Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Free Compassion Webinar, 12/8/16

Dec 8, 2016 9:00 AM in (GMT-8:00) Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Many of us around the globe feel that we are at an uncomfortable and paralyzing turning point. This video call is being offered to people who want to move through the day, the world, and these changes, with compassion and in peace.

In this call, you will have an opportunity to explore some simple writing- and nature-based practices that can support us in these trying times. What is a “practice”? How can writing or the natural world help us? What do grief, compassion, and peaceful action have in common?

We will address these questions through guided activities you can use as ongoing tools for

1) coping with grief,
2) fostering compassion for yourself and others, and
3) behaving more kindly, peaceably, and compassionately even in the face of challenges.

At the end of the call, you will have an opportunity to ask questions about the practices or process we’ve covered. You will leave the call with tangible tools you can use any time grief, non-compassionate thoughts, or aggressive action feel like the only possible reactions to what is happening around us. We ask you to bring to the call ample writing paper and pens for this experiential, hands-on offering. You will receive the most from the call if you are able to join using your computer’s video; visual images will be part of the presentation. However, we welcome you even if you are not able to join with a video connection.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Syrian "White Helmets" Pledge 'Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality'

White Helmet photo

When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need - regardless of their religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth.

As the conflict in Syria worsens, ordinary people are paying the highest price. More than 50 bombs and mortars a day land on some neighbourhoods in Syria. Many are rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives, rolled out the back of government helicopters -- bakeries and markets are the most commonly hit targets. When this happens the White Helmets rush in to search for life in the rubble - fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site. These volunteers have saved 73,530 lives - and this number is growing daily.

The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict - pledging commitment to the principles of “Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality” as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation. This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved - so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Seven Global Changemakers

Seven change makers for peace and justice from around the globe were recently partially funded by The Pollination Project.
  • Aviram Rozin and Yorit Rozin, Sadhana. Forest Animal Sanctuary, Auroville, India. Rescued animals and community members come together for peaceful interactions while learning about local reforestation projects.
  • Mohammed Tahir and Carmela Mancini.  Slum-Library Project, Accra, Ghana. Students are engaged in safe and healthy activities, including a library and a multipurpose playground.
  • Nakinti Besumbu Nofuru and Della Bii-mai. Stop Sexual Harassment in Commercial Buses During All Night Travels!, Bamenda, Cameroon. School going youth are sensitized on night travels and sexual harassment while bus stations are decorated with awareness posters.
  • Carlos Lemus. Promoting and Giving the Monarch Butterfly and Other Pollinators a Helping Hand, Reedley, California, USA. Youth create awareness campaigns designed to create safe spaces for monarch butterflies while beautifying communities.
  • Delilah Sharp. Identify Your Dream Corporation, Pontiac, Michigan, USA. Early aged youth are engaged in conversations and educational opportunities about death, grief and coping mechanisms, aimed to unlock their potential.
  • Emmanuel Eyoh Ms Ima Obong Expo. Food for IDPS in Nigeria, Bornu, Nigeria. Vegetable gardens are placed in the community to help fight hunger and malnutrition while advocating for a vegan lifestyle.
  • Sylvain Picker. SeedTheGlobe, Montreal, Canada. Super food seed balls are created to regenerate ecosystems and provide impoverished communities with organic farming techniques.

--From the Huffington Post

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Building Blocks of Inspiring Everyday Heroism

It's almost ordinary when one Daily Prism search for content leads to another interesting and positive piece of news and content. A post from this week opened the window to the Heroic Imagination Project, "... a project that develops and implements research, education, corporate and public initiative to inspire and encourage everyday heroism."

From the website:

Heroic Imagination Project (HIP) defines heroism as intentional action in service to others in need or to humanity by defending a moral cause, without personal gain and with awareness of likely personal costs. Heroism is the creation of a “bright line” of morality on an issue that is defended, upheld and promoted despite pressures to do otherwise.

Heroism may involve an impulsive action, saving a life, or may be reflective, planning a course of action to oppose injustice & immorality. Heroes act against injustice and cruelty and stand up for principled values that make our society a better place for all citizens.

Heroes come in many forms, young and old, male and female, who are mostly ordinary, everyday people whose acts of heroism qualify as extraordinary. Anyone can be a hero anytime an opportunity arises to stand up for what is right and just and to speak out against injustice, corruption and other evils. Focusing on We rather than Me, they form essential links among us; they forge our Human Connection.

We have created a core program of 6 modules we call “Understanding Human Nature”. Each module contributes to the training of everyday heroes in a profound and unique way. We differ from other approaches to social change in two major ways.

