Pared picks up $10M to help restaurant employees live an on-demand life

On the busiest nights, a restaurant can’t afford to even lose a dishwasher to getting sick or not being around — or simply ghosting on the company — and end up frustrating the whole experience for the rest of the staff and restaurant goers.

It’s a problem that Will Pacio was acutely familiar with during his time at Spice Kit, and it’s why he and Dave Lu — who didn’t really have much experience other than delivering Chinese food in high school, but wanted to get into the industry — started Pared. It essentially serves as an on-demand tool for restaurant workers, who might find themselves already working across multiple different jobs or multiple different restaurants and are looking for a lifestyle over which they have some more control. The company said it has raised a $10 million financing round led by CRV, with existing investors Uncork Capital and True Ventures also participating. CRV partner Saar Gur is joining the company’s board of directors.

“Even if youI go [to Craigslist], it’ll take four to six weeks to get someone to show up,” Lu said. “You hire them, you train them, and then they don’t show up to work the very first day. Even if I paid overtime, I don’t have enough employees to cover the shifts. For [Pacio] it was a nightmare, and I just want to be able to tap an app to get that kid from Subway across the street who knows how to make sandwiches and make them for me.”

The app largely focuses on back-of-the-house operations like line cooks, prep cooks, and dishwashers, though it could theoretically extend to any part of the restaurant experience. Restaurants go to the app and say they are looking for what the app calls a ‘Pro’ in whatever role they need, and are able to book the employee right away for the slot they have in their schedule. It might come at a slight premium over the typical hire, but restaurants are already willing to pay overtime in order to cover those gaps and keep things moving smoothly, Lu said.

For employees, it’s a pretty similar experience — they see a job posted on the app, with a time slot, and they make themselves available for an hourly wage. The second benefit, Lu said, is that they can start to slowly make a name for themselves if they are able to prove out their skills and move up the ranks at any of those restaurants. The culinary community is a small one, he said, and it offers a lot of room to start building up a reputation as an exceptional chef or just finally get a first shot at a sauté position in the kitchen after working at the back of the house. That, too, might be part of the appeal of jumping on a service like Pared rather than just driving for Uber.

“On our platform, every shift and rating you get, every connection you get in the industry — and it’s a very tight network — you build up your own reputation or identity,” Lu said. “We’re helping them build up, it’s more like a race to the top than a race to the bottom. They start off as a prep cook, and they start getting offers for line cook positions. We might have videos for learning to do this or that. They can work their way up to build that reputation. It’s all about reputation, it’s about people you trust.”

And like Uber, that flexibility is one of the more critical selling points of the application. A line cook might want to spend some time in New York to learn the scene there, and with an app like Pared, they can get access to some potential openings at restaurants in the area. As their experience — and their reputation — builds up over time, Lu hopes Pared gets known as a launching point for many careers, in addition to just offering restaurant workers a more flexible lifestyle.

There are certainly larger platforms that aren’t just targeting the restaurant ecosystem, and look to be a more global hub for hourly workers. Shiftgig, which raised $20 million last year, is one interpretation of that idea. But by offering a more curated and focused experience — one for which a kind of aspirational chef might keep gravitating back toward because they hope to one day end up running their own kitchen — can help build up that reputation for having a reliable workforce that any restaurant can use.

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Taste test: Burger robot startup Creator opens first restaurant

Creator’s transparent burger robot doesn’t grind your brisket and chuck steak into a gourmet patty until you order it. That’s just one way this startup, formerly known as Momentum Machines, wants to serve the world’s freshest cheeseburger for just $6. On June 27th, after eight years in development, Creator unveils its first robot restaurant before opening to the public in September. We got a sneak peek…err…taste.

When I ask how a startup launching one eatery at a time could become a $10 billion company, Creator co-founder and CEO Alex Vardakostas looks me dead in the eye and says, “the market is much bigger than that.”

Here’s how Creator’s burger-cooking bot works at its 680 Folsom Street location in San Francisco. Once you order your burger style through a human concierge on a tablet, a compressed air tube pushes a baked-that-day bun into an elevator on the right. It’s sawed in half by a vibrating knife before being toasted and buttered as it’s lowered to conveyor belt. Sauces measured by the milliliter and spices by the gram are automatically squirted onto the bun. Whole pickles, tomatoes, onions and blocks of nice cheese get slices shaved off just a second before they’re dropped on top.

Meanwhile, the robot grinds hormone-free, pasture-raised brisket and chuck steak to order. But rather than mash them all up, the strands of meat hang vertically and are lightly pressed together. They form a loose but auto-griddleable patty that’s then plopped onto the bun before the whole package slides out of the machine after a total time of about five minutes. The idea is that when you bite into the burger, your teeth align with the vertical strands so instead of requiring harsh chewing it almost melts in your mouth.

If you want to be the first to try it, Creator is selling early access tickets at 10am Pacific today. Otherwise it will be open for lunch Wednesdays and Thursdays until the public launch. Eventually, an app will let people customize the exact ratios of all the ingredients, unlocking near infinite permutations.

For now, the startup’s initial pre-set burger options include the classic-style Creator vs. The World with a mole Thousand Island special sauce, the oyster aioli Tumami Burger designed by Chef Tu of Top Chef, The Smoky with charred onion jam and the sunflower seed tahini Dad Burger from Chef Nick Balla of Bar Tartine.

The taste of each is pretty remarkable. The flavor pops out of all the fresh-cut and ground ingredients that lack the preservatives of pre-sliced stuff. The patties hold together as you munch despite being exceedingly tender. And afterwards I felt less of the greasy, gut-bomb, food coma vibe that typically accompanies scarfing down a cheeseburger.

“This is the kind of burger you would get for $12 to $18 [at an upscale restaurant], and it’s $6,” says Vardakostas. It might not be the best burger I’ve had in my life, but it’s certainly the best at that price. A lot of that comes from the savings on labor and kitchen space afforded by a robot cook. “We spend more on our ingredients than any other burger restaurant.”

The CEO wouldn’t reveal how much Creator has raised, but says it’s backed by Google’s GV, frequent food startup investor Khosla Ventures and hardware-focused Root Ventures. However, SEC filings attained by TechCrunch show the startup raised at least $18.3 million in 2017, and sought $6 million more back in 2013.

