Saturday, July 30, 2016

6 Ways to Stop the Racist in You

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Editor's Note: This is excerpted from the original post on the Greater Good site, How to Stop the Racist in You.  Click the link to read the entire piece.

Consider that not one of us is born learning how to drive, and yet by the time many people are adults, we find ourselves not even thinking about it even as we expertly maneuver the car. One day, with practice, egalitarianism might be like driving a car: a skill learned over time but eventually so automatic as to be second nature.

So what are the tricks that you can use to stop the racist in you? There are many, of course, but here are six to consider that follow from the scientific insights we describe.

  1. Consciously commit yourself to egalitarianism.
  2. But recognize that unconscious bias is no more “the real you” than your conscious values. You are both the unconscious and the conscious.
  3. Acknowledge differences, rather than pretend that you are ignoring them.
  4. Seek out friendship with people from different groups, in order to increase your brain’s familiarity with different people and expand your point of view.
  5. It’s natural to focus on how people are different from you, but try to consciously identify what qualities and goals you might have in common.
  6. When you encounter examples of unambiguous bias, speak out against them. Why? Because that helps create and reinforce a standard for yourself and the people around you, in addition to providing some help to those who are the targets of explicit and implicit prejudice.
  7. Those are steps you can take right now, without waiting for the world to change.

"Choose to have faith that human decency will prevail"

Editor's Note: The following opinon comes from The Subtle Activism Network.  The Daily Prism does not endorse nor support any single belief system other than to do good and to be a force for good. We share this thought that recently landed in our news feed. 

Like many people, I have been deeply troubled by the recent spate of violent incidents around the world and the rise of extremist elements in politics.  A few mornings ago, I woke up with a clear inner knowing. I realized that these forces all use the energy of fear and hate as fuel. They possess the instinct of the dark that is not bothered by negative attention at all, but in fact thrives on it. If we direct our own disgust and contempt toward them, they use that energy to grow. 

The best way to respond, I realized, is to avoid the temptation to react. Stay calm, stay positive. Choose to have faith that basic human decency will prevail. Keep your practice strong, if you have one. Find the funny side of things. The dark must be confronted courageously, but it is counterproductive to allow ourselves to be drawn into a fight on its own terms. 

It is also an especially good time to do work on our own shadow material, which can be activated by the chaotic forces. And, most importantly, to channel our energy into positive action that advances the good. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

ALS Gene Discovery Helped by 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Credited for Major ALS Discovery

Money raised through the “ice-bucket challenge” that swept the internet two years ago contributed to the identification of a gene that scientists have linked to diagnoses of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurological disease at the center of the fundraising campaign, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor report.

Project MinE, a global collaboration to sequence the genes of thousands of ALS patients, announced the discovery of NEK1 in a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Genetics. The ALS Association — which took in $115 million via the summer 2014 video sensation that saw supporters solicit donations online while dousing themselves with ice water — invested $1 million of the proceeds to bring the project to the United States.

Researchers say NEK1 is one of the most common genes associated with ALS, showing up in 3 percent of patients. The ALS Association earmarked $77 million from the ice-bucket donations for research on the disease. The viral fundraiser, derided by some at the time as the height of online “slacktivism,” has brought “new energy and excitement in the ALS research phase that hasn’t been there before,” said Brian Frederick, the association’s executive vice president for communications and development.

Mangroves Featured on World Mangroves Day

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26 July 2016, World Mangrove Day: A year into a groundbreaking program to protect all mangrove trees in Sri Lanka—and just in time for World Mangrove Day—the forests are being protected, and Sri Lankan women are receiving microloans and job training. And as mangroves, which sequester much more carbon than other types of forests, emerge as a key weapon in the fight against climate change, the program is poised to become a model for other countries worldwide.

These remarkable successes have been made possible, in large part, by a small NGO halfway across the world in the San Francisco Bay Area. Island conservation organization Seacology has achieved its target of raising $3.4 million for the five-year project, which will enable Sri Lanka to become the first country in the world to protect all of its mangrove forests. The funding is part of a pioneering partnership among Seacology, the Sri Lankan government, and local NGO, Sudeesa. The project combines legal protection, education, and conservation on the ground, plus sustainable economic development for Sri Lanka’s coastal communities.

