Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Keep Your Eye On The Sparks Off The Prism

The Daily Prism is about to begin a holiday vacation.  We'll return with the New Year.

This has been an amazing year of generosity and kindness--even though, at times, the daily news tells us differently.  Remember, it's not always the loudest making real change. It's those who volunteer for nonprofits, give their time to schools, clean the beaches, stand for justice, work with the poor, educate freely, and randomly perform more acts of unselfish love and giving.  We posted 264 stories this year.  If time allowed we would post one a day, or two or three a day because there are that many stories that find our news sources.

It's not easy to feel positive when we hear and see negativity, war, acts of violence.  But keep your eye on that spark from the prism that lights our way through the darkness.  It's strong.  It's steady.  It is in charge. 

And give.  Give what you can. Giving is as simple as writing a letter to a lonely person; donating your unwanted to a worthy charity, praying for others, volunteering an hour a month, and being kind to all. This enrolls you into that silent army of those seeking to bring life's greater good to all.

The most popular post this year is Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Here are the post most  visited this year:






















Friday, December 13, 2013

Madrid NGO Fill Food Bank With Vending Machine

...in downtown Madrid sits a vending machine with a difference. Covered in photographs of milk bottles,food banks for help.
lentils and rice, this "solidarity machine" is a charity's attempt to keep up with the increasing number of Spaniards turning to

Passersby insert their change and choose which of the 24 items provided by the food bank they want to fund. Items cost between €1 and €3 (80p-£2.50): 1kg of sugar costs €1 and a dozen eggs €2. The machine spits out a little box that shows what has been purchased.

"People walking by stop and stare. It looks like we have a tobacco vending machine sitting next to a church," said Adrián Gutiérrez, campaign co-ordinator for the Spanish NGO Mensajeros de la Paz. "Most of them laugh when they find it what it's all about. Then they want to try it out."

..."We're right in the middle of one of Madrid's main shopping streets, so people aren't likely to be carrying food they can donate," Gutiérrez said. "It's something new, something different, to get people excited about donating."

Source:  The Guardian

Foundation Buys Artifacts and Returns Them to Native American Tribes

From Philanthropy Today

Eve Auction Photo
The Annenberg Foundation has revealed that it was the “anonymous” bidder that paid $530,000 Monday for 24 Native American masks at a Paris auction and that it intends to restore the artifacts to the tribes that claim ownership of them, reports the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.

The auction drew controversy because the masks are sacred to the Hopi Nation and the San Carlos Apache tribe, which asked that the items be withdrawn and returned to them.

The auction proceeded, despite attempts by the U.S. embassy to postpone it so that representatives from the tribes could inspect the artifacts and investigate whether they have a claim under a 1970 Unesco agreement, of which both France and the United States are signatories.

Annenberg vice president Gregory Annenberg Weingarten decided the foundation would purchase them and return them to the tribes.

“These are not trophies to have on one’s mantel,” Weingarten said in a statement. “They are truly sacred works for the Native Americans. They do not belong in auction houses or private collections.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Giving Pledge Signs on More Members

The San Francisco Gate reports,

Seven more billionaires, including Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and Russian super angel Yuri Milner, just vowed to give most of their money away.

They signed The Giving Pledge, the four-year-old brainchild of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in which the world's wealthiest individuals promise to give away half or more of their money to charity before or after they die.

With the seven who signed on today, 128 wealthy families have made this commitment.

The Giving Pledge is somewhat controversial, however, the Business Insider reported this comment by one of the pledge's advocates:

 Advocates of The Giving Pledge insist that the main purpose of the campaign is to create a ripple effect across the world, which it has done. “By giving publically, we are able to inspire and educate others to give more of themselves,” said Jenny Santi, a Singapore-based advisor on ultra high net worth (UHNW) philanthropy, who is currently helping Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn expand her foundation to Asia. “I have had clients tell me that the reason they started their own charitable projects is that they read about what Bill Gates is doing, and were inspired to do the same.”

