Friday, January 30, 2015

Butterfly Highways Spread

Monarch caterpillar photo by C. Coimbra
Angel Hjarding's Butterfly Highway project is gathering steam. Fresh off a presentation on citizen science in Sweden, she is continuing to organize in CHARP partner neighborhoods to create the Butterfly Highway. The Butterfly Highway is a community-conducted, citizen science effort to create "highways" for vital pollinators in Charlotte, NC. Green spaces and pollinator gardens will connect and thread through Charlotte to create the Highway. Representatives from Charlotte neighborhoods near to the center city will work closely with Angel to count, observe, and create pollinator gardens to form the Butterfly Highway.

Her presentation in Sweden on citizen science can be found on her new blog ( which will be making updates on the project's progress.

--From UNC Charlotte, January 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Smart Villages" Rise in Malaysia

From EurekAlert
... guides for minimizing the carbon footprint of cities while promoting healthy lifestyles, and using science to extract new wealth from palm biomass waste are among other creative initiatives underway in Malaysia that help light a path for emerging economy countries.

High-tech "smart villages" under construction in Malaysia are lifting incomes for scores of rural families while promoting environmental sustainability.

Each community consists of about 100 affordable homes, high-tech educational, training and recreational facilities, with an integrated, sustainable farm system providing villagers with food and employment -- on average tripling monthly income to about US $475.

Three villages are completed, four more are in progress and 11 more are planned in rural Malaysia for completion next year. Nine of the villages are in areas settled under Malaysia's Federal Land Development Authority -- a government agency founded to help resettle poor families in newly-developed areas with smallholder farms growing cash crops.

More about smart villages at EurekAlert

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Huge Money Earmarked For Vaccination Programs

The GAVI Alliance said Tuesday that governments and private donors have committed $7.54-billion to its campaign to inoculate 300 million children in poor countries against deadly diseases over the next five year, Reuters reports. Bill Gates made the largest pledge, $1.55-billion, followed by $1.5-billion from the British government.

Despite the strong U.S. currency complicating dollar-denominated global fundraising efforts, the pledges announced at a Berlin donor conference topped the $7.5-billion goal GAVI announced in May. The Gates contribution brings to $4-billion his foundation’s funding of the Geneva-based nonprofit, which subsidizes inoculations in poor countries and uses its buying power to negotiate vaccine discounts with drug companies.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Plastic to Paper

Ian L photo
A group of entrepreneurs have reportedly created a system that transforms discarded PET bottles into mineral paper. The paper is biodegradable and can be used in books, boxes, and stationery.

Cronology, a company based in Ecatepec, Mexico, designed the process that combines recycled plastic bottles with calcium carbonate and stone to make paper.

No water or chemical agents are used in the process. The paper is reportedly waterproof and stronger than standard paper.

The Cronology process is less costly than other methods of making paper because there are no chemicals necessary for production. One ton of paper made using PET saves 20 trees and 56,000 liters of water.

During the process, plastic bottles are transformed into pellets, mixed with the calcium carbonate, then cast. Big sheets of paper are then formed and rolled.

--From Waste Dive

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Sometimes Peace Passes All Understanding"

There are days when The Daily Prism skips all about the internet, newspapers and magazines searching for the good that people perform--the kind of positive action that probably won't make the nightly news broadcasts.  

Millions of blogs are posted daily. Blogs with positive messages are a joy to find.  Our favorites are the positive blogs crafted by you and me and everyday Jane and Joe.  Those are the real voices of humanity. 

According to a Psychology Today post,  "Fear-provoking words—like poverty, illness, and death—also stimulate the brain in negative ways.  And even if these fearful thoughts are not real, other parts of your brain (like the thalamus and amygdala) react to negative fantasies as though they were actual threats occurring in the outside world."

But, the post continues, "Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and they help us build resiliance when we are faced with life’s problems. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world’s leading researchers on happiness, if you want to develop lifelong satisfaction, you should regularly engage in positive thinking about yourself, share your happiest events with others, and savor every positive experience in your life."

With that in mind, I found through other writers, an uplifting blog, The Essence of Family, and this inspiring post, Sometimes Peace Passes All Understanding.  Check it out.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

World Champion Surfer Rescues Entangled Sea Turtle

Skeleton Sea is a project of "The Skeleton Artist Group is composed of Luis de Dios, Xandi Kreuzeder and João Parrinha. Over the years, these three friends have worked both individually and collectively in an effort to raise environmental awareness through the medium of green art, and from the perspective of those that rely on Mother Nature to feed their passion for sport. Working exclusively with flotsam and jetsam, and any other beach trash they encounter on their travels, the artists create works for Skeleton Sea that express a strong message based around their shared cause of 'keeping the oceans clean!'" according to the group's Facebook page.

