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e-Books @ Reach And Teach

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Old school meets new school as Reach And Teach dips its toes into the e-Book world. Some lament that younger people aren't reading as much anymore, but they are, and in increasing numbers they're doing their reading on "devices." Another trend we're noting is the number of books that are going out of print, important books, which we hope to help give new life through the creation of e-Books. 

In the coming weeks and months, Reach And Teach will create online e-Book categories in our web store where we will curate titles that have a focus on peacemaking, gender equality and sustainable living. The recommendation pages we create will be a mix of old school and new school, current titles that fit our niche and which we believe our partners in peacemaking, young and old, will love, plus out-of-print titles that we'll help resurrect through the creation of e-Books. 

We're doing this through our partnership with the American Booksellers Association and its KOBO program, our publishing partners at PM Press, and through a crowd-sourced "Save This Book" project which will provide an opportunity for people around the world to help edit, page by page, scanned pages of books that are out of print. 

Kobo - The FREE e-Reader App

If you own an iPad, Android, or other tablet, Linux, Windows, Android or Mac, you can download a free app which will allow you to purchase/collect millions of e-Book titles. You can load the app on all of your devices and your entire library will be available wherever you are. AND, you can support Reach And Teach every time you buy an e-Book by creating your Kobo account through this link. Once you do, any time you purchase anything from the Kobo store, Reach And Teach will get credited. 

One of the things we really love is the portability of content. Purchase a book from your browser on your laptop, read it there or on ANY device on which you load the Kobo free app. Every title you buy can appear everywhere you want, any time, and it will keep track of where you left off on your reading. 

Get the Kobo Aura H20 Directly from Reach And Teach!

The ABA has given us a special opportunity to be among the first stores to offer the waterproof Kobo Aura H20 e-reader to our customers, available in November.The BW e-reader is $179.00 and offers a superb reading experience which you can take to the beach or into the bath without worry.

Kobo Aura H2O is the first premium eReader to have a waterproof and dustproof design that allows you to take it worry-free from the beach, to the bath, to your bed. Plus, with up to 2 months of battery life, you have the freedom to keep reading, wherever you go. So if you drop it in the bath or accidentally spill a drink on it, your Kobo Aura H2O will still work like new. Just use the included drying cloth to dry the screen, so you can get back to reading.

Click here to view the details about this product.

Reach And Teach has an opportunity to pre-order these for delivery in November. Click here to email Craig Wiesner to let him know if you'd like one. Once you have it, every time you buy an e-book you'll not only have an awesome reading experience but you'll be supporting Reach And Teach in its mission to transform the world through teachable moments. 

A Word from Craig about E-Readers

Golden BoyAs booksellers, we certainly have mixed emotions about the whole concept of e-Readers, including mixed feelings about uppercase and lowercase and dashes (E-Readers, e-Readers, eReaders, EReaders). The reality is that the number of people of all ages using their devices for reading is growing every year. While many of us absolutely LOVE the feel of holding a book in our hands there are also many benefits to books finding their way onto our devices. 

Often a customer/friend will come into the shop and sheepishly admit that she no longer buys hard copy books while looking around and discovering titles that she didn't know existed. "I feel bad finding a book like this and then buying it on my e-Reader." DON'T FEEL BAD! But please, buy it from US by using the Kobo App on ANY device and setting it up to support our bookstore!

Our Commitment to Excellence

Our commitment, to those who love their printed books and those who simply love reading using whatever tools are available, is the same. We will hunt for the best of the best content, publish some of our own, and make Reach And Teach a place where you can find that best of the best. Whether you come into our shop in San Mateo or browse our site, you will know that there's a story behind every single item you find under our roof, virtual or not. 

Golden Boy just recently arrived in our shop in print. It is absolutely fantastic. Having seen the word "intersex" as part of our rainbow of diversity LGBTQI (Lesbia, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex), it was terrific to have a book that got at the idea of what being intersex rerally meant. 

Here's the Scoop on Golden Boy:

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he's the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He's even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max's mother, is determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years, but now that the boys are getting older, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband Steve has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won't his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he's starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him-desire him-once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?

Written by twenty-six-year-old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you'll read in one sitting but will never forget; at once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity, and a coming-of-age story like no other.


Click here to order the e-Book from Kobo (and your purchase supports Reach And Teach). Click here to order a print copy of the book from Reach And Teach.


The Case of the Disappearing Card Game and Missing Turtles

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Goodbye Bully Machine Card GameWhen we launched Reach And Teach one of the key things we hoped to do was discover excellent tools for peacemaking, promote them, and if we ever spotted something that was in danger of disappearing forever, to rescue it.

In this month's newsletter we'll share some products that we have rescued which we want to offer you "first dibs" on (as we used to say on the playground in Rockaway NY).

Goodbye Bully Machine Card Game

This anti-bullying game was created by our trusted friends at Free Spirit who, after many years, declided to stop the presses and focus more on their wonderful books. So..... we told them we'd take every single game they had left because we love it.