...And of course, any step towards galvanizing others to the betterment of human kind must be given the benefit of the doubt. Santi said: “If charitable projects are flawed, I think we should spend less time criticizing them and spend more time coming up with alternatives, or proactive solutions. Today, for example, it took me only three minutes to make an online donation to victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Sometimes we forget how little we have to do to make a difference.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Forgiveness--A Nelson Mandela Tribute

As the world sends their blessings to the late Nelson Mandela in today's tribute in Soweto Stadium, it seems appropriate to read and learn more about the power of forgiveness--an attribute that made Mandela shine above others.

From Mayo Clinic:

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse 

From Psychology Today :

The Nature of Forgiveness

Mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us, is the course of action recommended by most psychologists.

From Harvard Business Review

Great Leaders Know When to Forgive

Leaders must be firm and foster accountability, but they also must know when to forgive past wrongs in the service of building a brighter future. One of the most courageous acts of leadership is to forgo the temptation to take revenge on those on the other side of an issue or those who opposed the leader’s rise to power.

Instead of settling scores, great leaders make gestures of reconciliation that heal wounds and get on with business. This is essential for turnarounds or to prevent mergers from turning into rebellions against acquirers who act like conquering armies.
 The Forgiveness Project:

Real Stories about Forgiveness 

The Forgiveness Project is a UK based charity that uses storytelling to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people’s lives, through the personal testimonies of both victims and perpetrators of crime and violence. Our aim is to provide tools that facilitate conflict resolution and promote behavioural change. Central to the work is our commitment to work with ex-offenders and victims of crime as a way of modeling a restorative process. To achieve this we:

• Collect & share real stories of forgiveness and reconciliation to help individuals transform the pain and conflict in their own lives.
• Run a restorative justice programme in prisons helping build community resilience by working with victims to rehabilitate offenders.
• Create resources for schools to educate young people about peaceful solutions to conflict.
• Provide tools for resolving hurt and conflict by holding events and running training programmes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Stand for Human Rights and Democratically Elected Governments

From the Open Society Foundations website:

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.

We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.

We help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.

We implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.

We build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.

Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

1% Billionaire Calls Some Scrooge McDucks

  Mercy Ships recently announced a "...gift of $20 million from Laguna Beach philanthropists, Sue and Bill Gross. The funds are designated toward a new hospital ship, currently in the design phase, to join the current hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, in delivering hope and healing to the underserved poor. In honor of this generous donation, the hospital onboard the new ship will be named the Sue and Bill Gross Healing Hospital."

 From Forbes: "(Bill Gross) calls for the 1% “Scrooge McDucks” to give up the favorable tax treatment allowed for investment and capital gains in order to help fund infrastructure projects and other domestic investment, echoing sentiments expressed by fellow investment legends Stanley Druckenmiller and Warren Buffett.

“Ordinary folks, the 99%, don’t have money anymore,” Gross writes, “The rich 1% and corporations do.” The challenges facing the American economy won’t be solved exclusively by “a profitable new ‘iGIZMO’ or a dynamic biotechnological breakthrough worthy of investment,” he says, while pushing for a public-private infrastructure bank to modernize airports, city streets and water systems.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

No Manifesto for Women Dressed in Black

"Women in Black… is a world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. As women experiencing these things in different ways in different regions of the world, we support each other’s movements. An important focus is challenging the militarist policies of our own governments. We are not an organisation, but a means of communicating and a formula for action.

 It is impossible to know exactly how many Women in Black groups exist, how many women they include and how many actions have been held. When Women in Black in Israel/Palestine, as part of a coalition of Women for a Just Peace, called for vigils in June 2001 against the Occupation of Palestinian lands, at least 150 WiB groups across the world responded. Countries reporting vigils included: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Maldive Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the USA. The organisers estimate that altogether 10,000 women may have been involved."

From the website Women in Black

Thursday, December 5, 2013

To Change Gender Stereotypes

Every Christmas creche  features the mother of the baby Jesus. Among Christians she is held in high esteem with prayers and special days devoted to Mary. One wonders how Mary would be received today.

Even in these contemporary times, women still battle for equality and respect.  The following nonprofit devotes its efforts to better represent women in the media.

