Thursday, April 30, 2015

Volunteers Take to Repairing Baltimore

"The No Boundaries Coalition is a resident-led initiative dedicated to deconstructing boundaries and reconstructing community. The No Boundaries Coalition brings Bolton Hill, Druid Heights, Madison Park, Reservoir Hill, Upton, and Sandtown together across race, class, and neighborhood lines to build a more unified and empowered Central West Baltimore," read the Baltimore website.

No Boundaries Coalition is one of Baltimore's groups that have taken the other side of rioting--cleanup and community coalescence.  From their Facebook page: 

Let's get together and help affected communities/businesses remove debris. Bring heavy duty trash bags, gloves, brooms, dust pans, trash cans, containers, and anything else that would help. We'll have a van ready to take trash to the drop-off center in Remington.

Post locations that could benefit from the effort. Post ideas!

Let's meet at Pennsylvania Ave & North Ave at 10am, to assist the Sandtown clean-up organizers. Buy any needed supplies at the Belle Hardware store which was also damaged.

Please use this event page to post times and locations of any areas you'd like people to get together and help

POST LINKS to local community organizations who will be heading the efforts.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1,000 Lights for Nepal

A Santa Margarita, California-based non-profit is working to light the villages of Nepal that have gone dark after the massive earthquake that hit the area Saturday.

Jan Sprague-Chaffin is a second grade teacher at a Guadalupe elementary school, but she's also helping to educate hundreds of children in Nepal.

“We now have four schools and two libraries in very remote villages around the Himalayas,” she said.

Sprague-Chaffin works alongside her son who started the non-profit organization “Hands in Nepal” seven years ago to bring education to the area...

...Four schools have been built with 45 to 100 Nepali students at each. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed two of those schools, but the communities have bigger concerns.

“That area was at the epicenter of the quake. We have not been able to reach anybody,” said Sprague-Chaffin. “Our hearts are feeling very broken at the thought that the school might not be there, but more important, how are the children and their families? Are they okay?”

The school teacher plans to send solar lights to people who live in the villages that were wiped out by the quake.

“They use them when they are walking around, they use them as flash lights, they use them for all sorts of things,” she said.

It's an effort to bring a little less darkness to those who lost everything.

“Imagine if you didn't have electricity and you had to live in the dark all the time,” said Sprague-Chaffin. “Once the sun went down, then you can imagine what a simple gift like a solar light could be.”

Hands for Nepal will host a fundraiser for the effort “1000 Lights for Nepal" on May 16 in Santa Margarita. Click here for more information.

---From KSBY News

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

International Team of Relief Workers Reach Nepal

Vera Kratochvil photo
The following edited version of an AP report, notes the worldwide relief efforts for Nepal and surrounding areas following Saturday's deadly 7.8 earthquake:

Helicopters crisscrossed the mountains above a remote district Tuesday near the epicenter of the weekend earthquake in Nepal that killed more than 4,400, ferrying the injured to clinics and taking emergency supplies back to villages cut off by landslides.

Around noon, two helicopters brought in eight women from Ranachour village, two of them clutching babies to their breast, and a third heavily pregnant.

...The little town of Gorkha, the district's administrative and trading center, is being used as a staging post to get rescuers and supplies to those remote communities after Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake.

...Geoff Pinnock of the U.N.'s World Food Program was leading a convoy of trucks north toward the worst affected areas when the rain began to pound, leaving them stuck.

"This rain has caused a landslide that has blocked my trucks. I can maybe get one truck through and take a risk driving on the dirt, but I think we'll have to hold the materials back to try to get them out tomorrow by helicopter," he said.

Aid workers who had reached the edges of the epicenter described entire villages reduced to rubble.

"In some villages, about 90 percent of the houses have collapsed. They're just flattened," said Rebecca McAteer, an American physician who rushed to the quake zone from the distant Nepal hospital where she works.

...Thomas Meier, an engineer with the International Nepal Fellowship who accompanied McAteer to the devastated villages, noted the disaster's aftermath would stretch long into the future.

"This is a long-term emergency," he said. "This will need major attention for the next five years. People have nothing left."

...At Kathmandu airport, flights arrived with emergency aid and helicopters brought in both foreign trekkers and local villagers from quake-struck areas. Helicopters chartered by trekking companies reached the Langtang area, about 40 miles north of Kathmandu, a popular area for trekking — a key contributor to the country's economy.

...The United Nations says it was releasing $15 million from its central emergency response fund for quake victims. The funds will allow international humanitarian groups to scale up operations and provide shelter, water, medical supplies and logistical services, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Citing government figures, Haq said an estimated 8 million people have been affected by the quake in 39 of Nepal's districts, and more than 1.4 million need food assistance, including 750,000 who live near the epicenter in poor quality housing.

The U.N. humanitarian country team for Nepal is coordinating international relief efforts with the government and a clearer picture of needs should emerge within the next 48 hours, he said. The immediate priority is search and rescue, and removing debris to find survivors still trapped, he said.

...Rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries were helping police and army troops in Kathmandu and surrounding areas, said Maj. Gen. Binod Basnyat, a Nepal army spokesman. Contributions came from large countries like India and China — but also from Nepal's tiny Himalayan neighbor of Bhutan, which dispatched a medical team.

At the Kathmandu airport, foreign planes from India, the U.S., China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Israel that brought aid and rescue personnel lined up on the crowded tarmac.

Associated Press

Monday, April 27, 2015

High Altitude Rescue Helicopters at Mt. Everest

April 27, 2015. 
Day 14 of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for 
Global Peace and Friendship.

Khumba Icefall

While supporters of the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship await news regarding the team making this climb and subsequently trapped, possibly at Camp 1, it is good to read about Monday's rescue efforts.

USA Today reports:
Rescue helicopters, aided by mercifully clear weather, began pulling trapped climbers from treacherous perches on Mount Everest on Monday, two days after they were trapped at high altitudes following a powerful earthquake.

Hundreds were stuck on the world's highest mountain when avalanches triggered by Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake swept across climbing routes and tumbled into the Everest Base Camp, where 18 were killed, including three Americans.

"We heard an awful noise" Expedition Leader Garrett Madison, whose group was on the mountain between Camp One and Camp Two, told NBC's Today Show. "We thought were going to get taken out."

Madison's group was transported Monday by helicopter to what was left of the base camp. Air crews were trying to rescue as many as 160 climbers, according to news release by Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International, which reported that all of its climbers and guides had been safely removed to Base Camp.

Those awaiting rescue were running out of fuel and food. The avalanche devastated what was an already treacherous route back to Base Camp through an area known as the Khumba Icefall, preventing climbers from descending, according to Madison.

Clear weather on Monday allowed at ;east six helicopters to reach altitudes of 20,000 feet and pluck stranded climbers from high up the mountain, Agence France-Press reported. Because of thinning atmosphere at that high altitude, each aircraft could only evacuate two people, Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter.

Small, high-performance Air Bus helicopters were being used to ferry climbers and guides from Camp One to Base Camp and then return for more to rescue, according to Eric Simonson of International Mountain Guides, which has people on Everest. Climbers at the loftier Camp Two were descending to Camp One for evacuation, he said. "We are hoping we can get everyone flown down today," he said earlier Monday.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported than more than 400 climbers on the northern side of the mountain were safe and descending. All mountaineering had been canceled after the earthquake.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deadly Avalanche Halts Peace Expedition

April 26, 2015. 
Day 13 of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for 
Global Peace and Friendship.
It is likely that the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship concluded, for the time being, after yesterday's tragic earthquake in Nepal and the deadly Mt. Everest avalanches that reportedly killed 18 climbers, as per the most recent news from the mountain.

We suspect that the peace expedition leader, Phurba Thile Sherpa, and his team are at Camp 1, above the deadly avalanches.  However, making their way down to likely assist in rescue operations is complicated as the trail has been devastated by the avalanches.

From that report:  

Several factors will further hamper rescue efforts, including snowy weather that prevented any helicopters from reaching Base Camp today and the fact that most of the cellular system in Nepal is not working because of the earthquake.

Stranded Climbers?

While those in Base Camp struggled to survive, approximately 100-200 climbers and Sherpas were acclimatizing at camps higher up on the mountain when the earthquake struck. Most of these teams appear to have weathered the disaster without injury—although they now may well be stuck, since the quake apparently caused substantial shifting of blocks within the Khumbu Icefall, destroying the route that has been painstakingly constructed with aluminum ladders and fixed ropes over the last month.

“#Icefall route destroyed,” reported Dan Mazur, an American guide who is currently in Camp I above the Khumbu Icefall, on his website. “Please pray for everyone,” he added.

...Dave Hahn, an American guide for RMI, posted an update from his team at Camp 1: “About the same time as the earthquake a pretty good snowstorm commenced up here in the Western Cwm and down at Base Camp....But we don’t have the ability to travel right now, good mountaineering sense dictates that we stay put and ride this storm out.”

...The quake struck at 11:56 AM on Saturday, April 25th local time. According to the United States Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program, which monitors global tectonic activity. The epicenter was near the village of Lamjung, in the Gorkha region, approximately 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city.

The USGS rates the initial shock as 7.8 on the Richter scale. In the hours after the seismic event, the USGS has logged 20 aftershocks, ranging from 4.2 to 6.6 on the Richter scale.

At least 2,300 people have been declared dead, mostly in Nepal, with additional victims in India and China. There are more than 4,600 injured in Nepal and the death toll is expected to rise.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Concern for Mountaineer. Avalanche on Mt. Everest.

April 25, 2015. 
Day 12 of the 
The first picture is an avalanche heading towards Mount Everest base camp.

Mt. Everest Expedition for 
Global Peace and Friendship.

We at The Daily Prism are very concerned about our friend and his team presently climbing Mt. Everest.  They left for Camp 1 (C1) a day ago.  We found this news piece.  The most recent we could find.