This interactive game allows players to take turns breaking down the Bully Machine, piece by piece. As players draw cards, they discuss what they’d do in bullying situations, are asked to talk about conflict resolution skills, compliment other players, and practice empathy. Each time a player gives a response, he or she gets to take away one piece of the Bully Machine from the game board. Watch out, though: someone might draw a Mean Moment card, which will suggest that a player has done something mean to help build up the Bully Machine. Then the player has to replace one Machine Card. When the machine is totally dismantled, everyone wins.

While other web sites are selling their remaining copies of this game at incredibly high prices, we want you to be able to still get it at the regular retail price of $12.99. Click here to order yours now. Supplies are limited and once they are gone, seriously, they are gone.

Tu Tu Turtle, Ma Me Pa, and Cubby

Years ago we discovered Maya Organics toys while visiting Ashland Oregon and fell in love. These hand-made wood beauties are crafted by artisans in India, using natural dyes like spices for their vibrant colors. Last year the folks that imported these products into the United States retired and we were left with no way to get Tu Tu TurtleMa Me Pa, and Cubby the Stacking Bear.

What to do?

Well, we became direct importers! We are now the only place in the U.S. where you can get these certified fair-trade, child-safe, fun, beautiful toys. Click here to see all our Maya Organics offerings. 


MapsThere aren't many companies out there making maps anymore, and very few shops where you can find them. We believe that maps are critical tools for teaching about the world and also know that people's perceptions about countries and cultures can be shaped by maps. That's why we're SO happy to partner with our friends at ODT Maps to bring you amazing ways to see the world.

This map (above) is the Pacific Centered Peters MapVisit our web site to learn more about what makes this map special AND, if you'd like to order one you can have it for 50% off by using the coupon code "peter" when you check out.

Give Us The Chance to Dance for You

With the disappearance of GLBTQ bookstores across the country and world, it is becoming more and more difficult for people to find high-quality GLBTQ fiction and non-fiction.

Check out our GLBTQ section where we've got some treasures worth noting.

A Rescued Video and Teacher Guide on Fair Trade

Around a decade ago we discovered a wonderful video cartoon musical called For A Few Pesos More that we felt did an outstanding job teaching about the merits of "Fair Trade."  We bought copies of the VHS tape and digitized the video and uploaded it to the web with the creators' permission. We also rescued a great teacher guide to go along with it. The video and teacher guide are available for free through our web site. Click here to check them out. 

Share Your Treasures!

Do you have a book or other product that you believe is special and should be part of the Reach And Teach family? Please let us know! We're always on the lookout for unique products that promote peacemaking, gender equality, and sustainable living. We're especially happy if those products are produced ethically and if the companies creating them help make their communities and world better.

Click here to contact us to let us know about a product you think we ought to be carrying.

And as always, we want to thank you for being our partners in peacemaking! We hope you'llspread the word about Reach And Teach. Here are two  ways you can do that:

Elephant, Turtle, and the Morning Cup of Coffee - A Fair Trade Story

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Early one morning, Elephant and Turtle were planning to meet at Elephant's house in San Mateo for their morning ritual of drinking hot coffee and sharing tall tales about all the other creatures in town. Tu Tu Turtle (shown above) had gotten a pretty late start and needed a little help getting to Elephant's house on time. Fortunately, Holly the Whippet needed some way to work off her breakfast and she agreed to pull Tu Tu along until Tu Tu reached her destination (carrying a string in your mouth has some advantages). Elephant, who went by the name Ms. E. Pooh, was in her kitchen when Tu Tu arrived. 

"Have you made our coffee yet?" Tu Tu asked. "No. I don't think we should have my coffee any more." Ms. E. answered.

"Why not?"

"Well, it isn't 'Fair Trade' coffee." Ms. E. replied. "You see, last evening I had guests over to dinner and when I got ready to serve dessert my friend Cubby the bear said he couldn't drink the coffee because the people who grew the beans weren't paid fairly, worked really long hours, and were exposed to lots of pesticides."

Then, Ms. E. slid her Kobo tablet in front of Tu Tu and said "Here. Watch this video. It's all about the difference between the coffee we usually drink and 'Fair Trade' coffee."

After watching the video, Tu Tu had two questions. "What's a peso? And, where can we get Fair Trade coffee?"

Ms. E. and Tu Tu headed over to 25th Avenue in San Mateo and visited Reach And Teach where they found several different kinds of Fair Trade coffee as well as cocoa, chocolate, crafts, toys, and lots of other products that were certified fair trade. 

They bought some Proud Mama coffee and went back to Ms. E.'s house, brewed it up, and launched into their usual gossip session and, as the story goes, they lived happily ever after. Ms. E. was especially happy because while she was at the shop, she learned a whole new use for something that had been piling up around her back yard for years.... pooh. Who knew you could make an entire business out of elephant pooh? Results of her hard work can now be found at Reach And Teach!


