Thursday, June 30, 2016

Global Meditation for Peace Set for Friday, July 1

Pray. Photo from Global Shift Network

Please join us Friday, July 1 for a Global Shift Meditation with James O'Dea to offer a wise response to the heightened polarization and violence we are seeing in our world today. The free call will take place at 12 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/7pm GMT.

In many parts of the world, social and political tensions are becoming acute. Political passions are running high, extremist movements are on the rise, and violence is a frequent outcome. How do we respond to this volatile situation in a way that is truly helpful? How do we transform competing narratives about reality into complementary ones?

James O'Dea has devoted his life to exploring these questions. As Director of the Washington D.C. office of Amnesty International, James has been on the frontlines of the difficult work of confronting human rights abuses worldwide. James is also the former President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and founding faculty of The Shift Network's Peace Ambassador Training. In his recent book, the Conscious Activist, he describes his life journey to bring together the path of the mystic and the path of the activist.

James will share his wisdom with us about how we can best participate in today's highly polarized sociopolitical environment in a way that brings healing and opens new paths of creative possibilities. James will also lead us in a practice designed to soften the sharp edges of conflict and violence, both in ourselves and in our world.

Please join us for this free event to help offer a wise response to the polarization and violence in the world!

Click here for free registration.

Blessings of Peace,
David, for the Subtle Activism Network

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Job of Being Happy

C. Coimbra photo

Editor's Note:  We often wonder if it is the lack of happiness that brings people to the point of senseless violence and negative behavior.  It would seem that a person who has found happiness would not fall into the trap of extreme violence against complete strangers. The following is an excerpt from The Greater Good website on the subject of happiness (click this link for the entire article. 

How do you figure out your happiness strengths and weaknesses? Consider how well you demonstrate the following skills in your daily life:

Positive thoughts about the self

  • Acceptance: The ability to accept yourself and your emotions non-judgmentally.
  • Positive self-views: The ability to see yourself as a good, worthwhile human being.
  • Clarity: The ability to understand what you value, how you feel, and who you are.
  • Positive reappraisal: The ability to change your thoughts in ways that help you experience longer-lasting, more intense, or more frequent positive emotion.

  • Positive thoughts about others
  • Rejection tolerance: The ability to perceive the actions of others as inclusive rather than rejecting.
  • Empathy: The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and see the world from their perspective.
  • Gratitude: The ability to be thankful for the experiences and people you have in your life.
  • Letting go: The ability to stop fretting and ruminating about negative interpersonal situations.

Positive behaviors involving the self

  • Planning: The ability to develop effective strategies and take actions that progress you towards your goals.
  • Growth mindset: The belief that your strengths can be developed through hard work and dedication.
  • Self-care: The ability to resist engaging in unhealthy behaviors (drugs, alcohol, shopping, or overeating) as a means to increase happiness.
  • Prioritizing positivity: The ability to make time for, and consistently schedule, activities that you enjoy.

Positive behaviors involving others

  • Kindness: The ability to be friendly, generous, and considerate of others.
  • Autonomy: The ability to resist the influence of others, make your own independent decisions, and take action based on your unique values.
  • Expressivity: The ability to easily communicate and share intimate aspects of yourself with others.
  • Assertiveness: The ability to stand up for yourself, speak up, and communicate your needs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Be Fearless. "Let Urgency Conquer Fear"

Fearless. C. Coimbra photo
Editor's Note:  The Case Foundation's Be Fearless campaign caught our attention. We presently hear so many reasons to fear everything around us.  Fear generates negativity. Fear inhibit creativity.  Fear dampens the brain's ability to expand.   The following is the latest post from the Case Foundation's update page:

Awareness raising. Relationship building. Network development. Experimentation. Tipping point. Sustained action. That is the anatomy of a movement. At the Case Foundation, we aim to be movement catalyzers around social innovation. Right now we are focused on driving two major movements—impact investing and inclusive entrepreneurship. And we are intent on bringing a Be Fearless approach tipping the scales from good intention to meaningful action that can change the world. Over the next several months, we are going to highlight the key phases of movement catalyzing and our associated work in those areas. This month we are highlighting the importance of turning interest into action and recognizing the need to be intentional about doing so in our own programs.

Over the next few weeks, Jean and Steve Case and members of the team will be traveling from coast to coast and participating in various events that demonstrate the power and potential of turning interest into action. In some cases, we will be the ones encouraging and educating others in service of catalyzing our core movement areas, while in other cases we will be the ones learning and open to taking action ourselves.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Most People Would "Welcome Refugees with Open Arms"

UNHCR photo. A child walks in a United Nations refugee camp in Turkey where thousands of Syrian refugees reside.
A global survey of 27,680 ordinary citizens in 27 countries, commissioned by Amnesty International over the first half of 2016, found that fully 80 percent of people "would welcome refugees with open arms,” with many going so far as to “take them into their own homes.”

