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February 2012 :: The YES! Breakthrough 15 issue  

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”—Albert Schweitzer

Dear Educators,

Many of you have recently emerged from final exams and could surely use a dose of positivity.

We have just the cure for you! In this newsletter, we continue our exploration of heroes from YES! Magazine’s Breakthrough 15 issue, this time featuring Nipun Mehta, champion of the Kindness Revolution. You’ll find generosity-driven projects and classroom tools from Mehta’s nonprofit organization ServiceSpace that will nurture the hero in you and your students. And, there are more resources on other amazing heroes, plus, a visual lesson on—tomatoes!

Our Winter 2012 writing competition is now under way. Have your students wrestle with the question, “Is hunting moral?” Don’t miss out! Register by March 2. Essays due no later than March 31.

Jing FongBest,
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Jing Fong
Education Outreach Manager, YES! Magazine


Students prepare a wool mat for felt art. Photo courtesy of Michelle Contreras. ¡Hola! The Future is Now

First grade teacher Michelle Contreras’ classroom of native Spanish-speaking and native English-speaking students embodies the future. Read how Michelle uses two-way Spanish immersion, touch therapy, and an outdoor human relations camp to connect with her students, and help them discover their individual gifs. This is Michelle’s story.    READ »


Smile cards by ServiceSpace ServiceSpace

ServiceSpace, formerly known as CharityFocus, is a living example of what can happen when technology is combined with passion. For founder Nipun Mehta, that passion is to ignite the spirit of service and “change ourselves to change the world.”

YES! Recommends the smart and soulful ServiceSpace for its easy-to-use giving projects and tools that can help you and your students identify meaningful ways to serve people and communities around you. We’re excited to share with you ServiceSpace’s “do something” videos, uplifting stories of kindness, free Smile Deck cards with inspiring ideas of kindness, and more.
   EXPLORE ServiceSpace »


Alyssa Johnson is only a little squeamish about holding the pheasant that family friend Rone has just shot. It has the weight and feel of a feathered water balloon. Photo by Allen Ballinger Enter the Winter 2012 Writing Competition

How do your students feel about hunting and killing animals? Is it moral? Have them enter our winter writing competition and let their passionate opinions flow from pen to paper.

Students will read and respond to YES! article, “What’s the Harm in Hunting?” by Alyssa B. Johnson. Alyssa’s story is about her venture into the wild with a hunter whom she trusts, and her own reflections about the morality of hunting.

Register by March 2. Essays are due no later than March 31.
Click here for competition details and how to sign up »

Fall 2011 Writing Competition winners Haley Coe, Lourdes Escobar, Wesely Mikiska, and Cherese Smith Winners of the Fall 2011 Writing Competition

For Fall 2011, participants read and responded to YES! article, “Why My Dad’s Going Green,” by Kate Sheppard. Congratulations to our essay winners, and a big thank you to all writers who submitted an essay.
Read the winning essays »


Will Allen by Pete Amland YES! Breakthrough 15 Hero Will Allen

MacArthur Genius winner and former pro baller Will Allen returned to Milwaukee to do what he loves best—growing food. Read about Will’s “Good Food Revolution,” and how he is bringing fresh food—and social justice—to urban food deserts.    MORE »

Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes since the Egyptian pyramids were built. In the early 1700s, French gravediggers drank a mixture of crushed garlic and wine as protection against the plague. During World War I, soldiers were given garlic to prevent gangrene. YES! But How: 6 Recipes for Winter Wellness

Natural cures are easier to make than you think. Learn some basic recipes for tried-and-true homemade remedies, such as fire cider, thyme gargle, and organic lip balm, to stay healthy.    MORE »


Academy of Achievement logo Academy of Achievement Gallery of Heroes

The Academy of Achievement uses gorgeous photos, lively audio, and lesson plans to “Bring students face-to-face with extraordinary leaders, visionaries, and pioneers that have helped shape the world.”    MORE »

Cornel Legacy Project banner image Lessons for Living from Elders

Legacy Project founder Professor Karl Pillemer has collected practical advice on living from over 1,500 Americans in their 70s. From creating your own happiness to getting over pleasing everyone, elders offer life lessons with wisdom and wit.    MORE »


Mark Bezos. Still image from video: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter. Save the Shoes!

Big burly volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos shows his softer side when he tells his heroic story. He beckons all of us, “If you have something to give, give now.” MORE »


Jason McLennan photo by Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine ¾-Baked

ON HOW TO BREAK THROUGH: “I believe in the 3/4-baked philosophy. People chase perfection—trying to ’fully bake’ their ideas before they share them with the world. Too many people end up never sharing their ideas, songs, dreams, novels, and inventions …” Jason McLennan, architect and YES! Breakthrough 15 Hero

You may have heard of the term “half-baked,” but what about “3/4-baked”?

Since he was a child, architect Jason McLennan has been interested in how things are built. He has grown from sketching castles and ships to leading a living-building movement that no only uses fewer natural resources, but also gives back.

How have McLennan’s ideas transformed building design? His former professors and bosses will tell you that aside from constantly asking questions about life and how the world works, he isn’t afraid to offer his ideas for feedback.

Read McLennan’s full quote on his 3/4-baked philosophy and the complete YES! article on McLennan, plus a classroom activity.
   MORE »


Tomato Monoculture You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

Ask these three questions about this photo so you and your students can understand the image, its message, and why it’s interesting (or not): What do you notice, What are you wondering? And, after uncovering some facts, What’s next?    MORE »

February Events  

Collage, images courtesy Diana Uribe and News Taco “No History is Illegal” Campaign

Last month, the Tucson Unified School Board officially banned the school district’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) program. On February 1, 2012, Teacher Activist Groups (TAG) launched a month-long campaign to keep the ideas and values of MAS alive by teaching about them in classrooms across the country. The campaign website offers lessons from and about MAS, and other resources to help your students understand the issues surrounding the ban.    MORE »

Click Here To Order: Single copies of The 15th Anniversary Issue

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YES! is an independent, non-profit, ad-free magazine printed on 100% post-consumer-waste paper.

Each quarter, we take on today’s critical issues with a fresh and positive point of view. Our stories fuse powerful ideas and practical actions, and inspire people to create a better world.