Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand — Book Review

Author: Jonathan Stroud

Most Americans are familiar with the tale of Aladdin, in which a young Egyptian thief finds a djinni who grants him three wishes. The Bartimaeus Trilogy delves into the conscience of a djinni named Bartimaeus while he is serving a young magician’s apprentice in a modern-day London with a government run by magicians. In this alternate universe, djinn and a host of other magical creatures, ranging from petty imps to defiant foliots, intimidating afrits, and powerfully frightening marids, play a huge role in everyday life. Most, however, are forced to serve humans against their will. They must be summoned from the “Other Place” by a magician, who is no different from a “commoner” except for a vastly superior education, and then the being’s essence is bound to their master’s will. That is, unless their master makes a mistake. Bartimaeus, who narrates much of the novel, is happy to explain how easy it is to snuff out a careless magician who messes up an incantation, the drawing of a pentacle, or a hieroglyph. Being a particularly sarcastic, mischievous, and egotistic being, Bartimaeus tells his part of the story from his charmingly witty point of view. After all, to a being that helped build the ancient walls of Prague, fought in the great many wars in history, and served such magicians as the legendary Ptolemy, the day-to-day drama of London magicians is very laughable indeed.

Then who commands the great Bartimaeus? To the despair of the djinni’s exceedingly massive ego, a twelve-year-old apprentice has somehow managed to summon the cocky entity. In this novel, it soon becomes apparent that this boy, Nathaniel, is not being manipulated by his master or another magician but is working on his own account to seek revenge upon the powerful Simon Lovelace. Lovelace cruelly humiliated the boy at a very young age, ridiculing and abusing him in front of other magicians after Nathaniel showed off his exceptional knowledge of magic. Determined to prove he wasn’t powerless and that he could contend with Lovelace, Nathaniel dedicated himself to his studies, reading through his master’s library and teaching himself much more advanced techniques and spells than his master would ever let him use. His master, the incompetent Arthur Underwood, consistently underestimated his apprentice’s abilities and refused to believe that Nathaniel could know so much so soon. Working completely by himself, Nathaniel learned everything he could about his enemy, Simon Lovelace, and how he could take him down. He finally decided to summon the accomplished djinni Bartimaeus to help him steal an item he saw come into Lovelace’s greedy hands: the Amulet of Samarkand. Little did he know, Lovelace had a terrible use in mind for the amulet, and it was sorely missed after Bartimaeus successfully snagged it, causing a fast-paced chain of events that would change both Nathaniel’s life and Bartimaeus’s existence forever.

Jonathan Stroud’s captivating adventure story will enchant anyone who takes interest in magic or fantasy novels. Cheer Nathaniel on as he overcomes his emotional neglect with his incredible capacity for knowledge, and laugh as the shape-shifting Bartimaeus goes on gleeful escapades filled with nonstop skullduggery. The point-of-view in the novel switches back and forth from first person with Bartimaeus to third person with Nathaniel. In Bartimaeus’s chapters, there are footnotes every couple pages, offering more explanation to all of the djinni’s magical references in the novel. The two perspectives begin at different points but unify to become a smooth succession of events as the plot becomes more intense.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand is a classic tale of adventure and revenge with many not-so-classic twists and turns, thanks to the devious djinni. The two succeeding books in the trilogy feature the same main characters but give larger roles to minor characters and use much of the background information given in The Amulet of Samarkand. Being one of my favorite trilogies, I highly recommend you find out what happens to Nathaniel, to Simon Lovelace, Mr. Underwood, and of course, the unforgettable Bartimaeus.

Catching Up

So one night… I fell asleep, too exhausted to blog. In the morning, I realized what I’d done. I’d broken my streak. I had missed a day of blogging when I’d previously posted every day. I then continued to shun my blog for a full three weeks.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever feel like the only reason you keep going with something is just for the sake of one thing, in this case, a streak? It’s like… when you have the element of control on your side, all is fine and dandy. As soon as you lose that control, you have two options: snatch it back up again and forgive the mistake, or… toss it aside and say “I don’t need it anyway.” It saddens me to say that I took that latter path. It seems to be something I do a lot. My mentality is, “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all.” And now that I think of it, that principle applies to my life more than I have ever realized.

