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Exploring your own community is a great way to do geography, and the local movement is growing. In fact, the word "locavore"— someone who eats only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius—was the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2007 word of the year; it was coined just in 2005. Read on to learn how to plant a home garden (like the new White House garden) and to find fun cultural events in your area (local music, festivals, and more). And please take our first ever "microsurvey"—we want to know what you think!

Christopher Shearer, My Wonderful World (MWW) Director
Go Local by Planting a Vegetable Garden Like Michelle Obama
Photo:For many of us, summer is a time of shifting activities and priorities. We try to spend a little less time at the office, and a little more time with family and friends. Usually, that includes a vacation away from home. And at home, it often means more time outside and around the community.

We can all take small steps to contribute to our communities' "sense of place," an idea at the heart of regional geography. Our June challenge: Join First Lady Michelle Obama by planting a vegetable garden in your backyard or in a community plot. This family-friendly activity is fun, educational, economical, local, nutritious, delicious—and it's simple! Here's what you'll need to get started: (1) seeds or seedlings, (2) a small shovel, (3) a flowerpot, window box, or patch of backyard or community garden space, (4) potting soil, (5) a watering can, and (6) fertilizer suited to your natural environment. (Tips are courtesy of National Geographic Kids.) Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of gardening and supporting local agriculture, and for recipes and additional tips to get growing!
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Chew the Right Thing
Photo: sidebarOne of our favorite recent additions to the MWW blog roll is The Ethicurean. An ethicurean is someone who seeks out tasty things that are also Sustainable, Organic, Local, and/or Ethical—SOLE food, for short. Check out the blog to learn how to "chew the right thing."
Photo: sidebar Which monthly challenge has been your favorite this year?
Click here to take survey

Find Local Events
Photo: sidebarAttending concerts, festivals, fairs, and community picnics is a great way to connect with friends new and old in your area—and it's often low in cost and gas mileage to boot. Check out the event listings in your local newspaper or at your town center or library. An increasing number of communities offer online events bulletins; find out what's going on in your neighborhood with Americantowns.com, Zvents.com, Festivals.com, and Eventful.com.
Support Local Arts
Photo: sidebarWe often think of arts as being centered in big cities, but there are networks of artists almost everywhere. Connect with and consider supporting the musicians, performers, and artisans who live in and gain inspiration from your unique area—many sustain local folk traditions or utilize locally sourced materials in their work. Etsy.com can help find handmade crafts, and Localband.net is a good tool for locating musicians and music venues in your town.
Read About Localism
Photo: sidebarTwo of our favorite books this summer are Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable Miracle, in which the best selling fiction writer chronicles her family's real-life attempt to eat only locally produced food for a year; and National Geographic's True Green Kids, which provides a series of fun eco-ideas that can be applied everywhere from your living room to the local park. Also, look for books about local history and folklore at your community library.
I Heart My Town
Photo: sidebarThink your town is pretty cool now that you've discovered all it has to offer? Consider investing in a geotourism campaign to sustain the geographic character of your community—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of residents—and advertise its offerings to potential tourists. National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations offers a community resources page with everything you need to get started, as well as think-local tips for geotravelers on the road.
Vote for Local Conservation Projects
Photo: sidebarSunChips® and National Geographic will soon announce the ten finalists for the Green Effect, an initiative inspiring people to take small steps to create big change in their communities. Four of the five $20,000 grant winners will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges; the final winner will be determined by the public. Vote for your favorite conservation project at www.greeneffect.com from July 7–20. Official rules are at GreenEffect.com.
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Take Action
Photo:The Quest for Slow
The "slow food" movement, which aims to preserve regional cuisine, agricultural biodiversity, and pleasure in eating, among other tenets, was born in 1986 in Rome, Italy. Italians, known for their culture of prizing food, family, and the time spent preparing and sharing meals together, were generally not happy with the expansion of the fast food industry in Europe. As a direct counter response, they pioneered the concept of slow food.

Slow food is an important part of the "eat local" movement, that has caught on worldwide, particularly in Europe and the American Pacific Northwest. It has given rise to broader slow movements including "slow living" and "slow cities," both of which place an emphasize on investing in local community resources and traditions.

Learn more about the history of the slow movement in Italy and beyond. Slowfood.com is the international website for slow-food; the U.K.'s Cittaslow.org is a gateway to exploring slow cities. And Slowmovement.com covers a broad range of slow topics.
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Take Action
Photo:Giant Accomplishment Rewarded With…Giant Tortoises
Ever wonder what it would be like to journey to the Galápagos—with Alex Trebek?!
Eric Yang, a 13-year-old seventh grader at Griffin Middle School in The Colony, Texas, is about to find out. As part of his prize package, which includes a $25,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, the winner of the 2009 National Geographic Bee was awarded a trip to the tropical islands made famous by Charles Darwin, accompanied by the Jeopardy! host. All that on top of, as Trebek put it, the "glory of victory."

Not bad for a young man, eh? Yang is well deserving, of course: he bested five million students across the United States to take the title in the competition. The winning question: Timiş County shares its name with a tributary of the Danube and is located in the western part of which European country? Answer: Read our review of the Bee on the blog to find out!
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Take Action
MWW Coordinator Natalie Wojinski Goes Local
"The olives and strawberries made me do it. The sheer beauty of the vast arrangement of different types and flavors of cured olives in the market, and the baskets of strawberries garnished with delicate yellow blooms, took my breath away. Something clicked and I realized that I needed to have my own market close to home."

This month, Natalie Wojinski, MWW public engagement coordinator for northern California and a high school geography and journalism teacher, joins us on the blog. Natalie tells how her experience visiting open-air markets in the south of France during a summer 2007 trip with students grew into an annual focus on local economic geography in the Bay Area, and also led her to alter her own food-shopping habits. Visit the blog to read the first post in this three-part series.
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