Tuesday’s installment for our Summer of Funner Film Festival happened to be another Wes Anderson movie, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. The kids were particularly interested in the amount of underground digging performed both by the animal protagonists in flight and by the big three farmers in pursuit of them. They were also dumbfounded by the elective flooding of those underground spaces with truckloads of cider.
Over the past few days, the kids have started putting two and two together, relating their interest in the film (and Dahl’s novel) with life around them. And, this morning, they started asking about the “Stop the Mega Quarry” signs they’ve seen on lawns and in storefronts throughout the neighborhood. So, we decided to spend some time investigating how people have depicted this “problem” and the proposed “solutions” surrounding it.
Today, the kids took an important first step in becoming Socially Responsible.
SUMMERof FUNNER ACTIVISM 101: INVESTIGATING THE PROBLEM
First, we had a good look at the sign in the window of our coffee shop:
From the words on the back of this signboard, we learned that there is an area 100 km Northwest of Toronto in which the “Highland Companies,” backed by a “Hedgefund,” have purchased quarries and thousands of acres of farmland, with the intention of creating a “Mega Quarry.” We read that what was once precious farmland would be converted to quarries which would produce limestone. And we read that the site in question is connected to the “headwaters” of five major rivers, and that several hundred million litres of Ontario drinking water would have to be diverted and perhaps treated before being returned to its natural course in order for the land to be quarried.
I brought home a few flyers for the kids to have a closer look:
As we were reading, the kids stopped to look up a few basic terms in the dictionary: Quarry, Mega, and Hedgefund. And the kids wrote out the words and their definitions in their Yesterday Books.
One thing I wanted to make clear to the kids was that whether or not we agree with the “Stop the MegaQuarry” Mission, there is always a basic ”agenda” or “point of view” in a flyer, and there is always an “author” or writer behind that opinion.
So, our next step was to investigate the “About Us” section of the www.ndact.com website to find out about the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce who produced the flyers and signs. We found that the group consisted of residents (many of them farmers) from the Melancthon and Mulmur townships in Ontario, an area to the north and west of our home in Toronto. From what we could gather, it looked as if several of the farmers who had lived in the area “sold out” to the Highland Companies. The group producing the flyer consisted of a group of concerned residents who were left. At least, the group consisted of those who were not actively employed by or involved in the quarry industry itself. I was careful to remind the kids that there are likely just as many if not more people who might support the quarry industry or be supported by it. I wanted to make sure they were aware of the alternative voices which might arise from within that community.
Then, we moved on to investigate the environmental impact of the proposed Mega Quarry as propounded by the NDACT group. As I read the kids the bulleted list of points regarding the impact of the mega quarry, they drew “symbols” of what this impact was or meant.
Where the flyer argued that the agricultural land in the area produces 50% of the potatoes consumed by the GTA, the kids each drew potatoes.
Where the flyer argued that the pit to be excavated 180 feet below the water table threatened four major watersheds, and that, in turn, the water resources for one million Ontarians could be affected, the kids drew taps and a water table.
Where the flyer argued that the Highland Corporation would have to pump 60o-million-litres of water from its quarry per day, the kids drew a flooded tap and a water line.
Where the flyer argued that to operate the quarry, hundreds of diesel trucks would have to run every day, creating traffic and pollution, the kids drew fleets of dirty, barely distinguishable trucks.
Where the flyer argued that the streams and rivers running through the Niagara Escarpment would be affected by the Quarry, the kids drew more streams.
Where the flyer argued that once the limestone is extracted, the Highland company will attempt to farm the bottom of that pit, which seems costly, risky, and a dubious pursuit, the kids drew failed crops and a farmhouse sunk in a pit.
And, where the flyer aruged that the proposal will use unproven technology, the kids drew question marks.
When we were finished, the kids had filled their yesterday books with a few good pages of definitions and symbols:
Then, we had a “big conversation” about what they thought was most important about the proposed Mega Quarry. They were concerned about the wildlife in the region and along the Niagara Escarpment, particularly the birds of Ontario sheltered there. They were particularly worried about the potential impact of the Mega Quarry upon the water supply. We talked about the uses of water in our everyday lives, our own body’s percentage of water,the percentage of water on the face of the earth, and the relation of water to wildlife. Inspired by a conversation I’d had with the owner of the cafe where we picked up the flyers, I asked the kids why something like a “hedge fund” would be interested in the quarry: was it just for the limestone and the income to come out of it, or was it for the access to the water, after all? This got us all wondering about how important pubic or private control of fresh clean drinking water has become and will be in the years ahead.