They recently posted this photo of world champion surfer, Mito Monteiro, after he rescued an entangled sea turtle recently, and using his surfboard to capture the entangled turtle.

All photos come from the Mito Monteiro and Skelteton Sea Facebook pages.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Animations Help Understand Science

Words and language kept me from failing my education.  The science end, was, and remains soft.  Yet I understand that chemistry impacts my daily life--and on an unseen level, basic science is one of the foundations of interconnectedness.  

So, for non-science folks like me, finding the TED Ed Lessons Worth Sharing web page is a delight and a reminder of basic science explanations.

A video series, "Actions and Reactions," range from the chemical reaction video below, to atomic reaction, DNA, and cold packs--something I apply to my body several times a week!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wheelchair Revolution for Developing Countries

"According to the Wheelchair Foundation, it is estimated that the number of people who need wheelchairs will increase by 22 percent over the next 10 years, with the greatest need existing in developing countries. And USAID estimates that 20 million people in the developing world need a wheelchair,"  writes  Design to Improve Life.

Standard wheelchairs are not designed for underdeveloped regions without paved roads and sidewalks.   The other challenge for a MIT team, that eventually developed the Leveraged Freedom Chair, was to create a design using inexpensive easily replaceable parts from bicycle parts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tiger Conservation Plan Sees Success

Karen Arnold photo
India’s tiger population has rebounded, growing more than 30 percent over the last four years to 2,226, according to a new government census released on Tuesday.

“It is incredible, wonderful,” said Yadvendradev Jhala, a tiger expert at the Wildlife Institute of India, and one of the supervisors of the report.

India is home to 70 percent of the world’s tigers, and the latest increase comes after a decade-long effort to fight poaching and mitigate its effects, including a special tiger protection force and programs for orphaned cubs...

...The figures issued on Tuesday were compiled using 10,000 camera traps, the same technique used for tallies in 2006 and 2010...

...India has also offered tribal groups incentives to move out of tiger preserves, paying around 1 million rupees, or about $16,260, per family.

Through these and other efforts to maintain corridors for tigers to cross safely from one area to another, Mr. Jhala said, the population of tigers in some preserves could grow by another 1,500 over the next two decades.

“Now we can give tigers and cubs to any country who wants them,” said Prakash Javadekar, India’s minister of environment and forest.

---From NY Times

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Indigenous People Fund Indigenous Communities

C. Coimbra photo
Indigenous peoples have survived and thrived for thousands of years by building strong societies—tight-knit communities in which each individual is equally invested and the benefits are shared by all.

The goal of First Peoples Worldwide, a non profit developed in 1997 by Cherokee social entrepreneur Rebecca Adamson, “... is to offer this time-tested model to the global community as we face challenges on a global scale...We believe that this collaboration begins at the local level, community by community, and can be spread virally all over the world.”

First Peoples Worldwide focuses on “...funding local development projects in Indigenous communities all over the world while creating bridges between our communities and corporations, governments, academics, NGOs and investors in their regions. We facilitate the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge in solving today’s challenges, including climate change, food security, medicine, governance and sustainable development.

“We are unique among grant makers because we are an Indigenous-led organization providing funding directly to Indigenous communities. Not only do our head staff come from Indigenous backgrounds, but our global network of board members, grantees and other Indigenous practitioners represent the diversity and solidarity of the Indigenous way of life.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sustainable Water Treatment Process

C. Coimbra photo
In nature, wetland and floodplain plants function to clean water, while supporting a variety of species including fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, insects and aquatic invertebrates and microbes. Wetlands can be managed or created with ecological and engineering knowledge to treat harmful flows of contaminated water, producing usable water in the process and supporting ecological services. Wetlands Work! designs ecologically engineered water treatment processes to transform domestic sewage and other waste streams into improved water. We use common wetland plant species to provide an active root surface area, which kick-starts a food-chain that breaks down the waste into food usable by other numerous organisms in the system.

Wetlands Work! designs can be applied in communities in need of sustainable, low cost access to improved water. The water produced from constructed wetlands is usually non-potable but keeps the local environment healthy, and can be treated further to meet WHO drinking water standards. Our flexible models have vast potential especially in off-the-grid rural areas where open space, wind and sunlight are available. A simple system can be set up in several days, cheaply and with locally available materials, using gravity flow – or, if necessary, wind or solar pumping power — and has minimal maintenance needs. Similar principles are used to design systems for other types of wastewater, including certain types of industrial effluents.

