Sphere of Influence

As our complex world continues on its trajectory through time and space, I’m seeing that often the best way to help is to work with what’s right in front of us. Through a conversation with one of our Seed dads, I was introduced to an article that addresses this idea. The author, Kevin McCarty, explores the concept of “sphere of influence,” where “companies can use their scale, brand, and market impact to influence broader change.” The sphere of influence lies between what we are concerned about and what we can control. It’s the area where we can influence the direction of change in our lives through who we are and what we do. (https://blog.westmonroepartners.com/the-united-corporations-of-america/)   

This approach is most evident at the Seed during the weeks around Earth Day. This year our display of lunch trash sits at the entrance to the school. As I sat with the 3rd/4th graders on Wednesday morning, we analyzed the collection and discussed ways we could eliminate certain types of trash, such as using reusable containers instead of throwaway plastic bags. Included in the conversation were other ideas for reducing trash, like buying larger quantities of items (e.g. yogurt, cheese, applesauce) and putting them in smaller reusable containers for lunches. In addition to the lunch trash discussion, we also examined toddler trikes and talked about which designs were preferable over others. Then we returned to the classroom to dig into this year’s Earth Day focus, plastic straws.

Inspired by resources such as this powerful TED talk by a nine-year-old girl, the class had already been talking about straws and were well prepared with facts. We decided to create a display board to raise awareness of the problems with plastic straws and invite our Seed families to be a part of the No Straw Challenge. We came up with these categories for the display board:

  • facts about straws (e.g. usage in America and Arizona)
  • alternatives that are better for the environment
  • tips for going strawless
  • reasons not to use straws/harm to the ocean and its creatures

The students worked in teams to gather information, decide how they wanted to present it, and eventually create their actual section for the display board. We counted a collection of straws brought in by a staff member from the restaurant where she works. We’ll use the 164 plastic straws collected in one hour from one restaurant for our display board. By Friday we hope to have the display all together, as well as other resources for our Seed families to take on the straw challenge. It’s clearly a campaign that lies in our “sphere of influence.” It’s way we can make change right now, as well as lay a foundation for future citizens to make more mindful decisions.   

If you’re interested in participating, here are a few additional worthy sites: