Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Donation Street Meters Benefit Homeless Services

It looks like a parking meter standing straight on a city street, but this street-side meter collects change "for change," a community effort to help the homeless.  

Like the city of Denver, the California city of San Luis Obispo has strategically placed donation meters in busy areas.  (Denver’s donation meters collect about $100,000 per year for homeless services, and have reduced the number of panhandlers on city streets.)
Goals of the San Luis Obispo program, as per their website include:
  • Community Awareness & Coordinated Responses – build community awareness and support for coordinated responses to reduce homelessness
  • Enhance Public Safety – Improve public safety by reducing the number of program resistant individuals that support their life styles and addictions through panhandling.
  • Services – Provide better access to supportive services that promote long-term stability and improved functioning

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Conservancy Funnels Millions Into National Parks

Giant Sequoia Grove. Wikipedia Commons Photo
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — In an otherworldly grove of cinnamon-colored giant sequoias, workers in June will jackhammer an old mistake: a road and parking lot that impinge on the hallowed forest.
The $36 million project, which includes dismantling a gift shop, removing a tourist tram and adding elevated walkways in the grove, will improve visitors’ experiences while better protecting some of the oldest, largest and most beautiful organisms on earth, said Dean Shenk, a supervisory ranger at Yosemite National Park.
The National Park Service will contribute about $8 million to the project, and the Federal Highway Administration will spend another $8 million for an improved road to the grove and an expanded parking lot at Yosemite’s southern entrance. The bulk of the cost, $20 million, will be covered by the Yosemite Conservancy, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco.

Philanthropic organizations known for lending a helping hand are funneling millions of dollars into the nation’s major national parks, making infrastructure improvements, building trails and providing volunteers who sometimes perform jobs previously done by park rangers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chumash Seek "To protect, preserve and nurture the 'thrivability' "

The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is dedicated to the nurturing of relationships to Nature and the Ocean in the deepest ways possible. The Chumash understanding and culture-based respect for Nature comes from their long and profound relationships with coastal marine ecosystems.
The proposed Sanctuary embodies internationally and nationally significant oceanographic features, habitat and sacred Chumash onshore and submerged sites, some as far as13 miles offshore. Codependent onshore resources include the high coastal dunes, wetlands and Chumash Sacred sites continuously occupied for 9,000 or more years.
Other significant features include: the major offshore Santa Lucia Bank with benthic communities of world-wide significance where13 species of whales and dolphins gather and feed; three major upwellings, one of which is persistent, bringing up nutrient-rich water to feed marine life that also enhances the ecosystems of the two adjacent Sanctuaries; a 3,000 meter deep five-fingered submarine canyon through which the west coast’s only persistent upwelling flows; cetacean gathering areas and migration lanes.
Additionally, there are a significant percentage of the California sea otter population; thriving kelp forests; rocky intertidal regions with world-class fish diversity and densities; large numbers of pinnipeds including pupping areas and a significant percentage of harbor seals; spawning areas and rookeries; nurseries; three estuaries; high coastal dunes; magnificent views and vistas; and, the splendid waters of Morro, Estero and San Luis Bays.

This area of proposed protection, between the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and out to the western slope of the Santa Lucia Bank, warrants protection under the National Marine Sanctuary Program for the purpose of embracing the Chumash concept of “thrivability” wherein a deep understanding of this unique and precious marine environment is embodied within its local human inhabitants. The Marine Sanctuary will not regulate harbors, recreational or commercial fishing.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Observers, Photographers Offer Peregrine Education

Female in “waterfall” hole, male above in the “mouth”    
  Photo by Bob Isenberg
An uncomplicated mission statement comes from the folks devoted to preserving, respecting, learning more, and teaching others about the peregrine falcon, a raptor whose number plummeted about 50 years ago from DDT.  

The Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch mission statement reads: 

The Pacific Coast Peregrine Watch is here so that you might enjoy these magnificent birds in the field with powerful spotting scopes, photos and our personal knowledge. The knowledge gained by all visitors gives the awareness of  interactions between the birds and the biome so that we can be better stewards of the Earth.

We are here to educate through observation. 
The website chronicles peregrine observations with commentary and outstanding photographs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Innovative Solar Window Socket Can Be Used Anywhere

The “Window Socket” is a solar device that “attaches onto glass through a suction cup. Its small solar panels charge a 1,000mAh lithium-ion battery which users can tap into by plugging a device into the socket.
“According to the product’s specs, the Window Socket was designed for use anywhere electricity is needed. It can be used on an indoor window, a car, a ship or when out camping. Highfliers can even attach it to a plane’s window to power their device in the air.