We encounter many people who have never heard of the term Fair Trade. For a Few Pesos More is a wonderful animated music video, and a perfect way to introduce people to the injustices of "Free Trade" and the alternative justice of "Fair Trade." The video was created by the British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) in coordination with Pangea (Rome, Italy) with co-financing from the European Union.  Reach And Teach discovered this great animation through the Fair Trade Resource Network in Washington D.C. and got permission from them and BAFTS to make it available to our web site visitors, along with a teacher guide which you'll find after the lyrics below.


All year long the farmer tills his soil
To harvest a product that’s as precious as oil
One year’s work without hope or means
What did he get for his coffee beans?
Just three pesos, pesos just three
For one year’s work and his crop of coffee.

The guy who buys his coffee doesn’t speak his lingo
He’s a smooth talking, hard selling, tight-fisted gringo…
If it’s cotton, bananas, cocoa and café
What do you think he gets for his pay?
Three thousand pesos, a thousand times three,
For a quick slick chat to buy some coffee. (Repeat)

Cotton, bananas, cocoa and coffee
take a month to cross the wide blue seas
the London dealer gets three million clean
For a two second sale on his PC screen.
The sweatshop boss yells from his office:
“Lay off some workers! We’re losing our profits!”,
he looks at his Rolex – it’s getting late –
back home to a mansion on his country estate.

3000 pesos are no longer enough;
Now it starts at a million and (it) keeps going up. (Repeat)

A scientist arrives from the US of A
and studies our bean in a whole new way.
“Try out this spray with added genes.
It’ll make it grow better – though it won’t be too clean.”

The TV ads use a famous star,
who struts her stuff for a coffee jar
with flying coffee beans in a sexy pose
she gets a cheque with seven zeros.

One little bean of all that coffee
Costs more than farmer, field and crop all three. (Repeat)

The smooth exporter… plays his trick
The London trader… gets rich quick
The sweatshop boss… puts his feet up
The US expert… rejects his cup
Manager, actress, banker, ad-man… are happier and richer than beforehand.
But all the work done by the poor farm hick
Earns just three pesos – and one penny tip. (Repeat)

One way we can improve the global plot
is to treat people fairly and improve their lot.

Part of the world has been plundered for years
by those who don’t care for their victim’s tears,
the only things that turn these cheaters on
are stock-exchange prices, not human lives gone.
But lucky for you, in trade these days
We can show you a better way out of this maze. (Repeat)

Another farmer worked a year on his lands.
Instead of going to market he took power in his hands
By meeting someone else, just a guy down to earth,
someone who pays him what his work is worth,
he knows that an hour should be paid just the same,
for an ordinary farmer or a famous name.
His goods are now sold in ‘Fair Trade Shops’,
that pay a proper price for work and crops. (Repeat)
Outside the trap of the free trade maze
united in the justice of the fair trade ways. (Repeat)


Original Italian lyrics: Dario Iacobelli
Italian executive producer: Marco Massa
Music: Daniele Sepe
Animation: Maurizio Forestieri (Graphilm, Matitaly Consortium)
UK executive producer: Richard Holgarth
English translation: Simon Knight
Further adaptation of lyrics: Jokey Lloyd & James O’Hanlon
UK singers: PaulHoward/Sarah Ross

Teacher / Facilitator Guide

Click here to download the teacher/facilitator guide with activities designed for 8-11 year olds, 11-14 year olds, and High Schoolers and adults.

October is Fair Trade Month

To us here at Reach and Teach, Fair Trade is one way to an equitable and just world economy, which provides living wages and improves quality of living standards for all the artisans, farmers and laborers involved. Our friends at Green America have a great page that explains what we mean by "Fair Trade." Click here to check out that page. (NOTE: We are certified by Green America as a green business, which includes us adhering to fair trade practices. We are also a California and San Mateo certified Green Business which means that we need to be intentional about the effect that everything we do and sell has on the planet.)

Reach And Teach sources our crafts and gifts from organizations that are either certified as Fair Trade or from organizations with whom we have a direct relationship. 

In addition to whole heartedly endorsing and selling Fair Trade products, we encourage each and every one of us to do our part to make our world equitable and increase the economic quality of living for all our fellow humans.

When you purchase something, take a look at where it is made and consider the people who made it, starting with the raw materials, to the finished good, to the transportation that got it from where it was assembled to where you are shopping, and look around at the hands that are helping you in that shop. Is it possible that you could somehow make choices that would be more helpful in creating the world you wish to see?

Here are some resources to help you get there.

Reach and Teach on Other VoicesA few years ago Paul George of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center invited us to be on his monthly TV program, Other Voices, to talk about Fair Trade. It was a lot of fun AND very educational.

Other Voices TV: Shopping With a Conscience from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.

Nothing Is Where You Think It Is

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Wait, What? Who Flipped the Planet?

One of our favorite West Wing episodes, Big Block of Cheese Day, featured the Cartographers for Social Equality trying to get the Peters Projection Map into all American schools.

What do maps have to do with social equality? We're glad you asked.