I’ve only just learned that I’m the type of person that would rather make an excuse and not go somewhere at all once I realize I would be late if I were to go. I’m also the type that would convince myself that my little sore throat in the morning was a cold so that I wouldn’t have to go to school with my homework incomplete. I can’t accept mistakes and move on… I have to shrug it off nonchalantly and say “I meant to do that.”

What I mean to say is… I’m obsessed with perfection. I’m ensnared in a lifestyle in which I force myself to exceed the expectations of everyone and anyone. Is that my motivation to get up in the morning: living up to expectations? I can’t honestly say that it’s not. I remember thinking in bed on more than one occasion, “Ugh…. I fell asleep before I finished all my homework… I’ll be letting my teachers down… that disappointment… Maybe I can stay home today and give them all the missed homework tomorrow… but then Mum and Dad will be disappointed in me… they expect me to get up every morning “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” (for the record, that’s a direct quote)… Clarissa, look at yourself… I expect you to be better than this…” That last part was me letting myself down. It’s happened a lot.

I didn’t even want to look at this blog when I missed that one day. I would look at the date, so far in the past now, and think to myself, “It’s okay, I can fix this. I told people I would post every day, so they expect me to follow through. I expect myself to follow through.” Days passed. Some mental block would not let me forgive that one missed day. I looked at the blank gaps on the calendar. My festival passed. I was going to blog about it, but how could I, when my last post was over a week before the festival occurred? Was I just supposed to say “Oops, missed a week there, but here’s what happened at the festival!” I wouldn’t let myself accept that, and as a result, I shunned this blog even more. By then, I was disgusted with myself.

When I was little, my parents told me that when I was in a sitch, I should always tell the truth. Any mistakes I made were human and could be understood. Admitting fault shows maturity, I’ve been told. Apparently I haven’t been very mature, but that is going to change. I am going to post this imperfect blog post, three weeks late. Take that, perfection.

Do you ever feel like your entire life is spent trying to improve yourself? Sometimes I get so consumed with this task that I forget to enjoy the ride. I mean, this is my life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. When I’m much older (hopefully) I will desperately want these particular minutes back, so why am I wasting them? Why aren’t I “living it up”? Why am I spending all my time meticulously planning, planning, planning for my future? It’s been a while since I’ve lived in the “now.” I do so many things because it looks good to colleges. Fine, once I get into my college of choice (which is expected of a good student), then what? I get a good degree, because that’s what people would expect someone coming from a good college would do. What do I do with that degree? Get a good job, because isn’t that expected of someone with a good degree? It will go on and on, and it seems as though my entire life will be spent trying to meet someone’s expectations.

People always ask themselves, I hear, “What do I WANT from life??” Well I know what I want. Kind of. I want to be loved and accepted and cared for and respected. I want to live up to everybody’s expectations of me. I want to be the kind of person that people want me to be. I want to be perfect, and I want a perfect life, because then won’t I be happy? I want to be one of those people in the beginning of those cheezy movies that always start with, “They had the best life… until this random terrible event happened.” I want everything before that terrible event. The people in those movies always look so happy… they go from one scene in their life to another to show the audience how awesome they are, high-fiving everyone with a big silly smile on their face.

The problem is… you can’t satisfy everybody, ever. Even though I’m not religious, I know a Bible story that goes along well with this (it has good morals, I’ll admit):

“A man and his grandson were walking to market to sell their donkey. On the way they met an individual who said, “How silly! Both of you walking when one of you could be riding that donkey!” They didn’t want to look foolish, so the old man said, “Son, you hop on the donkey and I’ll walk.” Pretty soon they met another individual who said, “Why, I can’t believe it! A strapping young man like you riding that donkey and letting this poor old man walk! You should be ashamed!” They didn’t want to be ashamed, so they traded places. Soon, another individual commented, “How disgusting! Making that poor young man walk while you sit like a bump on that donkey!” He didn’t want to look like a bump, so they both got onto the donkey. Another individual chided them, “How cruel! Both of you riding on that poor donkey!” So, not wanting to be cruel, the only alternative left them was to pick the donkey up and carry him. As they did so, they struggled under his weight and when they crossed a bridge, they slipped and tossed him over the railing to his death on the rocks below. The moral: Try to please everybody and you end up losing everything in the end.”