 “It is my belief that the mangrove restoration project will generate much needed awareness among key stakeholders such as the community, leisure sector personnel, tourists, and the general public. It is my hope that this would be the beginning of a long-term effort to sustain the mangroves for greater conservation benefits.”— The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe

Funded by Seacology, the world’s first mangrove museum will be officially opened by Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on World Mangrove Day (July 26). The new museum, located next to a mangrove forest, will train adults in mangrove forest conservation and educate children about the value of these forests. Over 20,000 children are expected to visit the museum in the first year. The Sri Lankan government has also incorporated mangrove forest conservation into the national curriculum.

Launched in May 2015, this ambitious project has already achieved significant results:

·         The Sri Lankan government has identified all of the country’s 37,050 acres of mangrove forests and has surveyed and demarcated almost half of them. The surveys identified previously unknown mangrove forest areas, which have been marked for protection. The government has also introduced legislation to protect mangroves and assigned forest officers to help guard them.

·         Sudeesa has created three nurseries to cultivate half a million seedlings. More than 1,000 acres of mangrove forests will be replanted in 2016, and another 8,600 acres over the project’s lifetime. To date, over a quarter of a million mangrove seedlings (comprising 22 species native to Sri Lanka) have been grown. More than 50,000 of them have been planted with the help of the Sri Lankan Navy, schoolchildren, and community members.

·         Sudeesa is providing job training and microloans, financed by Seacology, to women and youth in coastal communities. This encourages alternatives to cutting mangroves, such as sustainable farming and ecotourism, which generate income for poor families and protect mangrove forests. Since launching the project’s Livelihoods Program, 438 community organizations have been set up in nine coastal districts, 575 women have completed a three-day training program, 348 youths have completed a seven-day program, and 381 women have received microloans to support new sustainable businesses. In return, each community has agreed to help protect 21 acres of mangrove forests.

The need to protect mangroves is urgent. In the last 50 years, over half the world’s mangrove forests have been destroyed. In Sri Lanka, almost three quarters of the mangrove forests have been lost since the beginning of the 19th century, largely due to the devastating Civil War (1983-2009) and to the cutting of mangroves for fuel, or to use the land for environmentally damaging shrimp farms or development. After years of instability, the Sri Lankan government is now leading the world in mangrove forest conservation.

“Sri Lanka is showing the world that it is possible to conserve mangrove forests whilst also improving the lives of local people, restoring wildlife habitats, and helping to ameliorate climate change. We hope that other countries with mangrove forests will follow Sri Lanka’s lead and replicate the success of this model.” — Ms. Dhammika Wijayasinghe, Secretary General, Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO

This innovative, grassroots project has transformed the lives of some of the poorest people in Sri Lanka while offering protection for mangrove forests.

“This project shows how important it is to work with local people to protect mangroves. By offering training and funding to develop alternatives to cutting mangroves, the project’s Livelihoods Program is alleviating poverty as well as protecting mangroves. It’s a win-win situation.”— Duane Silverstein, Seacology Executive Director

Although the project is fully funded, there is still work to be done. Over the next four years:

The Sri Lankan government will demarcate, legally declare, and gazette all mangrove land, and will deploy forest officers to protect the forests.
Sudeesa will continue to cultivate mangrove seedlings to replant in coastal provinces, restoring at least 9,600 acres of degraded shoreline.
Sudeesa will train an additional 6,925 women and 7,152 youths, and will offer 14,619 more microloans to meet the project’s target of providing alternative job training and microloans to 15,000 women and youths in 1,500 communities.
Project partners will share information and best practices with other countries, showcasing Sri Lanka as a model.
Seacology will continue to raise money to fund the Livelihoods Program, enabling more Sri Lankans to take out microloans, get job training, and find alternatives to cutting mangrove forests.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Basketball Legend Seeks to Bridge Racial Divide

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Michael Jordan Gives $2 Million to Police and Civil-Rights Groups

Speaking out for the first time on the killings of unarmed black men by police and retaliatory targeting of officers, basketball great Michael Jordan made a pair of $1 million donations to groups working to bridge the racial divide, the Charlotte Observer reports.