It’s understandable why. “McDonald’s is a $140 billion company. It’s bigger than GM and Tesla combined. McDonald’s has 40,000 restaurants. Food is one to the top three biggest markets,” Vardakostas rattles off. “But we have a lot of advantages. The average restaurant is 50 percent bigger in terms of square footage.” Then he motions to his big robot that’s a lot smaller than the backside of most fast-food restaurants, and with a smile says, “That’s our kitchen. You roll it in and plug it in.”

From flipping patties to studying physics

Creator co-founder and CEO Alex Vardakostas

What you want in a founder is a superhero origin story. Some formative moment in their life that makes them hellbent on solving a problem. Vardakostas has a pretty convincing tale. “My parents have a burger joint,” he reveals. “My job was to make several hundred of the same burger every day. You realize there’s so much opportunity not taken because you don’t have the right tools, and it’s hard work.”

Robots and engineering weren’t even on his radar growing up in the restaurant in southern California. Then, “when I was 15 my dad took me to a book store for the first time. I started reading about physics and realizing that this could be a possibility.” He went on to study physics at UC Santa Barbara, got to work in the garage, and finally drove up to Silicon Valley to machine the first robot prototype’s parts at the famous Silicon Valley TechShop.

That’s when he met his co-founder and COO Steve Frehn. “Steve told me he was from Stanford and I was super intimidated,” Vardakostas recalls. But the two had a great working rapport, and a knack for recruiting budding mechanical engineers from the college. Momentum Machines started in 2009, was a full-time garage project by 2010, incorporated and joined Lemnos Labs in 2012 and the startup began to make serious progress by 2014.

In the meantime, other entrepreneurs have tried to find a business in food robots. There was the now-defunct Y Combinator startup Bistrobot that haphazardly spurted liquid peanut butter and Nutella on white bread and called it a sandwich. More recently, Miso Robotics’ burger-flipping arm named Flippy made headlines, even though all it does is flip and cook patties on a traditional griddle. “We have an arm that pulls out the burgers, but that’s probably 5 percent of the complexity” of the full Creator robot run by 350 sensors, 50 actuators and 20 computers, Vardakostas scoffs.

Breaking burger behavior

The CEO’s past in the kitchen keeps Creator in touch with the human element. He tells me he thinks the idea of a staff-less restaurant where you order on a computer sounds “dystopian.” In fact, he wants to give his food service employees access to new careers. Vardakostas says with a sigh that “people look at restaurant work as a charity case, but man, we just need a chance.” Referring to the old Google policy of letting employees try out side projects, he explains how “Tech companies get 10 percent time but no one does that for restaurant workers.”

“Something we got really excited about in 2012 and we’re just starting to execute on is reinventing the job of working in a store like this, where the machine it taking care of the dirty and dangerous work,” his co-founder Frehn explains. “We’re playing around with education programs for the staff. Five percent of the time they’re paid just to read. We’re already doing that. There’s a book budget. We’re paying $16 an hour. As opportunities come up to fix the machine, there’s a path we’re going to offer people as repair or maintenance people to get paid even more.”

One tradition Creator couldn’t escape was French fries. Vardakostas says they’re basically the least healthy thing you can eat, noting they’re “worse than donuts because there’s more surface area exposed to the frier.” But chefs told him some people simply wouldn’t eat a burger without them. Creator’s compromise is that burgers are paired with hearty miniature farro or seasonal veggie salads by default, but you can still opt for a side of frites.

Creator’s fate won’t just be determined by the burger robot and the people who work alongside it. The startup will have to prove to fast food diners that it can be just as quick and cheap but a lot tastier, and that they’re welcome amongst the restaurant’s bougie Pottery Barn decor. At the same time, it must convince more affluent eaters that a cafeteria-style ordering counter and low price don’t mean low quality. Oh, and the name is a bit rich for a burger spot.

For now, Creator won’t be licensing out its bot or franchising its restaurant, though those could be lucrative. “I don’t want someone putting frozen beef in there or charging way more,” says Vardakostas. Instead, the goal is to methodically expand, and maybe take advantage of its petite footprint to move into airport terminals or bus stations. “We want to get out of San Francisco,” Frehn confidently concludes. “Our business model is pretty simple. We take a really good burger that people like and sell it for half the price.”

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Anthony Bourdain, TV chef and travel host, found dead aged 61

CNN, which aired Bourdains show Parts Unknown, confirmed his death and said it was suicide

The girlfriend of TV chef Anthony Bourdain has paid tribute to his brilliant, fearless spirit as friends and family reacted with shock to his death at the age of 61.

CNN, which hosted Bourdains globetrotting culinary travel guide Parts Unknown, confirmed Bourdains death on Friday and said it was suicide.

The CNN chief executive, Jeff Zucker, sent a note to staff saying the circumstances of the death are still unclear but that we do know that Tony took his own life.

Tony was an exceptional talent. A storyteller. A gifted writer. A world traveler. An adventurer. He brought something to CNN that no one else had ever brought before, Zucker said in the letter. This is a very, very sad day.

Bourdains girlfriend, the actor Asia Argento, said she was beyond devastated.

In a statement posted on Instagram, she wrote: Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine.

Bourdain was understood to have been in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series. His friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room.

Barack Obama, who shared cheap food and lively banter with Bourdain on camera in Vietnam, tweeted a warm and poignant personal tribute.

Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. This is how Ill remember Tony. He taught us about food but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. Well miss him.

Barack Obama (@BarackObama)

Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. This is how Ill remember Tony. He taught us about food but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. Well miss him.

June 8, 2018

With evidence of Bourdains wide appeal, Donald Trump on Friday also issued a statement saying he had enjoyed the show, noting his shock at the news and sending condolences.

Bourdain pioneered a new generation of culinary storytellers with his groundbreaking 1999 book about the chaos and competitiveness of running a leading professional kitchen, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

He also wrote Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.

The British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson tweeted: Heartbroken to hear about Tony Bourdains death. Unbearable for his family and girlfriend. Am going off Twitter for a while.

Van Tieu (@Van_Tieu)

An empty chair at Barney Greengrass with Anthony Bourdain’s regular breakfast order: Nova Scotia Lox and egg scramble. Staff say his humble humor is greatly missed at the deli counter. @NY1

June 8, 2018

In his television series he hung with Obama in Hanoi and Iggy Pop in Miami.

Im proud of the fact that Ive had as dining companions over the years everybody from Hezbollah supporters, communist functionaries, anti-Putin activists, cowboys, stoners, Christian militia leaders, feminists, Palestinians and Israeli settlers, to Ted Nugent, he once explained.

