Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Outdoor Classroom

Another post inspired by lovely folks on Twitter:

@rjleaman posted a tweet with a link to @thedublab's brilliant blog post about Outdoor Classrooms, an inspirational idea, which I hope will really catch everyone's imagination.

Not only do schools (and the environment) benefit from outdoor classrooms; there is a positive effect on the wider community too:

"Beyond the school, the construction of an outdoor classroom also benefits community members by providing opportunities to increase their environmental awareness and knowledge, while offering additional means of participation in both their child’s education and local environmental stewardship."

There has even been a positive effect on the level of vandalism:

"To date, no vandalism or disturbance of either the nursery beds or the native wildflower landscaping has occurred. This is significant, given that the schoolgrounds receive considerable traffic after hours and have experienced defacement and destruction of property in the past."

Tree nurseries, native wildflower beds and proposed contructed wetlands are all fantastic places to encourage the interest of children and their familes in nurturing the environment. Such wonderful learning spaces benefit everyone and this idea really excites me!

Youngest Daughter is a keen gardener, helps out at a local farm at weekends and during school holidays and is thinking about studying horticulture/agriculture at college. I know she would love something like this at her school and am pretty sure the school would be up for it, so I will print off Dave Riddell's post and take it in.

I know myself the benefits of gardening, from mental and spiritual health benefits to the benefits of physical exercise and fresh air, the ability to eat better food (while saving money) and the feelgood factor of doing something positive for the environment.

The benefits are phenomenal, the possibilities are endless ... an outdoor classroom would be such a treasure in any community. I hope you take this idea and run with it.

With thanks to Dave Riddell and best wishes for continued success. May there soon be many, many thriving Outdoor Classrooms!


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Niebu: A new word, a new world!

I have learned a new word today. I love learning new words! But this isn't just a new word for me, it's a newly-created word. A simple word with a short but inspiring history and complex meaning. A word I hope you'll share with everyone.

I've noticed recently that some of the guys I follow on Twitter have been using the word "Niebu" as a greeting, possible also as "Goodbye." It was obviously a word filled with warmth, and humour, but I thought it was a private joke between friends ... it made me smile but I didn't ask what it meant. (Very unlike me!)

Working my way through a huge backlog of RSS feeds this morning, I found an explanation, by James Chartrand of the fantastic Men With Pens. It was James who had inadvertently created this amazing new word. Very early in the morning, still in a pre-jetfuel haze, James' "Mornin" to Dave Navarro emerged in the Twitterstream as "Niebu!"

Dave returned the greeting and a simple typo ("Mornin" typed one space to the left on the keyboard) quickly became a greeting and then a word to represent "Goodbye" as well. Soon it became so much more than that. In the words of James:

... it was amazing to watch the metamorphism of a simple typo into a mainstream phrase. It evolved, too, beyond its salutation form. It began encompassing a sense of peace, of happiness and of joy.

“It’s better than The Force,” I mentioned, and people nodded in agreement. Niebu says it all.

You can laugh over it. You can wrap it around your mind and feel good. It rolls off the tongue. It’s short, succinct and carries good associations. It represents belonging and community.

It does. And it has been embraced by the Twitter community, who have written more about it on their blogs:

What does Niebu mean? Dave Navarro explains on his fab Rock Your Day and lists some of those who regularly use Niebu on Twitter. (Perhaps that should be those who regularly Niebu ... I think it works as a verb too!):

Niebu grew to have new meanings as James’ friend mocked him with international flair. From brettlegree to WritingJourney, from IttyBiz to melissadonovan to vegaspenman and more,

Niebu means everything from “Good morning,” to “Good Night,” “Aloha,” “Mahalo,” and “Holy crap, I need to subscribe to Rock Your Day right now!” (but only if you pronounce it while drinking heavily).

Bob Younce on The Writing Journey explains the phenomenon of Niebu:

We use Niebu to mean “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Good Luck,” and even refer to Niebu as a sort of tribal Deity, as in “My Twitter is acting up. Quick, sacrifice a virgin to Niebu.”

In reality, Niebu means Community.

It means many things, all of which are positive and filled with the generosity of spirit that James and his friends are known for. Niebu is now an everyday thing on Twitter, an everyday expression of community. A gift, a simple word, that holds a new, more caring world within it. It's certainly taken off and caught everyone's imagination on Twitter, I'm guessing it will soon be an everyday word in our lives, I certainly hope so.

Just goes to show that language is magical and words have a life of their own.

And that 'mistakes' can be beautiful things with amazingly positive results!

Niebu to you all. May the force of Niebu scatter sunshine through your lives.