Sunday, September 30, 2012

First Non-Profit Grocery To Open in "Food Desert"

From Philanthropy Today

A Philadelphia-area hunger charity has announced plans to open what it calls the nation’s first nonprofit supermarket in Chester, Pa., a city that has not had a major grocery store for 11 years, says The Philadelphia Inquirer.

At a ceremony Thursday in the Delaware County town, Philabundance detailed plans for a “Fare & Square” market to launch in the spring. The 13,000-square-foot store—about a third of the size of conventional supermarket—will require customers to become “members” to shop there, but the prices will below average, according to Philabundance head William Clark.

“We’re confident this will be a game-changer for the City of Chester,” said Mr. Clark. Chester officials said they hoped the nonprofit market would attract other big stores to the town, which has had trouble attracting grocery chains due to poverty and crime problems, leaving residents with an array of unhealthy food options.
Marty Meloche, a food-marketing professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, said Chester goes beyond the government definition of a “food desert.” He termed the town more akin to “Death Valley. There’s no water anywhere.”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Make A Difference Day, Oct. 27

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine and Points of Light have joined together to sponsor Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service.

Make A Difference Day is a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Millions of volunteers from around the world will unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others on Make A Difference Day, Saturday, October 27, 2012.

Thousands of projects are planned each year involving corporations, communities, nonprofit organizations, entire states and individuals. Many of the 250 HandsOn Network affiliates lead projects across the nation.

The stories told around Make A Difference Day show that anyone - regardless of age, location or resources - can accomplish amazing things when they take on the problems they see in their community. Recognizing the power of Make A Difference Day, other organizations join with USA WEEKEND and Points of Light each year to inspire and recognize the valuable work of volunteers. Newman's Own supports the day by awarding $10,000 to the charities of each of 10 National Honorees and three City Awardees.

Friday, September 28, 2012

U.S. Collegiates Volunteer on Syrian/Jordan Border

An International Relations student at California State University Long Beach with an emphasis in the Middle East,  the 20-year-old student who has already demonstrated humanitarian work in Sudan and at Palestinian orphanage in Beit Sahour, is presently on the Syrian/Jordanian border on a   humanitarian trip to help Syrian refugees fleeing the bloodshed (regardless of their affiliation) according to a website, Humanitarian on a Mission.

Working on the border with the student, Jordan Hattar, is "Dina Alhayek is a Jordanian-American human rights activist...Dina is passionate about human rights, development, and conflict resolution," the website notes.

The student's message, "... in order to make a positive difference in this world you don’t need a specific skill, just a heart. Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you'll find your treasure."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cross-Country Walk Highlights Caregiving Message

Teri Swezey began her cross country last April--a 3,000 mile walk from the East to West Coast to bring attention to the needs of America's senior citizens.  Swezey formed SOAR 12 (Seniors Obtaining Assistance and Resource)  "... to help meet the needs of vulnerable elderly and caregivers," as noted in an earlier post.

Swezey announced today that her cross-country walk has ended in Flagstaff, AZ   "I've traveled 2,255 miles so far, but try as I might, I couldn't figure out a way to continue walking n rolling the last 800 miles to Cambria without a support person," Sweezy explained about the loss of her support team because of their family circumstances.

The Daily Prism believes that Swezey and her support team met their goal of raising awareness about the condition of our senior citizens and their caregivers when a debilitating health condition has taken control.  The team talked with thousands of people across the continent,  both personally and with curious news media. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bridging Desert to Ocean Biodiversity

From Blue Frontier Campaign

Intercultural  Center for the Study of  Deserts and Oceans (CEDO) works to understand the natural and human links between the Upper Gulf of California that separates Baja from mainland Mexico and the surrounding Sonoran Desert the spans the U.S. Mexican border. Executive Director Peggy Boyer recalls how she and her husband Rick were involved in a University of Arizona research project that first brought them to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, México in the late ‘70s. It was there in 1980 they founded CEDO, not simply to study the area but to, “share that information with the local community and engage them in conservation and management issues.” Today CEDO has a staff of 3 in Tucson and 30 in Puerto Penasco where they also have a biological research station and an Earthship visitors’ center built from natural and recycled products including used tires and cans. They work with over 1,700 fishermen from the area to try and develop sustainable practices that will minimize their impacts on edible and non-targeted marine wildlife (fish and mammals) while also maintaining the biodiversity of the upper Gulf that they helped to establish as a marine reserve in 1993.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In the Name of Marine Life, A Community Unites