You like food and are reasonably nice at the table? You show me hospitality when I travel? I will sit down with you and break bread.

Iggy Pop tweeted that he was in shock at the news of Bourdains sudden death. I loved the guy, and he was a light of kindness and good vibes in my life, he wrote.

The chef Gordon Ramsay said on Twitter that he was stunned and saddened by Bourdains death, adding: He brought the world into our homes. He included a counseling helpline number in the UK.

Anthony Bourdain at Parts Unknown live show in Las Vegas in 2013. Photograph: Isaac Brekken/WireImage

Bourdain cultivated an image as a culinary bad boy, and delighted in eating from the extreme end of food spectrum, whether sheeps testicles in Morocco or raw seal eyeball in the Arctic. Besides a chicken McNugget, he said the most disgusting thing hed ever consumed was unwashed warthog anus.

He was also heralded for his informal role as an ambassador to American television audiences for the rest of of the world.

Civil rights activist Imraan Siddiqi, a director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations Arizona branch, hailed Bourdains representation of the Middle East.

In this age of Islamophobia and otherization of Muslims through media, Anthony Bourdain used his platform to humanize Muslims through culture and food , Siddiqi wrote on Twitter.

Julin Ventura, the Mexican ambassador to the United Kingdom, praised Bourdain on Twitter as one of the greatest, most knowledgeable ambassadors of Mexican food and an uncompromising defender of the contributions of Mexican migrants to the US.

In the past year, Bourdain was also a passionate advocate for the #MeToo movement, which had been energized in part by Argento, one of the first actors to publicly accuse the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape.

Bourdain championed women coming forward with accusations against high-profile men and attacked those they accused and reflected on his own role in perpetuating this sort of behavior. Look, there was a period in my life in the kitchen where I was an asshole. I was. I would do the classic, throw plates on the ground curse, scream. But I like to think I never made anyone feel uncomfortable, creeped out, or coerced, or sexualized in the workplace.

If somebody was taking their personal business out on a female employee, or creeping on an employee, they were gone, he told Slate last year.

Bourdain was candid about his history of drug use. He said he had also smoked cigarettes and drunk alcohol to excess.

Bourdain outside French bistro Les Halles in New York in 2000. Photograph: David Rentas/Rex/Shutterstock

We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to conceptualize. Hardly a decision was made without drugs, he wrote in Kitchen Confidential.

In 1999, he wrote a New Yorker article, Dont Eat Before Reading This, which became Kitchen Confidential. Those stories were based on his many years working in restaurant kitchens before eventually becoming executive chef at Les Halles, a French bistro on Manhattans Park Avenue South. He delighted in the shocking or unhygienic aspects of the chefs trade.

In 2013, while accepting a Peabody award, Bourdain described how he approached his work.

We ask very simple questions. What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions, he said, we tend to get some really astonishing answers.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

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Did the Owl Do It? Behind The Staircase‘s Wildest Theory

As true-crime obsessives already know, last Friday Netflix dropped The Staircase, a docu-series chronicling the 2001 death of Kathleen Peterson and the subsequent murder trial of her husband, Michael. While the project followed a long and circuitous route to the streaming giant—it originally premiered in the US on the Sundance Channel in 2005, then received a two-hour follow-up in 2013, all before Netflix packaged it together and added some new footage—it immediately became a word-of-mouth sensation.

If you’ve binge-watched all 628 minutes, you might be tempted to think that the big question is: Did Michael Peterson kill his wife, or did Kathleen Peterson fall down the stairs? But whenever there’s fervent interest in a murder case, there are often alternative theories—and one very popular hypothesis that you didn’t see in Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s series posits that there was a third party involved in Kathleen’s death: an owl.

Preposterous? It depends on who you ask.

The Raptor Motion

“The first time I heard about the Owl Theory I said to myself, ‘That’s totally stupid!’” says de Lestrade, who has spent the past 16 years following Michael Peterson’s life both in and outside of prison. “But later, Larry Pollard explained to me in a very effective way what he thought could have happened.”

"Larry,” also known as T. Lawrence Pollard, is a lawyer and former Peterson neighbor, and the primary architect of the Owl Theory. In 2009, Pollard filed a motion requesting that Peterson’s conviction be set aside and all charges dismissed or that he be granted a new trial based on the discovery of “new and compelling evidence” that the real culprit in Mrs. Peterson’s death was a raptor, or bird of prey. Included in his 40-point motion, Pollard stated:

  1. The “Owl Theory” was advanced to the Defendant’s lawyers and the Prosecution at the conclusion of the trial, namely, that Mrs. Peterson may have been the victim of an attack by a wild bird outside her house, an attack which caused puncture wounds to her elbows, injuries on her face and around her eyes, and lacerations to her scalp. The theory was dismissed at the time on the basis that owls do not attack human beings and that the theory lacked credibility.

Among the physical evidence Pollard believed backed his claim was “the presence of blood droplets on the brick walkway and the slate landing outside the home” as well as “the existence of feathers attached to Mrs. Peterson’s hair and found by the medical examiner clutched in her left hand with fresh blood.”

In a Netflix bonus feature (see below), Peterson’s attorney David Rudolf makes clear that he believed there was enough evidence to warrant further investigation into whether an owl could’ve done it. “The only real difference, if you will, between our theory at trial and the Owl Theory is the initial infliction of the wounds,” he says.

Testing the Theory

According to Rudolf, the first time he was presented with the theory “was a day or two before the closing, [so] I couldn’t do anything with it.” Had the case been retried, Rudolf says he absolutely would have delved further into its plausibility.

“I consulted with Dr. Carla Dove, the chief ornithologist from the Smithsonian Institution in DC, who agreed to do DNA testing on the feathers,” Rudolf says. Larry Pollard also consulted others, including a neurosurgeon, a professor of veterinary medicine, and Kate P. Davis, executive director of Raptors of the Rockies. (“All three agreed that the wounds on Kathleen’s scalp were consistent with an owl attack,” Rudolf says. All three also provided Pollard with affidavits.)

In Davis’ mind, there’s no question that a raptor was involved. Within just a few minutes of getting a call from Sophie Brunet, editor of The Staircase—who became romantically involved with Peterson during the course of production—Davis conducted a simple experiment. She grabbed a metal salad bowl from her kitchen, covered it with and eighth of an inch of clay, went out to where her own barred owl, Graham, lived, then “picked her up over my head and dropped her on that salad bowl.” She took pictures of the resulting talon marks and sent them to Sophie, who confirmed that they matched Kathleen’s injuries.

