Educational Outreach unit awarded grant for literacy workshops

July 23, 2010

Eight Educational Outreach-ASSET was awarded the First Things First North Phoenix Regional Council Family Literacy Grant for $352,000 for 2010-2011, renewable for the next two years. Eight will work with 25 groups throughout North Phoenix and provide a series of six family literacy workshops, reaching 720 parents and 1500 children in the region. The project planning begins Monday, Aug. 2 and the workshops are scheduled to begin in late September.

“We are honored and excited to receive this grant from First Things First,” said Kimberly Flack, Eight’s Associate General Manager–Educational Initiatives. “The funding will allow us to make a long-term commitment to the North Phoenix neighborhoods and to bring proven literacy programs to their families.” Download Full Image

Each workshop includes video segments from PBS children’s programming, plus PBS KIDS Raising Readers online curriculum featuring characters from Sesame Street, Word World, SuperWhy!, Martha Speaks and others.  Children will attend with their parents and participate in related activities.  The bilingual workshops will be available evenings or weekends.

In addition to literacy materials, all families will receive supplemental information to further their own education, career advancement, and increase their awareness of community resources.

The City of Phoenix, John C. Lincoln Hospital, Madison and Washington Elementary School Districts, Deer Valley Unified and Paradise Valley Unified School Districts, and Orangewood Presbyterian Church will collaborate on the project by hosting workshops for their communities. 

First Things First was established by Arizona voters to help provide greater opportunities for all Arizona children five and under to help them grow ready to succeed.

About Eight's Educational Outreach
Arizona Pre K-12 students benefit from outreach programs and educator professional development distributed statewide by Eight Educational Outreach-ASSET. For more information visit


About Eight, Arizona PBS
Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture — utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University on January 30, 1961.  Now more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems.  With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country.  Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station’s annual budget. For more information, visit">">

Nature's call leads designer to sustainable solutions

July 26, 2010

It is the bane of our existence – and despite our best efforts to control it, we all find ourselves inundated with it.

Junk mail. Download Full Image

As a graphic designer, Michelle Fehler has made her living producing mail pieces, but as a graduate researcher at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, she has made it her focus to find innovative ways to produce more sustainable alternatives to traditional paper advertising.

She has been particularly interested in the juncture of biomimicry and graphic design.

“Some time ago I attended an AIGA conference in San Diego, in which Janine Benyus was a speaker," Fehler said. "Her presentation on the idea of imitating nature to solve problems sparked my interest in researching possibilities."

Fehler began her research looking at the ways we use paper and performing some basic life cycle assessments of how a single postcard can impact the environment.

“Transportation and materials like paper have the greatest environmental impact," Fehler said. "Any alternative in materials would mean a significant reduction in CO2 production and cutting down of trees."

According to a 2002 study by the U.S. Department of Energy, the paper industry is the fourth-largest producer of carbon dioxide among manufacturers. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that of the nearly six million tons of standard mail generated nationwide in 2007, only about 40 percent was recycled.

Moreover, the nonprofit group Forest Ethics estimates that mail advertisements create 51.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.

“A solution I came upon is using animal waste fibers,” Fehler said. “By using the waste of pandas, elephants and cows, we can produce a biodegradable paper. The animals do all the work by chewing plants, the waste – once washed – can be mixed to create a pulp and once dried is a perfect paper.”

Fehler has been following closely the work of Poo Poo Paper Company in Thailand. The paper mill uses the excrement of Asian elephants to recycle waste, generate jobs, produce alternative paper and use a part of its profits to protect elephants.

Fehler also has looked at banana fibers, natural inks and patterns of communication as part of her graphic design research.

“I am trying to go beyond the obvious, go deeper,” she said. “For example, when you look at a pine tree, there are certain conditions that need to occur before a seed can germinate – these are very specific. If we could target our message more specifically to our targeted audience, it could become more efficient.”

Fehler notes that we are inundated everyday with junk mail about products in which we are not interested, and these in turn translate into immediate waste.

“If nature can establish a criteria for each communication piece, maybe we can imitate nature and make our communication less wasteful,” Fehler said.