Noisy Earth: encouraging youth-generated solutions to save the planet

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Noisy Earth is on a mission to inspire students to take action and tackle the most pressing worldwide challenges. It helps facilitate this through providing cutting-edge resources to teachers for student engagement in stewarding change.

Founder Paul Neenos created the concept of a Responsive Curriculum while working within NYC school systems:

I have continually observed many challenges such as environmental degradation, income inequality, healthcare access, and immigration. Issues that are not well represented in curriculum or classrooms. So, I began developing an idea to bring the big challenges into our schools for students to engage with, problem solve, and connect with one another to create awareness and solutions.

His vision was to move towards a more hands-on, experiential, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) approach coupled with a cross-curricular framework to help students connect to a topic across multiple subject-areas. Noisy Earth provides a framework which accomplishes this through ‘Stories’ (such as air pollution), encouraging students to put to use the knowledge they have learned in class to innovate creative solutions.

I am grateful for people like Paul, who continue to strive towards meaningful solutions and inspire others to do the same.

Do you know a teacher who may be interested in incorporating a Noisy Earth topic in their classroom? Do you have an idea of a ‘Story’ students could explore? How else can we get young people involved in thinking of creative solutions to big problems? Share your ideas below!


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Choosing Beautiful.

I have been reflecting on what beautiful  means to me. It has been an evolution – a distant glimmer at times and an engulfing warmth in others.

Through focusing on gratitude as part of my Happiness Project, I have become increasingly aware and thankful for the beauty in my life.

Real beauty to me is compassion, authenticity, curiosity, gratitude, courage. It is the love filled daily effort to find and focus on the positive in all things – our world, our lives, our friends, our family, and in ourselves.

Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul, like you.  ~Shannon Alder

Let us reclaim this word. Let us restate our worth.
Let us #ChooseBeautiful.


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Inspirational Person: Jane Porter, Sustainable Building Consultant

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Jane Porter is a sustainability consultant at Stratos and Co-Founder of HUB Ottawa. She has a Masters of Corporate Environmental Management from the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), and a Bachelor in International Business from Carleton University. Her passion is innovating for sustainability and her specialty is making it happen through thinking big, collaborating across networks, and facilitating dialogue. 


Jane, from your experience at Stratos (a leading Sustainability Consultant), what are the largest motivating factors for organizations to integrate sustainability?

Three key motivating factors which  I often see in my work, include:

    • Risk management  – Environmental, social and governance issues often represent major risks (and opportunities) that need to be managed by the company if they want to continue to do business.
    • Executive influence – Executive leaders who have a strong vision for sustainability and Board members who ask challenging environmental/social questions influence the organizations’ values and help ensure initiatives are supported and properly resourced.
    • Investment decisions – Investors are increasingly looking to make ‘ethical investments’ and many long term investors don’t want to invest in companies whose entire industry may be moot in 50 years (e.g., fossil fuels).

Can you share with us what you would consider to be the essential success factors to implementing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan?

There are factors to implement a successful CSR plan, but here are a few:

  • Executive buy-in – For change to happen, you need to ensure that the plan is supported by top decision-makers. If they don’t see its value, resources required to implement may be re-directed if times are tight.
  • Influence across the organization  – Sustainability cuts across all silos and levels of an organization. Those in charge of the plan need to know how to integrate it into the organization, through collaborating with key players.
  • A clear path forward – A well vetted implementation plan is essential. Companies need to translate high level principles (and wishy-washy sustainability lingo) into tangible actions that make business sense.

As co-founder of HUB Ottawa (a collaborative work space and member community for social entrepreneurs/impact professionals), what do you see the role of entrepreneurship being in terms of current environmental issues? 

Entrepreneurship allows you to challenge and change the status quo. If there are aspects about the way we live that are not working, we need innovators to show us a better way.

When did you become inspired to channel your passion and expertise towards the integration of business and the environment? 