When Davis, who has had plenty of personal experience with talon marks on her own body, saw the photos of Kathleen’s injuries, she agreed that they were a match. “I bet my bottom dollar that Kathleen, after the partying and all that, went outside to move some Christmas decorations, the owl hit her in the back of the head, she pulled it off with her hands—[which is how she] got the feathers and poke holes in the side of her face—and dropped it, and that’s why there’s blood outside,” Davis says.

But Davis also maintains that the owl wasn’t the direct cause of death. "She was compromised to begin with, she’s walking up these steep stairs, she’s feeling woozy,” she says of Kathleen Peterson. “She fell in the staircase twice.”

Yet Daniel George, a now-retired crime scene technician with the Durham City Police Department who was the first technician on the scene in 2001, doesn’t believe that there was any fall at all—partly because of where the blood was and where the body was. “There was nothing up on the steps themselves,” says George, who recently recounted the experience for An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase, Investigation Discovery’s own special on the Peterson trial. “There’s 19 steps, but no blood any further than five feet up the steps.”

“The amount of blood is really troubling, yes, but how do you explain the type of cuts and lacerations she [had]?” asks de Lestrade. “I don’t know what happened the night Kathleen Peterson died, but I have hard time believing that’s a murder. It is very difficult to explain Kathleen Peterson’s injuries if it is a murder. That’s why, today, I believe the Owl Theory may be the best theory to explain what happened to Kathleen.”

Not So Fast

Though owls have been known to swoop and injure people (earlier this year, there were at least three incidents in Atlanta), hearing of the Peterson case was the first time the idea of a “killer” owl occurred to ornithologist Dove. “It’s not something I would even think about,” she says. “But then somebody showed me a video of an owl attacking this big man. I have no idea one way or the other. I’m not saying I’ve ever heard of it happening—I certainly haven’t. I don’t really know.”

Though Dove consulted with both Peterson’s legal team and the filmmakers of The Staircase, she never had a chance to examine the actual evidence in the case—only photos. And that’s not enough. “When we do the identification work, we do it from fragments of feathers,” Dove says. “We need the fluffy, downy part, which is the fuzzy part at the base.”

The pictures she saw of the feather samples, though, were inconclusive, and couldn’t even point her to a particular taxonomic order of birds, let alone a narrower group or family. “We offered to go down there and go through the evidence to see if we could find more feather fragments,” she says, “but it never materialized.”

As for whether there could have been an owl present, George admits that while investigating the staircase itself, they did find “one item in particular that was maybe a sixteenth of an inch long—it was a curved shape and it looked almost like a mini-talon. We didn’t know what it was.“

Yet the item, which was shipped off to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to be tested, didn’t have any blood on it. "It could have been a piece of a fingernail, it could have been a dog’s toenail, it could have been anything,” George says. “It could have been a piece of wood that was on the steps.”

While many owl theorists have pointed to the fact that the injuries to Kathleen’s head were deep but did not leave her with any deeper skull or brain damage—which would be expected with the blunt force trauma Michael was accused of inflicting on his wife—George says they were still “down to the skull … it certainly didn’t look like anything an owl could have done. It almost looked like it was cut. But the medical examiner determined that those lacerations were caused by a brutal beating of blunt force trauma to the skull.”

Still, Dove and her team saw enough reasonable evidence in the photo to agree to examine the evidence more thoroughly. “We’re professionals and we’ll examine anything that’s reasonable,” she says. (Except maybe the time they received a request to examine some angel feathers; “that was a little bit far-fetched for me,” she admits.)

In early March 2017—less than a week after Michael Peterson entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter—North Carolina’s reported that Rudolf had filed a motion to obtain the feather fragments from evidence so that they could be sent on to Dove for further testing. But the money dried up. “Once the case was concluded,” he says, “there was no funding to test the feathers.”

Given all the uncertainty, the biggest question surrounding The Staircase might actually be: In more than 10 hours, why did the series not mention such an insane-sounding, but still plausible, theory? De Lestrade’s answer is simple: “I decided to keep it out of the film because it was never presented in court. I wanted to stick to Michael Peterson’s judicial journey. I just wanted to present how the legal system will treat the case.”

Could there be another feather left in his documentary cap? Hoo knows.

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Wife Hasnt Slept in 3 DaysWhen Husband Gets Kids to Bed at 7:30pm, It Hits Him “Like a Ton of Bricks”

Adele Barbaro, the self-acclaimed “Real Mumma” is an encourager to mothers everywhere through her blog But while she may spend a good portion of her time humorously slaying parent shamers and offering honest insight into motherhood, her husband wanted to paint a picture of the real ‘real mumma’ behind her “Real Mumma” social media persona.

“I’ve written this post to tell you that behind all the blog posts, jokes, recommendations, reviews and the giveaways, there is a real person and she is an amazing woman whom I adore,” wrote Adele’s doting hubby after he witnessed just how much his exhausted wife poured into their family every single day.

Read his viral post below, and be sure to share it with the exhausted mamas in your life who could use a little encouragement today: 

“At first I was pretty proud of myself, I’d gotten 2 kids and an adult into bed by 7.30pm. As I strutted (quietly) out of the room, I started thinking about how I’d spend my night…. Nutella from a jar while watching “Back to the Future” was my first thought, then I turned back, looked at my wife and little girl and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Both are so sick, really congested and absolutley [sic] exhausted after 3 nights in a row of barely any sleep for either of them. I felt like such an a$$ thinking about how I could now enjoy a few hours of “me time” when she has put me and this family before her own health and hasn’t moaned once. Would you believe I came home to a gourmet cooked meal, clean house and some how a load of washing had been done, folded and put away! Like my wife somehow has 4 extra hours in a day that the rest of us mere mortals don’t get.”


“As a man, I dont think I’ve ever have truly known or will know exhaustion in the same way a Mum does. Tonight as I was comforting Chloe and trying to get her to sleep, Adele said she was just gonna lay down for a bit before tidying the kitchen and making me some lunch for tomorrow. Her last thought before passing out was “I must clean the kitchen and make my hubby some lunch” and my last thought was “ohh snacks and TV”.

So instead, I’ve written this post to tell you that behind all the blog posts, jokes, recommendations, reviews and the giveaways, there is a real person and she is an amazing woman whom I adore. Now I’m off to clean that kitchen, and then look around this house to see what I can do to make her day a little easier tomorrow.