Of course, that is paraphrasing from the actual Biblical text, though I myself did not write that version. Anyway. The moral is clear, I think. Different people are going to have different expectations, and if you try to satisfy them all, you will end up not only disappointing people, but making yourself miserable as well. Nobody wants to be miserable.

I’m running out of steam in writing this, so I’m going to need your help. Have you ever gotten caught up in people’s expectations? What did you do? Or what do you think about the topics discussed in this post in general? Do you think it’s possible to ever have the perfect life?

Most importantly, what do you think it takes to be happy? I’m sure with enough of us, we’ll reach a consensus.

Brokenly yours,

Rissa <3

Burning the Future: Coal in America

This past summer, at an environmental leadership training called SPROG, we spoke with writer/director David Novack about the role of coal in America. He had been traveling at the time, promoting his documentary about the conflict between the coal industry and the residents of southern West Virginia and all of southern Appalachia. Seriously, I didn’t know much about mountaintop removal at all. I’d heard of it, as most environmentalists have, but I never educated myself on it. The reason? It doesn’t affect my daily life (or so I thought). I don’t live in a coal mining town; I don’t even know where the nearest coal mine is. But that documentary stuck with me.

Being that I am planning this Climate Action Festival very very soon, I thought it would be awesome to bring that film to the festival and spread the word about the horrors of mountaintop removal. Don’t get me wrong — the entire film isn’t only about the environmentalists’ side. David Novack gives a very fair chance to some big names and politicians that are pro-coal. He sits down with them and interview them, letting their own concerns and reasons for being pro-coal. I won’t lie — they have a point. However, the overwhelming opposition shown in the documentary blow away a large part of the coal industry’s argument. Desperate, coal industries even put out a “Sexy Coal Miner” commercial, showing attractive young men and women covered in soot, swinging their pickaxes, and laughing with each other. Complete propaganda. The documentary really explores a behind-the-scenes storyline behind the conflict in West Virginia, and by extension, any coal mining town.

The documentary is called Burning the Future: Coal in America. I was very privileged to sit down with David Novack later in that training week and really hear both sides of the story. I highly, highly recommend taking a look at this film. It’s only $10 on iTunes for a digital copy. If you can’t do that, at least do some research on the pro’s and con’s of mountaintop removal. It could draw you in to the dramatic conflict.

The green movement has the full weight of the large social reform movements from the past, but it is still too new to have as many followers. Despite “green” being “mainstream,” not enough people are pushing for political action. I’m reminded of the Women’s Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage Movement, Civil Rights Movement, etc. People are getting sick, people are dying, people are losing their homes. This is as much a “save the people” movement as it is a “save the planet” movement. The documentary goes very in-depth to make it crystal clear with undeniable and clear evidence. As I said, it doesn’t shut out the coal industry’s defense; rather, it gives them a fair chance and lets you decide for yourself. Except… the decision should be painfully clear. It was for me, anyway.

What do you think about all this?

Awaiting your opinion =)

Environmentally yours,

Rissa <3

Perfection… A Soap-Opera.

Hi all. I feel like I am a little at a loss for topics. I need something interesting! If there’s anything environment-related that I could discuss with you, comment!

I’m going to commit to delving deep into my conscience and getting some interesting, continue-able topics going up here. Lia’s blog got me thinking about the pursuit of perfection in yourself. How far can we take it?

Lia writes, “Still though, why [do media images] affect us? Fear. Fear of judgment. If we are striving perfect maybe we will though. Quite honestly though, perfection even in your own eyes is intangible, you will always will want to change bits and and pieces, wasting your life away. Though we don’t want to be called names and be laughed at so we try to make ourselves perfect for other people, hardly do we ever try to perfect ourselves for ourselves.”