Update 9:13 a.m. Pacific Time:

Update 3 p.m. Pacific Time:  News received that Phurba Thile Sherpa marked as safe!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Easy Ways to Save the Ocean

Blue Frontier Campaign suggests 50 Ways to Save the Ocean

1. Go to the Beach
2. Visit an Aquarium
3. Eat organic and vegetarian foods whenever possible
4. If you chose to eat seafood make sure it’s sustainable
5. Grow a natural yard and garden
6. Maintain an earth (and ocean) friendly Driveway. If that works try a Green Roof.
7. Reduce Toxic Household Pollutants
8. Drive a fuel-efficient car, car pool, or use public transit
9. Don’t use your Storm Drain as a toilet
10. Support Marine Education in our schools
11. Support your local swamp
12. Restore a stream, river or watershed
13. Get Married on a Wild Beach
14. Build or Buy well back from the Beach
15. Upgrade your house above hurricane code
16. When diving – take only pictures, leave only bubbles
17. Count the fish, then do some light housekeeping for them
18. Join in a Beach Cleanup
19. Don’t waste water
20. Save Energy for yourself and the Sea
21. Protect the dunes so they?ll protect you
22. Be a Blue Boater
23. Go slow around Manatees, birds and other boats
24. Go to a Zoning Board Meeting
25. Join a marine mammal rescue center
26. Be a Marine Sanctuary Volunteer
27. Create your own Wilderness Parks under the sea
28. Keep an ocean-friendly Aquarium
29. Don’t dump “exotic” plants and animals
30. Don’t shell out for Sea Turtle products
31. Don’t feed the sharks (or let them feed on you)
32. Go on a whale-watching trip
33. Take your kids to a Tide Pool
34. Take your kids surfing (or have them take you)
35. Use less plastic
36. Fish for fun, food and the future
37. Find out if your cruise ship is ocean friendly
38. Walk on whatever beach you want
39. Learn your local maritime history
40. Get to know a Coastie
41. Don’t buy coral jewelry or (sea) snake oil remedies
42. Be a careful consumer and traveler
43. Talk to your cousin in Kansas about the weather
44. Learn the tides and the navigation charts
45. Join an ocean expedition from your home computer or in person.
46. Keep oil off your shore
47. Buy an ocean-friendly license plate or bake a cookie
48. Find joy and solace in the sea and talk about it in your place of worship
49. Vote the Coast
50. Be a Seaweed Rebel

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Puja Ceremony to Sagamartha at Mountaineer's Base Camp

April 23, 2015. 
Day 10 of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for 
Global Peace and Friendship.

The last public post from Phurba Thile Sherpa, leading a trek for peace and friendship to the top of Mt. Everest, was on April 16, 2015.  Now on his tenth day into the climb, Sherpa noted that his health has been fine, "till today."  I hope there is a collective prayer and positive thoughts for his well being as he climbs higher and higher into thin air.

"Greetings From Mt. Everest base camp," begins today's post by the mountaineer.

"Today we held a Puja --a wishing ceremony with mountain Goddess,"  Sherpa notes.

When I researched the word "puja" I found this on Alan Arnette's blog when he climbed Mr. Everest to raise funds to end Alzhiermer's:  "Before any work begins on the mountain we’ll have a Puja ceremony, this ceremony is believed to make contact with divine Sagamartha (Mount Everest) and ask her for clear the passage for everyone, the Sherpa climbers will not climb before they are blessed, this will take place tomorrow morning so the trekkers can be part of it too. This is the most important blessing for our team; Western climbers, Sherpa climbers, food and equipment."

"Early tomorrow morning planing to go set up C1. (C1: 19,500'/5943m - 3-6 hours, 1.62 miles) Very exiting to walk and climbing on Khumbu Icefall. Sorry I am not able to post pictures because very week internet here. My health condition is perfect till today."

Sherpa intends to place 193 national flags on the top of Mt. Everest to symbolize world peace and friendship.  

A man of meager means, he has personally funded this climb. Persons interested in donating to the NGO, Mt. Everest Global Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship , may leave a message with this blog.  

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Here are 10 easy things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint according to Carbon Offset to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP).

  1. Driving style. Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage by up to 33%, waste gas and money, and increase your carbon footprint.
  2. Tire inflation and other tuning. Properly inflated tires improve your gas mileage by up to 3%. It also helps to use the correct grade of motor oil, and to keep your engine tuned, because some Misc. Combine errands to make fewer trips. Remove excess weight from your car. Use cruise control.
  3. Leisure Air Travel. Take fewer and longer vacations that are far away, and more frequent and driveable “staycations” closer to home.
  4. Work Air Travel. Increase your use of video-conferencing tools like Skype and Facetime.
  5. Home. Insulate and seal your home. Reduce drafts and air leaks with caulk, insulation, and weather stripping. Many states offer programs and incentives to facilitate this, and a great example is Energy Upgrade California.
  6. Appliances. Make energy efficiency a primary consideration when choosing a new furnace, air conditioning unit, dishwasher, or refrigerator. Products bearing the ENERGY STAR label are recognized for having superior efficiency.
  7. Lighting. Turn off lights you’re not using and when you leave the room. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent or LED ones.
  8. Eat locally-produced and organic food. It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based.
  9. Cut the beef and dairy. It takes a lot of resources to raise cows, and it’s especially bad if you buy beef from somewhere like Brazil, where it was grazed on land that used to be tropical forest but was cleared for agricultural use. Deforestation is a top contributor to carbon emissions and thus climate change.
  10. Reuse and recycle.  It has been estimated that 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the “provision of goods,” which means the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal of “goods” which include consumer products and packaging, building components, and passenger vehicles, but excluding food. By buying used products and reselling or recyling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint from the “provision of goods.” 

