At ClimateMama, one of the most hopeful and encouraging things we do, is meet – and then introduce our community to – special Climate Mamas and Papas. These are folks from around the country who are acting mindfully, with purpose and intent, to push against and slow down climate change. They are often as well, taking those “extra steps” to educate and encourage others to take actions too; building up and replenish our climate hope.
We want to introduce you to Brenda Cummings, a New Jersey Climate Mama. Brenda has written a new book, “I am a Hugger” which with our help, will be available to all of our children very soon. The book is a funny but factual take on trees and why they deserve our hugs! You can read more about I am a Hugger here. Join us now, and in her own words, learn more about Brenda, and why she inspires us all at Climate Mama!
The Story of Granny Green and her Green Machine
By Brenda Cummings
I am a mother, wife, actor, singer, writer and illustrator. We lived in NYC up until 15 years ago, when my husband inherited the tiny old house in suburban NJ where he grew up. We had lived on the lower east side of Manhattan for 17 years and agreed that this was our last chance to have a house with a garden, adopt a child and get a dog. So we nestled in, adopted our lovely, 10 month old daughter and I devoted myself to her care. I thought it would be easy to go back to theater work once she was in elementary school…I realized that I had nestled in a little too snugly and had closed my eyes to a lot of what was going on around me. When my daughter started elementary school I experienced several shocks. I was shocked by the way cars and SUVs idled in the parking lot outside my daughter’s school. I was shocked that bottled water was nearly everyone’s beverage of choice. I was shocked by the plastic and food waste that was treated like a normal part of a healthy lunch at school. I had already been shocked watching neighborhood landscapers splash chemicals on lawns next to waterways as their mowers expelled clouds of exhaust and noise.
After seeing what went on at my daughter’s school, I really had to wonder how people could be so unconcerned about environmental issues in an area where education was supposed to be of utmost importance. An Inconvenient Truth had had an enormous effect on me; certainly it had affected others…
Environmental and sustainability education were seriously lacking here in the suburbs, so I thought I could help change that by creating an environmental education program for children with songs, picture books and puppets. I called it Granny Green’s Green Machine.
Children are catalysts for adaptation.They bring new information home, and change happens! The idea was that kids could learn about sustainable living practices in a fun way, and I’d help make change happen in the only way I knew how – as an artist. I had worked for more than a decade with the world-renowned children’s theater company The Paper Bag Players as a performer and writer and I knew this was something I could do.
Granny Green’s Green Machine is now a non-profit program for children sponsored by Kids For Earth.org. It’s an upbeat, informative, amusing and musical look at how children and their grownups can make a difference. Using original songs, original hand-made picturebooks and colorful puppets made from recycled materials, Granny Green reminds us that we’re connected to the natural world. Children learn how some of the Earth’s cycles and systems work together just like the parts of a machine, and how they can help make the world a little greener right in their own backyards.
Kids for Earth and I are in the process of applying for grants and funding so that we can expand and offer our programs to schools and libraries everywhere.
I just launched an Indiegogo campaign to publish I AM THE HUGGER! which is the book I use in the show to help describe photosynthesis, the carbon cycle and how trees help to mitigate climate change. Other picture books I use in the show include The Supercyclers Save Pittsville, which is about reducing, reusing and recycling; Little Drip Takes a Trip, which is about the water cycle; and Willy The Worm, which is about composting. I AM THE HUGGER! is a funny but factual take on trees and why they deserve our hugs. A published book will help spark the interest of more PTOs, school boards and libraries.
I’m working hard to get the word out about this campaign, but I need help and I hope everyone who reads this can help me to spread the word because: being a tree hugger is a great way to help save the future for everyone.