I completely agree that no one will ever be perfect. No matter what, we cannot be completely satisfied with our lives. I must assume that this is human nature. It’s one of those “The grass is always greener on the other side” situations. Even know we know it is unachievable, we still push ourselves to get as close as possible to it. Yet.. how can you get close to something that doesn’t exist? Lia’s right, we don’t want to be called names or mocked because we’re different, so in a way, we all try to conform. Even those who try not to conform have their own group of nonconformists… to which they conform. There is hardly any escape, I think. It seems to me that no matter what we do, no matter what we make ourselves, there is always a counter-reaction to the changes we make.

For example… Let’s say someone wants to look cool by wearing the popular clothing brands. So they spend a ton of money on new clothes and they adopt similar mannerisms to the group of people they wish to be friends with. Boom, after a couple months, they’re in the group. They feel popular and happy. Nice ending to the story? Not quite. Since they’re the newbie, they start to get jealous of how close the other people in the group are. They start to feel insecure and too far on the fringe of the group. Back with their so-called “uncool friends” our main character felt completely at home, except near the popular kids. Then they felt inferior. They exchanged true friendship for popularity because they thought it would get rid of that stench of inferiority. It might have done so, but it gave them the terrible feeling of insecurity. Which is better?

Lia reminded me that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s the laws of physics! Apparently, it applies to many aspects of life as well. When have you seen this prove true? Or perhaps more interestingly, when have you seen it prove false?

Wonderingly yours,

Rissa <3 Note: The example I used to make my point was a true story.

Oh Dear

So! We spoke with representatives from the insurance companies, the health departments, the fire marshall, and the parks department. So much red tape.

Because of the fire safety issue at Echo Hill Park I mentioned in my last post, we confirmed that we ARE moving the Climate Action Festival to Deer Path Park. Furthermore, we are required to get certificates of insurance from each business that attends. It’s a pretty last-minute curveball. And we still need to alert everybody about the location change.

In other news, the school is going back to ABCD lunch on Monday, where the students will eat at four different times for 25 minutes as opposed to at the same time for 52 minutes. We won’t be able to sit with all of our friends, we won’t be able to do homework during lunch, we won’t be able to visit the library, take a quiz we missed, talk to a teacher, or any of that. We would be restricted to the cafeterias instead of anywhere, and this is all because the freshmen can’t keep the hallways clear. It’s embarrassing. Last year, we had no problem. Now, it’s terrible. And to make it worse, someone had the not-so-bright idea to boycott the cafe food on Monday in protest.

First off, all of that wasted food goes to a landfill. Second, the school loses a ton of money. And third, the administration gets upset with us. Which of those sound good? Oh, I forgot to mention that ALL of the school’s money comes from the taxpayers. In other words, we’re just tossing our own money down the toilet. I honestly do not think this is a smart idea. If anyone from Central is reading this, don’t boycott lunch. Seriously. Just because you disagree with a decision doesn’t mean you have to go exercising your right to protest. It’s a selfish thing to do. Which brings me back to what I said in my other post about American abusing their rights and earning themselves a bad reputation (that we sue about everything.) Is this not similar? The school administration recognized a problem, proposed a trial solution, and the student body is rebelling. Sure, I would rather have unit lunch as opposed to ABCD lunch, but the problem does NOT lie with the faculty. It lies with the students. We shouldn’t boycott the cafe food, we should give a serious talking-to to the freshmen who don’t know what they’re risking. They should be picking up their trash anyway. It’s their responsibility. We don’t want a filthy school, because then guess what happens? Not only is the staff sour about it, but the STUDENTS go on insulting the SCHOOL, saying things like “Hahaha this place is a mess. Maybe someone should clean it.” Maybe someone? Maybe you? Sounds good to me.

I’m not one to be a hypocrite about things like this. I always pick up and properly throw away or recycle my trash, and I pick up trash from others’ messes too. Come on, students. It’s Spirit Week. Be a kind citizen for once, and don’t just laugh at me and the others who care. You’re only making yourself look bad.

That’s all that’s on my mind. Oh dear, America, oh dear.