Maps help shape our perceptions of other countries and the people living in them. As we read and hear about news from places like Liberia, Syria, the Ukraine, Bolivia, and Guatemala, our understanding of the situations in those places can be influenced by our understanding of where they are, who their neighbors are, who is "on top" and who is "on the bottom," and how "big" they are.


In this month's newsletter we'll share a bit about a couple of the maps that we have available to you AND, if you're in the mood for decorating walls with things that can help flip the dominant narrative, shift the paradigm, or just make someone stop, stare, and say "Wait, what?" we'll show you one of our favorite posters too.

Don't Mess with Cartographers!

Arno PetersIf you truly believe that all people on the planet, that all societies are of equal worth, what are ways you can represent that? Pick up a "World History" textbook and thumb through the index. Does it really represent "world" history, or does it represent some parts of the world more than others?

Arno Peters was an historian and eventually a beloved and reviled map-maker, who created one of the most controversial maps in history, seeing the popular maps having a role in the massive social injustice that had plagued the planet.

Since Mercator produced his global map over four hundred years ago for the age of Europeans world domination, cartographers have clung to it despite its having been long outdated by events. They have sought to render it topical by cosmetic corrections.

...The European world concept, as the last expression of a subjective global view of primitive peoples, must give way to an objective global concept.

Peters ruffled quite a few feathers and we're glad he did. In September we're offering some wonderful Peters maps at a special price.

Pop Quiz - Which Is Bigger?

Mercator ProjectionQuick Quiz: Which is bigger, Africa or Russia? How about Texas and Greenland? How about all of Europe and South America?

The type of map most people are used to seeing would cause you to get the answers to this quiz wrong. The "Mercator" projection map is the most widely used in the world, but in order to achieve its goal of helping navigate the planet by sea, it distorts the true land mass of the places it represents. Does size matter? Yes, when it comes to how a nation's importance is perceived, size does indeed matter.

Are You Uncomfortable Yet?

Pacifif-Centered Peters Equal Area MapBabies enter the world feeling as though they are the center of the universe and everything revolves around them. They grow out of that eventually (except for some folks and we all have at least one of those people in our lives...) and realize that while they are very important, other people are important too.

As instructional designers, the team at Reach And Teach knows that a certain level of discomfort can help people learn. We are all too comfortable thinking of our "Western" selves being at the center of the universe, with maps we've seen since we were babies reinforcing that belief. Well... This map will make people uncomfortable and into that place of discomfort we can fit a whole lot of teachable moments.

This is a Pacific-Centered Peters World Equal Area Map. Rather than putting Africa or the United States at the center of the word, it draws our eyes to the Pacific Ocean as the center of the planet with Australia getting prominent attention.

The map also shows all areas - whether countries, continents or oceans - according
to their actual size.

Why would you do that? Why not?

More or Less Discomfort?

What's Up SouthOn this map we keep the Mercator Projection but flip things around a little. Does that make you more or less comfortable than the previous map?

Imported from Australia, with a unique down-under viewpoint and cheeky Aussie humor, this "What's Up South" map was created by Stuart McArthur of Melbourne, Australia. He drew his first South-Up map when he was 12 years old (1970). His geography teacher told him to re-do his assignment with the "correct" way up if he wanted to pass. Three years later he was an exchange student in Japan. He was taunted by his exchange student-friends from the USA for coming from "the bottom of the world." It was then, at age 15, he resolved to one day publish a map with Australia at the top. Six years later, while at Melbourne University, he produced the world's first "modern" south up map and launched it on Australia day in 1979. It has sold over 350,000 copies to date.

Care to make it 350,001? 

Too Straight?

Come on in to our shop on 25th Avenue in San Mateo or visit our web site and check out all of our maps, plus books about maps, and an incredible Atlas that will set you straight on things like population, income, crops, health, and other data allowing comparisons of life in different nations. And while we're setting you "straight" on that, check out some of our posters like this one.Unfortunately, History Has Set the Record A Little Too Straight is one of our best-selling posters featuring photos of people you might not have known were LGBTQ. 

We have a few dozen amazing posters available online and in our shop that will help transform the world through teachable moments. 

Transform Someone Else's World

If you enjoy our newsletters and love Reach And Teach, we'd really appreciate it if you would help spread the love by:

Thanks to all of you for being our partners in peacemaking. Together we can change the world for the better, one teachable moment at a time.

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus

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Speaking OUT

Reach And Teach and PM Press are honored to be working with Rachelle Lee Smith to publish the results of over a decade's work with LGBTQ youth. Help make this book a best-seller and get the notice it deserves! Pre-order copies of the book now and we'll send yours out in October 2014 when it is released.

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus is a photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages 14 to 24, identifying as queer (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning). Portraits are presented without judgment or stereotype by eliminating environmental influence with a stark white backdrop. This backdrop acts as a blank canvas, where each subject's personal thoughts are handwritten onto the final photographic print. With more than sixty-five portraits photographed over a period of ten years, Speaking OUT provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth.