“Designers Kyuho Song & Boa Oh say they tried to design a portable socket that can be intuitively used without too much hassle. The device is made of plastic, has a small solar array tucked behind the suction cup and has a built in converter that converts the captured solar energy into usable electric energy.”

Solar-Lit Camp Benefits Refugees

Branch Foundation Photo
'The world's first solar-lit refugee camp’ in Thailand for Burmese refugees has met its main objectives, according to Global Giving:
…to reduce fire risks in the thatched houses, allow the children to study after dark and to save the household's money. Camp residents previously spent high amounts on expensive candles and kerosene lamps. Here is a summary of what the residents had to say and the benefits of the project within the refugee camp:
87 adults and 59 children directly benefitted from the solar lighting, totaling 146 people
Every resident said that they now don't have to worry about fire in their houses
All households with children said that the solar lighting had a positive effect on their children's education
Residents saved an average of 205 Thai Baht ($7 USD) per month by not having to buy candles etc.
Given a project success rating between 1 to 5, the households rated the project at an average of 4.6
The solar lights provided an average of 3.5 hours of lighting per night through all seasons of the year
Not only did the project achieve the objectives we set but it also allowed some residents to carry out other activities with the improved lighting such as weaving, embroidery and making thatched roofs at night. Many residents also mentioned an improvement in their health due to not having to breathe in the smoke from the kerosene lamps/candles.
Here are some quotes from the residents themselves:
Loung Kaw La (46 years old) - "I can see that my son's English is getting better as he reads out loud at night."
Nong Kam Kham (30 years old) - "I am very happy to be using solar lighting as my little girl was previously badly burnt from a candle and still carries scars. Thank you very much to The Branch Foundation and it's supporters. I can now save money and use it for different purposes. I have safer light for my children so I wish you a brighter life!"

Mae Tao Yen (75 years old) - "I have less headaches and bad smells in my house due to not having to use kerosene lamps."

Solar Powered Train Rolls in Hungary

Europe's first train powered entirely by its own solar panels, the Vili was launched in a Hungarian nature reserve last summer. It carries passengers from Kiralyret and Kismaros, a scenic route not far from Budapest. This solar train is particularly impressive because it carries a cabin full of passengers — a task not required of many lightweight solar vehicles.

The train's maximum speed of around 15 miles per hour means it's not ideal for efficient travel, but it's perfect for sightseeing.

A Free Ride Under the Sun

The world’s first completely electric solar-powered bus was introduced in Adelaide, Australia toward the end of last year. The bus, named the Tindo, is not only the first of its kind (although there have been other solar-power “assisted” hybrid buses), but it is also completely free to Adelaide residents, and offers free wifi as an added bonus! The Adelaide City Council commissioned the bus from New Zealand company Designline International as part of a larger move toward a greener transportation infrastructure. A 2010 study showed that 36% of Adelaide’s greenhouse gas emissions came from transportation, and plenty of residents have taken notice, as evidenced by a surge in hybrid-car purchases.
What makes Adelaide’s Tindo bus, named after an Aboriginal word for “sun,” particularly interesting, however, is that there are no solar panels on the bus itself. Instead, the bus receives electric power from solar panels located on the city’s main bus station. The Tindo bus is expected to save over 70,000 kg of carbon and 14,000 liters of diesel fuel in its first year alone, and because of its revolutionary technology, was featured in the Solar City Convention Spirit Festival and has received wide coverage in the clean-tech community.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Beauty of a Thistle

Founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt's campus, Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is our social enterprise…We furnish housing for 30 residents and graduates and provide outreach services to women still living on the streets. New residents are given a key and are offered the necessary resources to maintain recovery, heal from childhood wounds, become physically healthy and find employment.
After four months, the women find work, return to school and/or enter Magdalene’s job training program at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise. Magdalene also offers a matched savings program to help residents prepare for economic independence upon graduation. Women who remain in recovery two years post-graduation are eligible for a new home buying program administered by two local congregations and Magdalene.
Thistle Farms is the social enterprise that is run by the women of Magdalene. By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.