Any other husbands reading this, I urge you to do the same… Im willing to bet dollars to donuts that the real mumma in your household is just as exhausted.”

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Russian Mother Of Two Creates Hilariously Honest Illustrations About Her Everyday Problems

Maria Gorbunova is raising two kids and if that’s not enough, she somehow finds time to document her chaotic everyday life. Whether it’s a sleepless night or a difficult flight, her illustrations strike a perfect balance between honesty and humor. If you found yourself nodding violently to our funny parenting tweet list, chances are you’ll love Maria’s art as well.

“The lock on our ‘meditation room’ door is faulty. Mira weighs 29 pounds and can easily kick it open. Not to mention Yura who is constantly putting her hand through the crack, probably trying to pull me out.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“Viewing my illustrations, you’re probably thinking that my kids are always crying. They are. Mira has grown up and doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night but Yura regularly composes songs, testing our patience. Lullabies, fresh baby food and the sound of rain are only a few guns we use in this fight. Naturally, mom is the one who’s working the night shift. After all, she’ll be able to get some sleep during the day. Or the weekend. Or ten years later.

Image credits: mary_chemi

“My kids are the type to scream and cry all the time, they are never calm during flights.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“Hello! Today’s menu is broccoli, pasta and berry compote. You can find the same meals under the table, just in smaller portions. If you’re into unusual combinations, you might enjoy corn puffs with fish sauce that the chef stuffed under the pillow.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“If you’re a mom who knows how to use technology nowadays, don’t make the mistake I did. In 2015, a few months before giving birth to my first child, I suddenly decided that my newborn will need only the best, natural stuff. I heard that multi-use diapers are a must. So I bought 10, made from Italian cotton. They were really expensive, but the thought that I would be able to reuse them really warmed my motherly soul. During the first day of using them, however, the diapers turned out to be really uncomfortable and my husband went to get some regular ones.

Image credits: mary_chemi

“I’m so happy when my art gets more likes than my selfies”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“I often take my kids to the store. Mira is old enough to know that the best snacks are at the checkout. I read every book and tried every method, nothing helped. It’s always the same – asking, screaming, crying. Sometimes, she erupts in hysteria even before we walk inside. This one time, she even started bathing in a puddle, refusing to get up until I agreed to take her to the store. Without paying attention, I continued walking towards home. Even though I was burning inside. The passers-by were shocked. The grandmas condemned me and one guy even tried to help Mira get back up. But just a moment before he approached her, Mira got up and ran towards mommy. Still, I had to drag her home. At times like these, you want to jump into a puddle and scream your lungs out yourself.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“In 2018, my kitchen has become a temporary pub. I even know all of my customers and their regular orders. That pretty boy in the red t-shirt will ask for a wheat beer and will never refuse a plate of dumplings. The red-hair lady will order a virgin Pina Colada and even though she also likes dumplings, she’ll usually get waffles or corn sticks. And the guy on the right, the one that can barely stay on his feet, always drinks one bottle after another before he falls asleep. But it’s understandable. He has to work night shifts and still get up at 5 am.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“- Seriozha, I told you to put them in something nice
– They look great, what’s the problem?
It always happens. At first you spend an hour picking clothes, then you dress yourself. After that you have to catch one kid, dress him up. Then another. While I’m dressing the second one, the first kid has already pooped his pants. As you’re taking him to the bathroom, the other one starts sweating, you start sweating, your husband is screaming. “If you’re so clever, then dress them yourself!” – the music plays and the fashion police is gone.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“Every day means a new investigation – who shattered the plate, who’s littering, who broke one thing or another… And the choice is between the two – the dog and our little one, since Mira has the perfect alibi – no one can pry her eyes off the screen when cartoons are on.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“I manage the crazy amounts of energy my kids have by giving them 40-minute “swim practices”. While they are having a bubble party, I reply to comments on Instagram all while watching bottles of my expensive shampoo drown, followed by a body scrub. When Yura and Mira are together, the tide is so high, even the dog isn’t safe.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

“5 minutes of peace/silence or what happens when you forget to close the bathroom door.”

Image credits: mary_chemi

Here are her kids in real life

Image credits: mary_chemi

Happy family!

Image credits: mary_chemi!

Image credits: mary_chemi

People could totally relate to her illustrations:

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Why our kids are so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated & have no real friends

By Victoria Prooday

I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. In my practice, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.

Today’s children come to school emotionally unavailable for learning, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why:

1. Technology

Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner.  We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring. When kids come to the classroom, they are exposed to human voices and adequate visual stimulation as opposed to being bombarded with the graphic explosions and special effects that they are used to seeing on the screens. After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide. The inability to process lower levels of stimulation leaves kids vulnerable to academic challenges. Technology also disconnects us emotionally from our children and our families. Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain. Unfortunately, we are gradually depriving our children of that nutrient.

2. Kids get everything they want the moment they want

“I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive-thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!”   The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions — to make our children happy — but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term.  To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life.

The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores the moment the child hears “No” because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away.

3. Kids rule the world

“My son doesn’t like vegetables.” “She doesn’t like going to bed early.” “He doesn’t like to eat breakfast.” “She doesn’t like toys, but she is very good at her iPad” “He doesn’t want to get dressed on his own.” “She is too lazy to eat on her own.” This is what I hear from parents all the time. Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed. What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive.  In addition, we send them the wrong message.  They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. The concept of “need to do” is absent. Unfortunately, in order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do.  For example, if a child wants to be an A student, he needs to study hard. If he wants to be a successful soccer player, he needs to practice every day. Our children know very well what they want, but have a very hard time doing what is necessary to achieve that goal. This results in unattainable goals and leaves the kids disappointed.

4. Endless Fun

We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.  When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.

5. Limited social interaction

We are all busy, so we give our kids digital gadgets and make them “busy” too. Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills.  Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time.  Also, technology made the parents less available to socially interact with their kids. Obviously, our kids fall behind… the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills. Most successful people have great social skills. This is the priority!

The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach him patience.  If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!

You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:

1. Limit technology, and re-connect with your kids emotionally

  • Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights
  • Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening

2. Train delayed gratification

  • Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time — this is the first step to creativity
  • Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”
  • Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead, teach them waiting while talking and playing games
  • Limit constant snacking

3. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!

  • Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time
  • Think of what is GOOD for them — not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.
  • Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoors and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!
  • Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games

4. Teach your child to do monotonous work from early years as it is the foundation for future “workability”

  •  Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed
  • Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.

