Study links decline in teenagers’ happiness to smartphones – Portland Press Herald

Why do we need scientific studies to tell us this?

by Melissa Healy | Los Angeles Times | Jamuary 23, 2019

A precipitous drop in the happiness, self-esteem and life satisfaction of American teenagers came as their ownership of smartphones rocketed from zero to 73 percent and they devoted an increasing share of their time online.

Coincidence? New research suggests it is not.

In a study published Monday in the journal Emotion, psychologists from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia used data on mood and media culled from roughly 1.1 million U.S. teens to figure out why a decades-long rise in happiness and satisfaction among U.S. teenagers suddenly shifted course in 2012 and declined sharply over the next four years.

Was this sudden reversal a response to an economy that tanked in 2007 and stayed bad well into 2012? Or did it have its roots in a very different watershed event: the 2007 introduction of the smartphone, which put the entire online world at a user’s fingertips?

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New Literature on Ecovillages in Manitoba

I’ve been pretty quiet for the past little while.  However, as of this past week or so, a great deal of material that I’ve been working on is starting to meet major milestones.  I have been designing and editing the print edition of ‘The Co-Creator’, and that has taken a great deal of concentration.  It is complete and published to the website! With that being finished, I am organizing a launch party to celebrate it’s completion and publication.  The people interviewed in The Co-Creator are as excited about ecovillages as I am, and they are happy to talk more about them at Sam’s Place.  Sam’s Place is a terrific little coffee shop and bookstore on Henderson Highway that has been very good to me.

I have been active with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network as well, attending a session on Social Enterprise a couple weeks ago. This network is a fantastic resource for ecovillages, especially as it pertains to creating businesses with the social good as their objective.  Being the second session I’ve been to, it’s the second time that I’ve come away feeling like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  What an exciting feeling!

My next focal point is going to be finishing up the advertising flyer for The Co-Creator.  I will share what that looks like shortly.  It should be pretty cool when it’s done.  As well, a component of this launch of The Co-Creator will be an indiegogo campaign for the costs associated with the print edition.  I will share more about that when it’s ready.

In the meantime, please check out the first issue of The Co-Creator, it’s theme being ecovillages.  You can discover more of the upcoming themes on it’s landing page on

Fort Whyte in November

This past Sunday, the weather here in Manitoba was unseasonably warm.  The car thermostat read 17 degrees at one point in the afternoon.  Looking for something to do outdoors, the family ventured out to Fort Whyte to enjoy the incredible afternoon.  Arthur is very used to getting lots of walks and outdoor time at daycare, so walking the paths at the preserve was easy with him.  It just takes Mom and Dad getting used to being outside!

The Gathering

It was a crisp morning, one of the first truly fall mornings of 2016.  Winter beckoned with a cold finger down my neck.  St. Johns High School is a short walk from my house, and within a few minutes I was standing in line waiting for my name tag.  It was only a few days ago that had I really clued into The Gathering and what it was.

I felt happy, jubilant to join a group of people that are active in their respective communities.  And just inside the door, I found a booth for a web design company that I was able talk to about my project.  One of my questions they directed to someone else who happened to be standing close by having a conversation.  Marty was someone who could advise me on the best financial model for the website.

20161021_100828-01.jpegThe importance of community cannot be understated.  When I discovered a major gathering of communities that helps others build and support social communities was convening only a few blocks from my home, it felt like it was meant to be.  I didn’t have much time.  I registered online only two days before the event.

As I stood there talking to him about my project, I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in that moment.  Things were coming together in a way I had never imagined.  I found Holly, a friend I was meeting there in the bleachers and we enjoyed the opening blessing from Norman Meade, an Elder in Residence at the University of Manitoba.  It has been far too long since I’ve heard deep reverence.  Shortly after, our friend Justin showed up and we quietly deliberated the best strategy to take workshops so we could share what we learned afterwards.