Thistle Farms employs approximately 40 Magdalene residents or graduates. While working at Thistle Farms, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales, and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. Employees have the opportunity to put a percentage of their earnings in a matched savings account provided by Magdalene. Through Thistle Farms, the women of Magdalene gain much needed job skills, and learn responsibility and cooperation. Thistle Farms is housed in an 11,000 square feet sales and manufacturing facility. Thistle Stop Cafe, and the paper and sewing studios are also in the same building. We are committed to growing in order to employ more women and have greater opportunities to share our stories of healing on a larger scale.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ancient Plays for Modern War Veterans

"Theater of War presents readings of Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes to military and civilian communities across the United States and Europe. These ancient plays timelessly and universally depict the psychological and physical wounds inflicted upon warriors by war. By presenting these plays to military and civilian audiences, our hope is to de-stigmatize psychological injury, increase awareness of post-deployment psychological health issues, disseminate information regarding available resources, and foster greater family, community, and troop resilience. Using Sophocles’ plays to forge a common vocabulary for openly discussing the impact of war on individuals, families, and communities, these events will be aimed at generating compassion and understanding between diverse audiences.
"It has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling, communal therapy, and ritual reintegration for combat veterans by combat veterans. Sophocles himself was a general. At the time Aeschylus wrote and produced his famous Oresteia, Athens was at war on six fronts. The audiences for whom these plays were performed were undoubtedly comprised of citizen-soldiers. Also, the performers themselves were most likely veterans or cadets. Seen through this lens, ancient Greek drama appears to have been an elaborate ritual aimed at helping combat veterans return to civilian life after deployments during a century that saw 80 years of war."
"Outside the Wire is a social impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, end of life care, prison reform, political violence and torture, domestic violence, and the de-stigmatization of the treatment of substance abuse and addiction."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Giving Voice to "...those neglected by society" on Holy Thursday

Wikipedia Commons
Today’s tweet, “The 12 who will have feet washed by #PopeFrancis include 9 Italians, 1 Muslim from Libya, a young man from Cape Verde, Ethiopian woman,” reminds one of the value of holy days—all faiths included."

“Silvia Stefanoni, the Deputy CEO and Director of Policy and Programs at HelpAge International, told Vatican Radio the pope has shown a commitment to bring attention to those neglected by society, including the elderly and disabled. "It is giving a voice," Stefanoni said. "It's showing respect for their dignity,”  reports

Today, in the Christian faith, it is Holy Thursday, the day that Jesus in his last day, honored others by washing their feet explaining to his disciples in John 13,  “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

The historical significance is explained in the blog Patheos:

At the Last Supper, Jesus would have been the “host” and the apostles the “guests.” Washing the feet of weary travelers would have been a job delegated to a gentile slave by the host. Not even a Jewish slave would be expected to wash feet. The host of a meal would certainly not lower himself to performing this vile task himself. The feet of travelers in ancient Palestine would have been shod in sandals, and thus filthy from traveling on dirt roads…Jesus himself tells us that the “first shall be last,” (Matt. 20:16) and in the washing of the feet he shows his willingness to take on the work of the last and the least. (1)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Spirit of Cooperation" to Protect Colorado River

From the US Dept of the Interior

BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO AND YUMA, AZ – Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Anne Castle…joined other senior officials of the United States and Mexico to celebrate a historic first-time intentional release of water—called a “pulse flow”—from Morelos Dam near the U.S.-Mexico border. The water release—which began on March 23…will continue until mid-May— is part of a broad package of joint cooperative treaty actions to ensure the Colorado River system is able to continue to meet the needs of both nations.

“The spirit of cooperation and commitment to protect and preserve the Colorado River is exemplary, and these partnerships will inspire future generations to take on and solve complex challenges involving finite resources,” said Deputy Secretary Connor, emphasizing the importance of this experimental flow. “This is the first time in history that water has flowed below Morelos Dam to aid in the long-term restoration of the river…

…The United States and Mexico agreed to the water release as a result of joint efforts and investments in water conservation projects in accordance with “Minute 319,” a 2012 bi-national agreement adopted under the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Treaty framework for sharing the Colorado River water. All Lower Colorado River Basin users in theUnited States. and Mexico will continue to receive their full allocations of Colorado River water in 2014. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chopra Center Offers Free 21-Meditation Day Experience

C. Coimbra Photo

Did you know that there is a flow of powerful energy that permeates every aspect of our reality? When aligned with this flow, we’re tapped into the pure, unlimited source of all peace, possibility and potential.  Actualize your vision for authentic wellbeing with us on 4.14.14, when we will embark on a 3-week journey toward true transformation. We’ll reveal the secrets to finding your flow and teach you how to leverage its mighty power to effortlessly carry you like a river current to all of the joy, love and fulfillment you desire.
It's free to participate . . . we encourage you to sign up today!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Urban Garden Forest For Free

C. Coimbra Photo

“The goal of the Beacon Food Forest is to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food and rehabilitate our local ecosystem.