In a statement, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said:

“These figures speak for themselves. People are ready to make refugees welcome, but governments’ inhumane responses to the refugee crisis are badly out of touch with the views of their own citizens… Too often they use xenophobic anti-refugee rhetoric to chase approval ratings. This survey suggests they are not listening to the silent majority of welcoming citizens who take the refugee crisis personally.”


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Easy Way to do Good

America's 200 million credit cardholders are better at accruing rewards than spending them. Last year, we failed to redeem about $16 billion worth of loyalty points, one survey showed. Apparently, what motivates us to get cards in the first place isn't the extras on offer. It's the simple convenience of having plastic when we need it.

If you're someone who doesn't care much about rewards, you might consider Charity Charge. A new MasterCard issued by CommerceBank, it gives away your cash-back bonus to any nonprofit of your choice, including K-12 schools, colleges, and religious institutions. Also, it seems to offer more favorable terms than some other "affinity"-type charity cards out there.

Every purchase made with the Charity Charge card generates a 1% cash-back, and there are no processing fees when you send the money on (the charity gets the whole amount). Other bank-charity tie-ups offer 0.5% or less of the cash-back amount, or they involve high processing fees. For example, American Express charges 2.25% to process donations, reducing what recipients actually get.

Charity Charge is a public benefit corporation, meaning it looks to serve social goals as well as financial ones. It makes money not by charging consumers or the nonprofits, but through fees paid by Commercebank and MasterCard based on the number of new customers it can bring in. You don't need to be a bank customer to get the card; just go to the Charity Charge site and start the application process. You set your charity choices ahead of time, and you can change them at any stage. There are no annual fees, and the extras—like added warranty on products you buy and an ID theft protection service—are included.

"I just want to make doing good part of the routine of everyday living," Garten says. "A lot of people are saying 'what's the point of points?' This is an easy way for them to do good in the world."
--From Co Exist

Friday, June 24, 2016

1 Billion Acts of Peace

We believe it safe to say that most humans seeks peace.  Peace is an overwhelming desire of the human condition, experts say.  But attaining the peace begins within and then must be pushed forward in acts that bring peace to others.

When 13 Nobel Peace Prize laureates gathered, One Billion Acts of Peace began. The mission is to inspire 1 billion acts of peace by 2019.

From the Billion Acts website:

The "One Billion Acts of Peace" Campaign is an international global citizens' movement designed to tackle the most important problems facing our planet.

We started with a simple idea...

Everyone matters.

Everyone can make a difference.

And together, we are unstoppable.

We focus on 10 areas towards world peace

  1. Education and Community Development
  2. Protecting the Environment
  3. Alleviating Extreme Poverty
  4. Global Health and Wellness
  5. Non-proliferation & Disarmament
  6. Human Rights For All
  7. Ending Racism & Hate
  8. Advancing Women and Children
  9. Clean Water For Everyone
  10. Conflict Resolution

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Free Registration for Summer of Peace Program

When you hear the word "peace," what comes to mind? Do you think of another era marked by flowers and peace signs? Or war-torn areas of the world that repeatedly make and break peace treaties with their neighbors?

The good news is that there's a new (revolutionary even!) definition of peace emerging. One that’s not just about ending wars, but actually making your daily life better. It's about starting in your heart and relationships and creating a positive ripple through your community and far beyond.

This new peace movement embraces deep spiritual practices as well as grounded, practical actions… and it’s spreading!

Innovative peacebuilding solutions are taking hold across the world — thanks to visionaries who are engaging in global social and political movements and everyday citizens performing great acts of compassion in their homes and communities.

Now, you can join 50+ of the world’s leading peacebuilders — including Jane Goodall, Neale Donald Walsch, Sharon Salzberg, Ocean Robbins, Audri Scott Williams, Azim Khamisa and so many more — sharing our wisdom for co-creating a new peace narrative and effective methods for putting this vision into inspired action.

Free Online Event
Summer of Peace
June 13-September 21

PLUS — this year’s Summer of Peace will include recorded peace teachings from 5 Nobel Peace Laureates, coordinated by PeaceJam, including The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta MenchĂș Tum and Jody Williams.

RSVP here for Summer of Peace — at no charge!

This year’s Summer of Peace, includes 4 extraordinary peace summits:

Everyday Peace Summit (Tuesdays: June 28 - September 6)
Global Compassion Summit (July 13-14)
Countering Violent Extremism Summit (August 10-11)
11 Days of Global Unity (September 11-21)
Join tens of thousands of other global citizens who are excited to co-create a more peaceful life and accelerate this wave of peacebuilding.

