Center for Online Learning at Pearson, he had the 50 or so people in the seminar break into groups organized by discipline. We had to come up with creative ways that we would potentially have students solve a problem. This woman responded to the group, ” Well, I’ll have them write a research paper and give a presentation.” The woman behind her said, “I think he wants us to think OUTSIDE the box.” Hooray! The rest of the people in the group certainly got it.

Innovative thinkers push the envelope – and those of us willing – can catch on quickly and run with those great innovations that are just one thought away.