Watching a Greater Magic

Delighted to perform environmental magic at the Annual Hawk Watch Festival and Green Expo, I was also delighted to be out performed. No magic I or any other magician will ever create can match the sheer wonder those gathered felt as rehabilitated hawks flew. Catch this magic, and my own more humble magic, tomorrow as well: 11-3 environmental magic, 11-5 festival. If you can, be there at 4:15 when they release a hawk back into the wild, setting it free after rehabilitation. It will be a truly enchanting experience! http://greenwich.audubon.org/15th-annual-hawkwatch-festival-green-bazaar

My Year of Living Magically

It has been a year since I left the Ivory Tower for the Wizard’s Tower.   In July 2012 I finished a career of two decades as Yale’s recycling coordinator.  Although I miss the worthy work of ensuring 21,000 Yalies recycle all they can, I embrace the more magical life of an environmental magician and educator.   The “magic” goes beyond the increase in magic shows, tricks and the small wonders you might expect in the life of a full-time magician.  Some of the best sorcery in my magical life has been that of increased sustainability on personal and planetary levels.

Some highlights of this year’s sorcery can be shared in a quick summary.  Since July 2013 I have created 5 new magic shows  (see below), performed in Las Vegas, created two environmental PSA videos in concert with magician-film maker Jordan Wright, performed in historic Lyric Hall, and was keynote speaker at the first ever sustainability luncheon for community leaders in Gastonia, North Carolina.    I even “vanished” my carbon footprint (see earlier blog entry).   All of these made for a very busy and very fulfilling year.

Some aspects of this magical year are hard to capture in a summary, however.    By working at home I spent more time with wife and children.   I was no longer a visitor to the rhythms of my home but a more intimate partner in them.   I collected chicken eggs, tended to dogs and helped with chores and childcare.   These extra dances during the day hurt my productivity, but helped to heal a soul separated from family too often by 22 years of office work.

Some of this sustainable sorcery is growing beyond what even I had hoped to conjure.   Like a successful “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” I am delighted to see my endeavors to use magic for environmental education growing in all the right ways.   I have worked with educators to develop programs using magic to cover mandated recycling issues in public schools.  I have trained environmental professionals on how to use magic to strengthen their messages on sustainability.

These various and valuable efforts are now taking shape in the large umbrella of a new program:  Message Through Magic.  In addition to teaching environmental issues through magic shows, Message Through Magic cross trains magicians, environmental educators and youth to use magicians’ skills in conveying their own messages.    Staff at Yale University’s Peabody Museum share in the enthusiasm and are helping to grow the program.  As a magician I can pull a coin or two out of the air. To make this dream of environmental education through magic come true, however, takes the greater magic of team work, administration and support.

Please offer your thoughts and suggestions on how to expand and support Message Through Magic.   Please let me know if you would like to see a copy of the current proposal.  In so many of our popular modern films and novels, magic is the key to saving the day.   I feel Message Through Magic is a real-world example of this.  Message Through Magic will enable others, as well as myself, to deliver important messages to audiences far and wide.   Your suggestions will help us make this magic happen.   What topics, partners, events and venues should be a part of Message Through Magic?

New Magic Shows Since Summer 2012

  1. Little Fairies Big Magic – a whimsical story of tricksy fairies teaches the importance of preserving wild lands.
  2. The Magic of Hanukkah – the story and the traditions of this magical holiday told through magic.
  3. MAGITRICITY – a show on energy and climate change developed in concert with the “Seasons of Change” exhibit at Yale’s Peabody Museum.
  4. Magic of Water – Following a larger pilot project I stripped this down to a very quick and portable “commando” show, performable outdoors.
  5. Secret of the Dusty Castle – a fairytale adventure which teaches the basics of lead poisoning prevention.

Carbon Footprint Angled

See MAGITRICITY at Lyric Hall June 16th!

Enjoy the magic of Fathers’ Day with a magic show on energy and recycling!  

See “MAGITRICITY” at 12:00 noon and 5:00 pm on Sunday June 16th at Lyric Hall!

Wizard LightningLyric Hall is at 827 Whalley Avenue, New Haven, CT.   Purchase tickets at http://magitricity.eventbrite.com/.  

Seating is limited in this exquisite, turn-of-the-century performance hall.   Tickets will be available at the door if not sold out.   Seats are $15, $10 for “Dad”, or $40 for a block of four.

Join me after each show for a “meet the sorcerer” chat.   We will share some fair trade chocolate from Ten Thousand Villages!

Nuts, Bolts and Recycling Sorcery

I was delighted to follow through on a request by educators at the ACES Wintergreen Interdistrict Magnet School in Hamden, CT to provide my special mix of magic and message.   The three 3rd grade classes were completing a unit on recycling.   I provided “Recycling is Magic” and a few extra elements to bring the message of recycling in a fun and powerful way.  I then went to each class to cover the technical magic of recycling operations.   We reviewed what can be recycled, how recycling helps the economy as well as the environment, and what the environmental and economic effects are when recyclables are discarded as trash.

This opportunity was especially enjoyable for me as I was able to rely on both my magical skills as well as my 22 years as a recycling coordinator.  As well, my many summers as a camp counselor came into play in ensuring that the time I spent with each class was fun as well as educational.

MAGITRICITY

Happy Earth Day to one and all!     I am delighted to be sharing MAGITRICITY, a show about energy and climate change, with audiences at a number of Earth Day events.   Originally conceived as a companion piece to Yale Peabody Museum’s “Seasons of Change” exhibit, MAGITRICITY shares the secret of energy, and how each person can choose and use energy wisely.   The mantra is “save energy, save money and save the planet.”   Please email me for more information on bringing MAGITRICITY to your community.