Rather than a slick coffee-table book only available to those who could afford to pay $40 or more, we decided to crowd-source the funding of the first print run so that the book would only cost $14.95. Thank you to all the people who donated over $25,000 to get this book out into the world. 

Help make this book a best-seller and get the notice it deserves! Pre-order copies of the book now and we'll send yours out in October when it is released.

About the Book: 

Speaking OUT gives a voice to an underserved group of people that are seldom heard and often silenced. The collaboration of image and first-person narrative serves to provide an outlet, show support, create dialogue, and help those who struggle. It not only shows unity within the LGBTQ community, but also commonalities regardless of age, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

With recent media attention and the success of initiatives such as the It Gets Better Project, resources for queer youth have grown. Still, a void exists which Speaking OUT directly addresses: this book is for youth, by youth.

Speaking OUT is an award-winning, nationally and internationally shown and published body of work. These images have been published in magazines such as the Advocate, School Library Journal, Curve, Girlfriends, and Out, and showcased by the Human Rights Campaign, National Public Radio, Public Television, and the U.S. Department of Education. The work continues to show in galleries, universities, youth centers, and churches around the world.

Help make this book a best-seller and get the notice it deserves! Pre-order copies of the book now and we'll send yours out in October when it is released.

Advance Praise:

"Queer youth have a powerful story to tell and Rachelle Lee Smith has given voice to them through her stark, gorgeous photography. Speaking Out captures the essence of LGBTQ young people - proud, visible and with something important to say. Smith's collection offers a glimpse of Generation Equality you won't easily forget." -Candace Gingrich, Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Associate Director for Youth & Campus Engagement

"Rachelle Lee Smith has created a book that is not only visually stunning but also gripping with powerful words and even more inspiring young people! This is an important work of art! I highly recommend buying it and sharing it!" -Perez Hilton, blogger and television personality

"It's often said that our youth are our future. In the LGBT community, before they become the future we must help them survive today. This book showcases the diversity of creative imagination it takes to get us to tomorrow." -Mark Segal, award-winning LGBT journalist

"The power of a look, a pose, and a story can be seen through Rachelle Lee Smith's photography and the youth who opened up their raw emotions, insecurities, and celebrations to us all. Sharing stories saves lives, but also reminds us that there can be continual struggle in finding identity and acceptance." -Ryan Sallans, author of Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life

"It's wonderful to see so many happy kids. You wouldn't have seen such a crowd fifty years ago. Sometimes things do get better."-Ed Hermance - Owner Giovanni's Room, the oldest LGBT book store in America

"Rachelle Lee Smith's photographic project presents us with the face and the voice of this generation of LGBT youth: they are passionate, angry, funny, and committed. As an openly gay educational leader, I think this project is critical-not only for young queer people, but for their teachers, parents, mentors, and friends. We need to put this project in libraries and schools across the country!" -Sean Buffington, President and CEO, The University of the Arts

"These are portraits of a revolution. Photographer Rachelle Lee Smith gives lesbian and gay youth an outlet to speak for themselves. Simple, yet powerful photos of queer youth speak reams." -Advocate

"The young people profiled in this remarkable book represent the tip of the volcano of a new generation transforming and revolutionizing the society and its institutions by challenging overall power inequities related not only to sexuality and gender identity categorizations and hierarchies, but they are also making links in the various types of oppression, and are forming coalitions with other marginalized groups. Their stories, experiences, and activism have great potential to bring us to a future where people across gender and sexuality spectrums will live freely, unencumbered by social taboos and cultural norms of gender and sexuality." -Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, Ed.D. - Professor, Iowa State, University of Massachusetts

"The perfectly executed photographs, the passionate handwritten text, the insights, secrets and revelations all combine to make this a powerful body of work. Ms. Smith has shown a light on a group of young people and illuminated the world in which they live."-David Graham, Award-Winning Photographer

"This is a STUNNING book. And it's important. It's important that the next generation is SEEN the way it sees itself. We rightfully put a lot of emphasis on being heard-on words. But a picture is worth a thousand words, and this book's striking focus on the AESTHETICS of this group of queer youth is thoroughly refreshing. Bravo!"-Innosanto Nagara -Author, A is for Activist, Co-founder, Design Action Collective, Oakland

About the Artist:

Rachelle Lee Smith is an award-winning, nationally and internationally shown and published photographer. Rachelle's work in Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus combines her passions for activism and photography to tell the stories of, and provide a rare insight into, the evolving passions, confusions, prejudices, fulfillment, joys, and sorrows of queer youth.

Book Foreword by Candace Gingrich and Afterword by Graeme Taylor:

We're thrilled that we get to feature perspectives from an activist who has been working on GLBTQ issues for decades and a youth who stood up for a teacher and then took the world by storm as the start and finish of this book. 