The next step was to decide if and what the kids wanted to do about the proposed Mega Quarry. The kids are experienced protesters, after all… Last summer, we produced our “Save the Riverdale Farm” Sketches and we made T-shirts and a Rob Ford Protest Song in support of our local libraries. Today, the kids decided to learn more about the Mega Quarry by visiting the partner websites: http://www.ndact.com, http://www.citizensalliance.ca, and http://www.nomegaquarry.com. They also decided to send the illustrations they made today and a brief email of concern to their Ontario party leaders. [They asked me, however, not to reproduce their messages as they felt they wanted to keep the private.] They are also planning to produce their own t-shirts later this summer. Although, at this point, they’re not sure if they want the shirts to say “Stop the Mega-Quarry” or if they want to ask others, “Is a U.S. Hedgefund Taking Control of Your Drinking Water?”
You’ll have to stay tuned to see the results of their efforts…But, wait a minute, what are YOU going to do?
The Mega-Quarry will NOT be pursued.
Read all about it here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/11/21/quarry-melancthon-proposal446.html
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Summer of Funner : The Lunchbox Season : In Defense of Burning
July 20, 2012
Each summer, my husband chooses a list of films for us to watch, once per week. We call this our “Summer of Funner Film Festival.” The last few years have featured classic Marx Brothers films, Fred and Ginger dance pics, Philo Vance flicks, and a bit of old fashioned Shakespeare. This year’s theme is “Colourful Films,” a broad title, but not without purpose. Last Sunday, instead of playing a classic film at home, we went downtown in the pouring rain to check out something new! Our first film for our Summer of Funner Film Festival 2012 was a new release, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.
Today, I had the kids write movie reviews of Moonrise Kingdom. We did this in two stages. First, they filled out a Movie Review Pre-writing Worksheet that I created for them to use all summer long. This worksheet provided them with the tools to write a formal review of the movie. I asked them to write a basic two-sentence summary of what the movie was about, to describe their favourite scenes and discuss why they liked them, to discuss something they might change about the movie, and to decide whether or not they would recommend it to others. Bea wrote passionately about a scene in which lightning strikes one of the movie’s heroes, while Tobes wrote about his favourite “tent lifting scene.” Interestingly **spoiler alert!**, both kids decided that they would “not have Snoopy the dog die” in the film. They also both came up with a “star system” of rating the film for the “would you recommend it” section of the worksheet.
For step two, instead of making the kids feel as if they were going to have to write an essay based on the worksheet (this is Summer, not the school year, after all!), I had them take what they would from their worksheets and enter it into their Yesterday Books. Tobes decided that he had enough of writing and chose to draw a fabulous illustration of a camp site. Bea decided that she liked both Tobes’ drawing and his “favourite scene from the movie” worksheet entry so much that she changed the description of her favourite scene from her worksheet and followed suit with Tobes in a one page essay and in an illustration. Apparently, the younger critic proved quite the inspiration today!
Here are the critics hard at work:
And, here’s a pdf copy of our Movie Review Worksheet.
- SUMMER OF FUNNER 2013
- The Lunchbox Season is Back
- Summer of Funner 2012 Film Festival
- Peach Day! Amaretto Peach Jam, Brown Sugar Vanilla Jam, and Giant Peach Butter
- A Movable Mural
- The Imaginary Beasts of Riverdale Farm
- Mad Scientist Day 2012: Ten “Sweet” Experiments
- The Kids Make Street Eats (with Beer!): Pilsner Pretzels & Hops and Robbers Mustard
- Glam Cans 2012: Kid-Designed Canning Labels DIY
- Summer Activism 101: The Kids Investigate the Mega Quarry
- Book Cover Re-design for Kids: Workshop I, Zeppelin Poems
- Knappa Loves Melodi: The Easiest Ikea Hack Ever
- Contractor Cookies [and Bathroom Pics]
- First Communion Fun
- Saying “Thank You”
- DIY Cookie Cutters: The Zeppelin Edition
- Book Fan Shirts
- Making the Movie Monster Video
- The Vanities of the Leaked-Upon
- MARCH breACK! 2013: Spirit Bear Stick Puppets and Finger-Walking Bear Puppets
So This Is Where the Club Meets!: Summer of Funner Categories
Check Out Our Theme Days!
- Chocolate Day
- Clay Day
- Comic Strip Days
- Crazy Fruit Day
- Cucumber Day
- Egg Day
- Jelly & Ice Cream Day
- Macaron Day
- Mad Science Day – Candy Experiments
- Make-it-Yourself Days
- Marshmallow Day
- Mural Days
- Peach Day
- Pizza Day
- Pomme Day [Apple & Potato Day]
- Protest Days
- The Day in Condiments [Mustard Relish and Jam]
- Sketch Day
- Soap Day
- Strawberry Day