There were two keynote speakers, Harsha Walia and Karen Joseph.  Hearing Harsha talk about colonialism really brought the topic much closer to home.  It’s definitely an important topic that bears conversation, and understanding with where we find ourselves as individuals in our shared historical context. Karen’s keynote was also illuminating about the reconciliation process in Canada.

Alex talks about Sam’s Place while Steve Ashton looks on.

My first workshop was the Social Enterprise one.  With others like Practicing Mindfulness, The Green Workplace, Mentorship Program for Social Enterprise, Building Positive Relationships with the Media and more, it was a difficult choice.  I was not let down.  When I walked in, I found Marty was one of two people conducting it.  Faye, the woman who he shared the presentation with said afterwards she knew me from somewhere but couldn’t place it.  The workshop felt like an hour-long synchronicity.  It felt like I was meant to be there.

The amount I got out of the workshop was incredible. My point of reference as a community builder tends to come through the ecovillage framework.  As an ecovillage advocate, I find that social enterprise has a near perfect fit with ones that have businesses structured in.  This workshop was invaluable.  There were several case studies, including Innercity Renovation and Sam’s Place.  Innercity Renovation was a mind expanding experience on it’s own.  The importance of having the right people involved couldn’t have been more underscored.   I happen to be an active patron of Sam’s Place, and Alex–the person involved who spoke about it–recognized me.

For lunch, I watched some students from the Children of the Earth High School present how they started a social enterprise within the school.  They help other students who create art connect to an audience and sell their compositions.  It was a real heartwarming presentation to see the teenagers making their own way.

Children of the Earth Presentation

One of the afternoon afternoon workshops I attended was coordinated by Nigel Mohammed of the Community Financial Center of  the Assiniboine Credit Union.  Learning how to finance social enterprise was a major connecting element to the first workshop.  Again, it nearly blew my mind.  And again, I was able to meet people and establish meaningful connections.

Nigel  Mohammed of Community Financial Centre, ACU

It was hard to leave at the end.  The vibe at the event was one of the most positive  community vibes I’ve felt in a long time, and for the first time, I felt like I was a part of a group working to make things better in our larger, shared community.  The coffee, served up by Green Bean was a strong competitor in my mind to the Black Pearl coffee that I am a big fan of.    CCEDNet’s The Gathering is an eye-opening discovery with tangible benefits for anyone who dares to brave a new world of interdependence.  It felt great to be learning new things in a field that I am interested in.  The connections made were indispensable whether I utilize them in an ecovillage framework or not.  Later on the weekend, the people I went with enjoyed our own gathering and debriefed, sharing what we learned.

HIIT Yoga – Day 1

I don’t think I have ever felt so out of shape doing yoga, and man I hurt afterwards, but it was great!  The intensity is a 30/20/10 series, and works my heart and makes me sweat.  This sort of exercise is exactly what I have been looking for.  I have found in the past that I really enjoy a good cardio session first thing in the morning.  This HIIT yoga while difficult, was awesome.  The rapid asana changes were into deep asanas that stretch a lot and require me to move fast.  There were a few I simply couldn’t do, which felt good.  (I like getting pushed out of my comfort zone in yoga.  I have been needing more challenge.)   It lasted thirty minutes and I loved it.  The instructor is articulate and on the ball.  He’s very tall too!  He dwarfs a regular sized yoga mat.

After I was all done, my knees were weak and my heart rate was up. What a great feeling!  I am looking forwards to tomorrow!

Trains and Treasures

Do your little ones like trains?  There’s a new business open on Ness near Sturgeon called Trains and Treasures that has an indoor train ride for kids.  At only $5 per ride, it’s an affordable weekend activity for the under-6 age group here in Winnipeg.  My family visited this past weekend, and had a great time.