Regretfully yours,

Rissa <3

Festival Festivities and Legal Loopholes

Update on my Climate Action Festival planning! Today I had a mini meeting with the officers of HCRHS’s Student-Environment Alliance. I addressed an issue with the poster I wanted to put up around the school first. The school didn’t like that I had the Girl Scouts logo on the poster and no club name on it, but Girl Scouts wouldn’t like it if I took their logo off. The solution? I shrunk down the GS logo and name and filled the gap with a large “HCRHS Student-Environment Alliance.” I think it will suffice.

I also got in touch with people willing to buy us t-shirts for the event and had three phone calls with one confirmed participant, one undecided participant, and one declined participant. So far we have twenty-something groups, organizations, or individuals participating in some way, even if they just donated brochures. Apparently the interest was more than expected, and the Fire Marshall was concerned about excess parking being a fire hazard at Echo Hill Park. He recommended we move the entire festival to Deer Path Park, where there is ample parking. The setbacks, of course, would be calling EVERYBODY who was even remotely interested in attending, telling them of the venue change, and going around to fix all the posters we’ve hung up around town. We’d also have to spread the word to those who already plan to attend. Furthermore, a massive sign would have to be put up in plain sight at Echo Hill Park to direct confused festival-goers of the location change. It’s crazy — a week and a half before the event, I have to arrange for a change in venue? AND I still have to get it approved with my contact John at the Parks Department.

Insurance and permits have been a headache, too. Apparently people need a ton of documents with fine print and a heavy insurance back-up (1,000,000 dollars) in order to name anyone but the Parks Department  liable for anything that happens at the festival. Thank goodness I’m doing this through Girl Scouts, because they are planning to take care of the insurance. Still, people were questioning whether the GS insurance covers private companies that participate in the festival, or just the attendees, etc etc etc. There’s a spider web of red tape ready to snag me if I fall behind on this.

I wonder what type of American culture has cultivated those strict requirements. Are we really that distrusting? Maybe there have just been a few too many legal cases that made them necessary. So why do we sue about so many things? Money and our rights, I’ve decided. If someone has the slightest notion that one of their rights has been violated, even if it is completely and totally their fault, they must do everything in their power to get monetary compensation for it. Someone’s kid is playing in your yard and falls down and hurts himself? Whose fault is it? Yours. I knew a case like this once. Back when my brother and father used to go dirtbiking, a farmer with a lot of unused land would let locals come ride in his small dirt area. He even let them set up hills to get some air off of. He was generous enough to let us use the land for free, but didn’t require anyone to sign liability releases. One day, some not-so-smart daredevil went a little too fast and a little too out-of-control and ended up crashing. He got hurt, and guess who he sued? The farmer. And he won. Now, nobody can use that land anymore. Because of that person, my brother and father stopped going dirtbiking, because there was nowhere else to ride around here. We were restricted to going in circles around our house without ever really letting loose. My dad used to take me on rides at that farm, and now I can’t do that anymore. Because of pointless legal babbling. Well, that’s my perspective anyway.

Which reminds me: didn’t I say in my “Living in America” post that many foreigners think we sue each other over every little thing? I’m wondering if that’s true. Being a lawyer is often a very successful career, but not usually a respected one. Lawyers are notorious for side-stepping the truth, finding loopholes in the laws, embellishing weak evidence, and flat-out lying to defend their client and win the fat reward.

I’m not saying that companies that take advantage of legal protection opportunities are evil; in fact, they would be ill-advised not to do so. In this case, I believe that one who plays fair against cheaters will lose in the end. It’s a sad idea; it really is. You need to level the playing field. There are two ways of doing this, but one is much easier than the other. One, you could utilize your [sometimes unfair] advantages, or two, you could convince everyone else to use good judgement, be fair, and pass up the opportunity to squeeze some money out of someone who was only one toe over the line into the wrong.

I’m not entirely sure if my posts make sense, but let me know what you think anyway.

And support the Climate Action Festival on October 24!