At age 14, Graeme Taylor skyrocketed to international attention when he confronted a school board for not defending gay rights in it's schools. In the process, Graeme became one of the youngest and most widely known openly gay teens in America. He was interviewed on MSNBC's Jansing and Co. and the Ellen Degeneres Show and is now the subject of a short film, "Shrug."

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player 

Candace Gingrich is an LGBT rights activist with the Human Rights Campaign. Her involvement in the movement for queer equality began when her brother, Representative Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was elected House speaker. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.  

Paper or Plastic? Neither!

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Welcome to the first of three stories about ways Green + Frugal = Happy! We'll list the other two stories at the bottom of this one.


There's a big, giant, bag in our garage, filled with... plastic bags, the kind we used to get all the time at the supermarket, before we became enlightened enough to start carrying our own reusable bags everywhere we went. A few years ago when Cool Cities San Mateo began meeting in our shop one of their big goals was to get a law passed requiring merchants to charge ten cents for every bag a customer needed. Just ten pennies, one dime, could make people stop and think and learn new habits. Cool Cities succeeded and judging from the number of people saying "no" when we offer them a bag for a dime, and more importantly the number of people who always carry a reusable bag with them, the law is truly a success. 

Way back in the day, when we first started Reach And Teach, we were speaking at a gathering of seniors (folks in their 70's and up) about our new venture and the person who invited us told us it was a bring-your-own-bag lunch, but that we shouldn't bring our own, she would provide our lunch. She'd made us delicious sandwiches, home-made cookies, and she gave us our lunch in something we'd never seen before... a ChicoBag.  Andy Keller, who invented ChicoBags, is one of the people we credit with helping to educate the public about the environmental harm caused by single-use bags. He created a bag that you could always have with you, that folded up into its own attached pouch, and with the addition of a carabiner (metal loop with spring-loaded gate), allows you to attach your bag to your belt or purse so it is always handy.

June 7-15 at the San Mateo County Fair Reach And Teach will have an exhibit where we continue to educate folks about the harm done by single-use bags, plastic water bottles, and paper towels. And, in Reach And Teach style we'll recommend alternatives that are better for the environment AND your wallet. Bag Monster, a prop created by Andy Keller, will be at the fair (Craig Wiesner donning the costume or... volunteers are welcome).  Why? Don't people already know the harm done by single-use bags? Not enough. Here are some startling statistics:

  • 100 Billion Plastic Bags Used by Americans Each Year
  • Average 600 Bags Per Person Per Year
  • 2.2 Billion Pounds of Fossil Fuels and 3.9 Billion Gallons of Fresh Water to Produce
  • Costs $4 Billion Dollars a Year (Retailers/Consumers)
  • Creates 1 Billion Pounds of Solid Waste and 2.7 Million Tons of C02
  • Takes 1,000 Years for Plastic Bag to Decompose
  • 100,000 Sea Turtles and Other Marine Animals Die Each Year Because of Plastic Bags
There are already giant swirling garbage patches that have formed in our oceans caused by plastic bags and bottles. Whether we can clean up that mess is one question which the average person may not be able to influence, but whether we continue to create more and more of that mess is something that each of us can personally have an impact on. Our friends at Klean Kanteen support Klean Kanteen support the important work of 5 Gyres Institute. To understand the impact of plastic pollution, 5 Gyres studies the five subtropical gyres by sailing through them. Unlike other ocean conservation organizations, 5 Gyres doesn't just take scientists out into the ocean, they take artists, writers, musicians, journalists, students, teachers - anyone who will serve as a 5 Gyres Ambassador for change. The goal is to give stakeholders from all walks of life an authentic vantage from gyre central. Check out their video.
Reach And Teach is proud to work with companies like ChicoBag and Klean Kanteen, pioneers in educating the public about the harm caused by plastic bottles and bags, AND creating high-quality alternatives.  
Click here to buy ChicoBags from us and click here to check out our Klean Kanteens.  
And, in case you are wondering what to do with your giant bag full of plastic bags from the bad old days before you were enlightened, most supermarkets have recycling bins for those bags. Typically, they CAN NOT go in your normal big blue bin at your house. Those bags require special handling so please find a place that truly does have the ability to get them recycled.  
Two More Frugal + Green = Happy Stories

Paper Towels? NO! Skoy Cloth Please

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If you had to guess what made up one third of all landfill waste what would you guess? Go on, take a few moments and think about that one. Believe it or not, the answer is..... paper towels! Wait what? But.... I only use a few of those a day, you might say. Nope. The average person uses 100 rolls of paper towels a year. When we were working on "greening" Reach And Teach, we looked at all of our daily habits at work and at home and one of the things we quickly realized was how often we went for the paper towels for quick cleanups. Why? They're convenient, relatively cheap, and we figured we could toss them in the compost bin. If only.  

