Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Center Yourself and Take Charge of Your Life

C. Coimbra photo

Editor's Note:  The following is excerpted from a recent posting, Are You in Charge of Your Life? Here's How to Tell, by Deepak Chopra, M.D.

When it is examined with objective measures, being in charge of your life, or even feeling in control, looks like a major challenge. Right now doctors are writing record numbers of prescriptions for antidepressants and tranquilizers. Economic pressures create financial worries in many families. The world feels threatening in ways that we as individuals cannot really defend against, from terrorism to climate change. How is it possible to regain control and remain secure in such an environment?

... the world's wisdom traditions offer the most important clues about how to be in control. They define a life path that proceeds from the inside out. The goal isn't about adjusting to one day's stressful situations and hoping that you can cope with tomorrow's. The goal begins with a vision of life where a person's inner world is safe and secure, leading to safety and security in the outer world.

...Through meditation practice and other lifestyle changes, you can make it your long-term goal to settle into a deeper level of awareness and to expand your consciousness beyond day-to-day demands and concerns. Life works best when you regain control form the inside out.

If you acknowledge the possibility that consciousness links the inner and outer world, you move ahead on the assumption that any thought can change how you experience the world. The deciding factors aren't mystical. They have to do with the following ingredients that go into shifting your personal reality through conscious intention:

  • Being yourself and following your own truth.
  • Not creating a false self-image that you must live up to.
  • Having your own ideas instead of ones you picked up second-hand.
  • Being passionate about the things that matter most.
  • Being able to focus, bringing the mind to one point without distraction.
  • Being centered.
  • Having the experience of going deep into the mind.
  • Letting go instead of controlling.
  • Having confidence that your desire is supported by Nature, God, the universe—something larger than your individual ego.
  • Feeling integrated in mind, body, and spirit.
  • Not feeling confused and conflicted.
  • Valuing yourself and your well-being.
  • Wanting to pursue an ideal.

These factors enter into how you live each day. The choices you make can be great or small—that doesn't matter. What matters is the degree of self-awareness you apply to any situation.

Texas Breaks "Giving Day" Record with $37 Million Raised

In its fifth straight record-setting campaign, North Texas Giving Day raised $37 million through 142,700 total donations.

The day also marked the single largest national "Giving Day" in the nation. Last year's total was $33.1 million.

The money raised will help 2,518 nonprofits and all came in during an 18-hour window. This also marked the first time in the event's eight-year history that each of the nonprofits participating received a gift.

Donations came in from all 50 states and 39 counties, with an average of 34,500 donations made every minute.

The organization that had the most gifts was KERA TV Channel 13, KERA 90.1, KXT 91.7 and, which donated 2,925 gifts. The organization who raised the most overall money was Cistercian Preparatory School with $638,414.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

$48 Million Grants to Expand Marine Protected Areas

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The Waitt Foundation along with the  Wildlife Conservation Society, the Blue Moon Fund, and the Global Environment Facility, recently announced a combined $48-million investment to expand the world’s marine protected areas.

From the Waitt Foundation website:

The Waitt Foundation, a grant making organization, has invested over $60 million in various ocean conservation initiatives. Primarily focused on the creation of the national parks of the sea, WF is currently engaged in projects to create over 15 million square kilometers of marine protected areas around the world.

Our Mission
Restoring our oceans to full productivity.

Our Vision
Given the rapid decline of marine resources, the mission of the Waitt Foundation is to protect and restore ocean health.  The Foundation funds initiatives globally with a focus on marine protected areas and sustainable fishing policy and practice.  We provide grants, technical assistance, strategic advice, and support innovative ocean science.  For maximum impact, we partner with unique coalitions of governments, funders, NGO, academics, and businesses.

3,000 Volunteers Clean Kenya's Coastline

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Excerpted from Coastweek-- Kenyan volunteers numbering 3,000 took part in this years annual International Coastal Clean up exercise which covered long stretches of the white sandy beaches  in Mombasa, Diani, Likoni, Malindi, Kiunga Lamu, Kiwayu  Watamu and Jumba Ruins in Mtwapa, Kilifi county respectively.

... Coastal Cleanup Day encourages us to get out to our beaches and help to limit this problem by cleaning up the garbage that has washed up on shore, and that left by visitors every day

... Volunteers at the Kenyan coast were drawn from  educational institutions, private firms, environmental NGos, tourist hotels and government agencies.