The Six Modules

  1. The Bystander Effect: Transforming Passive Inaction into Heroic Actions  Help your audience overcome the social forces that can prevent them from taking action in unclear or emergency situations, and gain the skills to respond wisely and effectively.
  2. The Mindset Intervention: Replacing Fixed Mindset with Growth Mindset Help your audience shift from a fixed mindset—a belief that one cannot change one’s abilities or personal characteristics such as intelligence—
toward a growth mindset—a belief that one can improve aspects of oneself with time and effort.
  3. Enabling Social Conformity to have Positive Impact Help your audience gain an increased awareness of their automatic tendencies to conform in social situations, and replace those tendencies with healthy behaviors.
  4. Managing Stereotype Threat Effectively with Adaptive Attributions Help your audience reduce or eliminate the effects of stereotype threat and unhealthy attributions on learning and performance.
  5. Developing Situational Awareness of Authority Power Help your audience gain awareness of how group influence and situations affect decision-making, and strategies to address social situations mindfully
  6. Reversing Prejudice and Discrimination to Promote Understanding and Acceptance Help your audience gain awareness of their 
tendency to make assumptions about other people and groups, and conversely gain resilience when they experience prejudice and discrimination from others.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

8 Techniques to Combat Hate Speak

C. Coimbra photo

Editor's Note:  The following is excerpted and edited from Eight Ways to Stand Up to Hate, recently posted on the Greater Good in Action.

... In less than one week, the Southern Poverty Law Center has tallied more than 400 incidents of “hateful intimidation and harassment”—and millions of Americans now fear becoming victims of verbal and physical assaults ...

... how can you prepare to protect those who are being threatened—to stand up for the worth and dignity of every person, even when it’s uncomfortable or scary? It all starts with mentally equipping yourself for such action, and for the consequences that come with it.

... While few of us will witness an actual hate crime, anyone can be confronted with hateful language—at work, on the street, or even over dinner. Here are some strategies you can use to turn your mind toward everyday heroism—and to act in ways that reflect that commitment.

1. Educate yourself

Most of us would like to believe that when we see someone being attacked or harassed, we’ll quickly rush to their aid. But while heroic intervention can certainly arise out of empathy for others, it’s more likely to be successful when you’ve had some nuts-and-bolts real-world training.

If you don’t yet feel confident in your ability to protect someone, seek out a course or workshop that teaches how to engage in effective bystander intervention. A few good places to start: Green Dot, Hollaback!, and Response-Ability. In a 2011 University of Kentucky study, people who took part in Green Dot training reported intervening more actively when they saw someone in trouble. (Another perk: You’ll get to meet plenty of other people who share your values.)

2. Be the first to speak up

Classic social psychology studies reveal that people typically look to those around them for cues on how to behave—and that they tend to trust those cues even when doing so leads them badly astray. In the Asch conformity experiment, for example, participants were shown a picture of a line and asked to state which of three other lines equaled it in length. When other people around them chose the wrong answer, the subjects often went along with the crowd’s flawed judgment.

But if you’re aware of how people’s conformist tendencies operate, you can try to harness them for good. In a variation on the Asch experiment, people were far less likely to follow the crowd’s lead when there was just one other person near them who chose the correct line lengths. When you speak out about injustices happening in front of you, you can help tip the social balance toward truth.
By taking such a stand, you can influence people on social media, too. NYU researchers reported this year that when people using a racist slur on Twitter were scolded by a highly followed user in their “in-group,” the offenders cut way back on their use of the slur.

3. Practice being conspicuous

To defend someone who’s being threatened, you have to be willing to heed your own conscience above all else. But resisting social pressure takes serious guts, and it helps to do some trial runs to feel more at ease.

When he was teaching at Stanford, Zimbardo used to walk his students through an exercise he called “Be a Deviant for a Day”—which could mean, say, drawing a giant circle on their foreheads or wearing a pair of pink bunny slippers around campus. It’s a good way to learn what it feels like to go against the grain. “If you can practice when it’s safe,” says Australian educator Matt Langdon, founder of the Hero Construction Company, “you’re going to be more likely to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

In addition to honing your overall nonconformity game, it pays to rehearse for specific uncomfortable situations you’re likely to encounter. How are you going to react, for instance, if you see a passerby getting attacked in public—or if a friend makes a casual hateful comment at a dinner party? Psychologist Lynne Henderson’s “social fitness” research suggests that if you come up with a plan and practice it (perhaps in a role-play with a friend), you’ll be better prepared to put it into action when it’s most needed.

4. Ask for help when you need it

To stand up for someone in trouble, you’ll have to push past your own fear of making waves. Still, it’s important to strike a balance between courage and caution. You should only put yourself in danger as a last resort, after you’ve ruled out all other reasonable options. If a harasser is waving a gun and threatening to shoot, rushing into the fray probably isn’t the best idea.

“You can be an effective social change agent only if you know when to act alone, in a team, or not at all,” Zimbardo says. “When you size up a situation as dangerous, call the police or fire department or others nearby to help you do the right thing, aware that doing nothing is always the wrong thing.”
If the danger level seems low but you’re not prepared for direct confrontation, try starting a friendly conversation with the person being harassed (“I love your scarf! Where did you get it?”), which can help defuse the situation.

