Move over, Movember. It’s time for Dinovember.

Dinos big and small team up to write this blog post.

Dinos big and small teamed up to write this blog post.

Two parents in Kansas City wanted to make some magic for their kids and ended up starting a nationwide creative craze.

Refe and Susan Tuma, the parents behind Dinovember, came up with an idea to help their kids “see the real world with a sense of wonderment” by setting up elaborate scenes around the house.

During Dinovember, toy dinosaurs come alive at night and do naughty mischief: breaking plates and spilling food, spray-painting the walls, getting stuck in the freezer while stealing ice cream.

Kids find the dino scenes in the morning, freak out, and play for hours.

The Tumas encourage all parents (and kids and people without kids) to participate in Dinovember. In a Fast Company article by Jennifer Miller, they offer tips on how to join in the fun while sharing their thoughts on taking risks, being creative, and making your own magic:

1. You Don’t Have to Pay for Play. The Tumas haven’t spent a dime on Dinovember. All the props—from the dinosaurs to the cans of spray paint—were already in the house. This forces them to get creative with what’s already available.

2. Make It More Than Child’s Play. Your project may be silly, but it’s still art—and worth no less than that novel you’re writing. “We rarely have time to work on our own projects,” says Refe, whose wife is an artist as well as a full-time mom. “But Dinovember is a way to combine our kids and our desire for creative pursuits.” In other words, if you take your project seriously, it might just provide that artistic outlet you crave.

3. Make (Them) Believe. When the Tumas started Dinovember last year, their oldest child was completely convinced the dinosaurs were real. A year later, she’s wised up. “We can see in her eyes that she knows what’s going on, which is why we had to escalate,” says Refe. And how. He and his wife spray-painted the walls. “She knows Mom and Dad would never graffiti the living room,” Refe says. But would a dinosaur? Not out of the question.

4. Make a Mess. Speaking of spray paint, take risks! Defy convention! “Repainting the walls is a small sacrifice to keeping the fun going with our kids,” says Refe. The same thing applies to dirtying the kitchen or breaking common household objects in order to make the dinosaurs appear responsible. Tuma and his wife have found new freedom in their non-adult behavior. “It reminds us that our stuff isn’t as important as our kids,” he says.

Read the full article to learn more about Dinovember or visit Dinovember’s Facebook page.

What projects or ideas do you have that could use some magic?

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Breaking new ground: How a Kansas City organization is helping refugees put down roots

This week’s spotlight: all things food.

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Khadijo Yussuf, a graduate of New Roots, broke ground at her own farm site this past spring.
(photo courtesy New Roots Facebook)

Now that they’ve harvested the last of the tomatoes, the farmers at New Roots are spending the winter cultivating some of their other skills: driving, English, and small business management.

New Roots—a partnership between the food justice organization Cultivate KC and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas—provides refugees in Kansas City the space and resources they need to gain income and self-sufficiency for their families through farming.

Many refugees who come to the U.S. already have extensive agricultural experience, but lack the resources and language skills needed to set up their own farms.

New Roots runs a four-year program with 16 refugee families who are each given a quarter-acre of land to grow their choice of crops. They’re also given access to seeds, equipment, and other important resources like English language classes, help setting up bank accounts, and driving lessons.

Rachel Pollock, program coordinator for New Roots, says that six of their graduates have gone on to buy property and start their own farms.

One of her favorite success stories is that of Khadijo, a Somali woman who was relocated to the U.S. a few years ago. Women are especially well-suited for the program, Rachel says, because they’re used to working hard to provide for their kids.

After four years in the New Roots program, Khadijo now drives her own van to the market to sell the food she’s grown. A mother of six, she’s recently purchased a home with a vacant lot where she’s planted vegetables and fruit trees.

“She loves being able to raise her kids in the garden,” says Rachel.

While the learning curve is steep for refugees like Khadijo, they’re not the only ones who learn from New Roots.

“When our farmers sell their vegetables at the markets, it gives families here in Kansas City the opportunity to interact with people that they might never interact with otherwise—we get to bridge cultures both ways.”

The best part about working with refugee farmers, says Rachel, is the chance to offer homes and security to people who have felt unsettled for years.

“Being able to grow your own food is so important—especially for people who haven’t felt safe or felt self-determination over their lives in a really long time,” says Rachel. “Food is so tied into feeling like we’re home.”

Interested in refugee issues? Search Idealist for over 2,000 opportunities around the globe.

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