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Archive for April, 2011

What is group work?

This is my own self-conceived perception of what dynamic group work is. As all perceptions, it is of course open for debate.

First of all group work is about understanding that a group is like a living organism. An organism which consists of different organs – let’s call them group members – which perform different functions. If one of the organs is not working or completely missing, the organism will be ill and in worst cases die. This of course places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the organs. Responsibility to take the initiative to suggest assignments, responsibility to take assignments, and responsibility to let others get assignments. This requires a clear vision of the function and responsibilities in the organism. Ideally all organs are functioning flawlessly all the time, but with organs as with group members, this is not always the case. This means that another organ must take over the functions of the ill or absent organ for a while, like a standby assistant ready to take over in a crucial moment. This again requires an open and flexible structure of the organism. To avoid that the body – let’s call it the project – goes on hold in the absence or illness of an organ, the organs must continuously stay in close touch about the progress and functioning of the body and keep each other updated about status on different assignments. This requires a lot of work and a lot of time. And it requires a lot of work with the organism. There must be time to discuss the health of the organism and here openness is key; worries and frustrations must be put forward and openly debated. This can of course lead to conflict and crisis within the organism, but as we all know: crisis s just another word for opportunity. Opportunity to change and to perform better in the future.

I thank you for this opportunity to occupy your minds for a while and wish you a dynamic and fruitful group work!

Counting down the days

Our training course for the Jordanian national youth climate ambassadors is just around the corner – and I am so exited!! The last weeks the preparations have intensified and the frame of the course is now ready to be filled out with the content of 25 exited and enthusiastic youth climate ambassadors in spe.

It is amazing to think of the fact, that two months back this project was hardly a faint idea. Now we are almost ready to launch it, and our minds and brain are buzzing with activity to get all the final tasks in place. I am really looking forwards to see how it’s al going to end up and what reactions we will get from our participants. I hope they will leave their mini course with the same wonderful experience as we had in Krogerup!

New term in pollution???

New term in pollution

The word pollution implies a negative impact on our environment. When a reference is made to polluting the environment we commonly think of land, air and water pollution. The types of images we conger up are the dumping of chemicals into our environment, toxic smoke being released into the air, litter lining our streets and parks, poisonous chemicals flowing into our ponds & rivers, toxins and heavy metals penetrating our ground water supplies. But not all forms of pollution are toxic or physically harmful?????????

Imagine you are on a commercial street in a suburban community. Signs of all sizes, shapes and colors fight for your attention. There are signs on the buildings, signs in front of the buildings and billboards towering above the buildings. Overhead stretches a web of utility wires. Parking lots, expansive areas of asphalt and franchise architecture, housing a number of easily recognizable fast food restaurants and stores, greet your vision in every direction. This is referred to as visual clutter. Visual clutter occurs on many of our suburban and urban commercial streets. These visually cluttered areas are often the gateways to our communities; the roadways which lead into the commercial, tourist or economic centers. The visual impact of these sprawling strip commercial zones create a lasting image of the community; they over shadow the community’s individuality; its sense of place. Isn’t this a form of pollution

Visual pollution offends our eyes and impacts our overall well-being. It can damage the economic health of a town or city; ruin a community’s .

Identifying visual pollution and its appearance in the community is an important step in becoming visually literate and conserving community character across our country. Change in our landscapes and cityscapes is an inevitable and continual process. It can happen.

Rations Era?

I’m currently reading Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning by George Monbiot and on page 55 -I’m far from comforted.

Monbiot has published many books on politics, travel and environment. His work on environmental issues includes; Heat: how to stop the planet burning; The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain; he’s also a blogger at the Guardian. In 1995 he was awarded the United Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding environmental achievement presented to  him by Nelson Mandela.

Heat claims to hold the key strategies to finding the politically effective means of both cutting our energy use and reducing its carbon content. I’ve come across a powerful statement and a somewhat obscene suggestion in our global consumerism ridden society, which gave me the title for this post.

Monbiot rightfully claims: ‘The market created by carbon rationing will automatically stimulate demand for low-carbon technologies, such as public transport and renewable energy.”

This is nothing like the carbon market currently in place for industries, in fact it is for you and me and our friends, family and neighbors. The average person’s consumption in a country has to do with their standard of living and almost very little, to nothing, to do with the GDP. I’m certain many will disagrees, but how come when we calculated our footprints in my Environmental Politics class at the American University in Cairo, did the average student get 8 tons per year?

Perhaps what we need to do now is put a strict limit on how much Carbon an individual can emit per year. We did cover this in our DEMENA course last March, but Monbiot suggests we calculate this tackling only electricity consumption and transportation. As in, these two factors can determine if someone is above their limit or not, and similar to the carbon market in place now, people can buy and sell their credits in a carbon brokerage.

Some people will afford to buy (endlessly?) and thus emit (endlessly!). Though, really, how many of these can we have at such a time in history when the economy is in the toilet and political instability isn’t confined to one or two regions anymore. Unfortunately, for the same reasons perhaps, optimism is futile when lobbying for such measures at such times.

I’m eager and desperate to learn about the practical solutions that can be lobbied here in Egypt, as in England – Monbiot claims his solutions will work anywhere – and I hope he’ll deliver them somewhere around page 60!

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