In Mombasa, the exercise took place along the scenic  Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach  frontage with hundreds of volunteers including staff from the US Embassy (Nairobi) travelling down to Mombasa to take part in the event.

General Manager of Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel & Spa Tuva Mwahunga led hotel staff, guests and local beach operators in cleaning and collecting litter along its white pristine sandy beaches.

“We are glad to honour this call of environmental clean up as we join the rest of the world in this very noble exercise,” Mwahunga said.

Mwahunga said that they have managed as a unit to empower staff  and guests alike to take an active role in the preservation and cleaning up of the ocean.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1,200 Volunteers Join Thousands More for Beach Clean-Up

Coastal Clean-Up photo
... 1,200 San Luis Obispo County volunteers  participated  in the 32nd annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday.

The volunteers picked up 5,445 pounds of trash and 1,067 pounds of recyclables along the county coastline and lakes, according to the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, which organized the local effort in the statewide cleanup.

Volunteers scoured beaches from San Simeon Cove to Oceano Dunes, as well as Oso Flaco, Lopez, and Santa Margarita lakes, collecting about 1,000 pounds more than last year, ECOSLO reported.

Read more here:

Buddhist Nuns Break Tradition for Equality

Public domain photo by Karen Arnold

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Clad in black sweatpants, red jackets and white helmets, the hundreds of cyclists pedaling the treacherously steep, narrow mountain passes to India from Nepal could be mistaken for a Himalayan version of the Tour de France.

The similarity, however, ends there. This journey is longer and tougher, the prize has no financial value or global recognition and the participants are not professional cyclists but Buddhist nuns from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

Five hundred nuns from the Buddhist sect known as the Drukpa Order,  on Saturday complete a 4,000-km (2,485 mile) bicycle trek from Nepal's Kathmandu to the northern city of Leh in India to raise awareness about human trafficking in the remote region.

"When we were doing relief work in Nepal after the earthquakes last year, we heard how girls from poor families were being sold because their parents could not afford to keep them anymore," 22-year-old nun Jigme Konchok Lhamo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We wanted to do something to change this attitude that girls are less than boys and that it's okay to sell them," she said, adding that the bicycle trek shows "women have power and strength like men."

South Asia may boast women leaders and be home to cultures that revere motherhood and worship female deities, but many girls and women live with the threat of violence and without many basic rights.

From honor killings in Pakistan to foeticide in India and child marriage in Nepal, women face a barrage of threats, although growing awareness, better laws and economic empowerment are bringing a slow change in attitudes.


The bicycle trek, from Nepal into India, is nothing new for the Drukpa nuns.

This is the fourth such journey they have made, meeting local people, government officials and religious leaders to spread messages of gender equality, peaceful co-existence and respect for the environment.

They also deliver food to the poor, help villagers get medical care and are dubbed the "Kung Fu nuns" due to their training in martial arts.

Led by the Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa Order, the nuns raise eyebrows, especially among Buddhists for their unorthodox activities.

"Traditionally Buddhist nuns are treated very differently from monks. They cook and clean and are not allowed to exercise. But his Holiness thought this was nonsense and decided to buck the trend," said Carrie Lee, president of Live to Love International, a charity which works with the Drukpa nuns to support marginalised Himalayan communities.

"Among other things, he gave them leadership roles and even introduced Kung Fu classes for the nuns after they faced harassment and violence from the general public who were disturbed by the growing shift of power dynamics," she said.

Over the last 12 years, the number of Drukpa nuns has grown to 500 from 30, said Lee, largely due to the progressive attitudes of the 53-year-old Gyalwang Drukpa, who was inspired by his mother to become an advocate for gender equality.

The Gyalwang Drukpa also participates in the bicycle journeys, riding with the nuns as they pedal through treacherous terrain and hostile weather and camp out in the open.


The Drukpa nuns say they believe they are helping to change attitudes.

"Most of the people, when they see us on our bikes, think we are boys," said 18-year-old nun Jigme Wangchuk Lhamo.

"Then they get shocked when we stop and tell them that not only are we girls, but we are also Buddhist nuns," she said. "I think this helps change their attitudes about women and maybe value them as equals."

South Asia, with India at its centre, is also one of the fastest growing regions for human trafficking in the world.

Gangs dupe impoverished villagers into bonded labour or rent them to work as slaves in urban homes, restaurants, shops and hotels. Many girls and women are sold into brothels.

Experts say post-disaster trafficking has become common in South Asia as an increase in extreme events caused by global warming, as well as earthquakes, leave the poor more vulnerable.