Together we can create a legacy of good for generations to come.
--From the Shift Network

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

State Lawmakers Seek Homeless Shelter Solution

LOS ANGELES — The growing problem of homelessness can be seen in every corner of California, from small towns that ring the state's redwood forests to the sands separating the Pacific Ocean from the most prosperous beachfront communities.

More than 115,000 homeless Californians were counted last year and one in four had a serious mental illness, according to the most recent tally from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With California's homeless situation at what some officials are calling a tipping point, lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a plan to provide as much as $2 billion to help cities build permanent shelters to get mentally ill people off the streets. The Legislature could consider the measure later this week.

Read more from the New York Times at:

High School Student Gives Time To Syrian Refugees

Points of Light Photo
Syria is like a second home to Rose Farah.  It is a place she summered with grandparents and cousins, a country of tradition, warmth and family. Farah was 13 when the war broke out, a tragic turn of events that changed her world and separated her from family and loved ones.

Now a senior at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City, Farah learned … the importance of social justice and community service. “Sacred Heart taught me the impact even one person can have,” said the student body president. “When the war broke out, I knew I had to do something to help those affected.”

Then she discovered (a small organization) Jusoor (“bridges” in Arabic) which is a non-partisan, non-religious NGO of expatriates committed to providing opportunities for Syrian youth through programs in the fields of education, career development, and global community engagement. “I was blown away by the work they were doing.” When she was 15, Farah signed on as an intern. She now works with the organization as a staff member.

A pressing problem for the thousands of children living in refugee camps is not being able to go to school. One of Jusoor’s main programs is its Refugee Education Program, which gives children the chance to study at Jusoor schools until they can be enrolled in schools in their host country.

… Farah organized a fundraiser at her school with raffle prizes donated by local businesses. … The raffle raised $1,500 the first year, and $7,200 the second, funding the education of 14 Syrian refugee children.

One of Farah’s current roles is serving as the coordinator for Jusoor's 100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives scholarship program, which will bring Syrian women to universities in the United States and Canada.
--Excerpted and edited from Points of Light

Monday, June 20, 2016

Funding for Reduced Whale Entanglement

June 16, 2016. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today announced $180,000 for the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life to develop a modified rope for fishermen to reduce entangled endangered whales and other marine species. An additional $19,000 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association to field test the rope developed by the New England Aquarium was also announced.

“Reduced breaking strength rope could be a critical tool in reducing North Atlantic right whale mortality and preserving this majestic species,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With this funding, our administration continues to act upon our commitment to protecting native species while also supporting Massachusetts’ vital commercial fishing industry.”

“With approximately 525 North Atlantic right whales remaining, entanglements with fishing rope are a problem that must be addressed,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through the work of the New England Aquarium and South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, we will not only protect whales off the Massachusetts coast, but will also provide guidance to fishermen, managers and researchers all over the world who are grappling with this problem.”

Research by the New England Aquarium has shown a connection between the severity of whale entanglements and the breaking strength of ropes. With the $180,000 grant from EEA, the New England Aquarium will work to develop a reduced breaking strength rope that is workable for the fishing industry and could minimize the severity of whale entanglements. The rope will likely have a breaking strength of 1700 lbs or less, as well as colors that may be more visible to whales.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Course in Compassion Offered Globally

The Compassion Course. Starts on June 22 and is offered in English, German and Arabic. The Course starts with foundational concepts and practices that help us understand what engenders compassion and what blocks it. As the year progresses, we work with more advanced practices and processes that help us bring more compassion into our everyday lives. The course is based on the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg. 52 sessions. Cost: $0-$52 or donation.  Learn more and register here.

---From The Charter for Compassion

Developing Leaders for a Better World

C. Coimbra photo
The Leadership Training Programs works with organizational leaders committed to making the world a better place. It seeks to develop a new vision of leadership for the 21st century based upon the advancement of character and the development of essential “life skills.”  By discovering a higher calling in our personal and professional lives individuals can learn to transform destructive mental and emotional habits into empowering new ways of being in the world. Our passionate commitment is to work with you to create a trusting, transformational culture through open, honest, and respectful communication.
--From The Leadership Training Program Website

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Taxpayers Donate Big Bucks to Sea Otter Fund

C. Coimbra photo

 Thanks to everyone who donated to the California Sea Otter Fund on their 2015 state tax forms, the fund has raised over $290,000 to support sea otter research and conservation, including work by the Aquarium and our research partners. -- From Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

7 Reasons Why Time in Nature is Good for You

Nature restores, refreshes, and invigorates us. C. Coimbra photo

Inspiration!  From the Chopra Center

Humans are designed to be outdoors. Your brain is wired to respond to the smells, sights, and sensations you receive outside. When you spend daily time outside it makes you healthier and happier. Paying attention to your environment in a focused and mindful way while you are spending time on the beach or in the woods feels great. Here are seven science-backed reasons why we all need to get outside and play!