"Carbon offsetting should not be done in place of taking steps to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Carbon offsetting and carbon footprint reduction should be done in tandem. Measuring your carbon footprint not only reveals where you’re currently at, but also helps to identify areas for improvement and track your progress.

"Offsetting the amount which you are not able to avoid empowers you to take full responsibility for your carbon pollution, which is your contribution to climate change. In this context, COTAP offers a unique and meaningful solution in that we focus on certified forestry projects in least-developed regions that create life-changing income for the world’s poorest people."

To learn more about COTAP, please see the Mission, Projects, How It Works, How We’re Different, Transparency, and Standards sections of our site and see our above menu.

- See more at:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

10 Easy Ways to Save Water in the Kitchen

Every drop of water counts

  1. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water. 
  2. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day, or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  3. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  4. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
  5. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  6. Don’t use running water to thaw food. For water efficiency and food safety, defrost food in the refrigerator.
  7. Reuse leftover water from cooked or steamed foods to start a nutritious soup, it’s one more way to get eight glasses of water a day.
  8. Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary.
  9. If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
  10. Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

10 Easy Everyday Ways to Lessen Plastic Use

C. Coimbra photo

Have you ever challenged yourself to not buy one single piece of plastic when grocery shopping? It’s a challenge worthy of marathon efforts. Plastic is a part of our everyday life. But there are ways that busy people can reduce, refuse, repurpose and recycle the plastics that come our way no matter what.

We’ve cherry-picked from NationSwell ten ways to lessen plastic in our lives:

  1. Purchase beverages in glass or metal containers.
  2. For condiments such as ketchup, mustard and salad dressing, choose varieties that come in glass jars instead of squeeze bottles.  
  3. Skip the freezer section. While TV dinners may be convenient, they tend to come wrapped in excessive packaging. 
  4. Clean your home with all-natural ingredients that you might find in your kitchen — baking soda, lemons, vinegar — rather than buying bottles of toilet cleaner and bleach.
  5. For parties or at work, avoid using disposable cups and plastic utensils. Use real silverware and cups and wash them later or purchase compostable ones.
  6. Instead of using plastic tablecloths for parties and events, use the cloth table covers stored in your linen closet.  
  7. At the dry cleaners, bring your own garment bag for pickups or ask for your clothes to be returned free of plastic wrap.
  8. Place a lid or a plate on top of leftovers instead of reaching for plastic wrap. Mason jars or ceramic containers are also a great alternative to Tupperware and Ziploc baggies.
  9. Wrap food in aluminum foil or try beeswax-coated food wraps that can be used repeatedly.
  10. Reuse the bags that hold baked goods like bread for cleaning up after your dog.

Monday, April 20, 2015

10 Easy Trash Reduction Tips For Busy People

Since the weekend, it’s been refreshing to hear and read all the chatter about things we can do to help our planet weather over-population, climate change, and waste.  This week, The Daily Prism will showcase websites and volunteer groups that suggest and work toward a better life through a healthier environment.

One Green lists tens ways to reduce waste in your home. We have picked the most likely actions that any busy household can easily implement.  The following is an excerpt from One Green Planet’s website:

  1. Replace paper towels with reusable rags.
  2. Always bring your own shopping bags when shopping.
  3. Buy in Bulk — Disposable containers generate 13 million tons of plastic waste in the U.S. Taking a few minutes of planning before you head to the grocery store can help eliminate that waste.
  4. Consider buying bulk castile soap to use as hand and dish cleaner instead of buying a bunch of little bottles of different cleaners. Castille soap can also be used as body wash, shampoo.
  5. Love your Leftovers – Forty percent of all food goes to waste in the U.S. Check out these recipes from and learn to love your leftovers. Whatever can’t be salvaged should be composted.
  6. Shop Second Hand — Carbon Trust estimates that CO2 emissions associated with clothing account for three percent of global emissions. This number includes out-sourced production, shipping, washing, and drying. Shopping second hand saves good clothing from a landfill and reduces the overall demand for clothing production.
  7. Bring Your Lunch to Work— According to, disposable lunches (to-go packaging, plastic utensils, etc) generate 100 pounds of trash per person annually. Check out these waste-free lunch supplies from and save some waste and money as well.
  8. Go Digital — The average office worker uses two pounds of paper per day! Take notes on your laptop and communicate with your colleague’s via e-mail rather than using paper.
  9. Recycle. Unless your office has gone completely paper-less, chances are there are stacks of paper that could be recycled. While reusable water bottles are the BEST option, any plastic water bottles should be recycled as well. Introduce a recycling bin to your office, you can even make a game out of it with help from Recyclebank.
  10. Simplify Cleaning Supplies — White Vinegar and baking soda are your new best friends. These all natural alternatives to dangerous chemical cleaners are versatile, effective, and eliminate plastic bottle waste. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mt. Everest Trek Now in Dingboche

April 18, 2015. 
Day five of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship.