The breakdown of social institutions in devastated areas creates difficulties securing food and supplies, leaving women and children at risk of kidnapping, sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Twin earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May 2015, which killed almost 9,000 people, left hundreds of thousands of families homeless and many without any means of income, led to an increase in children and women being trafficked.

More than 40,000 children lost their parents, were injured or were placed in precarious situations following the disaster, according to Nepali officials.

The Drukpa nuns said the earthquakes were a turning point in their understanding of human trafficking and that they felt a need to do more than travel to disaster-hit mountain villages with rice on their backs.

"People think that because we are nuns, we are supposed to stay in the temples and pray all the time. But praying is not enough," said Jigme Konchok Lhamo.

"His Holiness teaches us that we have go out and act on the words that we pray. After all, actions speak louder than words," she said.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, land rights and climate change. Visit

Most Europeans Support Syrian Refugee

Public domain photo by kai Stachowiak

By Umberto Bacchi

LONDON, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than three quarters of Europeans sympathise with Syrian refugees coming to their countries, a poll found on Friday, challenging reports of growing anti-immigration sentiment across the continent.

Ireland topped the poll of European countries that are most supportive of Syrian refugees with 87 percent of people interviewed there showing sympathy for them, while Slovakia ranked bottom.

The Ipsos MORI survey also showed that less than a third of the roughly 12,000 people polled across 12 EU countries believe refugees are a risk to national security despite a number of recent attacks involving migrants.

"These findings show that Europeans have not lost their hearts," said David Miliband, CEO of International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid organisation which commissioned the poll.

The survey comes as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War Two. More than one million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere reached Europe last year.

Syrians made up 28 percent of the 2015 arrivals, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

Of the people polled, 30 percent said one of their top three concerns was that refugees posed a security threat.

The survey was published as anti-immigration parties make gains in several EU countries.

Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that her liberal migrant policy contributed to a humiliating state election rout on Sept. 4, where her Christian Democrats (CDU) finished third behind the surging anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Nationalist, anti-immigration parties are also leading opinion polls in France and the Netherlands ahead of general elections next year.

"At a time when toxic rhetoric has found its way into the political mainstream, there is a clear call here for governments to combine compassion with competence in responding to the refugee crisis," Miliband said in a statement.

"The refugee crisis is a human tragedy but it does not need to become a political disaster".

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"It’s a resistance born out of love" -- Native Peoples Rise

Dakota Access oil pipeline workers gouged a trench over two miles of Sioux burial grounds on September 3 near Cannon Ball. This video titled Protecting the Sacred was filmed at the Camp of Sacred Stones on the Standing Rock Reservation by Paiute/Shoshone filmmaker Myron Dewey and Tulalip Tribes photographer Matika Wilbur. Dallas Goldtooth, Chief Arvol Looking Horse and Kandi Mosset speak of their love for the sacred, for Mother Earth—love they wish that everyone would recognize and feel.

This fight matters, as Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Keep It In the Ground movement says, not just for those who live near the pipeline’s proposed route, but also for the bigger picture.

“It also matters because it connects to the greater struggle to protect Mother Earth—and to protect our future generations from destructive climate change,” Goldtooth says. “Our struggle, this resistance that you see here, it’s not a resistance born out of hate or negativity. It’s a resistance born out of love. Love for each other, love for this land.”


As has been well chronicled, the Prayer Camps in Cannonball in Hunkpapa Territories have been HUGELY successful in slowing down this well-funded Dakota Access Pipeline.  We always should acknowledge that it was prophetic and powerful Native women who began this campaign out of love, prayer and concern for the water and the next generations.  Thank you LaDonna.  For months, in the election-obsessed United States, the mainstream media ignored and disregarded the movement.

The media cannot any longer.  This movement is bigger than an election.  This is about life and the future of the planet.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Be the Peace. Peace Week Begins 9/17/16

World Peace Week begins Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
World Peace Day is Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016

We are excited to invite you to the fifth anniversary of BeThePeace, our annual global meditation event in celebration of the International Day of Peace!

We come together every year with like-minded groups from around the world to call forth a global culture of wisdom and peace. We know that in order for that vision to become a reality, we must embody it ourselves, we must live it, we must BE it.

This year the Gaiafield Project is delighted to be partnering with many wonderful organizations for a World Peace Meditation, taking place on September 24, from 4-5pm Pacific.

Learn more about how to get involved at

You can find events on our Interactive World Peace Map.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

5 Ways to Create Positive Social Media

Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from an essay, Five Ways to Build Caring Community on Social Media, post on the Greater Good, Science of a Meaningful Life website.

