January 10, 2022: This new year become a hummingbird! Learn stories about and by Wangari Maathai through digital resources and be inspired to do the best you can.

As we continue to be in a tough stretch during the pandemic, we may find ourselves feeling hopeless. In the face of continuous world problems, it can be difficult to know what to do. Every time I find myself feeling very overwhelmed or powerless, I remember the story of the hummingbird, as told by celebrated Kenyan environmental activist, women’s rights advocate, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai. The story tells an inspiring tale of doing the best you can under seemingly interminable odds. It describes Maathai’s motivation around environmental issues as an allegory for participation and personal empowerment that we can be applied to any challenge. Watch the story by Wangari Maathai in this beautifully animated clip from Dirt! The Movie.

This 2022 be a hummingbird! Do the best that you can! Wangari Maathai’s story is a perfect example of doing the best that you can, starting from small steps that you can actually accomplish. The Honorable Dr. Wangari Maathai as the first African woman and first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize is an incredible inspiration to start acting. By founding the Green Belt Movement, which for over 40 years has sought to empower women, she fought corruption in Africa for environmental rights. As a way to begin the fight against deforestation in Africa, she began by planting only 7 trees in Nairobi and now the movement she started has planted over 40 million trees, all grown by rural women, one by one, each with a tiny seed. Her story has been digitally adapted for children, called: A Tiny Seed: The Story of Wangari Maathai written by Nicola Rijsdijk & illustrated by Maya Marshak, it is available in Storybooks Canada. (Visit the Mentoring Circle post on Global Storybooks to remember all they can offer.)

The Green Belt Movement gives jobs and organizes rural women in Kenya to plant trees, an effort that combats the climate crisis while generating income for the community and promoting empowerment for women. Since Wangari Maathai founded the movement, millions of trees have been planted by more than 30,000 women that have been trained in forestry, food processing, beekeeping, and other sustainable, income-generating activities. Her Nobel Peace Prize is the first to acknowledge environmentalism as a means of building peace through pre-empting conflict over increasingly scarce resources. She was Kenyan by nationality, a biologist by training, and an activist for the Environment until her last day on Earth. A year before her death, Google team up with her to create a Climate Change tour, as part of their digital tool Google Earth Outreach. Fly over the tree planting sites and view the saplings in 3D in this tour called: A Voice for Trees narrated by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai.

Google Earth Outreach Climate Change is a digital resource to learn about adaptation strategies that mitigate the effects of climate change. Google Earth created this series of tours and videos to better understand the consequences our relationship with the land has caused over time. Fly over tree canopies in 3D, learn about how climate change affects our planet and examine strategies for reducing emissions through preserving forest ecosystems. You can even become a Google mapping expert, kickstart your map-making with these step-by-step digital video tutorials. Google Earth is the perfect tool to zoom over the Sahara desert. Take a tour of the Eiffel Tower. You can visit all the world with their digital resources, the tool makes Earth feel more interconnected as we can learn about other places and their cultures. The whole world is now in your browser. Explore!

Google Earth offers different tools that can help inside your classroom. Google Earth Studio is a digital tool for Google Earth’s satellite and 3D imagery. An animation tool for geospatial information to create still and video content. You can create an orbit, fly from one point to another and design geographical videos to teach different subjects. Learn the absolute basics of animating in this tutorial: creating a project, navigating the interface, adding/editing keyframes, and rendering. Google Earth Timelapse is a global, zoomable time-lapse video that lets anyone explore the last 35 years of our changing planet’s surface from the global scale to the local scale. Watch how the mining has changed the land in Alberta or observe how wildfires have affected various locations since 1984.

Google Earth Outreach is an excellent tool to teach about our current climate crisis and it tries to empower you to create positive change for people and the planet with environmental awareness digital tools. On the website, you can see how organizations have used these tools for social and environmental work, and the impact they’ve had. Some of the success stories are great learning opportunities for environmental conservation. With Google Earth, you can also choose your adventure with Voyager, a digital tool that takes you on a guided tour around the globe with some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists, and not-for-profit organizations. Immerse yourself in new cultures and test your knowledge of the world. If you were looking for something more age-appropriate, I’ve got you covered! Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? is a game that features the world’s greatest super thief Camen Sandiego. Can you track her around the globe to recover the stolen goods? … Begin the chase! Journey into the world and remember to do the best you can!