"Dingboche Nepal at Night" by Mark Rosen - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

April 18, 2015. Sometimes it is a challenge to chat online with Nepal mountaineer, Phurba Thile Sherpa, because of limited times of available electricity in his region and internet connectivity.  And, of course there is that time difference of thirteen hours between Nepal and California.

Today, Sherpa is deeper into his journey in an effort to climb Mt. Everest and place 193 national flags on its peak, as a symbolic beginning of the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship. 

From Dingboche, Nepal, a village in the Khumbu region of north eastern Nepal in the Chukhung Valley, Sherpa posted on his Facebook page: 

“Dear friends, Today I am arrived in Dingboche 4400m elevation. Sorry, can't put picture because of no electricity.”

At an altitude of about 14,800 feet, (4,530 metres), this village is another spot for acclimating.

“… tomorrow will visit Imjeche Lake and Island peak base camp and Chhukung Ri.,” Sherpa concludes his post.

Friday, April 17, 2015

9,000 AmeriCorps Volunteers from Montana

By Eden Stiffman from Philanthropy Today

Minneapolis and Denver top the list of large cities that produce the most AmeriCorps members per capita, and Billings, Mont. turns out the most among midsize cities, new statistics say.

Among states, Montana is number one in terms of producing AmeriCorps members per capita.

The Corporation for National and Community Service released the first rankings in connection with National Volunteer Week, happening this week.

Montana has produced nearly 9,000 Ameri­Corps members since the national-service program’s formation 20 years ago. More than 470 members currently serve throughout the state through programs including the Montana Conservation Corps, FoodCorps Montana, and Energy Corps. The District of Columbia, Minnesota, Vermont, and West Virginia round out the top five.

Minnesota is making a strong showing recently in rankings of volunteerism and community service. The Twin Cities also had the highest rate of volunteering in the 2014 "Volunteering and Civic Life in America" report. More than 35 percent of residents volunteered through an organization in 2013, according to that report from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship. And as a state, Minnesotans had the third highest rate of volunteerism, behind Utah and Iowa.

AmeriCorps offers stipends for over 75,000 people annually who spend up to a year working at nonprofits and community organizations in 25,000 locations across the country.

The new analysis looked at members who served in program year 2013 and had a U.S. address.

The Chronicle’s latest How America Gives report, which breaks down philanthropy by region nationwide, found that Utah, Mississippi, and Alabama ranked as the most generous states, respectively. Montana ranked ninth, Washington, DC, 20th, and Minnesota 39th.

See the top 10 in all three AmeriCorps categories from the new report below.


District of Columbia
West Virginia
Rhode Island
Large Cities

Minneapolis/St. Paul
Oakland, Calif.
Newark, N.J.
New Orleans
Buffalo, N.Y.
Milwaukee, Wisc.
Midsize Cities

Billings, Mont.
Providence, R.I.
Fort Collins, Colo.
Provo, Utah
Madison, Wisc.
Lowell, Mass.
Rochester, Minn.
Rockford, Ill.
Tempe, Ariz.
Waterbury, Conn.
Source: The Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps

Send an email to Eden Stiffman.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sherpa Acclimates at High Altitude Before Climb

April 16, 2015. 
Day three of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship.

Phurba Thile Sherpa "acclimating" in Namche Bazaar
Even sherpas must adjust to high altitudes after living in lower elevations.  And that is exactly what Phurba Thile Sherpa is doing today, according to his Facebook post, which simply says, “Namche-Shyangbuche-Khumjung Valley visit, acclimation day.”

A 2010 Science Magazine article, The Genetics of High Altitude Living, begins with, “Call it Sherpa envy. Mountain climbers have long wished they could discover—and bottle in a drug—how Tibetans live and work high in the Himalayas without getting altitude sickness. Now researchers have discovered two new gene variants that help Tibetans use oxygen more efficiently than people who live at low altitudes; natural selection favored these variants in Tibetans, whose ancestors have lived at high altitude for thousands of years.”

The story reminded me of living in the high altitude city of Santa Fe, NM.  I warned visitors from lower elevations, “Altitude sickness is miserable.  So on your first few days here, drink plenty of water, go light on the local margaritas, and eat carbs.”  Those who didn’t listen, were ill within two days.  Vacation ruined.

100 Men Reading

100 Men Reading
From Points of Light:

“I had a birth defect that impaired my vision,” says Imani, who as a young girl could only see from one eye. “I thought there was something wrong with me.”

Imani got treatment for her vision, including corrective lenses and medication, but she still struggled with reading at grade level. During this time, she relied on encouragement from her brothers and her father. “They would read to me every night,” Imani says. “That really kept me going.”

With support from her brothers, father and volunteer tutors with Reading Assists, she was able to overcome her reading struggles.

Now 14, Imani is the proud CEO of 100 Men Reading, a Wilmington, Delaware-based program designed to bring positive male role models – like the men in her family – into preschools, childcare centers and elementary schools for story time and book giveaways.