5. Find a heroic role model

To fortify yourself for the challenge of upholding your principles, it helps to look up to someone who has faced this kind of challenge and managed to act. It might be someone in your family who has taken in refugees from a war-torn country. Or it might be someone like civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in defiance of racist segregation laws. Having a role model can boost your heroic potential in the real world: Many Holocaust rescuers, for instance, have told researchers about selfless people in their own lives who inspired them to help people in danger.

At the same time, be wary of putting your role model on a super-human pedestal, since real-life heroes can make mistakes like anyone else. Instead, focus on specific qualities you want to emulate. “Each person’s going to have the good and bad,” Langdon says. “Maybe the good things they did are the important things.”

Don’t confine your role model search to history books, either. Look to the selfless people in your own circle of friends and acquaintances—the bonds you forge with them, and the values you share, can be a critical source of support when things get tough.

6. Make connections with people different from you

Interacting with a wide range of people on a human level can help ensure future injustices never come to be. A 2011 research review shows that when intolerant people strike up friendships with members of other groups, fears and prejudices tend to fall away.

In one extreme example, African-American pianist Daryl Davis took the risk of getting to know members of the Ku Klux Klan personally. Confronted with living evidence that their hateful ideas were wrong, a number of these men ultimately resigned from the Klan and gave Davis their hoods and robes.

Davis’ story illustrates that forging human connections with those you fear, or those who have disappointed you, in no way implies acceptance of prejudice or wrongdoing. If someone makes a bigoted remark, for instance, calling that person out—telling them you won’t stand for it—may be the highest form of love you can demonstrate.

7. Ask people what they really need

When attackers are targeting people of a particular skin color or creed, you have a responsibility to intervene if you believe all humans are valuable and worthy of protection.

In this spirit, activists have encouraged people to wear safety pins as an outward signal that they can be relied on to help in the event of an attack. But some critics have expressed concern that the pins only make wearers feel better about themselves—and that pin-wearers may not understand the true needs of those they say they want to protect.

Donning a safety pin is a good way to express your solidarity with those feeling threatened. But you can go further by making the effort to ask people you know, “How are you doing right now? How can I make sure to have your back?” Then listen carefully to what they have to say, even if some of their answers aren’t what you expected.

8. Press the mental pause button

It’s an inconvenient psychological truth: No matter how rock-solid your values are, you’ll have to guard against the tendency to overlook them in the moment.

In the famous Good Samaritan experiment conducted at Princeton University, people who were in a hurry to get somewhere were far less likely to stop and help a distressed victim in an alley. And when multiple people are watching a dire situation unfold, each individual observer is often less likely to help. Psychologists call this the bystander effect, and it’s rooted in our very human tendency to assume someone else will act.

In Heroic Imagination Project workshops, students learn to pause in high-stakes situations and ask themselves what action reflects their true values. “Take [a] brief time out before acting mindlessly or making decisions impulsively,” Zimbardo says. It only takes a second or two, but it can make a lifetime’s worth of difference to someone in trouble.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Liberty Bell Minute -- A Daily Moment of Silence for Wisdom

From Wise USA

The Liberty Bell Minute is a spiritual call to action to invoke wisdom, joy, and compassion in the United States of America at a vital historical moment. We are continuing our campaign to observe a minute of silence at 9pm Eastern every day, at least until the Inauguration in late January. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Compassionate Effort that Now Feeds Hundreds Weekly

Food on Foot is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the poor and homeless of Los Angeles through programs that provide nutritious meals, clothing, work opportunities and ultimately the transition to full-time employment and life off the streets.

Food on Foot operates a weekly meal program every Sunday in Hollywood. Food on Foot began in March 1996 as one man’s response to the hunger he witnessed among the poor and homeless of Hollywood. What initially began as the distribution of meals from the trunk of a car has grown through the dedication of its volunteers and now serves more than 200 meals each week to homeless, disabled, elderly and low-income adults and children.

Food on Foot is a unique and personal response to hunger and unemployment because it is an effort entirely organized and maintained through the hard work of volunteers and generous individuals who provide the vast majority of our financial support. Thanks to supporters like you, we do not take government funds.  As a result, we are able to provide high-quality care to each of our homeless clients.

Every Sunday, for 20 years and counting, volunteers distribute hot, nutritious chicken dinners, snacks (fresh fruit, carrots, granola bars and bread), and drinks (bottled water and milk) to as many as 200 homeless and poor individuals and families in our Hollywood serving area location.  But our work doesn’t stop there. Our unique and all-inclusive Work for Food program provides homeless participants with a life skills education, job training, full time employment, housing they can afford, and most importantly, the confidence needed to make their accomplishments long lasting.