The six-time NBA champion, now majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, announced the gifts to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Institute for Community-Police Relations, a project of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, in a letter published Monday on the ESPN-affiliated sports-news site The Undefeated.

Mr. Jordan, who famously eschewed public comment on social and political issues during his storied playing career, wrote that he is “saddened and frustrated” by the violence and racial rhetoric and “can no longer stay silent.”

“Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference,” he said.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How to "Tap Into Love, Light" Energy

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Editor's Note:  The Daily Prism senses that many of its readers are interested in inward personal growth, and that many readers do work toward service to others, or are considering giving more of their energy to service.  The following is excerpted from an essay, "How Meditation Benefits Everyone Around You" written by Roger Gabriel (Raghavanand).  We have condensed the essay to bullet point tips of how one might go into a meditation that reenergizes the workings of a person who might become drained by others while in service to others. Click the link above to read the entire essay.

How to Tap into Cosmic Energy

Whenever working with other people, I recommend tapping into the Cosmic Energy (Love, Light)—the cosmos have infinite resources. A simple technique for this is to follow these steps:

  • Bring your awareness to your heart center (mid-chest) and breathe normally here.
  • Move your awareness to your crown chakra (top of your head) and take a few breaths here.
  • Now become aware or imagine a tube of light rising upward from the top of your head.
  • Still conscious of your breathing, allow your awareness to begin rising slowly up this tube of light.
  • Continue rising until you become aware or imagine reaching your Higher Self about 2 to 3 feet above your head (your Higher Self is actually non-local but the process is easier, at least in the beginning, if we think of it in a fixed place).
  • Breathe into your Higher Self.
  • Be aware or imagine the infinite Pure Energy (Light, Love) of your Higher self.
  • With an in-breath, begin drawing that Energy down through the tube of light and in through the top of your head.
  • Breathe it down to your heart center; fill your heart center.
  • Now as you exhale, allow that Energy to expand to all the different parts of your body. Fill your whole body with Cosmic Energy. Feel every cell charged with Cosmic Energy.
  • If you wish, you can expand the Energy beyond your physical body into your subtle body, to create a halo of energy around you.
  • You can use this Energy for good, in whatever way you choose. You can direct it to flow out through your hands, you could project it from your heart center, or you can keep it within to maximize your own energy. The great advantage of working with Cosmic Energy in this way is whatever you share with others is coming through you and not from you. With practice, you can share Energy, Love, or Light all day without feeling tired or drained. All the Energy flowing though you will be energizing you.

Whether your motives for practicing meditation are personal or more altruistic, the effects for the world will be the same. Everyone benefits!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fostering Peace Building Skills in Children

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A recent online discussion on peace included Nancy Carlson-Paige, Professor Emerita; co-founder Center for Peaceable Schools; co-founder Defending the Early Years, sharing her ideas on  "Young children learn caring behavior, empathy, and peace building skills from their experience... adults are a big influence on what kids learn about peace, nonviolence, diversity, aggression,and bullying. How can we use our influence to its full potential so we can help to foster young people who have the skills needed to create a more peaceful world?

Click this link Fostering Empathy and Peace Building Skills in Young Children to listen to the podcast and, according to the website, grasp A better understanding of how young children build ideas about peace, nonviolence, and violence ... A deeper awareness of how adults use of power affects children's potential as peacemakers, and knowledge of specific steps adults can use to help children build conflict resolution and peacemaking skills."

How Connected are You to Humanity?

From Greater Good Science of a Meaningful Life:

Some people feel a strong sense of kinship with all members of humankind, no matter what differences or distances might exist between them; others have a tendency to keep those feelings closer to home.

Connection to Humanity Quiz The quiz below assesses how deeply you identify with all of humanity, independent of your identification with your country or community. It is a simplified, adapted version of a scale recently developed by Sam McFarland, Matthew Webb, and Derek Brown, psychologists at Western Kentucky University.

For the first 18 items, select the answer that best describes how you feel. There are no right or wrong answers, so please answer as honestly as possible. The last seven questions will be used by our research team to better understand how identification with humanity relates to factors like income level and political orientation.