Program participants each get a new book and each is paired with a reading buddy – a male role model who reads the book to the child. The volunteer reading buddies are often professional men, including doctors, lawyers and bankers.

The venture is a family affair. Imani calls her mother, Stacey Henry, her inspiration. “She was always very involved in the community,” Imani says, “and I’d always go with her.”

When Imani was 10, her mother was working with the children’s literacy nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, or RIF. The organization was looking for fresh project ideas and Imani’s mom encouraged her to come up with something to submit.

Imani suggested they do something that involves men, as a nod to her brothers and father. In 2011, RIF gave her the grant money to start 100 Men Reading.

The idea was to have 100 men go into classrooms to read to children in preschool through third grade. So far, 100 Men Reading volunteers have read to more than 15,000 children in 125 schools and childcare centers.

Now, Imani is looking to expand. She credits her Peace First Prize fellowship – an honor bestowed to young people making change in their communities – for helping her move the work forward. This month in New York, she will announce the program’s national launch, and later this year she will travel to Puerto Rico with 100 Men Reading.

Being able to serve so many children has been an honor for Imani.

“It’s just an amazing feeling,” she says. “It’s indescribable.”

- See more at:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mt. Everest Trek for Peace at Namche Bazaar

April 15, 2015. 
Day two the the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship.

Namche Bazaar (Creative commons photo by Steve Hicks)

 “…say ‘NO’ to get rid of terrorism, violence and instability around the world…say YES to peace and friendship,”  wrote Vinaya Shakya, chairman of the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship, in a recent appeal to collect national flags for the expedition that is now in operation, as the expedition leader, Phurba Thile Sherpa makes his way to the climb’s base camp.

Sherpa landed in Namche Bazaar this afternoon.

Namche Bazaar, the “Gateway to Everest,” sits at 11,286 feet (3440 meters) in the Khumbu Valley.

As an observer, and most assuredly, not a climber, I find this mission, designed for symbolic purposes and “not to set records,” as noted by Sherpa during a recent news conference, daunting.

Phurba Thile Sherpa grew up in the remote Rolwaling Valley near Dolakha just south of the Tibetan border. His family’s livelihood came from raising sheep and yaks.  With little formal education, but a keen ear to the language of visiting tourists eager to explore and trek an unspoiled region, Phurba learned several languages including Japanese, English, Hindi and Bengali. In 1988 he started as a mountaineering porter for high altitude trekkers and worked his way thru to his position today--mountaineer and tour operator.

He told me in for an earlier story that I wrote about his project, “The only thing I know is mountaineering. Mountaineering is an effective way to send friendship and peace messages to all the people.”

The Global Peace Friendship Forum Nepal, is based in Kathmandu.

Feeding Hungry Children

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ADA, OKLAHOMA – The Chickasaw Nation is making history as it becomes the first Native American tribe in the United States to partner with the United States Department of Agriculture on a unique program to feed hungry children.

The tribe and the USDA have partnered for many years to promote healthy lifestyles and fight hunger. This USDA grant program is unique in that it targets at-risk children on the medical center campus. If a child is examined or has a routine appointment at the medical center, the first question asked is “are you hungry or have you eaten today?” If the child answers ‘no,’ a nutritious, healthy meal is provided.

In addition, the program will provide a meal to any child at the medical center, even if the child is not receiving medical care.

...This announcement comes only a few weeks after the Chickasaw Nation was awarded a grant of $9.7 million to support the Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services Demonstration Project to End Childhood Hunger, a program that will deliver food to homes with children who qualify for free school meals, Rowe announced.

That Chickasaw Nation demonstration program will allow families to shop for groceries online to be delivered directly to their homes by the charity Feed the Children. Families will also receive benefit checks to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at authorized grocery stores, officials said.

--an excerpt from Native News Online

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The First Steps Toward "Expedition for Global Peace"

Phurba Thile Sherpa waiting in airport today.
April 14, 2015.  The soft spoken Nepal mountaineer has taken his next step to the top of Mt. Everest in his effort to loudly proclaim that peace and friendship must replace violence and hate.

It’s a unique tale, and one that remains a story-in-progress as Phurba Thile Sherpa sits in a Kathmandu Airport early this morning waiting out bad weather for his flight to Lukla.  His team of climbers are setting up their base camp for a late May trek with hundreds of national flags—a project of the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship.

Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth, has been in the news. Not for its height, but for its sad reputation of being the world’s highest junkyard since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first successful climb in May 1953. From left behind oxygen tanks, tents, human body waste and the 200 bodies of climbers who died on the trail, critics have berated climbers for the debris and the high risk to the inexperienced.

But to Phurba Thile Sherpa, an experienced Mt. Everest trekker and professional tour guide, his mission to place national flags to flutter in the winds of Everest’s highest point, representing world friendship and peace, far exceeds and out-values the complications and criticism of such a venture.

After forming a Nepal registered NGO last fall, Phurba began the business of assembling a board of directors, contacting Nepal officials for climb permits, assembling his team, and finding a way to collect flags.  And one huge effort, includes the raising of funds to make this very expensive uphill trek.

