Global Parenting Habits That Haven’t Caught On In The U.S.

Global Parenting Habits That Haven’t Caught On In The U.S.

“If there’s one thing Tiger Mothers have in common with those bringing up Bébé, it’s that they both show us just how varied parenting styles can be. Argentine parents let their kids stay up until all hours; Japanese parents let 7-year-olds ride the subway by themselves; and Danish parents leave their kids sleeping in a stroller on the curb while they go inside to shop or eat. Some global parenting styles might make American parents cringe, but others sure could use a close study. Vietnamese mothers, for instance, get their kids out of diapers by 9 months.

Read on for a sampling of parenting lessons from around the world.”

Totally fascinating list, which really reiterates the point that there is not one right way or wrong way to parent. Something to remember the next time you get into a fight with someone over co-sleeping, cloth diapering, or whatever happens to be the latest trend in raising children.



The Cost of Getting a Green Card

The Cost of Getting a Green Card

“The expenses associated with getting a green card come in three general categories: official fees paid to the government, professional fees (lawyers, passport photos, etc.), and black market costs (fake documents, fake marriages, scams of all sorts). I talked to some immigration lawyers and some immigrants I know to get a sense of what these costs can look like.

First, the official costs. A green card application costs a total of $1,490. (If I were in charge, it would be $1,492, because government bureaucracy needs a little whimsical irony.) That is definitely not nothing, but Danielle Briand and Yazmin Rodriguez, immigration lawyers in Bridgeport, Connecticut, who were good enough to give me some orientation in this realm, told me that the immigration service is pretty good about giving people waivers for financial hardship. Of course, there are many many permutations and combinations of fees you might have to pay (here is a daunting pdf of all of them). With the cost of possible appeals, ancillary forms and fees that different circumstances might require, and medical examination and mailing costs, it would be easy to drop $2,000 just on government fees.”

The fees are bad enough, but having to fill out overwhelming stacks of unreadable government forms that are barely in English, which is probably not the applicant’s native language anyway, must be even more overwhelming and discouraging.

“Despite being accompanied by extensive instruction booklets, the forms still have some irreducibly ambiguous questions, perhaps reflecting several different generations of bureaucratic obfuscation. And the green card government hotline notwithstanding, I believe there is very little useful, free, and credible help available to people in trouble-shooting ambiguous questions. When the stakes are so high, and when even a single error can mess up a person’s application or stall it by months or even years, this seems worrisome.”

Not to mention the fact that immigration law changes constantly, and that the process is more subjective than scientific. Something to think about next time the subject of illegal immigration comes up.

The Day We Set the Colorado River Free

The Day We Set the Colorado River Free

“It’s been more than 50 years since the Colorado River regularly reached the sea. But this spring, the U.S. and Mexico let the water storm through its natural delta for a grand experiment in ecological restoration. As the dam gates opened, a small band of river rats caught a once-in-a-lifetime ride.”

The story of the Colorado River is about as American as it gets; history, adventure, and politics all play a role. This is a tale of rebirth, but the ending isn’t exactly happily ever after. It’s happily for a little while, at least.

My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant [June 2011]

My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant [June 2011]

“I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.

I’ve tried. Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.

But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.”

I was looking for something appropriate to post for today, the day of America’s independence, and when I found this in my old links, I knew this was the piece I needed to share. Because we still haven’t passed comprehensive immigration reform, let alone The DREAM Act. We’re doing a disservice to the millions of men and women who could be making this country even better. They should not have to hide in the shadows; they deserve to shine.

Can We Build in a Brighter Shade of Green? [Sept 2010]

Can We Build in a Brighter Shade of Green? [Sept 2010]

“A so-called passive home like the one the Landaus are now building is so purposefully designed and built — from its orientation toward the sun and superthick insulation to its algorithmic design and virtually unbroken air envelope — that it requires minimal heating, even in chilly New England. Contrary to some naysayers’ concerns, the Landaus’ timber-frame home will be neither stuffy nor, at 2,000 square feet, oppressively small.

It has been a good deal more expensive to build, however, than the average home. That might partly explain why the passive-building standard is only now getting off the ground in the United States — despite years of data suggesting that America’s drafty building methods account for as much as 40 percent of its primary energy use, 70 percent of its electricity consumption and nearly 40 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions.

Energy Star and LEED aim for efficiency improvements of at least 15 percent over conventional construction — and both programs can earn a variety of tax credits and other incentives. The passive-home standard, perhaps because it’s unfamiliar to many officials who create efficiency stimulus programs, is eligible for few direct government subsidies, despite the fact that homes using it can be up to 80 percent more energy-efficient, over all, than standard new houses and consume just 10 percent of the heating and cooling energy.

Add photovoltaic solar panels or other energy harvesting systems, and passive homes can quickly become zero-energy-use homes — or even power generators that can feed electricity back to the grid.”

For more about passive houses, including graphics, check out Passive House Alliance US. Since this article is almost 4 years old, I wanted to do some research to see if more people were building these homes in the United States. There were only 13 homes at the time of the article’s publication; now, according to Passive House Institute US, there are at least 116. In Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, a 150 unit project is currently under construction, and once completed, will be the largest passive structure in the United States.

Since passive building started in Europe, they are naturally way ahead of the United States on projects. According to this article, “some 25,000 certified passive structures — from schools and commercial buildings to homes and apartment houses — have already been built in Europe.” In Germany, there are plans to build a hospital.


The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary

The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary

“A school dropout from a poor family in southern India has revolutionized menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads.

Arunachalam Muruganantham’s invention came at great personal cost – he nearly lost his family, his money and his place in society. But he kept his sense of humor.”

Reading this filled me with absolute joy. This man selflessly, over the span of many years, made women’s health and financial independence a priority, to his own detriment. He’s my new hero, and he is proof that men can be feminists, too.

Saving an Endangered British Species: The Pub

Saving an Endangered British Species: The Pub

“’The pub, we like to think, is relatively internationally unique, it’s a very traditional thing,’ said Brandon Lewis, the Conservative member of Parliament who is the Community Pubs Minister, an office that underscores the special place pubs occupy in British life. ‘In many communities they are really important, not just because it’s where people come together, but it will be the focal point for fund-raising for the community, for the local football club, for the dance class, for the moms’ coffee morning.’

Guy Wingate, a longtime patron, pointed to Hampstead’s fallen locals. While the village has other pubs, the Old White Bear, he said, had become the center of his community.

‘You rip the heart out of that, and we’re either all going to wander the streets like zombies or stay indoors and not see each other ever again,’ Mr. Wingate said over coffee at Cafe Rouge, which used to be the Bird in Hand.”

How do we create community in 2014? If we’re not hanging out with our neighbors, drinking a pint at our local, or spending time with our scattered extended families, how are we connecting beyond the digital world?