Here are five suggestions, by no means comprehensive, for fostering the well-being of others online, based on a combination of my reading of the research and my experience.

Because the research is so shallow—and my experience so narrow—I invite readers to discuss these recommendations, and to please make their own in the comments.

1. Bring your best self to social media

There is a research-tested exercise we promote on Greater Good in Action called “Best Possible Self for Relationships.” I’ve found that applying this exercise to social media can be quite thought-provoking. It asks you to imagine your relationships going as well as they possibly could, and then writing that vision down. It’s really about self-discovery: Who do I want to be and what do I want out of life?

Here are the steps, which I’ve adapted for thinking about your social media persona:
Take a moment to imagine your life in the future, and focus specifically on your social media relationships. What is the best possible online life you can imagine? This could involve, for example, feeling supported when you face challenges in life, staying in touch with high-school friends, having a place to come together in the face of a natural disaster, or keeping your inner life alive by discovering new music or books. Think about what your best possible relationships would look like for you.

For the next 15 minutes, write continuously about what you imagined about these best possible future relationships. It may be easy for this exercise to lead you to focus on how things fall short in the present. For the purpose of this exercise, however, focus on the future—imagine a brighter future in which you are your best self and your circumstances change just enough to make these desired social connections happen.

This exercise is most useful when it is very specific—if you think about having a better online relationship with your family, for instance, describe exactly what would be different in the ways you relate to each other; if you’d like a better relationship with people whose politics are very different from yours, describe how they interact with you, what values you might share, and so on. The more specific you are, the more engaged you will be in the exercise and the more you’ll get out of it.
You might even consider posting your vision to social media. Don’t be afraid: See what people have to say about your ideal social media space.

2. Cultivate a diverse social network

This to me is the foundation of a healthy life on social media.

Racial, cultural, and economic biases exist — within me, you, institutions, across nations, and within nations around the globe. And so, so, so often I see good people generalize from data they see in their incredibly biased Facebook or Twitter feeds. I learned about the shootings in Kenya, the earthquake in Nepal, the Syrian refugee crisis, and more, from Facebook. In the same feed, I also saw people write, “Why is no one paying attention to the shootings in Kenya/earthquake in Nepal/the Syrian refugee crisis?!” Seemingly unaware that this isn’t true of everyone or of everyone’s social network.

It’s a hard truth: Imbalance in your social media feeds doesn’t reflect media bias. It reflects your bias.
To correct for this, I often work to add friends (even ones I don’t know) who I think will add to the depth and richness of how I see the world. I also try to be aware that my efforts will always fall short. You can’t eliminate bias; you can only mitigate and manage it. Over the years, I’ve consciously built an online social network that includes family, friends from every stage of my life, writers of all kinds, journalists, psychologists, and more—plus, people of many different races, cultures, and economic backgrounds. This diversity is one of the gifts that life has given me, though sometimes it can feel like a curse—especially when these different and diverse people start bickering on my Facebook wall.

Yes, diversity can create conflict. It’s tempting to block or unfriend troublesome people, especially when you yourself disagree with them.

Here’s what I think: The difference between a well-rounded human and a one-dimensional fanatic is that the human remembers that he or she can be wrong. Of course, you should be skeptical of everything you read online. But you should also try to be skeptical of yourself. When you feel that dopamine rush of righteousness coming on, STOP. Hit pause. Take a breath. Do your own research, especially when the facts and explanations seem to confirm your pre-existing beliefs. Sometimes you’ll mess up. I do, all the time. Big deal. Admit you’re wrong, forgive yourself, and try to do better next time. When someone else is wrong, try to forgive them.

Diversity doesn’t really work without humility.

3. Highlight what your friends have in common

How do social media turn good people into nasty ones?

Part of the answer lies in the one-dimensionality of the interaction. If someone is not personally known to you, they are just a name on the screen, and all we know about them is one tweet or comment. It seems to me that one of the reasons why Twitter is so vicious is that followers are not bidirectional friends, the way they are on Facebook. This makes it more difficult for you to create and facilitate a community of different people.

I try, as much as possible, to show people I know what disparate friends might have in common, especially at points of conflict. “Peter and Sarah—you disagree about gun control, but did you know you both graduated from the University of Florida?” Or perhaps, “I still love you both!”