"The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, or circumstance can fulfill their potential," reads the mission statement of this nonprofit that started with a film.  The film's trailer follows this post.

“Seventy three percent of students said watching Miss Representation changed their opinion about the way in which women are represented in the media. After seeing the film, sixty-one percent of students reported speaking up when seeing or hearing something derogatory towards women.”
- REACT to FILM survey


Iraqi Group Promotes Women's Rights

AFP Photo
"Iraqi Al-Firdaws Society was established to promote women’s rights, including economic empowerment of women and enhance their role in society, the political process and democracy. It has since expended its work to support the community development process in Basra and works with a large number of partners. Through its work, it has therefore contributed to engaging diverse communities living in Basra to work together for a better future.

Iraqi Al-Firdaws has established a peace network in Basra which gathers a number of different organisations from diverse groups and communities Through the network, several campaigns calling for peace and development in Basra were organised in the city, addressing local authorities to enhance the delivery of basic services.

In 2012, Iraqi Al Firdaws worked on the educational needs of the governorate of Basra. After conducting community assessments to identify the needs to ensure appropriate schooling of children, lobbying meetings were organised during which representatives of the diverse communities addressed local authorities with one voice."

From the website:  Peace Direct

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

About Yesterday--AKA Giving Tuesday

From  the Giving Tuesday website

What is #GivingTuesday?
We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year help us create #GivingTuesday. A new day for giving back.  On Tuesday December 3, 2013, global charities, families, businesses, community centers, students and more will come together to create #GivingTuesday.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

The #GivingTuesday movement has sparked interest in countries around the world, where people and organizations are creating their own initiatives to encourage giving – whether money or time or both.  These initiatives are celebrating local heroes and providing opportunities for people to connect with local causes.
Please click on the flags below to learn more about #GivingTuesday activations around the globe:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Volunteers Work to Revitalize Dying Kelp Forest

 "Imagine a barren underwater 'desert' turned back into a lush, healthy habitat in mere months. ...a project to restore kelp off the coast of Southern California," writes Thank You Ocean.

A coalition of volunteers  that includes fishermen, and nonprofits groups banded together to repair a kelp forest that was striped of life by pollution and an imbalanced ecosystem. 

From NOAA:

After 15 years of scientific monitoring, research, and planning, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation (SMBRF) with funding and technical assistance from NOAA’s Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP) begins a large-scale kelp forest restoration project off the coast of California’s Palos Verdes peninsula this July. SMBRF will bring kelp forests back to life in an area that has experienced a 75% loss of kelp canopy.

Nearly 100 acres of reef habitat along the Palos Verdes coast is covered by “urchin barrens,” where the densities of urchins are extremely high and kelp plants are non-existent. Sea urchins are spiny marine invertebrates that live on rocky reef substrates and feed mostly on algae. When sea urchin populations are kept stable, they are an important part of a healthy kelp forest ecosystem.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Volunteerism Good For Students

From Points of Light:
  • Students who participate in community service are 22 percent more likely to graduate from college.
  • Students who volunteer just one hour a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.
  • Youth who serve their communities develop social and civic responsibility and are more likely to become lifelong volunteers, voters and active citizens.
Click here for five easy ideas to make serving together a part of your family’s celebration this season. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Six Signs of Highly Grateful People

During these days of Thanksgiving, we continue with a mini-series on gratitude from Greater Good:

Here are the Six Habits of Highly Grateful People.  

1. Once in a while, they think about death and loss

2. They take the time to smell the roses

3. They take the good things as gifts, not birthrights

4. They’re grateful to people, not just things

5. They mention the pancakes

6. They thank outside the box

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Global Ethic: Grateful Living

"A Network for Grateful Living provides education and support for the practice of grateful living as a global ethic, inspired by the teachings of Br. David Steindl-Rast and colleagues.  Gratefulness – the full response to a given moment and all it contains – is a universal practice that fosters personal transformation, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith dialogue, intergenerational respect, nonviolent conflict resolution, and ecological sustainability," writes the nonprofit's website.

