People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


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I keep thinking about global warming and weather events, especially as it seems they’re becoming more catastrophic with each passing year. And as a mom, I can’t help but think about what kind of world we want to leave our children, grandchildren, and hopefully generations beyond that. It makes environmental issues, such as the importance of recycling and the impact humans are having on endangered species, even more critical.

When it comes to “saving” the environment, I’d like to believe that we all want to do our part. But sometimes, I don’t know what to do since it’s such an overwhelming issue. Plus, and I almost hate to admit this, sometimes it’s difficult to “buy green” or environmentally friendly when you’re on a fixed or limited budget. Although, thanks to Black, I’ve learned about greenwashing and that just because a business says they’re environmentally “friendly”, that doesn’t mean they are.


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When it comes to climate change and the environment, many blame the “older” generation, saying we allowed this to happen because, for decades, we did not do anything to prevent it. Increased use of cars and electricity. Burning an ever-increasing amount of fossil fuels. Not “going green”. Not even thinking about it. All of which led to where we are today.

Red often calls me a “debate queen”, so I want to point out that our generation drank water from the tap, used cloth diapers, returned glass milk bottles (also soda and beer bottles) for deposits so they could be reused, and saved/reused plastic grocery food containers. We even reused brown paper grocery bags by repurposing them into textbook covers. All before recycling was "a thing”. (FYI, there are 3-Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and recycling is not necessarily the best option.)

I also want to point out that if you do not know you are causing a serious environmental problem, why would you change what you are doing? But, the more important question is who did know, and why were we not told?

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • What is “environmental literacy”? Before now, have you ever thought about it? Why is it important?
  • Why do environmental issues seem so daunting?
  • People often use the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” How does that apply to the environment? What actions have you taken? What actions can you take?
  • Do you believe human activities contribute to climate change? If so, what should we do about it? If not, what do you think causes climate change?

People have told us they’re using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created “Conversation Starters”.

Given all the challenges of this year’s summer travel – gas prices, canceled flights, lost luggage (Delta sent an empty plane to retrieve luggage stranded at London’s Heathrow Airport) – we all need to think before traveling (and not just about packing lists, trip itineraries, and cost). Last year, when Red started talking with Black about summer escapes, she quickly realized that WHY you’re traveling is the first thing you should think about.


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It's great that instead of dreaming about vacations after the pandemic, we can start planning them again. Of course, even if we're vaccinated, we still need to be careful and take precautions. I know that vacations are supposed to be a way to escape stress, but there's always stress associated with planning them, getting ready to be away, and then, ultimately, having to pay for them. Years ago, I learned the value of staycations but would take it a step further and check into a local hotel since I knew I needed to get out of the house. But I've never really been one to go on vacations – unless you call traveling out-of-town to one of Sawyer's volleyball tournaments a vacation. In many ways, one of the last "real" vacations I had was when the girls were young, and we'd try to get away every August to the Hyatt Hill Country. Although it was only a few hours away, and we didn't escape the heat and humidity, we were able to have a change of scenery, relax, and spend quality time together without everyday life interrupting.


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It sounds like you identified "why" you wanted a vacation, and what you wanted to accomplish. For me, I realized escaping to a great hotel with a first-class spa did not require getting on a plane, although there was a time when my vacations were based on golf courses I wanted to play, museums I wanted to see, or friends I wanted to visit. The key is knowing your objective. And, by the way, the same logic applies to business trips, now that Zoom (and other virtual meeting options) has proven that meetings, and even conferences, can be done remotely. Obviously, more efficiently than in-person, but with clear objectives can be as productive and maybe even more so. Interestingly, many people are planning "revenge travel" but I doubt that business travelwill be as quick to recover.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

    • Before you travel, do you take time to think about the purpose or objective of the trip? Why or why not?
    • Are there different ways to achieve the same objectives? What are the pros and cons of each?
    • How has the pandemic changed your thoughts about traveling?

    People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


    Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

    I’m not going to reminisce about the days when the nightly news (this was before cable) and newspapers (print) reported the news using facts, and op-eds (opinions and editorials, although that’s not how the term started) were labeled just that – not “marketed” as the news. Regardless, I like to think that I’m fairly well informed, although there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with 24-hours news and the constant bombardment of news update emails. And I can’t imagine what it’d be like if I were on social media.

    But even though I get my news from well-known and reputable sources, I also know that several of them are biased, which means I have to process everything through that lens and then think for myself. Until recently, I never thought about how easy it would be to be deliberately “led astray” by information that is either knowingly wrong or strongly biased, especially when we live in an age where even nonsense (and photographs!) can easily be made to appear legitimate. (My daughter has shown me the magic of PhotoShop.) Unfortunately, as my sister, Black, first told me decades ago … some people never let facts get in the way of a good story.


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    I will not get into the studies that indicate people “choose news that supports their views” (confirmation bias) versus looking for a range of perspectives, including those that might challenge their views. (I admit that I love opposing opinions, but then I think of “arguing my position” as sport.) I also enjoy doing my homework which means finding research and facts (which are different from something that sounds like a factual statement) from credible and unbiased sources. (I am sure people hate when they include me on the email distribution of something they find interesting, only to have me do a fact-check and let them know it is not accurate.)

    The concept of news literacy can be overwhelming not only due to all the legitimate sources of news, but because the internet and social media have made it very easy to get – and share – information and misinformation. Quotes and soundbites can be taken out of context, drastically changing their meaning. Combine that with the old adage of “seeing is believing,” and it is easy to see how videos filled with fake news or misinformation have potentially dangerous consequences.

    THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

    • What is “news literacy”? Why is it important? And before now, have you ever thought about it?
    • How do you evaluate the reliability of internet websites and other resources? How do you locate appropriate and credible sources of information?
    • Does the internet and its wealth of information have a positive or negative impact on your productivity? Your workload? Your stress level? Your happiness? Explain your answers.
    • Obviously, becoming news literate has a profound effect on the individual. What are potential ripple effects?

    P.S. – You might be interested in this animated video on Research & Analytical Skills we did as part of a soft skills series for The Greater Houston Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative.

    Shortly after Rich Strike, the surprise 2022 Kentucky Derby champion won (what a Cinderella story), Red made a passing comment to Black about the need to prove that his victory wasn’t a fluke. She should’ve known she’d get a list of Black’s beloved bullet points in return, pointing out what we’ve already learned,

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