Sounds cheesy—let’s face it, most of what I’m saying here sounds cheesy—but it works in defusing tense moments. You’re making them both feel like they’re part of the same in-group, and there are a stack of studies showing that this will increase the pro-social tendencies of all the parties involved.
The important thing to remember is that your social media connections are an in-group that you created. When they comment on something you’ve shared, they are guests in your home. A good host generates a convivial atmosphere by helping everyone to feel included in the conversation.

A word about racism, sexism, and other forms of identity-based discrimination: I don’t tolerate the denigration of entire groups of people in my networks, and I don’t think you should either. Does this contradict what I’m saying about having a diverse network? I agree there’s some ambiguity, but I simply don’t want, for example, women or folks of color to feel uncomfortable inside the community I create with my account. I brought them together; I try to keep them safe from abuse. You may disagree with me, of course. We all have different limits. But this too, in my opinion, is part of cultivating other people’s well-being online.

4. Try some active listening

It’s really hard to listen to people on social media.

In face-to-face conversation, active listening means expressing interest in what a person has to say. This can be as simple as making eye contact or lightly touching their hand as they speak, but it’s really a deeper exercise in trying to truly empathize with another person, especially during a difficult conversation. Here’s what that might look like online, again adapted from Greater Good in Action:
Paraphrase. Once the other person has finished expressing a thought, paraphrase what he or she said to make sure you understand and to show that you are paying attention. Helpful ways to paraphrase include “What I hear you saying is…” “It sounds like…” and “If I understand you right….”

Ask questions. When appropriate, ask questions to encourage the other person to elaborate on his or her thoughts and feelings. Avoid jumping to conclusions about what the other person means. Instead, ask questions to clarify his or her meaning, such as, “When you say_____, do you mean_____”?
Express empathy. If the other person voices negative feelings, strive to validate these feelings rather than questioning or defending against them. For example, if the speaker expresses frustration, try to consider why he or she feels that way, regardless of whether you think that feeling is justified or whether you would feel that way yourself were you in his or her position.

Understand now, judge later. Your first goal should be to understand the other person’s perspective and accept it for what it is, even if you disagree with it.

Avoid giving advice. Problem-solving is likely to be more effective after both conversation partners understand one another’s perspective and feel heard. Moving too quickly into advice-giving can be counterproductive.

Of all the steps I’m proposing, this to me feels the most difficult. On social media, we take turns; there’s no opportunity for non-verbal feedback as we speak. For active listening to work online, we need more patience, not less, than we do in real life.

5. Promote positive messages and images

After the Paris attacks, divisive poison and fear-inducing imagery flooded my feeds. Then one of my friends shared this video, of a blindfolded Muslim man hugging strangers on a Paris street:

I felt my heart lift.

This is imagery that induces “moral elevation,” which psychologist Jonathan Haidt defines as “a warm, uplifting feeling that people experience when they see unexpected acts of human good­ness, kindness, courage, or compassion. It makes a person want to help others and to become a better person himself or herself.”

In a study published this year, 104 college students watched videos depicting heroic or compassionate acts while researchers measured their heart rates and brain activity. They found that witnessing suffering triggered a stress response, but that then seeing suffering alleviated through a caring, selfless act produced a sense of relief the students felt throughout their bodies. The researchers specifically saw activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with empathy and “theory of mind”—our ability to predict behavior in other people.

In short, witnessing acts of goodness helps us to feel connected to humanity, while witnessing violence cuts us off from others. Elevation helps turn the stress response from fight-or-flight into tend-and-befriend. That’s why when friends share images that elevate me and help me to feel connected, I am grateful—and I share it on.

The bottom line? If we want to transform the culture of social media, we have to set an intention to be supportive of each other online. Kind, compassionate, honest, grateful, and forgiving. There’s a place for anger or snark. But that shouldn’t be our default setting, especially when we communicate with people whom we call friends.

Foundation Awards Good Work by Citizens

C. Coimbra photo

By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Among the winners of the 21st Heinz Awards is a celebrated trombone player with a mission to pass along the musical traditions of New Orleans to the next generation.

Another, an environmentalist who has designed solar homes and built his own electric car, believes global climate problems can be solved through improved public policies for energy efficiency.

The others include a pediatrician who wants to reduce disease-causing stress factors in children; a civil rights attorney who authored an acclaimed book on the problems of mass incarceration of African-American males; and an entrepreneur who launched a free publishing website used by millions of writers, artists, and businesses including media giants Time and CNN.

The five are this year’s recipients of the awards presented by the Heinz Family Foundation to recognize individuals who use innovative and inspiring ideas to address global social issues.