Truly yours,

Rissa <3

Freewriting: Thoughts on Our Generation

In English class, we have started studying the “Beat Generation” of the 1950’s. This generation was raised in the time of WWII, and their parents, WWI. An attitude was cultivated of defiance and anti-conformity. We are comparing the relation of this generation to ours.

A lot of people say that the Beat Generation was a precursor to the hippies of the 1960’s. In our time, many people say that the hippies will be making a comeback very soon. Does this mean that our generation is similar to the Beat Generation? Maybe….

Shifting ceaselessly, technology maturing before we do
Ideas flow like colliding rivers, rushing together
Wreaking havoc on the riverbanks
And charging a path of unstoppable change
Sweeping away everything in its path.

At the same time, a group pushes against the stream
People working against the overwhelming tide
Striving to be different, to find a meaning
Without getting lost beneath the rapids
Or swept away with not a single desperate cry.

They close their eyes and take a breath
The powerful waterway pushes them back
To the trenches where their minds were raised
Falling down like debris in a torn-up town
Under the current, stony faces meet river stones.

This has been a freewrite, composed at the end of class today. I probably won’t revise it, but I hope you enjoy it anyway =) It has no rhyme or rhythm, sorry about that.

Poetically (pathetically) yours,

Rissa <3

See You Monday!

I’ve got a nice, busy weekend planned, and we’re having company over. My grandmother flew up from Florida, and my friends are driving down from Massachusetts. Tomorrow night is my Sweet 16, and I don’t really have anything on my mind right now other than that.

I’ll leave you with a question for the weekend. How do we influence our own memories and why? I’m referring to when people remember something to be different than it actually was. Why do those memories change? Do feelings affect it or is there just no room left to remember? Let me know what you think!

Dreams and Motivation

Today, Lia made a post on her blog about dreams. Not the kind you imagine in your sleep, but rather the aspirations that we create for ourselves. There can be many different types of dreams, I think, from wanting to be a certain way to wanting something to happen to you. For example, a girl can dream of being a chef when she grows up but can also dream of finding a loving husband or getting rich. Certain dreams can only be obtained by luck, like the dream of winning the lottery and buying everyone in your family a mansion. Sure, that would be incredible, and you have a right to dream about it, but there’s nothing you can really do to make that a reality. That is, of course, assuming you don’t devote your life to buying lottery tickets religiously. That’s somewhat of a different matter. My point is that you need to find the line between dreams that are within your power to achieve and dreams that you have no control over, and focus on the prior. If you get caught up in hoping for something to happen to you without actually doing anything… you’ll get nowhere.

This morning, my Spanish teacher made a good example of this. She was addressing the fact that people expect to understand something instantly or be good at something without practicing, almost like obtaining the reward without doing the work. You don’t study? Then why are you mad that you don’t get good grades? To show this, she stood on a floor tile and described it as her comfort zone. Would anything bad happen if she stayed inside it? No. But was anything good going to happen either? Not really. She pointed to another tile on the floor and said, “I want to be there, but the problem is, I don’t want to leave here,” indicating her comfort square. “Why aren’t I on that square?” she demanded indignantly. “I’m looking at it, I can see it, why aren’t I there??” The answer: she was refusing to move, and that makes all the difference.

If there’s something you really want, a dream that would mean a lot to you, work for it! Buckle down, make a plan, and try. If things aren’t going so well, the worst thing you can do is give up too soon. If the situation is a disaster, you’ll know when to cut your losses, but otherwise, keep pushing it until either you succeed or you don’t. With my Climate Action Festival, there have been so many occasions where I’ve really wanted to call the whole thing off. Nothing was going right. People weren’t responding to my e-mails, no one seemed interested, I only had a couple tables planned, I didn’t have enough time, I was scared of talking to people to make my idea a reality. There was always a problem, but I credit my mother for pushing me forward no matter how bleak the outcome seemed. And guess what? Today, I gave my third or fourth (or fifth?) presentation about my festival in front of a group and rocked it. People came up to me after to shake my hand, and people have introduced me to their superiors, saying, “This is the young lady who is doing the Climate Action Festival!” I’ve been complimented on my project and my motivation to make a difference. Ahh! That’s the word! Motivation. I’m not kidding, with motivation, you can do almost anything. You can be almost anything. If you don’t let anything stop you, you will go a long long way.