The Mission:
  • To build up and expand our interactive website as the focus for a global community of people whose spiritual practice is grateful living.
  • To provide a unifying ethic that demonstrates we are not separate one from another, in an age of globalization that undermines our ethics and sense of worldwide community.
  • To offer workshops and retreats that increase people's awareness of gratefulness as a tool for personal healing and compassion towards others, a lifelong practice.
  • To partner with other organizations who want to explore how gratefulness can transform and energize their own work and mission.
  • To support local groups studying the practice of grateful living.
  • To demonstrate the interconnectedness between gratefulness and the healthy flow of resources in a spirit of sufficiency.

Gratitude Projects For Kids

From Greater Good Science, by  Vicki Zakrzewski

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to help students cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” And what’s more, research shows that it’s really good for both them and their teachers!
Among other benefits, gratitude helps kids feel better about school and makes educators feel less emotionally exhausted.
Need some ideas on how to bring gratitude into the classroom? Here are some easy-to-implement activities, many of which can be adapted to fit any grade level.
  • Classroom Gratitude Book. Create a gratitude book to send home with a different child each week. Ask each student’s family to add a page of pictures and descriptions of what they’re grateful for. At the end of the year, be sure to celebrate your completed classroom gratitude book!
  • Gratitude Photos. Have each student write what he or she is thankful for on a large piece of paper and then take a picture of the child holding up his or her paper. Frame the photo and send it home as a holiday gift.
  • Gratitude Collage or Bulletin Board. Have children cut out pictures of things they’re grateful for and then use the pictures to create their own collage or to decorate a classroom gratitude bulletin board.
  • Gratitude Paper Chain. Have children write what they’re thankful for on strips of paper and use the strips to make a gratitude chain to hang up in the classroom.
  • Gratitude Pairs. Hold a “Special Friends Day” one or two days before Thanksgiving. Ask each student to invite a special person to class for a 45-minute period, such as a grandparent, nanny, neighbor, parent from another classroom, or family friend. Have each pair write and/or draw something they’re thankful for and post it on a bulletin board. Note: Scheduling this activity close to the holiday increases the likelihood of out-of-towners being able to attend.
  • Gratitude Spies. Play the “Spying for Gratitude” game. At the beginning of the day, have each child choose the name of another student out of a hat without revealing the name. Each student spends the day “spying” on his or her chosen person and then shares one thing that he or she is grateful for about that person during an end-of-the-day circle.
  • Gratitude Quilt. Give each child a 5”x5” blank piece of paper on which to draw something he or she is thankful for. Mount each square on a 6”x6” colored piece of paper and then piece the squares together to create a classroom gratitude quilt.
  • Gratitude Graph. Have each child write one thing that he or she is grateful for on a sticky note and then plot it on a classroom gratitude graph. Categories might include people, things, places, actions, animals, etc.
  • Gratitude Circle. Begin or end the day sitting in a circle with each person sharing one thing that he or she is grateful for and why. Note: Younger students will need a lot of modeling to explain why they’re grateful for something.
  • Gratitude Journals. Have each student create a gratitude journal or decorate the cover of a pre-made one. Once a week, have students write three things they’re grateful for and why. Be sure to limit this activity to once a week, otherwise, according to research, the activity loses its impact.
  • Gratitude Surprise Sticky Notes. Give each student one or more sticky notes to write something they’re grateful for about another person in the school community. Then have the students “deliver” the sticky notes by placing them where the person will see it, e.g., a locker, a phone, a cleaning cart.
  • Gratitude Letters for the Community. Write letters of gratitude and deliver them to people in the greater school community, e.g., janitor, food staff, school administration. Expand this exercise to include the local community, such as police, fire station, bank, grocery store, hospital, electricians, etc.
  • Gratitude Quotes. Give students their own gratitude quote (here’s a great list of quotes) and have them reflect upon and write about what their quote means to them.
  • Gratitude Discussions. Use gratitude researchers Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono’s gratitude curriculum to deepen students’ understanding of gratitude. Have students think of something they’re grateful for and then re-frame it as a gift. Then ask students to 1) notice that someone saw they had a need and acted upon it; 2) appreciate the cost incurred by the person extending the gift; and 3) recognize the personal value of the gift they received.
  • Gratitude Research and Action. Share and discuss with your students the research that shows the tremendous benefits of practicing gratitude. Here’s a list of findings from the Greater Good gratitude webpage. Ask students to come up with ways they might incorporate more gratitude into their lives. After hearing about the research on gratitude from their teacher, one group of 8th graders from a high-needs school took it upon themselves to form “The Breakfast Club”—a secret club dedicated to performing kind acts for the school staff. After several months of clandestinely delivering Starbucks coffees (donated by Starbucks), pizzas, and other fun treats, the Breakfast Club members revealed their identities at a school assembly—and were hailed with loud roars and cheers!