Each winner will receive a cash award of $250,000.

The awards were created by philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Sen. H. John Heinz III, who died in a plane crash in 1991.

Mrs. Heinz Kerry is the chairwoman of the Heinz Family Foundation and the Heinz Endowments, both based Downtown.

Individuals are selected in five categories: arts and humanities; environment; human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy and employment.

This year’s winners are:

• Arts and Humanities: Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, New Orleans. The composer and performer founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation to provide instruments and instruction to underserved youth and students in New Orleans.

• Environment: Hal Harvey, San Francisco. The founder of the ClimateWorks Foundation and International Council for Clean Transportation is also the chief executive of Energy Innovation, an environmental and energy policy firm. He promotes a strategy of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from cars, trucks, buildings, utilities and industry to make the most significant impact in solving climate change issues.

• Human Condition: Nadine Burke Harris, San Francisco. She is a pediatrician who founded a youth wellness center to test and treat children for stress factors such as poverty, abuse and neglect that contribute to chronic conditions including asthma, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

• Public Policy: Michelle Alexander, Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Alexander is a civil rights attorney and author of the 2010 book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” An associate professor of law at Ohio State University, her research and advocacy focuses on reform of mass imprisonment of African-American males.

• Technology, the Economy and Employment: Matthew Mullenweg, Houston, Texas. Mr. Mullenweg is a co-founder of WordPress, an online publishing site for blogs, websites and business sites that is free of charge to users.

In a statement, Mrs. Heinz Kerry described the winners as “leaders, truth-tellers, barrier-breakers, givers of hope and givers of help.”

“They have taken their innate talents and abilities, harnessed the opportunities they have been given to achieve and excel and directed their focus to ideas and actions that are making a lasting impact on our communities and our world.”

The awards will be presented Oct. 4 at a private ceremony in Pittsburgh.

Joyce Gannon: or 412-263-1580.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Why Practice Compassion for “Enemies”?

Research indicates that when you practice compassion for others, you benefit as well. That makes sense, right? It feels good to practice compassion. You reap health benefits, your overall well-being improves, and your relationships are better. Compassion is the ultimate win-win.

How is it possible to practice compassion toward people who do so much harm in the world? Here are some techniques you can try.

1. Separate the Person from the Behavior

Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training course challenges participants to consider that people are naturally compassionate, and any unskilled behavior comes from a place of suffering. There is no “bad” person, just bad behavior.

Keep this in mind as you’re labeling someone as a “jerk.” Try to reframe that statement and instead say the person is acting like a jerk. This little nuance may help you see difficult people in a different light.

2. Imagine Whirled Peas

When polarizing people inundate your news and social feeds, compassion may be the last thing on your mind. Even if you intend to have compassion for someone difficult, you may feel blocked. Without realizing it, your mind may be dehumanizing that person. In other words, you don’t see that person as human.

Studies suggest it is easier to empathize with someone if you have something in common with that person. That helps you see a person as human. If you don’t have anything in common with someone, your mind may actually see that person as an object instead of a human.

One study out of Princeton discovered a clever way to humanize someone. Researchers found that when participants imagined a person enjoying a particular vegetable, they were able to recognize that person as human.

I invite you to try this with someone who creates tension or frustration in your life. Imagine sharing asparagus or sweet corn with your least favorite political figure, and see if anything shifts.

3. Try a Loving-kindness Meditation

Consider meditation to be like brain training. Just like an Olympic athlete may use visualization techniques to improve his or her performance, you can use meditation to improve your empathy breadth. By visualizing compassion for friends, strangers, and “enemies,” you may be more likely to see all people as human and worthy of compassion.

4. Don’t Forget Yourself

As I mentioned earlier, compassion is not easy. You may have a difficult time exercising your compassion muscle for certain people, and that is totally normal. Try not to beat yourself up about it, and give yourself a pat on the back for having compassionate intentions.

We often forget to tend to our own suffering, so be sure you include yourself in your circle of compassion.

---From the Chopra Center

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Foundation For "the soul as well as the soil"

Established in 1997, Kalliopeia Foundation responds to the critical issues of our time by supporting ecological renewal informed by spiritual awareness, and by contributing to a culture that attends to the soul as well as the soil.