I’m extremely grateful that my mother pushed me to continue until I knew I was past the point of no return. Once canceling wasn’t an option anymore, I threw myself into my project. I went from spending an hour or so a week on it to an hour or so a day, almost overnight. I work on festival planning every single day, and it has become a natural part of life now, after such a short time. I actually feel like I have things in order now that I’m moving forward. When I was doing hardly any work, I wasn’t motivated. Why? Because I was hardly getting anything done. See a correlation? Now that I’m slacking off less and amping myself up more, I really am excited for this festival. I want to work on it now, and I can’t wait to check things off my to-do list. Part of that is, of course, because the festival is very close on the calendar, but it is also because I find that when I’m more energetic about it, it’s more fun. Try applying that principle to something in your life and get back to me. Did it work out? What makes you motivated? How will that help you achieve your dreams? Let’s get to work!

Energetically yours,

<3 Rissa

HCRHS Student-Environmental Alliance

Today, at the after-school SEA meeting, the club received honors from the NJ Senate and the South Branch Watershed Association. The creative photography teacher took pictures of the club with the district’s superintendent, the school’s principal, and the officials that were visiting. All of these formalities delayed the start of the actual meeting, but we got there eventually.

HCRHS’s SEA club has generously offered to fully support my Climate Action Festival, which is approaching faster than ever! We broke up into two committees today, one for PR (Public Relations) and one for actual festival work. I went through my list of things SEA could do to help out and embellished on each piece as I went, managing to get a sign-up sheet for volunteers started. The other half of the room talked about getting a commercial going and making photocopies of my flier to post around the school. The club’s amazing president, Georgia, and I talked about a few specifics regarding the table that SEA would set up at the event. She also told me she could probably get my MASSIVE poster hung up in the Commons (the school’s highest-traffic area)! That is going to be so great! Although I’d love for my peers to come to my festival, they weren’t my original target audience. I was aiming for families with kids, so my mother stressed that I needed to get something out on the school districts’ regular e-mails to parents. That needs to be arranged as soon as possible, but I need an informative (not artsy) flier to send. That is going to be a priority in these next couple days so that information about my Climate Action Festival can be sent to all the parents next week. It’s really coming down to the wire here.

Georgia agreed to help me set up a phonebanking party next Tuesday, where volunteers from SEA and myself will be making final follow-ups to the businesses that have yet to get back to me about their participation. She’ll bring food and I’ll bring my beastly festival materials. I’m going to have to put aside some time to organize everything beforehand so that we will be extremely on-task during our brief time to work together on it on Tuesday.

Good news, though! PSE&G (our gas + electric company) has agreed to give me a $200 grant, and Affinity Credit Union would like to donate a $50 Visa Gift Card. That’s going to be so helpful! It will cover materials, the public health permit, and maybe even t-shirts for my volunteers! I should get receipts in order so that can be dealt with. SO MUCH TO DO. I have around 15 participating businesses and organizations, but I have to make this festival larger than life. I need to get back to my Aerial Art Coach about possibly organizing a human Aerial Art photo and send e-mails to the Girl Award Program Adviser and my Project Adviser. Whew!

Still more news! Actually, it’s literally news. PUBLICITY! Today, 350.org released sample templates for Press Advisories and Press Releases to get our events in the media! I downloaded them and they are SO HELPFUL. They also gave tips on writing op-ed’s for the newspaper and a timeline and tip sheet for contacting the media in general. Oh, the joy of an international campaign to back me up as an organizer! It’s a great relationship, we organizers couldn’t do our events without the support of the 350.org Team, and the 350.org Team couldn’t run its campaign without the events that we organizers are, well, organizing!

A lot to do, a lot to think about. If you go to HCRHS, GO TO THE SEA MEETING ON TUESDAY IN ROOM 906!!! There will be food! And awesomeness!

Busiedly yours,

<3 Rissa Join me at www.350.org