Here's the lowdown on paper towels in the good old USA:

  • 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year
  • ⅓ of All Landfill Trash is from paper towels
  • Average Person Uses 3,000 Paper Towels Each Year
  • 100 Rolls Per Year Per Person @ $150 Per Person, 100 Trees and 125lbs of Carbon Dioxide
  • Replace w/Skoy Cloths for just $15 a Year 
Wait, what? There's an alternative to paper towels? Of course. Many public bathrooms have replaced paper towels with air dryers. Around the kitchen you can use a sponge, a rag, or.... Reach And Teach is pleased to offer, Skoy Cloths! We've secretly substituted our paper towels in our kitchen and in our soap refilling station area with Skoy Cloths and we like them so much we're offering them to our customers. Four cloths to a package, at just $7.20 each, can save you a lot of money and help the environment, including saving lots of trees. It takes ONE TREE to make a roll of paper towels, not to mention the energy, water, transportation....
If you'd like to try Skoy Cloths for yourself, click here to visit our web store. And... if you happen to be in the San Mateo area June 7-15 2014, visit the Reach And Teach exhibit at the San Mateo County Fair. You might just run into plastic bag monster who will teach you all about alternatives to paper towels, plastic bottles, and single-use bags. (Yeah, the bag monster will be none other than Craig Wiesner - something you've just got to see to believe). 

Klean Kanteens Return to Reach And Teach

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Reach And Teach has been invited to exhibit at the San Mateo County Fair (June 7-15) and we decided to focus on choices people can make that are move environmentally sound AND which help them save money. Frugal + Green = HAPPY! One of the most damaging habits Americans have fallen into is the use of plastic water bottles. You've seen folks walking out of your local supermarket with literally hundreds of plastic bottles of water, or maybe you've actually been one of those people. We've got to admit, there were a few events in the last five years where that seemed like the only good option for making sure folks had access to water. The impact of plastic water bottles on the planet and on our wallets is staggering. That's one reason why we're thrilled to have Klean Kanteen products available in our shop. They are not only a wonderful alternative to plastic water bottles, but they are also incredibly well made, reasonably priced, and the company gives back so much to the world every single day.

Here's a video from just one of the organizations Klean Kanteen supports.

Here are just a few of the facts about plastic water bottle use to consider:

  • Americans use 50 Billion Plastic Water Bottles Per Year
  • That's 1,500 Plastic Bottles Per Second
  • Americans Spend $22 Billion Dollars A Year Just for the Water in Plastic Bottles
  • That's $346 Per American Per Year (versus $0.48 cents for tap water)
  • 80% of Plastic Water Bottles that Could Be Recycled STILL End Up in Landfill
  • 2,500,000 Tons of Carbon Dioxide Are Produced Manufacturing Plastic Water Bottles
  • 90% of Ocean Trash is Plastic Bottles and Bags

A Klean Kanteen water bottle costs just $20 and the water you'd need to fill it from your tap (even filtered) over and over and over again all year long is just $0.48 cents. 

Frugal + Green = HAPPY!

Click here to visit our Klean Kanteen ordering page.

Our next Frugal + Green = HAPPY! story will be about the impact of single-use plastic and paper bags and how you can save money and the planet by swapping to reusable bags. Here's a preview of how Craig's going to be dressing up to make this point. And... if you'd like to volunteer to be "Bag Monster" any time June 7-15 at the San Mateo County Fair, please contact Craig

Bag Monster

Video About Reach And Teach

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In April 2014, Reach And Teach was honored to receive the 2014 Sustainability Award from Sustainable San Mateo. The following video was created by Rick Bacigalupi of BACIPIX for the awards ceremony. We are so grateful to Rick and all the wonderful people who appear in the video and ALL of the people who support Reach And Teach and our goal to transform the world through teachable moments.

We Day Oakland California

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There once was a village located at the bottom of a bend in the river. The residents of that village were the most charitable people you could imagine. If someone in the village fell on hard times, the rest of the village took care of him. If a family needed food, the village fed them. If someone's house was destroyed, everyone chipped in to rebuild it.

One day, as children were playing at the edge of the river, they saw three bodies floating down. Frightened they ran to the village center and told some of the adults who ran down to the riverside and dragged the bodies out. All were dead, bodies battered. One was a woman, one a man, and one a child.The people of the village, being compassionate and charitable, buried the bodies with great ceremony and tears.

As the days, weeks, and months went by, more bodies floated down the river, and eventually, several people in the village dedicated their lives to fishing those bodies out and burying them. Each time, the entire village would gather and pray and mourn.

One day, after this had been going on for years, a child stood up during the burial ceremony. Normally, children were expected to sit quietly during such gatherings, but she stood up and walked to the grave that had been dug and said "Wait!" The entire village looked at this little girl and wondered what she could possibly have to say. "I know that we are doing charity when we take these people out of the river and care for their bodies and bury them but..."  She turned slowly around to look into the eyes of all the people in the village before she asked "Why doesn't anyone go up the river and find out where these people are coming from and why they're dying? Maybe we could do something about that." 