--Wetlands Works! website

Monday, January 12, 2015

Register Now for America's Sunday Supper

C. Coimbra photo
Millions of Americans will come together during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, in a weekend of service and dialogue to honor the memory of Dr. King and the causes for which he gave his life. We have witnessed Americans are at our best when we are united in lending a hand, helping our neighbors, and building better communities.

Points of Light, with the support from the GE Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Independent Television Service and the Family Dinner Project will be in a unique position to bring our nation’s communities together in volunteer service to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

Points of Light has tools and resources for you to host an America’s Sunday Supper in your community, including conversation starters, celebrity chef recipes, and downloadable films.

Host an America’s Sunday Supper.

Celebrity chef recipes, conversation topics, film resources and step by step directions and resources are here. You could win a Target GiftCard® if you register your America’s Sunday Supper by Tuesday, January 13.

Join Conversations Online:

Join Points of Light and the Family Dinner Project for a Twitter chat (search and use #familydinnerforward) Tuesday, January 13, 12 – 1 p.m. EST to learn easy ways to spark civic dialogue and engage in acts of service -- at the dinner table and beyond.

America’s Sunday Supper conversation online: Tune in to HuffPost Live on Thursday, January 15, from 12:30 -12:50 p.m. EST with Tracy Hoover, President of Points of Light and a celebrity guest.
Refer to our Marketing Toolkit for sample social media posts and easy ways you can participate online.

Tell us what you’re doing on MLK Day. Snap a picture on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and tag it with #MLKDay2015.

Volunteer on MLK Day.

You can find projects in your community here.
Learn more about how you can be involved at

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Global Meditations for Kindness and Peace

Many of us are looking for ways to contribute to world peace and to heal the earth. The Maitreya Peace Meditation is a simple method for leading people ‘of every faith and none’ to the very heart of loving-kindness, which is the root cause of peace and happiness for all beings.

We invite you to try the Maitreya Peace Meditation, which you may download here, in nine languages, both as an audio file and as a print out.

We hope you will feel inspired to do this meditation whenever it is convenient for you. Additionally, because there is an extra power that comes from meditating in a group, we have organised special times for the Maitreya Peace Meditation to be conducted at different places around the world.

When we come together, it is easier to motivate to do the practice in the first place and there is a sense of community that makes our experience richer. Please join us to support one another while sending loving-kindness to every corner of our suffering world.

We live in very uncertain times. Humanity and all living things are constantly under threat and there is an urgent need to create the causes for harmony throughout the world. All of the world's major religions and humanitarian traditions teach the ethical values of tolerance, patience, loving-kindness and compassion. As these universal values are embraced and take root in the minds and hearts of more and more people, world peace will become attainable.

Maitreya Buddha is the embodiment of loving-kindness, the cause of peace. The Maitreya Peace Meditation is a practical method by which anyone, of any or even no religion, can generate loving-kindness, the real cause of peace. It is based on a meditation that Lama Yeshe often led during his public talks around the world and was first recorded by Ven. Sangye Khadro for Maitreya Project’s DVD. We have organised special times for the Maitreya Peace Meditation to be conducted around the world.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mittens for Fire Injured Koalas

Social media is at it again--sharing those wonderful deeds that warm the heart when tragedy strikes.

As Australia undergoes another out of control fire season, wildlife struggles to survive the fires.  Those who rescue koalas burned in the fires use mittens to help heal burned paws.

So, a group rapidly formed on Facebook page to coordinate the  assembly and shipping out of the special mittens for injured wildlife.

From the Facebook page, Mittens for Australia's Koalas.

"This group was created to coordinate a shipment of mittens to the Australian Marine Wildlife Research & Rescue Organisation Inc. (AMWRRO)

"I'll be collecting mittens over the coming days and then will ship them in one big box to the organization. A PO BOX address will be provided soon.

A link to the pattern can be found here:"

Gifts to Pope Set to Benefit the Poor

NBC News reports:

ROME — As a head of state and leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis has received hundreds of gifts from devotees and world leaders since his election in 2013. But the pontiff is not the type to keep them in a trophy cabinet or let them gather dust in a Vatican warehouse. Instead, he will raffle the presents — including a car and expensive hat — to raise money for the poor, according to the Holy See.