I will be traveling to North Carolina later this week for a series of performances for children and a presentation for civic leaders.   Performing and presenting to adults is a delight.   Like TED Talk presentations, my presentations carry valuable information and inspiration to audiences.  Unlike TED Talk presentations, I use magic to help illustrate the important points.  For my North Carolina audiences I will be emphasizing how important recycling is to creating jobs, recovering valuable resources from our trash bins, and helping each person do the right magic in terms of protecting the planet.    One amazing recycling venture in North Carolina is Charlotte’s nascent eco-industrial park:   Reventure Park.    With a recycling facility as its anchor, Reventure Park will be re-invigorating shuttered industrial facilities to develop recycling, biomass and other industries which feed “waste” products from one business to its neighbor.

Enjoy Earth Day!

Vanishing a Carbon Footprint

I am proud to say that I am the first magician to have ever vanished a four ton carbon footprint.  I will follow this environmental miracle with another first for a magician:  I am happy to tell you how I did it.

Okay….I didn’t really “vanish” my carbon footprint.  Instead I first used the Yale Community Carbon Fund to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide released during my magic-related travels last year via air and car in 2012.  The Fund’s calculator tells you how many miles traveled, how much carbon dioxide was released as a result and how much you can contribute to put in place energy efficiency efforts to avoid the production of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.   My magic-related travels resulted in a release of a little more than 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012.

My local travel produced only a small portion of this foot print as ground travel via a Toyota Prius hybrid is fairly efficient.  Coming in at 40-50 miles per gallon, the Prius is a fairly magical way for an environmental wizard to travel.  The big part of the footprint needing offset was my air travel.   I don’t have Harry Potter’s Nimbus 2000 and rely on planes to fly to far away destinations for performing.  I also make my annual pilgrimage to the real-world Hogwarts, McBride’s Magic and Mystery School.  JK Rowling’s school for wizards is somewhere in northern England or Scotland, but America’s is in Las Vegas.  Makes sense.   Getting there takes lots of jet fuel and carbon offsets are a good way to reduce the impact as airlines and engineers work to make air travel more efficient. Distance learning with McBride’s Magic and Mystery School allows contact and classes throughout the rest of the year with near magical ease.  Technology is part of the magic we can use to keep our planet from heating up too quickly.  Carbon offsets is another.  Beyond this…solar panels on my roof heat my water and make electricity.  That trims the carbon footprint right off the bat.

The fact is that the carbon dioxide I produced last year has already traveled up into the atmosphere.  Perhaps  45% of it will be absorbed by plants and the ocean over the next decade.  More than 50% of it will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, warming the Earth all the while.  So even though it was good for me to offset my carbon by contributing to a program that will reduce future carbon dioxide creation, we should all work our magic to curb our production in the first place.   Reduce your energy use through energy saving lighting, appliances, vehicles and by using an electricity supplier that uses renewables.  My state of CT has two suppliers for folks seeking “green” energy.

But we still generate some carbon dioxide…and we can try and offset it.  There are many carbon offset programs that can help you calculate your footprint and make a contribution to counter it.  Read more about them at  HowStuffWorks.com and Wikipedia.   Terrapass is a good basic program as it allows you to offset the carbon dioxide produced from the driving of your personal or business vehicles.  To learn more about climate change and its effects on life, the economy and the environment here in New England, stop by Yale’s Peabody Museum and experience the “Seasons of Change” exhibit.  It features a host of interactive learning stations for young and old alike.

Make 2013 magical…vanish your carbon footprint!  You don’t need to be a wizard to help the planet.

The Magic of Sunlight in Darkness

I may be a wizard but it was Waldo Renewable that put the great magic of solar panels on our roof.  With innovative technology the panels double up and not only pre-heat our hot water but also turn sunlight into electricity.  Even in the darkness of mid-winter, coupled with a string of grey days since the Solstice, the photo-voltaic panels have produced approximately 60 kWh of electricity in just the last week.  This is enough electricity to power my laptop for more than 100 days running 13 hours a day.   Not bad magic for the dark of winter.  Since installation earlier this year, the solar panels have resulted in a reduction of more than 2.5 tons of carbon releases by replacing the energy equivalent of nearly 300 barrels of oil.   This magic isn’t just for wizards.  If you want to turn sunlight into heat and electricity check in with your state government for financial support and tax breaks.  The Connecticut State Energy Program and the federal government both assist businesses and homeowners with installing this technological wonder.

Visiting Hogwarts and Diagon Alley

I am on my annual pilgrimage to the real-world Hogwarts:  McBride’s Magic and Mystery School.  This school really is a school for wizards in that it is the premiere magicians’ school in the world.  Each year I return, as do many students young and old, to continue study with Master Magician Jeff McBride and a grand faculty like that of Harry Potter’s school.  This year we went to the Las Vegas version of Diagon Alley:  Fremont Street.  There we watched other magicians at work entertaining tourists and performed our best to add some magic to the evening.

Recycling and Seamstress Magic Makes a Wizard’s Hat

Recycling and Seamstress Magic Makes a Wizard’s Hat

Making a new hat for an environmental wizard takes some special material and help.  For the material I found that Joann Craft & Fabric stocks a green felt that is actually made from recycled PET #1 plastic (e.g. soda and water bottles).  This is a great choice and was much cheaper than my other preference, wool felt.  As for the skill to make a magic hat I turned to Sandi Sisti of Seams Like Magic.  Sandi has been making very magical hats for magicians of all sorts for years and generously took on the challenge of making a big brim, Gandalf-style hat.