Awareness of a Whale Shark's Value to the Sea, Not as Oil

Whale Shark. Photo by Brian Skerry
Whale sharks, the gentle giants of the sea breed in the waters near Karachi, Pakistan. But their sustainability is endangered by hunting for meat and oil. Several have also entangled in fishing lines.

Consequently," World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan has launched an effort to raise awareness to protect this rare species. Director of WWF-Pakistan, Rab Nawaz, has said the program has already started to take effect, citing the four-hour long effort made by one fisherman to release a whale shark that had been trapped in his net," Oceans Society reports.

The nonprofit has also started training of fishermen for handling and releasing entrapped turtles and dolphins.

Giving Underprivledged Children Wings

Stoked.org takes underprivledged kids in urban environments and slaps them with a board. It's a "dude..." moment when kids are taken out of their safety zone and mentored to learn how to slap a board on the pavement (skateboarding), on the snow (snowbording) or on the water (surfing).  The Mission Statement  :Our mission is to promote personal development, academic achievement, and healthy living to under-served youth through action sports culture.

Here's Stoked's goal as stated on the website
When you fall, you have to get back up. To constantly improve, you must accept that there will be many falls. Through this process, you gain the confidence and ability to overcome any obstacles.
The feeling of independence and knowledge that you can create your own path. You trust yourself to make smart decisions, take healthy risks, and believe in your abilities.
You are a part of larger society and have to give back to both the community and the people in it. You don’t compete with others, you compete against yourself to make sure you’re the best for the community. When you rise, we all rise.

On Tuesday, Dec 3, the Los Angeles chapter of Stoked will host a fundraiser.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fostering Affordable Sustainable Design

Earning the status of a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, Global Green USA has an energy-conscious
Sustainable Home for New Orleans, post Katrina
mission: To foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future.

Vegetarian Times writes, "Global Green helps ugrade homes, schools, and communities to be more energy--and resource-efficient; and offers technical support and green building tips and advice in post-disaster areas such as New Orleans, New York, and New Jersey."

From the nonprofit's website:  

 The organization was founded to create a new approach to solving the world's most pressing environmental challenges. Global Green merges innovative research, cutting-edge community based projects and targeted advocacy that:

  • Educates hundreds of millions of people annually
  • Leverages billions of dollars for environmental initiatives
  • Implements ground-breaking environmental policy
  • Improves the lives of tens of thousands in low-income communities

Friday, November 22, 2013

Peace Corps, A Lasting Legacy"No Greater Service"

The Daily Prism features the Peace Corps in honor of the late United States President John F. Kennedy.

"The Peace Corps has been a leader in international development and citizen diplomacy for more than 50 years across more than 139 countries. In an increasingly interdependent world, we tackle challenges that know no borders—such as climate change, pandemic disease, food security, and gender equality and empowerment. Although times have changed since the Peace Corps' founding in 1961, the agency's mission—to promote world peace and friendship—has not. Today, the Peace Corps is more vital than ever, working in collaboration with partner organizations and using cutting-edge technologies and well-tested best practices to enhance impact," state the Peace Corps website.

"During the 52-year history of the Peace Corps, more than 210,000 Americans have served in a variety of capacities ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation in 139 countries. Currently more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers work in developing countries to assist local communities."  Boston Globe. Nov. 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Musicians On Call For a Song

Last Thursday, Kelly Clarkson, the singer who went on to fame after her American Idol win, raised over  $100,000 during the annual  Musicians On Call (MOC) fundraiser in Nashville.