Grassroot organizations play a valuable role in creating meaningful change. However, I was inspired to see the potential for broad reaching solutions in Corporate board rooms, where key decision-makers could be influenced.   

Finally, and in simplest terms, to what degree do you think business has the ability to solve the current social and environmental crises? 

To be honest, I think it’ll take a shock to the system for a major change to happen. We need transformative – not incremental – change.


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{Interested in other Q&A’s with Inspirational People? Check them out here}

Spring 2015: Musical Inspiration

Every season, I share artistic expressions that have inspired me. This month I’d like to share some music that has resonated. In particular, in line with my Happiness Project – I wanted to share some of the tracks that made it to my Happy Playlist.

I would love to hear what music has inspired you over the past season, or what tracks made it onto your happy playlist, in the comments below!


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You can find more artistic expressions which have inspired me: here
You can find out more about my Happiness Project: here

Promise or Pay: Creating social change through individual action

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Promise or Pay is an innovative social platform whose vision is to transform personal promises into wide scale social change. It uses a combination of publicly declared promises and pledges to charities (if promises are not kept) to ensure a win-win outcome with guaranteed impact.

I was absolutely inspired by this concept created by founder Jay Boolkin, an Australian social entrepreneur who used behavioral and motivation research to create this concept. He explains:

Research shows that making a formal declaration of your intentions increases your chance of actually achieving your goal by 33%, and by 72% if money is put on the line.

By using the power of social media sharing as leverage, his aim is to inspire millions of people from around the world to be the best (and happiest) they can be, while encouraging and promoting donations to worthwhile charities.

I recently created my own promise – to exercise 5 days a week (next 3 months) or pay $50 to a mental health charity (Open Minds), inspired by my Happiness Project. Consider sweetening the deal, by becoming one of my supporters, or better yet creating a promise or pay account yourself! You can also check out their free resources (like a 30 day program on how to build a lasting habit).

What goal would you like to accomplish? Did you make a new years resolution that needs refreshed attention? Are you following your own happiness project? Share your ideas below – or links to your own promise or pay pages!


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My Happiness Project: Stage 2

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This year, I made a resolution to explore initiatives to create an atmosphere of positivity and balance in my own life – an initiative I am calling my Happiness Project. My plan is to introduce 3 new tactics every quarter of 2015, and I invite you to join me!

I’m excited to announce the three new happiness tactics (for April to June) are as follows:

  • Invest in 5 meaningful and intentional relationships – It has been said, that we are the company we keep. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, and create a significant impact on your own outlook. Additionally, a sense of connection with others has been shown to increase happiness. Take time to really consider the people in your life – your friends and family – and determine 5 key relationships. If you can’t think of 5, it’s time to get out there and meet them! Find ways to invest in these people often: carve time out of your day to ask and listen to them, organize dinner parties, arrange coffee dates, go on nature walks, tell them how much you appreciate sharing moments with them.
  • Exercise daily – Getting our bodies moving, helps keep our emotions in check. Be kind to your body, and get started regardless of your current activity level. Go for a walk around the block (perhaps with one of the people above), check out the 7 minute workout, start a yoga practice (free on youtube), or integrate exercise into your daily commute (like biking).
  • Create a happy music playlist – Find the songs that make you feel peaceful, happy, or joyful. Listen to it often, and specifically when you are feeling down.

From January to March, we focused on: daily identifying 5 things we are grateful for, meditating, and removing one negative thing from our lives. I implemented all three and have noticed a shift in my awareness and level of stress.

One tool I discovered that I cannot say enough positive things about is Headspace, a tool for meditation. I especially liked the metrics (like tracking your meditation day streak), ability to keep track of friends meditation activity, and best of all if you purchase a subscription they provide one free of charge to someone who needs it.

For those of you who implemented happiness initiatives in past 3 months, share your insights below! Which songs make you happy? Do you have tips for including exercise in your daily life? What are things that you are thankful for (list 5 below)? Join the Happiness Project with me!


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