Officials offer best wishes to the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace.
Inexperienced in the business of fundraising, Phurba says that he has put everything he owns into securing loans and funds to make this 2015 climb a reality.  And today, he flies nearer to his high flying dream.

I’ll chronicle Phurba’s journey as news comes in.  There is a point in his climb where I will loose contact.  But, stay with me.  I assure you, that God-willing, Phurba will connect with his followers  at the first opportunity.

To learn more about the mission and to possibly help him fund this mission, you can contact him through his Facebook page, Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship.

Human Chain Links to Clean Nepal River

Human chain to clean Bagmati River.  Lauren Shakya photo
Kathmandu photographer, Lauren Shakya, posted the following on her Facebook page:

"Saturday, 100 000 people (personalities, political, volunteers, military...) met in a human chain along the 56 km of the Bagmati River which flows through the Kathmandu Valley in order to mark the 100th week of cleaning. Since 18 may 2013, more than 3000 tons of solid waste have been removed from the waters.

"Work is still a result since there remain to clean the water of particulate pollution, to put in place all of this in the sewer and above all, educate the population.

"But this is already a good start!"

Volunteers to help bring the Bagmati River back to health include Friends of the Bagmati River and the Save Bagmati Campaign.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fair Trade Tea Grows Popular

The following is excerpted from Steep Progress in Good 

The concurrent artisanal food and beverage trend means that as more Americans learn to appreciate a cup of tea, they’re also more interested in the source of the leaves, making “Fair Trade” teas particularly attractive. Fair Trade USA calculates that just between 2012 and 2013, Fair Trade Certified tea—produced by cooperatives and farms—imports jumped by 26 percent.

Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive safe working conditions as well as a sustainable wage and fair capital, determined by the prices they set for their products. All workers also receive a Fair Trade premium, which they may choose to invest back into their farm or community.

“I believe that Americans love fair trade—they’ve backed it and bought it even when the economy was trashed,” Muzyka says, recalling when tea first joined coffee, bananas, and cocoa on the short list of available Fair Trade Certified products.

...“Once a farm is Fair Trade Certified, [the farmers] are given the opportunity to democratically decide how their Fair Trade premiums—the extra price that a consumer pays for a product [that] goes directly back to the farm source—are used,” explains Hassani. “In India, we see Fair Trade funds going to college scholarships or retirement funds whereas in China, it goes to building school dormitories, building roads, installing gas stoves, or building sanitation facilities.”

While Fair Trade certification does not require that farms be organic, many farmers choose to invest their Fair Trade premiums into such certification. Regardless, Fair Trade certification does impose certain environmental standards in order to maintain healthy living and working conditions for workers. These include restricting the use of pesticides and fertilizers, banning the use of genetically modified organisms, and protecting water resources.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chicago's Lower Income Give More

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A new report shows giving in the Chicago area exceeds the national average and is strongest among lower-income residents, the president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust writes in a column for Crain's Chicago Business. The results are important "because the harsh fiscal realities facing our state and city mean that we no longer can rely on government to adequately fund key human services and meet basic human needs," Terry Mazany says.

The study, commissioned by the trust and conducted by Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, found 49 percent of metro Chicago households did volunteer work in 2013 and a big majority of residents "made contributions to support food, shelter, and basic human necessities," Mr. Mazany notes. Households with an annual income of less than $50,000 donated about 4.4 percent of their income, compared to 3.1 percent for higher earners.

See The Chronicle of Philanthropy's How America Gives special report for a region-by-region breakdown of philanthropy nationwide.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Water Man of India"

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An award known as "the Nobel Prize for water" has been given to an Indian campaigner who has brought water to 1,000 villages.

The judges of the Stockholm Water Prize say his methods have also prevented floods, restored soil and rivers, and brought back wildlife.

The prize-winner, Rajendra Singh, is dubbed "the Water Man of India".

The judges say his technique is cheap, simple, and that his ideas should be followed worldwide.
Mr Singh uses a modern version of the ancient Indian technique of rainwater harvesting.

It involves building low-level banks of earth to hold back the flow of water in the wet season and allow water to seep into the ground for future use.

--From BBC News

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

No Plastic Bags For This Island--More Work for Locals

National Geographic reports how the small island of Yap, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia, has not only banned the single use plastic bag for environmental preservation, but has added a program to brings income to island citizens.

“Capitalizing on this new policy, one particular women’s group in Yap has formed a cooperative that weaves reusable bags out of local materials to promote a more sustainable way of shopping. The bags are sold to retailers in bulk and are available in solid colors or ornate patterns to appeal to both residents and souvenir-hunting tourists,” the report notes.

The report concludes with, “True, Yap’s islands are tiny and their relative use of plastics is minuscule compared to almost every other country in the world, but the ban is still considered by many to be a significant step. Though laws like this one exist in other parts of the world, Yap, given its size and isolated location, serves as a great example of how such a policy can have cross-sectoral benefits. In this case, not only does the reduction of plastics have obvious environmental benefits, but it’s also opened the door to a new (albeit niche) market for reusable products. In doing so, it’s helping to perpetuate Micronesian culture by giving groups of local women another reason to continue practicing traditional weaving and other crafts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Free Manual For Cities With Urban Deserts

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By Rebecca Koenig
The initial success of D.C. Central Kitchen’s Healthy Corners program, which brings produce to neighborhood markets in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods that lack grocery stores, encouraged the nonprofit’s leaders to more than double the program’s size.