(Goals include) public health by regenerating our public land into an edible forest ecosystem. We work to reduce agricultural climate impact, improve our local food security, provide educational opportunities, and celebrate growing food for the benefit of all species. “

A recent issue of Vegetarian Times notes,  "At a new pubic garden in Seattle, anyone can stop in and pluck a pies worth of fresh berries--no cash required.  By early summer, the Beacon Food Forest will offer two edible acres."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

People Who Change Lives

When winter storms caused massive flooding across the United Kingdom, Zafar Ahmed filled sandbags for his neighbors. Worried that people in her community wouldn’t be able to cook proper meals in their storm-damaged kitchens, Clare Aparicio cooked for them.
These volunteers, who instantly found ways to help when they saw their communities hurting, are the essence of what we’ve been celebrating back here in the States this week – National Volunteer Week. Demonstrating the power of people to change lives, they are among the first recipients of the new UK Points of Light award...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finding Purpose in Work, Economy

From Imperative:

Imperative is the first human-centered career platform.
Launched in 2014, Imperative is a social benefit corporation with a mission to connect people to purpose on a massive scale. We are leveraging emerging research in the field of positive psychology to enable people to find and manage work that is personally meaningful.

Your Purpose is Our Purpose
Inspired by the research of positive psychologists, we believe that:

1)Everyone should have the opportunity to create meaningful work. This is not just possible, but vital to the future of humanity.
2)Purpose isn't a luxury. Purpose is not just for doctors and artists. We can experience purpose every day and in any job.
3)Purpose is not a noun, it is a verb. It is about how we work and engage with other people. It is not about finding an industry, sector, occupation or cause.

Careers with Purpose
Imperative enables people to identify what generates purpose in their work, manage changes to how they work and deepen the lens through which they approach new job opportunities inside and outside their company.

Employers of Purpose
Imperative helps organizations maximize the purpose of their employees at work and build purpose-driven cultures.

Purpose Economy
We are leading a movement to evolve the economy. Together with our members, organizational partners and local civic leaders we are working to accelerate our evolution from an Information Economy to a Purpose Economy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shark Fin Trade Drops

Trade in shark fins from Hong Kong to mainland China dropped by almost 90 per cent last year, a green group revealed.

Overall imports to Hong Kong fell 35 per cent compared with 2012, WWF-Hong Kong added.

The fall comes amid a crackdown by the central government on extravagance and corruption, and pressure by environmental groups to stamp out the trade.

The figures, drawn from government statistics, show a drop in re-export volumes of 17.5 per cent. This was driven by a 90 per cent drop in re-exports to mainland China from 1.2 million kilograms in 2012 to 113,973kg.
Mainland China, formerly Hong Kong's biggest re-export market, fell to fourth place last year after being overtaken by Vietnam for the first time since 2010.

"We were very surprised when we saw this figure as the mainland has traditionally been Hong Kong's biggest re-export market," said WWF-Hong Kong senior programme director Tracy Tsang Chui-chi.

"We do not rule out the possibility that the central government's anti-corruption measures could have played a role in the big drop in re-exports."

Photo Credit:  "2009 Mohd Halimi Abdullah/Marine Photobank."

1.5 Million Trees Planted Under Canopy Project

From The Earth Day Network Project:
The Canopy Project, an Earth Day Network project,  plants trees that help communities - especially the world's impoverished communities - sustain themselves and their local economies. Trees reverse the impacts of land degradation and provide food, energy and income, helping communities to achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Trees also filter the air and help stave off the effects of climate change. The goal is to plant 10 million trees over the next five years in impoverished areas of the world.
Over the past three years, The Canopy Project, has planted over 1.5 million trees in 18 countries. In the US, projects to restore urban canopies have been completed in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Flint, and Chicago.  In Haiti alone, where earthquakes caused landslides on deforested hillsides, leading to horrific devastation, Earth Day Network planted 500,000 trees. And in three high-poverty districts in central Uganda, we planted 350,000 trees to provide local farmers with food, fuel, fencing, and soil stability.
Earth Day, April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Simple Universal Message: Perform Random Acts of Kindness

A simple video about being a good person, from Thai Good has in just a few days generated over 2,394,265 views on You Tube.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Sweet Like Honey: Diversity and Family

From the Christian Post:

Two gay men pose with a baby in Honey Maid's "This is Wholesome" ad.
Graham cracker producer Honey Maid is celebrating a controversial advertisement featuring two gay men as parents in its "This is Wholesome" advertising campaign, which the company says has attracted 10 times more positive comments than negative ones.
The commercial published on YouTube on March 10 has been viewed more than 4 million times as of Friday afternoon and has sparked a barrage of conflicting views between proponents and opponents of homosexuality.

