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 Online Community Lesson 


Delightful Doodle or Awesome Art?

          What is the difference between delightful doodle and awesome art?  Let us phrase this question in a different way:  what is the difference between a solution and a sustainable solution?  This can make all the difference in the world—literally. 

          When a writer for a student newspaper points to a problem and then offers an answer, she or he is offering a solution.  When a youth in a service club volunteers for “Christmas at the Cannon”, he or she is providing a solution.  When we paint over graffiti, as we did on April 21, we are implementing a solution.  When Edison enables the 99 Cents Only store to sell energy-efficient light bulbs, Edison is making possible a solution. 

          But none of these is a sustainable solution.  Each of us is capable of offering a solution, as is shown in this issue’s “Flashback Quarterback”.  But a sustainable solution necessitates additional thought, because a sustainable solution accomplishes more.  These questions help us understand a sustainable solution: 

·        is there a solution which is more cost-effective or can fund itself?

·        is there a quicker way to reach and stay at a desired goal, that is, eliminate the problem?

·        is there a solution which is more community- and environmentally-friendly? 

With regard to student writers, they need exposure to other than mainstream thinking.  Why?  Most of us adults do not know what sustainable solutions are, so we are unable to teach youth to look for such solutions.  We must make room in the lesson plan for an exploration of ideas for sustainability.  “Sustainable” and “sustainability” become key words in a Google search.  The good news is that there are many Americans pursuing sustainable solutions. 

If we look at student volunteers helping feed the hungry, we realize that they, too, need exposure to other than mainstream thinking.  Instead of helping feed people because they are poor, can we feed them as a “thank you” because they have done something for the community?  Can we develop a program of micro-enterprise through which the poor can supplement their income?  (If, according to the April 28, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Caltech is to make olive oil from the olive trees on its campus, what is holding us back from making the most of Montebello’s resources?) 

As for graffiti, a sustainable solution begins with the discussion in last week’s “Walks outside the Box” essay.  Working within the confines of state statute and public law, and depending on whether our police department have sufficient funds, will not bring us a sustainable solution to graffiti.  We must be willing to experiment in order to find what works best for Montebello. 

In the case of Edison, imagine what would happen if the corporate behemoth announced a contest in which students could have their college tuition paid in full.  Interested students would sign up to advocate conservation in their neighborhoods.  The best performing neighborhoods and the student advocates for those neighborhoods would get cash awards.  (The latest UN report on global warming is cause for additional concern, but the report is being ignored because of the anticipated economic cost.  I submit that, with outside-the-box thinking, we might yet tackle global warming successfully.)         

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1. A sustainable solution can be defined as a solution which

(a) puts an end to a problem.

(b) is more cost-effective or can fund itself.

(c) does not disrupt the community or the environment. 

2. What factors would help us find sustainable solutions.

(a) An exploration of what Americans are doing elsewhere.

(b) Updating curriculum so that it be timely. 

(c) A willingness to experiment in search of sustainable solutions, and a belief in the words of Robert Kennedy:  “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. 

May 10, 2007































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