It also prompted a somewhat unusual side project: writing a manual to help nonprofits in other cities replicate and adapt the program.

Released in February, the guidebook, "Turning the Corner: the Inside Guide to Fighting Food Deserts," is free.

"It’s not meant to be a promotional piece, it’s meant to be the start of a conversation with groups around the country," said Alexander Moore, chief development officer at D.C. Central Kitchen.

Through Healthy Corners, D.C. Central Kitchen sells small amounts of produce, homemade snacks and pre-packaged meals to neighborhood stores at discount prices. The stores then sell the products at affordable prices.

Nearly 70 stores participated in 2014, selling more than 65,000 pounds of food and grossing $59,130 in retail earnings for the charity. Based on the suggested retail markup, D.C. Central Kitchen estimates Healthy Corners generated $79,826 in revenue for participating stores that year.

Details Included

The manual explains staffing requirements and budgets, offers marketing suggestions, and outlines every step, including building partnerships with store owners and providing them with refrigeration units.

It also explains what didn’t work and highlights the challenges other groups may face.

"I hope it’s clear to the reader that while we want to share the successes of the program, we’re frank about what didn’t work," Mr. Moore said.

Rotem Ayalon, who works for the Canadian health and wellness group Qu├ębec en Forme, and who requested a copy of the report, likes the transparency.

"I appreciate all the details and also the frankness, such as how much it cost them to start up," Ms. Ayalon said.

Four other nonprofit and government groups have requested the manual, said Erica Teti-Zilinskas, associate communications director at D.C. Central Kitchen, plus some companies and student organizations.

One is Food Shift, a nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., that is collaborating with other groups to support a program that brings produce to neighborhood stores. Dana Frasz, director of Food Shift, plans to cite the Healthy Corners guide in conversations with potential partners and investors.

"It’s really helpful to have a model that has already done this and is working," she said.

To request a copy of the manual, contact D.C. Central Kitchen director of nutrition and community outreach, Janell Walker, at

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hiking Gear Library

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It's called a Gear Lending Library--a "library" of hiking boots, backpacks, and more that are ready to lend to youth groups that lack resources for hiking and camping expeditions.

The Washington Trails Association notes, "Washington Trails Association’s Outdoor Leadership Training program gets school-age youth outside by empowering teachers and youth groups with the skills and resources they need to lead safe and fun outdoor experiences." 

The nonprofit offers: 

Hiking or Camping Workshops

 A Gear Library Orientation

Borrow Free Outdoor Gear

Mini-Grants for Trip Costs

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Advocating International Human Rights

Editor's Note: This season brings holy days of renewal to many cultural and religious groups around the world.  We end this series on racism today with the hope that Easter Sunday will bring light upon enlightenment, tolerance, and inclusion of those different from you and I. 

The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) is an international non-profit, non-governmental human rights organization devoted to eliminating discrimination and racism, forging international solidarity among discriminated minorities and advancing the international human rights system. Founded in 1988 by one of Japan’s largest minorities, the Buraku people, IMADR has grown to be a global network of concerned individuals and minority groups with regional committees and partners in Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. IMADR’s International Secretariat is based in Japan and maintains a UN liaison office in Geneva. IMADR is in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

IMADR’s Core Values
To promote the capacity of discriminated groups to raise their voices and represent themselves in activities to combat discrimination.

To promote cooperation and solidarity among discriminated people in ways that rise above regional, national and gender differences.

To promote implementation of international human rights instruments through the voice and power of discriminated groups, and strengthen legal standards, institutions and organs for the elimination of discrimination and racism; to promote their effective use by the discriminated.
--From the IMADR Website

Friday, April 3, 2015

Samaritan: "Altruistic to the core"

Who is my neighbor? "I do not know his name," says Jesus in essence. "He is anyone toward whom you are neighborly. He is anyone who lies in need at life's roadside. He is neither Jew nor Gentile; he is neither Russian nor American; he is neither Negro nor white. He is 'a certain man' any needy man on one of the numerous Jericho roads of life." So Jesus defines a neighbor, not in a theological definition, but in a life situation.

What constituted the goodness of the good Samaritan? Why will he always be an inspiring paragon of neighborly virtue? It seems to me that this man's goodness may be described in one word: altruism. The good Samaritan was altruistic to the core. What is altruism? The dictionary defines altruism as "regard for, and devotion to, the interest of others." The Samaritan was good because he made concern for others the first law of his life.

The Samaritan had the capacity for a universal altruism. He had a piercing insight into that which is beyond the eternal accidents of race, religion, and nationality. One of the great tragedies of man’s long trek along the highway of history has been the limiting of neighborly concern to tribe, race, class, or nation. 

--Martin Luther King, Jr.