Visiting my 6-year-old grandson a few months ago I found it challenging to move beyond his focus on the superpowers of various commercial characters to the natural and creative world.

Fortunately, he loves to hike and bike, and the shift happened as we explored a rocky beach in Puget Sound. His grandpa found a natural prop — seaweed shaped like a beard and, to the intense amusement of our grandson, he wore it. Naturally our grandson took a turn wearing the “beard." That broke the superpower obsession, and he was soon happily collecting shells, rocks and driftwood.

The rest of the day remained in a much more imaginative state of mind as we had a rainy picnic and hiked around a lake.

As we enter a season of intense marketing to children, consider countering that with ideas from the Center for A New American Dream. The center suggests  focusing on toys that require creativity to be fully imagined, such as blocks and art supplies. You may wish to avoid toys with a media hook. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood director Susan Linn, suggests that the toy be 90 percent child and 10 percent toy.

When watching a movie or video with your children set limits around the marketing “extras." If the film is based on a book, have them read the book first so they envision their own characters and places.

The Center for a New American Dream has two resources which folks may find helpful. One is a guide for parents, “Kids Unbranded — Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture." The center also provides a “Simplify the Holidays” calendar which has tips for reducing your holiday stress each day.

Check out these events for December and have a stress-free holiday.

Seed Exchange and Share Garden Experiences: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14, First Alternative Co-op Meeting Room, 1007 S.E. Third St. The public is invited to participate in a seed exchange and sharing of this past year’s gardening experiences at this free event sponsored by Growing Organic, a chapter of Ten Rivers Food Web. The club also will discuss its plans and goals for the coming year. Please bring seeds to share and envelopes for your take home seeds. For information, contact Linda Sebring, 541-829-1071.

OSUsed Store End of Clearance Sales: noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 17, and 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 20, at the OSUsed Store, 644 S.W. 13th St. Find a variety bargain and live more lightly on the planet by purchasing used and surplus items. For more information, contact, see or call 541-737-7347

Native Plant Sale: Paper order deadline Dec. 31, electronic order deadline is Jan. 31, plant pickup date is Feb. 21, 3079 N.E. Garden Ave., Corvallis. The Benton Soil and Water Conservation District plant sale features reasonably priced native plants including trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses and bulbs. Download paper order form or submit your order electronically at For more information, email or call 541-753-7208.

Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards Program: 6:30 to 8:50 p.m. Jan. 26 through March 16, Grace Lutheran Church, Ronnkamp Hall, 435 N.W. 21 St. OSU's Extension Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards program trains volunteers to help the community live more sustainability. The course covers climate change science, transportation options, energy conservation, sustainable food systems, waste reduction, water conservation, gardening and volunteering. The cost is $20. The registration deadline is Jan. 12. For more information, check To register, contact Jody Einerson, 541-766-6311 or

Maureen Beezhold has been writing the Earth Year monthly column for the Gazette-Times since 1999. She works with the sustainability committee at the Beit Am Jewish Community, and organizes a bimonthly walk for Corvallis area interfaith leaders. She can be reached at 541-752-3517 or


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