"Today we celebrate all families. From working moms to two moms; stay at home dads to single dads; adopted kids to surrogate kids. Honey Maid recognizes that the reality of family has changed, but the wholesome connections that all families share will endure.#thisiswholesome," noted the company on the video.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The "Rights" of Wildlife & Information

Photo courtesy of Killer Whale-org
As our human population places more demand upon the planet and the creatures that dwell here, the "rights" of those creatures take more precedence daily.  What if this planet had no more natural wildlife?  What if the only "wildlife" visible to humans were those in captivity?

That is one of the reasons The Daily Prism features groups that work to keep natural wildlife protected, and educate humans about nature's gifts. is a website that brings information about the species known as Killer Whales/Orcas/Blackfish--that stunning black and white marine mammal with surprising intelligence. It's the orcas' intelligence that makes it a popular attraction at entertainment venues like big name aquariums around the world.

But the truth is that orcas held in captivity suffer and do not live as long as one would out of captivity.

Information is the key to keep wildlife wild.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sustainable Stories for Social Solutions

"(The Story of Stuff Project) is a community of 500,000 changemakers worldwide, working to build a more healthy and just planet. Together, we believe it's possible to create a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division. We invite you to be inspired by and share our movies, participate in our study programs, and take part in our campaigns on the issues you care about."
"We have a problem with Stuff. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, we’re consuming 30 percent of the world’s resources and creating 30 percent of the world’s waste. If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets. This alarming fact drove Annie Leonard to create the Internet film sensation The Story of Stuff, which has been viewed more than 30 million times by people around the world."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The "Four Pillars" of Elephant Conservation

Wikipedia Commons Photo

From Save the Elephants, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and disseminating information about elephants and their place in the environment, uses "four pillars" to achieve their goals.

The Four Pillar are, as noted on the nonprofit's website:  

Research & Conservation

We support vital research on elephant behaviour and ecology and have pioneered GPS radio tracking in Africa to provide fresh insight into elephants' ways of life. By understanding elephant needs and movements, we can approach conservation from an elephant's perspective


We assist wildlife departments in their fight against ivory traders and poachers. We protect and monitor elephants with aerial surveillance and early warning systems for poaching and believe that a renewed ivory trade remains the greatest potential threat to elephants.

Grassroot Education

We involve local people in research and education to develop a conservation ethic based on local knowledge and elephant needs, and recognise that the best potential ambassadors for elephants are the people with whom they share their land.

Global Communication

Elephants are intelligent creatures with complex levels of consciousness and we intend to bring this to the world's attention. We disseminate this locally and internationally through films, publications, a computerised elephant library, a news service and our website.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Huge Grant to Benefit Delaware River Watershed

Wikipedia Commons Photo
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The William Penn Foundation is announcing Tuesday (April 2, 2013) a massive effort to turn the Delaware River watershed into a lab for innovation - for investigating and determining how best to protect or restore water quality.

About $35 million in grants mainly over the next three years - with the potential of nearly $200 million more to follow in leveraged money - will fund the work that will protect more than 30,000 acres, implement more than 40 restoration projects, find solutions that can be replicated elsewhere, and follow through with years of data collection to quantify the effects.

The Philadelphia philanthropy termed the initiative an "unprecedented collaboration" bringing together 40-plus regional and national groups.

"This is one of the largest philanthropic investments in watersheds ever," said Peter Howell, executive vice president of the Open Space Institute, based in New York, which is managing the largest grant, $10.2 million.

Much of it will be used for land conservation, and the institute is targeting projects where the funds can be matched 3-1, for an additional $27 million worth of projects.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Giveaway on World Book Night

From World Book Night:
World Book Night U.S. is a celebration of books and reading held on April 23, when 25,000 passionate volunteers across America give a total of half a million books within their communities to those who don’t regularly read. 
Each year, 30- 35 books are chosen by an independent panel of librarians and booksellers. The authors of the books waive their royalties and the publishers agree to pay the costs of producing the specially-printed World Book Night U.S. editions. Bookstores and libraries sign up to be community host locations for the volunteer book givers. 
After the book titles are announced, members of the public apply to personally hand out 20 copies of a particular title in their community. World Book Night U.S. vets the applications, and the givers are chosen based on their ability to reach light and non-readers. The selected givers choose a local participating bookstore or library from which to pick up the 20 copies of their book, and World Book Night U.S. delivers the books to these host locations.
Givers pick up their books in the week before World Book Night. On April 23rd, they give their books to those who don’t regularly read and/or people who don’t normally have access to printed books, for reasons of means or geography.