Since 1999, the nonprofit MOC has performed for over 400,000 hospital patients in an effort to provide them with "just what they need," according to the group's website.

Clarkson told Country Weekly, “When I first learned about MOC, it appealed to me for so many reasons. I love how it creates opportunities for musicians to play for kids and bring music to the families who are spending their time, especially during holidays, in the hospitals away from the comfort of their homes.”

Monday, November 18, 2013

India's Wastepickers & Environmental Justice

"Wastepickers, mostly women, are an informal army of tens of thousands of workers who dig through Delhi’s garbage, gathering plastic, paper, pieces of metal, and shards of glass, recycling every scrap. …. They’re the single largest mitigator of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, more than any new technology," reports Enisia.

As a means of eeking out a living, the wastepickers may benefit the environment, but at their own risk of disease and infection.

An environmental research and action group Chintan, however,  "works for environmental justice in partnership with people and groups from diverse sections of society. Our focus is on ensuring equitable and sustainable production and consumption of materials, and improved disposal of waste. An important part of this is ensuring green jobs, security and dignity for the urban poor, many of whom earn a living as waste recyclers,' states the NGO's website

The Enisia report notes, Last year, the organization was awarded the U.S. State Department’s first-ever Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls — a $500,000 cash prize. As part of the promise to spend the money over two years, Chintan has launched several new programs that benefit wastepickers, including getting them work from corporates such as fast food chains, hotels and malls. “The idea is that we go out and get the work and then we train them and monitor quality. We do everything else and just ask them to handle the waste. When they do a good job, they get more and more work,” says Chintan’s director, Bharati Chaturvedi. Because it reduces the amount of trash that is burned in air-polluting incinerators or added to overflowing landfills, this boost for wastepickers is a boost for the environment, too.

Food*Art*Mindfulness*Just Society

C. Coimbra photo
In Nova Scotia, the Pollination Project welcomes interested persons, "through workshops, seminars and residential fellowships, to explore the inherent connections between healthy food, artistic expression, mindful practices and just society. 

"Set in rural Nova Scotia on a biodynamic farm with 250 acres of woods, fields, lake and river, Pollination project is a civil society initiative dedicated to nurturing the fundamental and necessary relationships that exist between ecologically sound land use and food production, physical health and spiritual well-being, creative self expression and sustainable community. Pollination Project is rooted in the creation of living examples that can serve to inspire, educate, and empower individuals and groups to create positive change in their own lives and communities," states the nonprofit's website

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Positive Humanitarian Response to Philippine Appeals

Patrick Rooney of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy said he expect individual donations for Philippines relief to reach $1-billion. Americans gave $1.-billion after the 2010 Haitian earthquake and the $1.8-billion following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, in inflation-adjusted dollars.
The Salvation Army said its donations accelerated from $300,000 Monday to $1-million Tuesday, and both Oxfam America and Save the Children raised more than $1-million in the first days after the storm struck the Philippines on November 8. Three-quarters of disaster giving typically comes within three to six months of the event.
From Philanthropy Today.http://philanthropy.com/blogs/philanthropytoday/u-s-giving-for-philippines-relief-on-pace-to-hit-1-billion/77937?cid=pt&utm_source=pt&utm_medium=en

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Pathway to Pollination

Photo by C. Coimbra
The Pollinator Pathway is a mile-long, 12-foot wide corridor of pollinator-friendly gardens in the middle of Seattle, WA. 

From the website:
The point of this iconic project is to connect two isolated public green spaces...with a corridor of native-pollinator-focused gardens... Twenty Pollinator Pathway gardens are now in place...The project merges landscape, human systems, and design thinking, and encompasses a public project, a large scale visual book, and a certification framework. The project now spans six years of research, teaching and work.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


As a writer/blogger with a plethora of news feeds, plus social media distractions, I recognize the challenge of silence, too much information, long to do lists, and the overwhelming feelings this brings.  Today's Daily Prism is from the  Greater Good :

We Americans are often overwhelmed and exhausted. Did you know that 235 million people are currently grappling with feelings of time-starvation and moderate to high levels of stress, exhaustion, or burn-out in the United States alone? 1

While many things factor into this collective exhaustion, I’ve found, in my own life, that much of it stems from the sheer amount of stimulus and the build-up of, well, stuff. Here are several ways I filter out what I’ve come to think of as “junk stimulus.” 