When you're done, you'll get your score, along with ideas for increasing your feelings of connection to humankind. We'll report next month on what the scores suggest about the Greater Good community.

Click here to take the Connected to Humanity Quiz 

Aussie News Broadcaster Pleads for Viral Compassion and Forgiveness

This week a Muslim Australian T.V. broadcaster named Waleed Aly electrified the world with his compassionate response to another Australian broadcaster, Sonia Kruger, after she said she'd like to see Muslims banned from entering the country. Instead of making her fear wrong, he advocates for trying to understand others' fear, even Kruger's.


Lottery Winners Pledge "Nearly All" Prize Money to Charity

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. –  A California couple has claimed a $528.8 million share of a record Powerball jackpot from January and pledged to give much of it to charity.

Flanked by security, Marvin and Mae Acosta went to a state lottery office in Van Nuys on Friday to claim their winnings from the record $1.6 billion Powerball drawing, lottery officials disclosed Tuesday.

In a statement, the Acostas said they are dedicating nearly all of the prize money to a trust and charities.

"We are thankful and blessed for the rare gift that has been placed in our care," the statement said.

Traverso described the Acostas as a younger couple with two children. No additional details were released because they requested privacy.

The couple will take their winnings in a cash option totaling $327.8 million before federal taxes, lottery officials said.
--From Fox News

$10 Million Grant to Combat AIDS in Africa & Caribbean

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Singer Elton John gives boost to groups fighting AIDS

Groups taking on AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are the inaugural beneficiaries of a $10 million fund established last year by Elton John to fight discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. The singer announced the support for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Global Forum on MSM & HIV Thursday at an AIDS conference in South Africa.

The LGBT Fund was launched in November by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a government program. The new grants aim to boost local groups’ work to prevent the spread of HIV and efforts to treat people with HIV and AIDS. The size of the awards was not disclosed.

Most African nations have laws that criminalize homosexuality, and some also bar advocacy on behalf of sexual minorities, according to research by the European Parliament. "We're going to help all the LGBT people in countries that find it very difficult to be LGBT to know that we are on their side," Mr. John said.

--From Philanthropy Today

Friday, July 22, 2016

Over 20 Easy Acts of Kindness

We like these 25 tips on easy ways to show acts of kindness.

  1. Write a note of thanks to a friend. You may see them daily, monthly, or once every few years, but how often do you tell them how much appreciate them?
  2. Buy the person behind you in line a coffee.
  3. Send an email to a co-worker’s manager to praise your co-worker’s help on a recent project or her extra effort.
  4. Put some coins in someone else’s meter if you see that the meter has expired.
  5. Leave an extra large tip for a server that goes above and beyond to make your visit special.
  6. Box up leftovers from meals to share with someone in need.
  7. Smile as you walk around your office or past strangers on the street.
  8. Give a detailed compliment to someone about what you admire about her/him.
  9. Help someone in need to carry groceries to her car.
  10. Leave an interesting book on the train, bus, or in a café.
  11. Refer someone to a job you think she would be particularly good at.
  12. Send flowers out of the blue to someone to show your love.
  13. Cook a meal for a roommate, loved one, or co-worker.
  14. Send an anonymous note to someone appreciating all the ways she makes a difference in the world.
  15. Sign up to serve food at a homeless shelter or food bank.
  16. Anonymously donate to a friend’s fundraising campaign.
  17. Send a friend who recently moved a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
  18. Ask someone what has inspired or excited her recently. Giving people a chance to convey what creates their happiness shows them you care.
  19. Put your phone away and focus on the person you are with.
  20. Give stuff away for free.
  21. Support a friend’s personal project by promoting her blog, inviting friends to her cause, or suggesting collaborations to enhance her mission.
  22. Foster a rescue pet and help it find a home.
  23. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  24. Do the dishes or take out the trash for your roommates.
  25. Try engaging in one random act of kindness a week, or even once a day to achieve maximum bliss and happiness in knowing you have made someone’s life better!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Researcher Lists 7 More Ways to Grow in Compassion

Editor's Note:  The following 7 steps comes from EMMA SEPPÄLÄ, Ph.D, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and author of The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016). She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and Scientific American Mind.  

