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.