5. Teach social skills

  • Teach them turn-taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others, using “please and thank you”

From my experience as an occupational therapist, children change the moment parents change their perspective on parenting.  Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!

**This article was written by Victoria Prooday, a registered Occupational Therapist, Psychotherapist, founder and clinical director of a multidisciplinary clinic for children and parents. It originally appeared on her website

Read more popular articles from Victoria here: 

Kids Work Ethic Crisis: Reasons & Solutions

The Silent Tragedy Affecting Today’s Children

When Children Are Disorganized: Reasons & Solutions

Be sure to SHARE her amazing parenting advice with the parents you know on Facebook!

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Anthony Bourdain Showed Us a Better World

The globefrom the markets of Manila to the jungles of the Congo to the coffee-stained streets of New York Cityis trembling today with the loss of Anthony Bourdain, a man who truly was, in the words of Captain Louis Renault, a citizen of the world.

What a life he lived.

Albert Camus, the French philosopher, once wrote, Every great work makes the human face more admirable and richer, and that is its whole secret. Bourdains was a face etched with experience. It was the face of a man who never said no; a man who never shied away from a challenge; a man who grabbed life by the teat and milked it for every last drop.

He was an inspiration to many. For those who struggled with addiction like himself, he showed that you could burst forth from that suffocating cocoon and lead a life of wonderment and adventure, traveling across the world, indulging in its myriad pleasures. For those who felt walled off from the rest, he presented a glorious escape.

Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? he wrote in his groundbreaking book Kitchen Confidential. Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taquerias mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.

Bourdains message was about forging bonds and overcoming divides, mostly through meal and conversation. Its a message that feels ever more resonant in the age of Trump, where talk of walls and others pollute the airwaves.

Bourdains messagedelivered primarily via his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown, where he fashioned the template for travel-televisionwas about forging bonds and overcoming divides, mostly through meal and conversation. Its a message that feels ever more resonant in the age of Trump, where talk of walls and others pollute the airwaves. Unlike our Fearful Leader, Bourdain was always open and inviting. Whether it be Barack Obama, Trump-worshipping families in West Virginia or a rickshaw driver in Southeast Asia, Bourdain could break bread with them and form a meaningful connection.

He saw the humanity in everyone he crossed paths with and fought like hell for the marginalized and oppressed, recently emerging as one of the most vocal male allies of the #MeToo movement. His was a keen sense of justice. One of his personal favorite quotes concerned the war criminal Henry Kissinger, writing in his 2001 book A Cooks Tour: Once youve been to Cambodia, youll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodiathe fruits of his genius for statesmanshipand you will never understand why hes not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Miloevi.

When Bourdain traveled the world, we knew we were sending our very best. I may be a miserable cranky bastard, but I am also a sentimental fool, he said of himself. A lovable, sentimental fool at thatone eager to offer a friendly ear, no matter the time or place.

Upon hearing the news of his death, reportedly by suicide, my thoughts first went to his daughter and then to his good friend, chef Eric Ripert, who is said to have discovered the body. As enjoyable as his waxing rhapsodic about the Waffle House or journeying into the heart of the Congo was, there was nothing us No Reservations/Parts Unknown die-hards cherished more than the loving friendship of Bourdain and Ripert. That time Bourdain took his pal to the Sichuan province of China, torturing him with dish after scorching-hot dish (including rabbit head!); their ski-race down the Alps; the $1,000 bet over who could milk a cow; struggling to operate a pizza truck together in Marseille; their ridiculous feast at lAtelier de Jol Robuchon in Paris. Theirs was a TV bromance for the ages.

Anthony was a dear friend, Ripert said in a statement. He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones.

Most of all though, Bourdain taught us to get out there and explore the world; to not be complacent, but delight in all the marvels it has to offer.

If Im an advocate for anything, its to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river, he wrote.

The extent to which you can walk in someone elses shoes or at least eat their food, its a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.

If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Solar Panels Power New Schoolsand New Ways of Learning

Dressed in pastel pink and green for an early spring day, second-grader Katherine Cribbs was learning about energy on a virtual field trip—to her own school.

With a flurry of touch-screen taps, she explored the “energy dashboard” of Discovery Elementary in Arlington, Virginia. On her tablet, she swiped through 360-degree views of her school, inside and out. She clicked on icons embedded in the virtual classroom to learn about energy-saving features such as LED lights and super-insulated exterior walls made of concrete-filled foam blocks. Exploring the virtual school kitchen, she could read about how the lack of a deep fryer means less energy is needed for venting grease from the air. Another swipe whisked her up to the school’s roof, where about 1,700 solar panels spread out before her.

Angelique Coulouris, a second-grade teacher at Discovery Elementary, guides students on a virtual tour of the school’s roof-top solar lab.
Chris Berdik for The Hechinger Report

After a few minutes, she looked up from her computer to explain her progress in a confident voice that rose above the second-grade din. “I learned that our solar panels rotate,” she said. “So, wherever the sun moves, the panels go, too.”

In addition to this virtual tour, Discovery’s dashboard displays, in real time, the school’s energy generation. And in colorful bar graphs and pie charts, it also tracks energy use—broken down by lighting, plug load, kitchen, and HVAC. The tally reveals that Discovery generates more energy through its solar array than it uses over the course of the year.

Buildings that make at least as much energy as they use are called “net-zero” (and “net positive” if they make more than they need). And nationwide, K-12 schools are leading a fledgling “net-zero” building boom that has grown from a few proof-of-concept structures a decade ago to hundreds of buildings completed or under-construction.

Dozens of these ultra-green schools are going up in every sort of district—urban and rural, affluent and lower income, blue state and red state. Much of the advocacy for net-zero buildings has focused on environmental and economic incentives. K-12 schools run up a $6 billion annual energy tab every year, the Department of Energy reports—more than they spend on textbooks and computers combined, and second only to the cost of teacher salaries. But the K-12 schools leading the net-zero charge are uncovering major educational benefits as well.

While Discovery’s second-graders scoured their school for light and heat energy, a group of third graders huddled around a table to brainstorm fraction “story problems” using the school’s energy data.

They suggested using fractions to find out how much of yesterday’s solar energy was used up by the school, to compare one hour’s solar energy to the whole day, and to show how much of the school’s energy use was from lighting. Their numerators and denominators could come from the dashboard.