Yesterday an unlikely group of citizens (both environmentalist and non-environmentalists) banded together to speak with their hearts and passion from the soul to stand against a proposal to emit 250dB's into the ocean floor to research potential seismic danger from fault lines near an existing nuclear powered plant in California.  (The decibel level of a nuclear bomb explosion is about 197dB.  There is no study that delineates the effect of 250dBs on marine life--which was the point of discussion.)

While The Daily Prism does not take sides on issues, it does acknowledge the Davids in a David and Goliath type battle.  So many Davids appeared at this governmental hearing, that the commissioners had to restrict public comment to just 2 minutes each. The Davids stood for marine life that could not, obviously, speak for itself.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Peace Day" Notes From Kabul

International Peace Day from Kabul, Afghanistan
By Johnny Barber, September 22, 2012
Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives. This in some respects is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply. For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan. The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that non-violence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war.
Established in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Peace was to coincide with its opening session. The first Peace Day was observed on September 21st, 1982. In 1982 the Soviet Union was increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan and facing fierce fighting throughout the provinces.

Thirty years later Afghanistan is still at war. The opponents have changed, and the weaponry has changed.

The War on Terror, Armored Humvees, IED’s, suicide bombers, night raids, smart bombs, and drones have all entered the American lexicon.

The constant through all these years is the suffering of the non-combatants. Just this week, a van was blown up by an IED in southern Helmand province, killing 9 women and 3 children. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast. A drone strike before dawn in Laghman Province killed 8 women gathering firewood and injured 8 more. I spoke with a father of six children in Parwansa refugee camp. He has been an Internally Displaced Person for 11 years, living in a small mud-brick enclosure with a plastic, canvas, and cardboard roof. I asked if the government had offered any assistance for the coming winter. He said the government has done nothing; he could only count on God to take care of his family. Oct 7th will mark the 11th anniversary of America’s war in Afghanistan. 11 years and $550 billion dollars later, peace is still elusive.

The war has pushed the Taliban out of power, but the current government is full of the very same warlords that were carving up Afghanistan prior to the Taliban’s rise. These “representatives” have very little backing among the people, mainly because they have continued to line their pockets while their constituents suffer.

The call for peace may fill their speeches, but to work for peace distracts from their income.
The International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) as well as the Afghan Army and Afghan Police force, often employing strong-arm tactics, struggle to bring a semblance of security to the countryside. Security in Kabul is tentative as well, with suicide bombings and armed attacks on the rise. On Sept 18th, a woman rammed a car full of explosives into a van containing 9 foreign workers, killing herself, all 9 foreigners, their Afghan translator, as well as passerby. While temporary security may be imposed with an iron fist, peace cannot be forced.

On Sept 19th, an Afghan holiday in the remembrance of the death of Burhanuddin Rabbani, a warlord turned “peace envoy” who was killed by a suicide bomber in his home, President Hamid Karzai called on Afghans to pursue peace. A generation that has known nothing but war has little faith in government calls for peace while the very same government loots the country. The government led peace initiative seems to have died with Rabbani a year ago.

The past week has been disastrous for Afghans, and points towards more mayhem in the future. While profits are still being generated for arms suppliers, reconstruction experts, and contractors, peace has not been generated for anyone. In America, peace is never spoken of outside the context of war or security. In Obama’s acceptance speech in Charlotte, he mentioned America’s “pursuit of peace” exactly once, shortly after getting cheers for claiming, “Osama bin Laden is dead.”