We Day OaklandAmy Jussel of Shaping Youth and I (Craig Wiesner) were invited to We Day California in Oakland on March 26th. 16,000 young people, most of whom had been involved in some kind of local and/or international service (from small things like bake sales to large things like travelling to Africa to build schools), were gathered to be congratulated on their work and inspired to go out and keep changing the world. Amy Jussel, who spent years in media/marketing as an indie advertising/branding pro, has spent the last decade using those skill sets to teach about media literacy and the power of media messaging, said as we left the event that We Day had used all of the tools in media's arsenal as effectively as she had ever seen in her career. As someone who spent much of my career as a trainer, working on figuring out the best way to grab an audience's attention and move them to action of some sort, I agree.

This gathering was as elaborately staged, loud, and tightly scripted and choreographed as a One Direction concert, with kids cheering and screaming with equal enthusiasm for the likes of Selena Gomez as they did for Nelson Mandela. Craig and Marc Kielburger, who head up Free the Children which runs We Day, rocked the crowd over and over again with their exuberant, revival-tent, crowd-wowing speaking style, finishing each other's sentences and moving around the two stages at the event with all the energy that two 20-somethings can muster (and we 50-somethings could envy). 

As an older activist, I come to these events somewhat sceptical. Putting on a spectacle of this nature is expensive and to make it happen requires huge sponsors which, in this case, included Allstate, Microsoft, and Unilever, all of whom also got prime stage time to speak to the kids. Of course these representatives of multinational mega-conglomerates want to get their brands in front of tens of thousands of the up and coming generation of consumers. When the executives from these companies stood up to speak, would they be telling the children that one way to solve the world's problems was to buy and use their products? Well, yes.

Martin SheenBut I was pleasantly surprised that one of the first corporate speakers, from Allstate, used a good chunk of his time on stage to encourage the kids to use their voices to speak out against injustice, to not simply be charitable, as most of them had been to get invited to this event, but to go home later and ask the hard questions about why people are homeless, hungry, and dying, and if necessary, to stand up and protest. And that encouragement was repeated, over and over again, by celebrities, including Martin Sheen, business executives, rappers, non-profit leaders, and the kids themselves.

All of this gave this gray-haired activist hope for the future and lessened the discomfort with the brand-building that was also clear and present throughout the event. I'm now very aware of just how many brands fall under Unilever umbrella and how much more effectively we can change the world with a Microsoft tablet.

Despite a bit of that brand-building, the audience was also hearing the phrase "social justice" used by many of the speakers. This made me wonder what the audience thought that phrase meant, if they were thinking about it at all amid all the other words, music, lights, videos and rap stars that were competing for their attention. I would have loved to have had someone on stage tell the kids to text a definition of social justice to "hash tag..." something. There was lots of hash tagging and selfie-shooting going on.

Another important message weaved throughout the event was the importance of travel, getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a completely new and different place, not only to do good work, but also to connect with people from very different cultures. Free the Children provides opportunities for youth to travel. Here's a video about their program. 

Amy Jussel and I are in total agreement that travel is one of the key ways to open people's eyes to alternative realities than they live each day and we were glad to see this emphasis on travel. There was one aspect of travel, though, that could have been mentioned and wasn't. These 16,000 kids had gathered from all over California for the event, most of them coming from outside of where the event took place, Oakland. The We Day kids don't have to travel to another country to see poverty, hunger, violence, human trafficking and slavery. Nor would they have had to travel far to meet people living far different lives than their own. Hopefully the folks who put on We Day will incorporate something into future gatherings where they let attendees know that "just outside of this stadium, just a few blocks away, there are people who need your help and injustices that need your voices." 

How many of the 16,000 attendees at We Day Oakland California will become school-yard, neighborhood or world-changers? Speaking with kids during the lunch break we heard incredibly strong enthusiasm for going out and making a difference. "I wish I had been at a We Day during my first year of High School instead of this year when I'm graduating!" One young man told us. His schoolmate, a freshman, smiled broadly knowing that he was just getting started. We told the soon-to-be in college student that he'd have plenty of opportunities to rock the world in the years to come too. 

Orlando BloomSo, can a huge, corporate-sponsored, mega-event like We Day, filled with celebrities like Orlando Bloom, Selena Gomez, Magic Johnson, Seth Rogen, Martin Sheen, and J Cole create a ripple of movement that brings about real change? To quote Craig Kielburger who was once asked why a 12 year-old was taking on the issue of child labor, "Why not?"

There's more than enough work to be done. The rivers are flowing with the dead and dying, the hungry and abused, the cold and broken. Lots of hands are needed to pull the bodies out, bury the dead, and care for the wounded. Just as importantly, we need people to go up river, find out why there are so many battered bodies, stand up for justice, speak truth to power, and clean those rivers out.

Can a few words from Orlando Bloom help one child to be like that little girl in the village?

Why not?

Thank you to Free the Children and We Day for inviting us to be part of this event. Photos in this story are from the We Day web site, courtesy of We Day. The river image at the start of this post is from

And yes, thank you to the sponsors who helped make the event possible. Now, for some strange reason, I feel the need to go get some Ben and Jerry's ice cream. 

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