The $10 tickets are available at the Vatican post office or the Vatican Museum for Thursday's raffle. Prizes include a four-wheel drive Fiat and a Homero Ortega hat from Ecuador, as well as bicycles, watches, an espresso machine, and 30 other unspecified "consolation prizes." The raffle, which will be closed to the media, will raise money for the Catholic Church's poverty-alleviation efforts around the world.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Gentle Revolutionaries" Plant Produce For the Taking

C. Coimbra photo
Outside the police station in the small Victorian mill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, there are three large raised flower beds.

If you’d visited a few months ago, you’d have found them overflowing with curly kale, carrot plants, lettuces, spring onions — all manner of vegetables and salad leaves.

Today the beds are bare. Why? Because people have been wandering up to the police station forecourt in broad daylight and digging up the vegetables...

...The police station carrots — and thousands of vegetables in 70 large beds around the town — are there for the taking. Locals are encouraged to help themselves. A few tomatoes here, a handful of broccoli there. If they’re in season, they’re yours. Free.

So there are (or were) raspberries, apricots and apples on the canal towpath; blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries beside the doctor’s surgery; beans and peas outside the college; cherries in the supermarket car park; and mint, rosemary, thyme and fennel by the health centre.

..."This is a revolution,"(says the founder), "But we are gentle revolutionaries. Everything we do is underpinned by kindness."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Replumbing Old Ideas on Water

A sense of community, water saving sustainable solutions, and watershed maintenance are some of the results of a Los Angeles County nonprofit, TreePeople '... working in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the City of Los Angeles and other local stakeholders to create a large-scale sustainable watershed management demonstration project in a 2,700-acre San Fernando Valley watershed."

One of the projects, Elmer Avenue, "...demonstrates an alternative approach to dealing with flooding, related pollution, and the L.A. region’s chronic water shortages.The street has been retrofitted with a variety of rainwater harvesting techniques that filter water back into the ground. It conserves water with the use of climate appropriate landscaping and native trees. This one city block now catches, cleans, and reuses rain and stormwater from a 40-acre area upstream. Infiltration galleries beneath the street are designed to provide 16 acre-feet of groundwater recharge annually (about the same amount of water used by 30 households in a year). The project increases wildlife habitat and community access to greenspace, and new sidewalks and solar powered street lights make the neighborhood safer and more walkable," notes the TreePeople website.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Giving Circle Grows in Width

Photo by Sophie Gindea/Courtesy of Challah for Hunge
By Tom Held at Philanthropy Today

The Natan Fund, a Jewish giving circle based in New York City, has launched a website and resource library to help potential philanthropists join the growing movement of collaborative charity in small groups.

Launched in September, Amplifier: The Jewish Giving Circle Movement, has more than 40 member organizations. Its creators set their goal at attracting another 50 in 2015.

Giving circles are formed by individual donors with common interests, often civic or religious, and are most popular among women, minorities, and donors under 40. Participants pool their charitable contributions and decide as a group where to allocate those philanthropic funds.

The goal is to increase the impact of their charity work, connect more directly to nonprofits, and learn more about philanthropy.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happiness Takes a Worldwide Leap Up

Good Magazine reports that happiness is on the rise:

According to WIN/Gallup International’s annual End of the Year survey, 70 percent of people around the world report that they are very happy with their lives... That’s a 10 percent jump up from last year, when people were only just kinda happy.

The poll turned up a number of other interesting findings: Africa is seemingly the happiest region, with 83 percent of people polled reporting that they were content with their lives. Asia came in second, with people in the region reporting positively at 77 percent. When asked whether they would go to war for their countries, respondents in Western European countries overwhelming said ‘nay’ – only 27 percent said they would. In the U.S., however, that number was slightly higher – 44 percent of U.S. respondents said they were willing to fight for their flag. In the Middle East and North Africa, however, the number was significantly higher: they responded positively at 77 percent.

People all around the world, however, remain convinced that tomorrow will be a better day. Global results found that 53 percent of people worldwide believe 2015 will be a better year. Optimism!

Friday, January 2, 2015

He Runs for Safe Water in Africa

From KTLA5:  

In January 2015, Ultra Marathoner and Active Water Founder, Daren Wendell will be tackling 100 marathons in 100 days to provide safe water to vulnerable people in Africa.

Daren serves as the Donor Engagement Lead at Lifewater International. He is a co-founder of Activewater and a graduate of Kentucky Christian University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Youth and Family Ministries... Some of his athletic accomplishments and personal campaigns for Activewater include walking 3,400 miles of the USA, cycling 4,400 miles from Oregon to Virginia, competing in several popular marathons and ironmen competitions, and one of our favorites, swimming a phenomenal 50.6 non-stop miles across Lake Michigan in under 35 hours!