The Daily Prism hopes that this series on compassion helps each of us find one or more ways to grow in compassion.

In this age of senseless terror, we can feel helpless. But there are small ways that you can help contribute to a kinder world. By living a compassionate lifestyle, you will improve not only society and the planet but also your own well-being and health. Here are seven ways to make a positive impact:

1. Be kind.
It sounds simple—even simplistic—but think about how often we lose our tempers, judge others, or criticize. How often do we ignore others, look over their heads, or pretend they are not there? Starting each day with the intention to be kind to others is an incredibly powerful way to live. Research shows that not only will you positively affect all those around you but you yourself may benefit most. People who are more compassionate and generous end up being happier and healthier than others—and may even live longer.

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
This seems obvious: Recycle everything you can. This is less obvious: Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. And if you do, buy from companies dedicated to sustainable production practices. One gold wedding band creates, on average, 20 tons of toxic waste. Buy your jewelry, your clothes, and your kids’ toys from places that use sustainable, biodegradable, and recycled materials only.

3. Buy fair trade.
Did you know that there are 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today? This is a horrific number. I once asked an expert in this area what I could do about it: She said it’s simple. Slaves are used for major industries like chocolate, tea, and coffee. Whenever you buy those (and other) items, look for the “fair trade” certification. Fair trade means that no slave labor (or unfair business practice) was used. What if your favorite brand is not fair trade? Email their customer service—chances are they’ll make the necessary adjustments. Hey, it’s good PR for the company, too.

4. Use organic and green products.
That shampoo you put on your head? If it’s not biodegradable, it’s probably toxic for the planet and for you, too. The chemicals in our makeup, in our cleaning products, in our detergents are often terrible both for our health and that of the planet. Going green means going a whole lot healthier, too.

5. Donate.
Whether you have a passion to support veterans, the environment, animals, or children, there are countless wonderful charities that can help you help them. And almost everyone can donate. In fact, research shows that middle-class families actually donate more per capita than higher-income families. When you compare people who have spent money on themselves versus on others, those who have spent money on others are happier.

6. Stop eating animals.
No matter where you stand on the vegetarian argument, empirical evidence conclusively demonstrates that the global ecosystem is crumbling under the tremendous pressure of animal husbandry. Animal husbandry leads to more greenhouse gas production than any other industry. Not to mention the ruthless carnage of millions of animals and their babies day after day.

“But I love my meat!” Here’s what can help you develop the compassion you need. If you have (or know) a pet, you also realize that each animal has its own distinct and charming personality. Just like you, research shows, animals have the same large spectrum of emotions that we have and that, like us, they want to be happy. If that doesn’t help, get on YouTube whenever you have a craving and look up videos on veal (baby cow) slaughterhouses.

With eyes wide open to what you are participating in, it is unlikely that you will still want that burger. What’s more, the FDA has released study after study showing how much your health will benefit.

7. Be kind to yourself.
What you do, you model for the world. If you are someone who takes care of yourself, who speaks up for yourself, who knows your limits, and who has good boundaries, you encourage others to do the same. Research shows that when you have self-compassion, i.e., the ability to treat yourself as a friend, you are more resilient, have better relationships, and are happier and even healthier.

And since you are a gift to the world, make sure you take good care of yourself. We’re all so grateful you are here and looking to lead a more compassionate lifestyle.

Police Show Compassion for Homeless College Student

---from KFOR on July 15, 2016
BARNESVILLE, Ga. – Fred Barley is just 19-years-old but he is already inspiring families across the country.

On Saturday, officers were called to the Gordon State College campus after someone reported that a man was sleeping in a tent in the bushes.

That’s where police first met Fred Barley.

Barley is homeless and a college student at Gordon State.

According to WSB, he told police that he rode his brother’s bicycle six hours to register for classes at the college and then began looking for a job.

He says told FOX 5 that he knew all the jobs would be taken once college students got back to campus, so he wanted a head start.

The officers helped Barley pack up his things and took him to a nearby motel, where they paid for a room for two nights.

“The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I am black and he didn’t care what color I was. He just helped me, and that meant a lot,” Barley told WSB.