1) First, rid your environment of physical clutter.
2) Now, limit the amount of stuff you let back into your house.
 3) Next, get rid of all unneeded media and audible stimulus.
4) Finally, prune niggling tasks  

Read the entire article "How to Eliminate Junk Stimulus."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How & Why Donors Give to International Relief

International relief organizations are scrambling to get to devastated areas in the central Philippines to join relief and recovery efforts after Friday’s typhoon left 10,000 dead, according to news reports. Many American groups are also raising money to support the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

The Chronicle talked with Robert Ottenhoff, president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy about what is happening and how donors and nonprofits can avoid mistakes.

This is the first big interna­tional disaster since your group was founded in August 2012. What are your thoughts on the donor-solicitation or giving efforts so far?
Donors are not as quick to respond to international disasters as they are to domestic. And their interest is in part driven by media coverage. It was interesting: Several weeks ago, we had a huge storm hit India, and the Indian government did a fantastic job of evacuating a million residents. As a result, there were hardly any deaths. As a result, there was very little media coverage.

So it’ll be interesting to see with the Philippines whether media coverage continues. You know, media coverage in disasters is what drives donations.

It is slower than domestic in part because there are a lot fewer donors who are active in international activities, and those that are don’t primarily consider themselves disaster philanthropists. What we often hear is that donors will say, “We don’t get involved in disasters.” Until donors can draw a direct link to their normal grant programs, it’s a little bit more difficult for them to get involved in disasters unless it happens to be a disaster in their community or an area where they’ve got some direct contact.

So it was easier for donors to make a decision to get involved with Katrina or Sandy or Moore, Okla., because they had some connections to that. It’s harder for most of them to make the connection with the Philippines or Vietnam.

What are relief organizations saying? What are they doing right? Could they do more?
It’s too early to tell. At this point, we know that it has been extremely difficult for the relief organizations to reach the affected areas, and so relief supplies are badly needed.

What is your group doing for the typhoon?
We’ve established a CDP Typhoon Haiyan Recovery Fund.
The goal of our fund is going to be to focus on midterm and long-term needs. One of the things that’s becoming apparent in recent years as we learn more about disaster philanthropy is that almost all of the money is donated within two to three months. And very little comes after 90 days. And yet there are emerging urgent needs. This was apparent in Katrina, Sandy, Haiti, the [Southeast Asian] tsunami, you name it.

In the Philippines, it’s such basic things—hundreds of thousands are going to be left without homes, without farms, without other ways for livelihood. We want to focus our dollars on the long-term recovery needs. So we’re not saying either-or. It ought to be both for donors.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is keeping track of international relief organizations’ response to the Haiyan recovery efforts.

I'll Trade a Box of Apples for...

In just two years 125 food swap groups have joined the Food Swap Network since its founding in 2011.

"A food swap is a recurring event where members of a community share homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods with each other. Swaps allow direct trades to take place between attendees, e.g., a loaf of bread for a jar of pickles or a half-dozen backyard eggs. Swap events also include a potluck as an immediate food-sharing (and sometimes item-sampling) component. These events are a delicious way to diversify the homemade foods in your own pantry while getting to know members of your local food community," explains the website.

The organization was founded by a group of persons interested in home arts, food preservation, sustainable options, gardening and farming.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Food Think Tank

Continuing our Harvest Theme we discovered, Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

From the website:

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is for the 7 billion people who have to eat every day. We will offer solutions and environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty by creating a network of connections and information for all of us to consume and share.

Food Tank is for farmers and producers, policy makers and government leaders, researchers and scientists, academics and journalists, and the funding and donor communities to collaborate on providing sustainable solutions for our most pressing environmental and social problems.