1) Stress Decreases in Nature

Cortisol is a hormone often used as a stress marker by doctors (too much means you are too stressed). Studies have found that students who had spent time in the forest had a lower level of cortisol than their counterparts who stayed indoors. Office workers who have a view of nature out of their window or through a skylight report higher job satisfaction and lower stress levels, and hospital patients who have a view of nature actually heal more quickly. Next time you feel stressed, find some relief with “forest therapy.”

2) Short-Term Memory Increases

In a study done by University of Michigan, a group of participants took a walk around an arboretum (think zoo for trees) and the other half walked down a paved city street. When both groups did a memory test before and after their walks, those who had walked among trees did almost 20 percent better than they had done prior to walking. The results of those who walked in the city showed little to no change.

3) Mental Energy Is Refreshed and Restored

When you take a 15-minute stroll or spend a moment gazing at the stars from your rooftop, you slow down and feel a connection to something bigger. This sense of connection helps stabilize moods and reduces stress. Nature restores, refreshes, and invigorates us.

A recent study found that walks in the forest were especially associated with decreased levels of anxiety. Clinically, this can be used to supplement existing treatments for major depressive disorder. Another study employed land-use data and satellite technology to discover that access to green space within a half mile of one’s residence is associated with improved mental health.

4) Thinking Becomes Sharper and Concentration Improves

We know that time in nature is restorative, but it can also improve concentration; the effect on attention of nature is so strong that children with ADHD were found to have been more able to concentrate after just 20 minutes outside. When college students were asked to repeat sequences of numbers by memory, they were much more accurate at performing this task after they had a 20-minute walk in nature.

One of the reasons for this might be transient hypofrontality. EEG studies show that creative individuals exhibit transient hypofrontality when engaged in the solution of creative problems. This means that the brain is actually using different areas to think through problems when you are outside versus inside.

5) Positivity Increases

In a casual study done by environmentalist David Suzuki, participants reported spending 30 minutes each day in nature increased personal well-being and happiness. One of Dr. Suzuki’s associates, physician Eva Selhub, explored this connection between nature, human health, and happiness in her book, Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality. (I recommend reading it at the beach or on a park bench.)

6) Barriers Break Down

A report published in Lancet about a nationwide study in the United Kingdom discovered green space is a profound equalizer of health inequalities. When low income areas were associated with little access to green space, there were significant health disparities between lower and higher socio-economic brackets. This gap was bridged when low-income individuals had access to green space close to home and spent time in it daily. Nature helped to fill in the broad health divide between the affluent and the at-risk.

7) Boosts Mental Health for Urban Dwellers

More than 50 percent of people now live in urban areas. By 2050, this proportion will be 70 percent. Urbanization is associated with increased levels of mental illness, but it’s not yet clear why. Ruminations or repetitive thoughts focused on the negative aspects of self were shown to markedly decrease by spending 90 minutes in nature.

In today’s climate where we often define ourselves by how busy we are, spending a little time in nature each day goes a long way toward increased vitality and it will help your brain to keep you happier, healthier, and more productive.

Charitable Giving Up from 2014

Charitable giving reached $373.3 billion in 2015, up 4 percent from the previous year, according to estimates from "Giving USA," an annual report on American philanthropy.

International-affairs organizations saw the largest growth in donations, with their collections rising by 17.4 percent to $15.8 billion, largely due to the Nepal earthquake, the Syrian-refugee crisis, and other high-profile humanitarian disasters.

Education giving grew by 8.8 percent, the second-biggest jump, reaching $57.5 billion, according the report released Tuesday by the Giving USA Foundation. Donations to arts, culture, and humanities groups rose 6.8 percent, while giving to environment or animal-welfare issues increased 6.1 percent.

--Excerpted from Philanthropy Today

Monday, June 13, 2016

'Chose to Open ... our Hearts ..."

A June 12, 2016 letter from The Charter for Compassion:

How complex is this world in which we live. Today 50 people of the LGBQT community in Orlando, Florida lost their lives at the hand of one gunman. Just in this month of June the global community has experienced 68 attacks in Israel, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria. Six hundred and seventy two terrorist attacks have been experienced this year.  Our hearts weep for victims of each of these attacks and our condolences sent to each of their families. We must stay united in grief and committed to working for peace.

Just two days ago, we also witnessed a celebration of the life of Muhammad Ali. Charter Arts Partner, Harry Pickens, wrote an article on his reflection on Ali’s message. Please read it. In Harry’s words we need to “CHOSE to open our minds and hearts today in a spirit of kindness, tolerance, connection, compassion,” and he asks “what if we INTENTIONALLY CHOOSE to do the same tomorrow?”