A partial list of American military involvement since 1982 includes Lebanon, Grenada, Chad, Libya, Honduras, Bolivia, Columbia, Peru, Philippines, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Haiti, Serbia, Afghanistan (currently, America’s longest war), Sudan, Iraq (again, after years of crippling sanctions that killed half a million children), and Libya (again). This is not an exhaustive list; it doesn’t include covert attacks, special operations, or America’s special relationship with Israel, which has rained down horror on Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli drones continue to kill people in Gaza on a nearly weekly basis. American drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Syria and Iran loom on the horizon, with American threats of intervention and war ramping up. Death is a top American export.

On the anniversary of Sept 11th, a hate filled Anti-Islam movie trailer was a catalyst sparking widespread protests and attacks across the world, leading to 30 deaths. On Sept 19th a French Satirical newspaper, under the guise of “free speech” released vulgar cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) adding fuel to an already volatile fire. Peace Day is likely to be fraught with violence, like most any other day.

Yet, on this International Day of Peace groups will come together around the world (and yes, even in Afghanistan) to promote peace, cooperation, friendship and love. These efforts are necessary, if for no other reason then to remind people peace is an option, a possibility, and a personal responsibility. It is necessary to counter the flames of hatred. It is necessary to be inspired by those who walked this path before us. It is necessary for our sanity as human beings. As the darkness of our violence prone world threatens to overwhelm us, it is necessary to dance, to sing, to laugh, and to open our minds to creative opportunities to live in harmony with our world. It is necessary to stand together for even just one day and say, “No, just because you have superior firepower, or can rain down hell fire missiles, or fly planes into buildings, I will not be swayed, I will not live in fear. Your sickness will not persuade me, infect me, or deter me.” In this electoral season, choosing between Obama and Romney is a huge distraction; there is real work to be done. Our perverse system of endless war needs to be dismantled, our culture realigned. We need to begin again. War is over. Peace is the path.
Johnny Barber is in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he is living with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence. His writing and photos are posted at and

Saturday, September 22, 2012

320 Tons of Trash Cleaned From California Beaches

The results from a recent Coastal Clean Up Day from just one California county are:

  • 1006 Volunteers in attendance in San Luis Obispo County
  • 2500 pounds of trash in San Luis Obispo County
  • The statewide count stands t 57,442 volunteer who picked up 534,115 pounds of trash and 105,816 pounds of recyclable materials
  • Statewide a total of 639,930 pounds or 320 tons!

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Space Shuttle Salutes Former Commander and U.S. Representative

    It's national news, but joyful news when those in power change course and recognize those who made a difference.

    From ABC News

    By Gina Sunseri and Leezel Tanglao

    The space shuttle Endeavour arrived in California today after taking a detour over Tucson as former astronaut Mark Kelly and wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, watched from a rooftop at the University of Arizona.

    Image by PK Weis

    “That’s my spaceship,” said Kelly, Endeavour’s last commander, according to The Associated Press.
    Kelly asked Wednesday that Endeavour make a detour and fly over Tucson, so that Giffords could see it one last time.

    The last-minute suggestion was a bit of a surprise to NASA, but it put out a statement saying it would honor Kelly’s request.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Sharing Backyard Garden Harvest

    A Craigslist post found today:

    I have a large backyard garden that is producing more than I need for this year;

    The watermelon are now juicy, ripe and ready -

    The small and medium pumpkins are also ripe, and several large (100 lb.+) pumpkins can be reserved for Halloween - feel free to bring your kids to select and reserve their favorite one.

    I have small amounts of carrots and corn available, and a number of tomato plants that are beginning to fruit.

    Watermelons are $1 - $5, other items are $2 per bag.

    Everyone likes their produce a little different, so please feel free to come on over and pick your own!

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Overflowing Good

    While conserving energy to create an event to benefit the educational efforts of a marine-environmental organization, and, thereby, temporarily retiring from daily posts, a discovery of an overflowing fount of good was close to overwhelming proportions.

    Imagine crafting an idea and bringing it to others who say "yes."  Then over 80 persons, from volunteers, to participants, to in-kind donors, create an amazing success that benefits our oceans and the creatures within.

    That is the kickoff for a new series of daily posts that bring to light The Daily Prism.