As much as we need new THINKING on global food system issues, we also need new DOING. Around the world, there are examples of people and organizations that have developed innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the most pressing issues in food and agriculture. Through years of field visits (and years of trying to eat better in our own communities), Food Tank will continue to highlight and promote the best practices.

Foraging "Feral" Fruits in an Urban Environment

November in the United States is about abundance and harvest, but America, in spite of it's ability to grow amazing amounts of edible harvests, still have a population not able to share in that feast.

The Daily Prism features another group, FallingFruit.org, that maps "feral" food sources across the globe.  Check the map out at:  http://fallingfruit.org/.

The resource website states: 

Falling Fruit is a celebration of the overlooked culinary bounty of our city streets. By quantifying this resource on a map, we hope to facilitate intimate connections between people, food, and the natural organisms growing in our neighborhoods. Not just a free lunch! Foraging in the 21st century is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food. 

Our map of urban edibles is not the first of its kind, but we aspire to be the most comprehensive, bringing together the maps of foragers from all across the internet. We are also including edible species found in municipal tree inventories - databases of street (and sometimes private) trees used by cities, universities, and other institutions to manage the urban forest. This already amounts to 702 different types of edibles (most, but not all, are plant species) distributed over 606,101 locations. Beyond the cultivated and commonplace to the exotic flavors of foreign plants and the long-forgotten culinary uses of native plants, foraging in your neighborhood is a journey through time and across cultures. 

By The Glean in Your Field-Feed the Hungry

Rotary First Harvest, a Seattle nonprofit group, "...connects farmers, truckers, volunteers and food banks for hunger relief," writes a recent New York Times report.

When up to 33 percent of U.S. grown food is wasted at the harvest level, there is edible resources that goes to waste if not gleaned for harvest

From the Rotary First Harvest website:

.Our Harvest Against Hunger program has been named “one of the most effective AmeriCorps programs in the nation” – and with good reason. HAH is a collaborative program that places AmeriCorp*VISTA members (known as Harvest VISTA) in ten communities around Washington State to develop gleaning and produce recovery programs that support local hunger relief groups.

Harvest VISTA are engaging local communities in myriad produce recovery models – each specifically built to match local resources and opportunities. Over the past four years that Harvest Against Hunger has been active, more than two million pounds of fresh, healthy produce has been recovered by 10,500 volunteers. And that’s just the beginning: Harvest VISTA build programs that are sustainable and scalable. The positive impact of these programs will benefit for years to come.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Connecting Youth With "Unlimited Positive Potential"

The website for Foundations for Happiness is bright, cheery and oh so smile-able. Two Floridians set up the  non-profit organization

 "...that helps youth connect with their unlimited positive potential and become joyful contributors to society.  Through creative arts, wellness education, environmentalism and volunteerism opportunities, our charity helps foster psychological development, emotional strength, spiritual growth, and social cultivation," the website reads.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Volunteers Rise to Battle Polio in Middle East

Fox Providence  reports:
The Syrian Health Ministry is working with international organizations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to get vaccine to all areas of Syria, Health Minister Dr. Saad al-Nayef told WHO's regional committee on Monday in Muscat, Oman, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported Tuesday.
But Dr. Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization's assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, told CNN last week that his organization was not waiting for the confirmation to mount a vaccination campaign.

NBC New says: Vaccination efforts are focusing on more than 2 million children in Syria, as well as in populations in bordering countries — Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Diver Rescues Whale

A diving instructor spend an hour disentangling a right whale from severe entanglement in buoy lines.
From World News:

A New Zealand diving instructor has plunged to the rescue of a southern right whale, entangled in a long line buoy out of Beachcomber Island, Fiji.

Sam Jupe dived 10 metres to free the 12 metre long whale which was completely caught by its tail.

Sam, a Padi Scuba Instructor from Auckland, said he understood the risk he was taking in aiding the whale but is committed to the welfare of marine life.

He was towed behind the whale while he used a blunt knife to cut the distressed mammal free.

The New Zealander spent over an hour in the water before he removed the buoy.

People waited on Beachcomber Island, Fiji as the drama unfolded