We had heard about a ‘Train Party’ through the Kindermusik mailing list, and were really curious as to what exactly a ‘Train Party’ was.   Apparently there was an indoor train ride, and that alone was enough to pique some interest.  Sure enough, when we got there, it was in an old Safeway, and the oval track covered the entire indoor facility.  Kindermusic was set up with a couple people singing train songs (Think ‘500 Miles’), an instrument pad where people were introducing kids to small instruments, a photo booth and an information booth.

As far as Trains and Treasures, they had done a few rides over the Christmas holidays, but officially opened for business on February 1.  When we visited, there was a lego pit, an air filled castle with a slide for kids to jump on and a model train for kids to watch. Plus of course, the main attraction, the indoor train ride.  The treasures aspect of the name refers to a shared storefront where crafters and hobbyists can purchase shelf space to sell their products.

They are clearly still in the process of getting the business going, but it was a fantastic discovery that is a great indoor activity during the cold Winnipeg winter months.  We will definitely be going back.

NatureSummit, a retreat for educators

NatureSummit is a retreat for educators to learn about and get ideas for helping children feel a sense of wonder outdoors. Occuring every two years, it is scheduled for September 16-18, 2016 at Camp Manitou.

I’m excited to mention that they have accepted my workshop proposal.  I have work to do and people to talk to, but I will presenting a workshop about ecovillages at this year’s event!  Currently titled “Reinventing Ourselves: Changing the Direction of Human Effort,” it will explore the philosophy behind them and offer practical advice on introducing the ideas.

I will follow up with more shortly!  You can learn more about Nature Summit on their website.

Visiting Virginia

Arthur and Grandpa make cookies!
Arthur and Grandpa made cookies!

For Christmas of 2015, Julia, Arthur and myself visited Grandma and Grandpa Buller in Virginia.  We were there for about 10 days, covering both Christmas and New Years.  We stayed in a suite in their basement that has been rented out in the past.

With a stairway up to the main floor, we all lived together for almost two weeks, and it was wonderful.  Grandma and Grandpa took great care of us, nourishing our bodies, hearts and souls.  Chef Grandpa made duck for Christmas dinner!   Arthur played a lot in the kitchen, even helping Grandpa make cookies.  Grandpa also took Arthur for a few rides on the lawn mower and Arthur loved it!

A hot water heater cardboard box had been saved to be used for a fort or house.  Boy did Arthur enjoy the house that Uncle John and I cut into it.  Arthur would take his stuffed animals in with him to keep him company.

The weather itself was very welcoming!  Warm weather greater than 10 degrees Celsius kept us comfortable.  We enjoyed driving around in the convertible with the top down a lot of the time.

Julia and I visited Twin Oaks again, an ecovillage that has been around for more than 50 years.  The tour guide showed us a new ecovillage just starting up that Twin Oaks is helping to get off the ground.  Cambia is suited specifically for families, supporting individual residences.  A blog post is forthcoming about Cambia and what we experienced there.

Arthur in a suit
Arthur all dressed up in the studio.

On New Year’s Eve the whole family enjoyed Harrisonburg’s First Night.  It was a train night for Arthur!  At the Children’s Museum he rode a Thomas the Train ride and also played with other wooden trains that were the same as at his daycare.  We walked around the square and Grandma bought donuts.  A DJ started playing some music and that set the stage for a dance party.  With all ages present, it was awesome to see kids and teenagers getting into the groove.  Arthur saw the dancing, and couldn’t wait to get out of his stroller.  Together, Arthur and I danced to Macklemore.  (Stay tuned, I will be updating this post with video of Arthur dancing.)

Leaving the family afterwards was difficult for everyone.  Grandma and Grandpa were terrific hosts, and tears were shed.  There’s definitely something about Virginia that is very poignant.

From my family to yours, Happy New Year!



Who will lead a new learning culture?

I contemplate about being a Dad in this post on the Aquarian website.  It’s very easy to sink into videogames and screen time with boys.  Thing is, I don’t want that for my youngest son.  I want him to be healthy, and to enjoy balanced relationships all through his life and for him to unfold naturally.  This means that our very culture has to change.