To accomplish our mission, we provide financial resources to US-based organizations and projects whose work is rooted in interconnectedness, empathy, stewardship, service, and reverence for nature, and who are implementing these foundational values into projects with the potential to create lasting change.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Reclaiming Native Truth" -- Transforming Native American Image

"First Nations was the first Native-governed and led nonprofit social enterprise ever created that was exclusively committed to Native American control of tribal assets. It has been working to restore control and culturally-compatible stewardship of those assets – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – ever since," writes B. Thomas Vigil (Jicarilla Apache/Jemez Pueblo) Chairman, Board of Directors, First Nations Development Institute.

From the First Nations' website:

Our mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. We invest in and create innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities.

With the support of individuals, foundations, corporate and tribal donors, First Nations Development Institute improves economic conditions for Native Americans through technical assistance & training, advocacy & policy, and direct financial grants in five key areas:

  • Achieving Native Financial Empowerment
  • Investing in Native Youth
  • Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions
  • Advancing Household & Community Asset-Building Strategies
  • Nourishing Native Foods & Health

First Nations Development Institute is co-leading with Echo Hawk Consulting Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions, a groundbreaking project made possible by a $2.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This initiative will consolidate and build upon previous research efforts in order to create a long-term, Native-led movement that will positively transform the popular image of and narrative about Native Americans.

From 2016-2018, our team will work with an advisory committee of Native leaders, stakeholders, and racial equity experts and advocates to understand the underlying reasons for society’s negative and inaccurate perceptions of Native Americans. Based on this improved understanding, we will have the tools necessary to build consensus around tackling this long-standing problem.

Foundations Support A Variety of Needs

Here are notable new grant awards compiled by The Chronicle:

Jim Joseph Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

$28.8 million to BBYO, a nonprofit that serves Jewish teenagers, to help kick off the organization’s capital campaign.

$8.5 million to the San Francisco and Oakland public-school systems to improve computer-science education.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

$2.5 million to the First Nations Development Institute and Echo Hawk Consulting for Reclaiming Native Truth, a two-year project to study negative stereotypes of Native Americans and develop a national campaign for dismantling misconceptions and increasing equality for Native peoples.

Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

$1 million to endow free after-school homework centers in the 38 branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system to help students from low-income and homeless families complete their school assignments.

Eagles Charitable Foundation

$1 million to research and support programs at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that help people with autism.

Schultz Family Foundation

$900,000 to Blue Star Families to help spouses of military members find jobs.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

National Museum of African American History and Culture Open Sept. 24

Vista of the Museum from Constitution Avenue, looking across the north lawn to the Washington Monument. Photo credit: Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC

The New York Times recounts the intense lobbying and fundraising effort that produced the National Museum of African American History and Culture opening September 24 in Washington.

The $540 million museum was authorized by President George W. Bush in 2003 after years of racially charged Congressional debate. Alongside a political fight to locate the institution on the National Mall alongside its most prominent Smithsonian peers, museum leaders mounted a drive to raise half the construction cost that drew unprecedented support from African-American celebrities, churches, and membership organizations along with broad corporate and foundation backing.

Drawing on interviews with several major players — including founding director Lonnie Bunch III, whose political savvy is credited by many with bringing the museum to fruition — the article relates how proponents of the museum won over critics, secured federal funding from a Republican-controlled Congress, and built its collection from scratch.

Smithsonian officials announced last week that they would extend opening hours in the new museum’s first week and make available 80,000 additional entry passes due to huge demand, reports The Washington Post.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Above the Ashes of Violence, "Choose Love"

The Jesse Lewis Choose Love will be launching the Choose Love Enrichment Pilot Program just in time for the start of a new school year!

The Choose Love Enrichment Program is a social and emotional (SEL) classroom program teaching children how to choose love in any circumstance. The program focuses on four important character values – courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion – which cultivates optimism, resilience and personal responsibility.

This program was created by Educators for Educators which means we were thinking of you when we developed it, making sure that the program is educator and student friendly.

The Enrichment Pilot created a program that will have a positive impact on you, your students, and the overall classroom climate as it teaches the traits and skills that promote self-confidence, resiliency, optimism, pro-social behavior, healthy connections, and responsible decision-making.

The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a commitment to reach students, educators and individuals, nationally and internationally, and provide them with a simple, yet profound formula for choosing love.

On the morning of December 14, 2012, on the way to school, JesseJesse Lewis - Nurture, Healing, Love McCord Lewis stopped to write “I love you” in the frost on his mother’s car. Just hours later, Jesse was senselessly murdered in his first grade classroom. He was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Days prior to the tragedy, on the kitchen chalkboard at home Jesse had written a prophetic message, ‘Nurturing, Healing, Love’.

