Friday, October 30, 2009


last saturday i got to attend 1 day of a 21/2 day sustainability in early childhood education conference for work. i wish i could have gone to the whole thing but because my co-worker was already going to all of it, one of us had to be at work on friday so there weren't just 2 relievers working together and opening the kinder (and my co-worker is actively involved in the organization that planned the conference).

i got to go to 2 really great sessions on saturday morning-- the first one was discussing our own journeys with sustainability and outdoor play and the second one was a presentation from a new zealand kindergarten that built their entire garden from the children's ideas. they had everything from garden beds where the children could pick all the flowers they wanted whenever they wanted, chamomile grass, insects and bugs to observe (they even found a protected lizard in the garden because of the kinds of plants they had), lots of fruit and veggies and even a banana tree (it's kept inside but they were actually able to find a way to have it after one child said he wanted bananas to grow in the garden). after lunch we went on tours. i went on a tour to skinner's playground (a great supervised playground in st kilda with cubby houses built from recycled materials, a veggie garden and lots of space to play) and 2 kindergarten and child care centres in the st kilda area that have amazing gardens and programs focusing on the environment and play areas involving natural materials.

the saturday of the conference also happened to fall on the international day of climate action (they didn't realize that when the conference dates were set) so we took a photo for the website:

(my head is barely visible behind someone near the right side of the photo)

below is a closeup of the banner that is behind us in the photo:

the only thing i was really disappointed in was the food. the entire conference (including a 3 course dinner at the zoo on friday nite) was vegetarian. people i talked to said the food was pretty good. i was just there for morning tea and lunch on saturday. morning tea was muffins and fruit bowls (apples and pears). i was happy to have an apple but i was a bit disappointed there weren't a few vegan muffins (i think there were a couple others that were vegan too). lunch was a packed lunch (in a tupperware sandwich box to keep and an aluminum--aluminium to aussies--drink bottle) so we could head off on our tours. lunch for most people was sandwich wraps in the container and then there were small bananas and pieces of cake (not vegan unless they just didn't mention it and i couldn't find anyone to ask) to take if you wanted along with your water. in my specially labeled sandwich container was a salad. a small salad of lettus, tomato and cucumber with drop of an oily dressing. i'm sure the wrap bread was probably vegan and if the sandwiches had cheese or other dairy i'm sure they could have easily been substituted. so i had lunch of salad and a small banana (after my morning tea of an apple). fortunately i brought the last few almonds that had been sitting on the kitchen table so i had a little bit to snack on from a food that was not fruit or vegetable. i know it wasn't the conference organizers fault-- it was the catering people's fault for not really knowing what vegans can and can't eat. i did make it clear on my evaluation form that i was very disappointed in the vegan food though (especially sad since in the conference program book they had a paragraph stating why they had chosen to have an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu for the conference).
i did have a great time though, got to talk to some great people, hear some great things and just be around a lot of people with similar views on the environment, sustainability and the importance of play in nature for children.

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