“Everywhere you walk through this building, you can learn from it,” said Discovery’s principal, Erin Russo. There’s a large-screen energy dashboard by the school’s main entrance, and the building’s mechanical systems, including the geothermal pumps and the solar inverters that change direct current to alternating current, are prominently displayed behind large glass windows in the hallway.

Learning about the behavior of light, Discovery’s fifth graders have visited the schools’ rooftop solar lab (a handful of adjustable panels that are metered separately) to see how angling the panels changes their power production.

“Energy is normally so invisible,” said a fifth-grade science teacher, Andrew Bridges. “But the kids can see these solar panels right outside their window. They can see the energy production dipping on cloudy days.”

Bridges’ students also looked for patterns of electricity use and tried to deduce why it was so much heavier on Saturdays than Sundays or why it spiked at 5 AM. “I didn’t give them energy-dashboard tests, because that’s not what we’re after,” said Bridges. “My goal as a teacher is to grow good critical thinkers, and I think the energy dashboard opens their eyes to something most people don’t think too much about.”

Still, Discovery’s teachers do need to cover the Virginia state learning standards, and matching these standards with dashboard lessons can be tricky. At one point, third graders were set to learn graphing with the school’s daily energy tally, but the plan was scrapped because the dashboard gives that data in bar graphs. Virginia’s third-grade standards call for using line graphs to track change over time.

Discovery’s math coach, Angela Torpy, and technology coach, Keith Reeves, help teachers weave the building’s data into standards-based lessons. Students learn the statistical measures of mean, median, and mode using the school’s energy consumption numbers, or demonstrate transparency, translucency, and opacity by covering solar panels with different materials and predicting the energy production.

Besides aligning with state standards, Discovery teachers must also contend with the dashboard’s occasional technical glitches—it tends to conk out due to server strain if too many kids are working on it. So teachers usually have students team up or rotate so one group hops on the dashboard while the rest of the class works on other tasks. Or they simply distribute screen grabs of dashboard data.

Still, according to Torpy, the upside of students learning from their own building outweighs these challenges. “You can see their level of excitement when they bring up the energy dashboard, and they’re making their own word problems with real data about their own school,” Torpy said of the students. “It’s empowering to them.”

The authenticity of these lessons is reinforced by a schoolwide focus on sustainability. In lieu of a school council, Discovery has an Eco-Action club whose members do annual audits of the school’s energy use, trash, food waste, water consumption, and other metrics. They did the school energy audit early in the school year, explained a fifth-grade Eco-Action member named Charlie Dantzker. “Basically, we walked into every classroom, counted the lights, checked to see what was plugged in, and looked for vampires,” Dantzker said. A vampire, he explained, is a device that draws power even when it’s turned off but still plugged into the wall.

But the students didn’t find a lot of waste in the audit: Discovery is already ultra-energy efficient. The school’s “energy use index,” a measure of power use per square foot, is about a third of the average for district elementary schools. The district plans to build on that success.

Arlington is a fast-growing district, and Discovery Elementary opened in 2015 as part of an ongoing school-building program (it shares a campus with a middle school with a trailer park to accommodate its overflowing student population). Below the schools’ shared athletic fields are geothermal wells that use a groundwater loop to provide cooling in summer and heat in winter.

Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, is among a growing group of “net zero” K-12 schools, which produce as much solar energy as they use (or more) over the course of the year.
Chris Berdik for The Hechinger Report

The district had not set out to build a net-zero school, but the Charlottesville architecture firm VMDO told them it could be done below their budget. Cathy Lin, the energy manager for Arlington Public Schools, regularly leads tours of Discovery, including a rooftop viewing of its 500-kilowatt solar array made up of about 1,700 panels. Another net-zero elementary school, also designed by VMDO, is to open in 2019. And as the district keeps growing, Lin is pushing for more.

“I tell the board [of education] if I had all Discoveries, I would spend less than $1 million [a year] on utilities. Now, we spend close to $7 million a year,” she said.

This calculus increasingly makes sense to growing public school districts, according to Ralph DiNola, CEO of the New Buildings Institute, a nonprofit that promotes and verifies net-zero buildings. Because schools are designed to be used by the same owner over many decades, there is plenty of time for energy savings to surpass the extra upfront expenditures, which in any case have plummeted in the past decade. The cost of solar power is way down, and, according to DiNola, the necessary energy efficiency, “doesn’t require bleeding-edge technology. You can use standard building materials that are commonplace in the market today.”

Comparing the initial cost of building a net-zero school to that of a standard school is tough, because construction costs vary widely as do the energy-efficiency challenges between climates One constant, however, is that the priciest piece of a net-zero building is the solar array. For instance, Discovery’s construction cost for the building and the solar array came to about $316 per square foot, but the building alone cost $262 per square foot, according to VMDO architect Wyck Knox, who led the project design team (numbers don’t include the cost of the school’s two turf soccer fields). Often, districts will opt to build ultra-energy-efficient “net-zero ready” schools that could become net-zero if and when the municipality raises additional money to add the solar power.

According to a March 2018 NBI report, there are 89 verified or “emerging” net-zero schools (emerging means under construction or too new to have been verified yet). And school buildings are the leading type of non-residential net-zero building, representing 37 percent of all projects tracked by NBI. Supporting these efforts, the Department of Energy published a how-to report on building net-zero K-12 schools in 2016 and created a “Zero-Energy Schools Accelerator” program to give districts technical guidance.

While the net-zero school trend is still relatively small, it has thrived in districts of every geographic and socioeconomic description. The school district of Horry County, South Carolina, which counts the majority of its 43,800 students as impoverished, opened three net-zero schools in 2017, one in 2018, and has one more under construction. In San Francisco Unified, where half the students receive free and reduced-price lunch and a quarter are English language learners, the district is building three net-zero schools, including one retrofit of an existing elementary school. At Sandy Grove Middle School, a net-positive building in Hoke County, North Carolina, where nearly 60 percent of students are low-income, the grade levels face off in friendly energy-saving competitions. And at New York City’s first net-zero school, the Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability (P.S. 62) on Staten Island, rows of yellow stationary bikes, both indoors and on the playground, generate pedal power displayed on a big screen.

Although energy dashboards are a popular way to turn these buildings into teaching tools, they’re not necessary. Oregon’s Hood River Middle School created a food and conservation science program several years ago after it added a net-zero science and music building that includes a 1,000-square-foot greenhouse. Hood River students engineer and build net-zero heating and cooling systems for the greenhouse, such as solar heat collectors made of foam boxes lined with soda cans spray-painted black, and a solar-powered “climate battery” that pulls super-heated summer air into layers of dense rocks that gradually radiate the heat back into the greenhouse as the weather cools.