‘Nuturing, Healing, Love’

These three words have become the foundation of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement and have evolved into a formula that is so simple, yet so profound that it has inspired people all over the world to not only choose love, but become part of the mission to help others do the same.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Developing Forgiveness Towards Others & Self

Editor's Note:  One important step to finding and bringing peace within and without is forgiveness. Forgiveness is one the most challenging aspects of developing inner strength.

Let me clarify that by encouraging you to let go I am not suggesting you do away with all personal boundaries, that you condone injustice or cruelty. Contemplatives are not Pollyannas or blind optimists. Our positivity comes from struggle and prayer, not from denial or repression. Through daily contemplative practice, we exercise the relinquishment of our egoic attachments. From our place of inner authority and freedom, we can speak truth to power with compassion and love.

Forgiveness is an act of letting go. When we forgive we do not forget the harm someone caused or say that it does not matter. But we release bitterness and hatred, freeing ourselves to move on and make choices grounded in our strength rather than victimization. Forgiveness opens our closed hearts to give and receive love fully.

Jack Kornfield offers a wonderful meditative practice of forgiveness:
[Sit] comfortably. Allow your eyes to close and your breath to be natural and easy. Let your body and mind relax. Breathing gently into the area of your heart, let yourself feel all the barriers you have erected and the emotions that you have carried because you have not forgiven—not forgiven yourself, not forgiven others. . . . Let yourself feel the pain of keeping your heart closed. Then, breathing softly, begin asking and extending forgiveness, reciting the following words, letting the images and feelings that come up grow deeper as you repeat them.

Asking Forgiveness of Others
Recite: "There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed others, have betrayed or abandoned them, caused them suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, out of my pain, fear, anger, and confusion." Let yourself remember and visualize the ways you have hurt others. See and feel the pain you have caused out of your own fear and confusion. Feel your own sorrow and regret. Sense that finally you can release this burden and ask for forgiveness. Picture each memory that still burdens your heart. And then to each person in your mind repeat: "I ask for your forgiveness, I ask for your forgiveness."

Offering Forgiveness to Yourself
Recite: "There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed myself. I have betrayed or abandoned myself many times through thought, word, or deed, knowingly and unknowingly." Feel your own precious body and life. Let yourself see the ways you have hurt or harmed yourself. Picture them, remember them. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this and sense that you can release these burdens. Extend forgiveness for each of them, one by one. Repeat to yourself: "For the ways I have hurt myself through action or inaction, out of fear, pain, and confusion, I now extend a full and heartfelt forgiveness. I forgive myself, I forgive myself."

Offering Forgiveness to Those Who Have Hurt or Harmed You
Recite: "There are many ways that I have been harmed by others, abused or abandoned, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word, or deed." Let yourself picture and remember these many ways. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this past and sense that you can release this burden of pain by extending forgiveness whenever your heart is ready. Now say to yourself: "I now remember the many ways others have hurt or harmed me, wounded me, out of fear, pain, confusion, and anger. I have carried this pain in my heart too long. To the extent that I am ready, I offer them forgiveness. To those who have caused me harm, I offer my forgiveness, I forgive you."

Let yourself gently repeat these three directions for forgiveness until you feel a release in your heart. For some great pains you may not feel a release but only the burden and the anguish or anger you have held. Touch this softly. Be forgiving of yourself for not being ready to let go and move on. Forgiveness cannot be forced; it cannot be artificial. Simply continue the practice and let the words and images work gradually in their own way. In time you can make the forgiveness meditation a regular part of your life, letting go of the past and opening your heart to each new moment with a wise loving-kindness.

Gateway to Silence:
Let be. Let love.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Library Cataloguer Bequeaths $4 Million to Library

C. Coimbra photo
The University of New Hampshire announced an unexpected bequest of $4 million Tuesday from a nearly half-century employee of the institution who died last year, The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., reports.

Robert Morin, a graduate of the university who worked as a cataloguer at its Dimond Library from 1965 until his retirement in 2014, passed away in March 2015 at age 77. His longtime financial adviser, Edward Mullen, said that throughout his life Mr. Morin saved assiduously and lived frugally, building up sizable checking, savings, and retirement accounts.

The gift is unrestricted save for $100,000 earmarked to the Dimond Library for scholarships for work-study students, upgrades to multimedia rooms, and support for employees who, as did Mr. Morin, pursue studies in library science. University President Mark Huddleston said $2.5 million of the donation will be used to help launch an expanded campus career center.