In addition to maintaining an aquaculture system and growing fruit trees, grapes, tea and other crops, the Hood River students have a perennial challenge from their teacher Michael Becker: to grow tomatoes year-round. They haven’t quite succeeded, but they’re getting close. Last year, they had tomatoes ripening on the vine well into December.

“My lesson plan is: Here’s a problem. Solve it,” said Becker. “We are hyper-aware of our net-zero energy budget, so the kids have to become super-sharp engineers and find non-traditional solutions.”

Back at Discovery, educational strategies are expanding, too. Last year’s school management plan included the expectation that teachers give at least one sustainability-focused lesson every quarter—but several teachers described that as a low bar.

“We’re shooting for sustainability to be taught every day,” said Bridges, the fifth-grade teacher. To bolster those efforts, Reeves is making changes to the energy dashboard, trying to add in student-collected data on the school’s trash production, water use, and transportation. The teachers would also like to make it easier for students to get the raw data that feeds the existing dashboard, so they could make their own, customized dashboards, possibly in conjunction with Virginia’s new K-12 computer science standards.

In the spring of 2018, Discovery staff began a more comprehensive effort to craft standards-based sustainability lessons, by working with Jennifer Seydel, executive director of the Green Schools National Network. Discovery will join GSNN’s recently-formed “Catalyst Network”—about 100 schools that are meant to showcase the best-practices in sustainability education and to jump-start studies into how it stacks up against traditional schooling for student learning.

“Right now, we have a lot of anecdotes,” said Seydel, “but the gold-standard research is not there.”

Starting in 2019, the plan is for all students to do sustainability audits, not just the Eco-Action club. Each grade level will use their audits to identify problems and issues they can confront with collaborative mastery projects using the problem-solving steps of “design thinking.”

Discovery art teacher Maria Burke has already led her students through several design-thinking projects, such as creating outdoor sculptures with the right mix of shapes and colors to attract pollinators back to a school garden that fell victim to overzealous pruning.

“We want to give students the skills to be innovators, to find solutions,” said Burke. “We want to them to be thinkers for the future and to collaborate and innovate with the world in mind.”

This story about environmental education was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for our newsletter.

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Anthony Bourdain’s death: Celebrity chefs ‘in complete shock’

The restaurant world mourned the loss of chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain following his reported suicide Friday morning.

CNN confirmed news that Bourdain, 61, was found unresponsive by close friend and French chef Eric Ripert in a hotel in France. The network said he was working on an upcoming episode of his show “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”


Celebrity chefs and industry insiders reacted with shock to news of Bourdain’s passing, with Nigella Lawson, Bourdain’s co-judge on ABC’s “The Taste,” tweeting that she was “heartbroken” to learn of his death, and, as a result, would be taking a break from Twitter.

“Heartbroken to hear about Tony Bourdain’s death,” Lawson wrote. “Unbearable for his family and girlfriend. Am going off twitter for a while.”

Restaurateur and “Hell’s Kitchen” star Gordon Ramsay stated that he was “stunned and saddened by the loss” of Bourdain.

“Remember that help is only a phone call away,” he added, along with the number of a suicide hotline.

Restaurateur Jose Andres, a friend of Bourdain’s who appeared as a guest on “No Reservations,” “Parts Unknown” and also served as a guest judge on “The Taste,” said he would always keep Bourdain in his heart.

“My friend, I know you are on a Ferry going to somewhere amazing … you still had so many places to show us, whispering to our souls the great possibilities beyond what we could see with our own eyes … you only saw beauty in all people. You will always travel with me.”

Emeril Lagasse said he was “shocked and extremely saddened,” calling Bourdain an inspiration as well as “a mentor, a friend, a father and an incredible chef.”

“Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern, who, like Bourdain, has had multiple food docuseries on the Travel Channel, called Bourdain a “true friend,” and said he’d be wearing a pair of Bourdain’s boots Friday in honor of the chef.

“A piece of my heart is truly broken this morning. And the irony, the sad cruel irony is that the last year he’d never been happier. The rest of my heart aches for the 3 amazing women he left behind. Tony was a symphony. I wish everyone could have seen all of him. A true friend.”

“Iron Chef” star Michael Symon added that he was “in complete shock” over the news.

“RIP Tony Bourdain …Wtf …in complete shock … loss for words,” Symon wrote Friday morning.

Food Network’s Tyler Florence added simply that he was “shattered” by the news. 

As a guest judge on “Top Chef,” Bourdain was also mourned by its stars, including chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio and cookbook author and TV host Padma Lakshmi.

Coliccio tweeted that for Bourdain, resting in peace was “doubtful” as Bourdain’s “restless spirit will roam the earth in search of justice, truth and a great bowl of noodles.”

Lakshmi added that she was “in shock and devastated” over losing one of the wittiest people she knew.

TV personality and “Top Chef” contestant Carla Hall, formerly of “The Chew,” called Bourdain a “beloved presence in the culinary community” and shared the number of a suicide hotline.

Baker and “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro also wrote that he was “gutted” by Bourdain’s passing, and referred those in need of help to the number of a suicide hotline.

Restaurateur David Chang, also the host of Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious,” Instagrammed only a black square alongside the lyrics of the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy song “I See a Darkness.”

The Travel Channel, which aired Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and “The Layover,” mourned the loss of a “global ambassador” and said his presence will be missed.

“We are stunned and deeply saddened to hear that the world is now without its global ambassador, Anthony Bourdain. He was an incredible talent who shows us beautiful, gritty, complicated and delicious places in every corner of the world. His wit and perspective will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

A number of food critics and reporters were also shocked and saddened at Bourdain’s death.

“I loved that Bourdain didn’t do a cooking show, he did a culture show. It taught how to think and feel, and how to empathize,” wrote New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov.

Kat Kinsman, an author and food editor for Extra Crispy, urged that those in the restaurant industry, specifically, should “be kind to yourself and one another.” She also directed industry workers to a website which shares resources for restaurant workers suffering from stress or mental health issues.

The Culinary Institute of America also mourned the loss of Bourdain, a graduate of the CIA class of 1978, and praised him sharing his love of food with the world.

“The CIA is deeply saddened to learn of the passing Anthony Bourdain ’78, renowned chef, author, and TV personality. He opened the world of food and different cultures to all through his brilliant storytelling,” the culinary school wrote.

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