Barley says he was simply doing everything he could to succeed.

“The Bible says, ‘You can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ so I know I can,” he said. “My legs are working. Millions of people walk and bike to work every day. I definitely think I can bike a couple hours to get to my future.”

One of the officers’ wives posted Barley’s story on Facebook, and received hundreds of responses.

One woman and the motel owner paid for him to stay in the motel until he can get into the dorms at Gordon State, which are allowing him to move in early.

A local pizzeria also created a position for Barley, adding that they will gladly work around his school schedule.

Strangers have donated clothes, school supplies and money to help Barley, who hopes to go to medical school in the future.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Response To Tragedy in Nice

--From the Gaiafield Project

With a deep and tender breath, we meet the news today of yet another tragic event involving the loss of innocent lives. Nice, Dallas, Orlando, Minnesota, Louisiana, Istanbul, Bangladesh, Paris...We grieve together with the families and loved ones of the victims of violence, knowing that their lives are forever changed.

We also know that it is our response to events like these that will determine their ultimate meaning. We can recoil in fear, and allow these incidents to activate our most cynical conclusions about the nature of certain groups of people, or of humanity in general. Or we can respond in a way that brings us closer together.

As my friend James O'Dea recently said, now is the time to hold the center. The collective wounds of humanity are rising to the surface, and there is tremendous potential for healing if we bring our full awareness to the moment.

In this spirit, we want to offer two resources that we hope will provide support at this testing time.

The first is an interview I recently did with James as part of our Global Shift Meditation series: A Spiritual Response to Violence. The call is valuable not only for the wisdom that comes through James strongly in our dialogue but also for the beautiful prayer he offers at the end of the call.

The second is a powerful 21-Day meditation series taking place on The Amplifield starting tomorrow, Saturday, July 16th: 21 Days of Love .

Thursday, July 14, 2016

More International Communities Join Compassionate Communities

Karen Armstrong, founder of the Charter for Compassion explains a compassionate community:

“A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city!  A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry.  Uncomfortable if every child isn’t loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive.  Uncomfortable when as a community we don’t treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.”

The Charter for Compassion recently welcomed 4 additional communities to their Compassionate Communities list:

Brisbane, Australia

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Los Angeles, CA, USA

Rotterdam, Netherlands (see their new website)

Joining the Charter for Compassion Partners recently are:

Big Daddy Biscuits (Atlanta, GA, USA)

Camp Horizon (Atlanta, GA, USA)

Joelyn Lutz (Santa Maria, CA, USA)

City for All Women (Ottawa, Canada) Initiative

Metropolitan Community Charities (Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Nonprofit I.Q. (Bothell, WA, USA)

NYCNVC (New York, NY, USA)

Youth Equity Stewardship (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

From the Charter for Compassion:

No single community in the world is a Compassionate Community in any abstract or formal sense, just as no community is devoid of compassion.  Each community will find its own path to establishing compassion as a driving and motivating force, and each will conduct its own evaluation of what is “uncomfortable” in that community’s unique culture—that is, those issues that cause pain and suffering to members of the community.  For one community that discomfort may be youth violence or an epidemic of teen suicide.  Another community may discover that a portion of their community—perhaps immigrants, the homeless, or an LGBTQ group--has been marginalized, harassed, or even physically threatened.  Yet another community, as in Botswana for example, the major discomforts may have to do with the needs of large numbers of street children orphaned by the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic.

The Charter’s Compassionate Communities program is not a certificate program that offers a seal of approval, nor does it subscribe to a single definition of a Compassionate Community.  Instead, the Charter invites communities of all sizes to bring compassion to life in practical, specific ways through compassion-driven actions—in neighborhoods, businesses, schools and colleges, healthcare, the arts, local government, peace groups, environmental advocacy groups, and faith congregations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Horses for Veterans

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Cowboy Up! is a unique horsemanship, wellness and skill-set™ restructuring program based in Santa Fe, NM free to ALL post 9/11 Veterans and active military (both men and women) especially those who have sustained PTSD*, physical injuries, or have experienced combat trauma during their time serving our country.  From day one Veterans are hands on with our horses beginning with groundwork and progressing to riding, as well as participating in other aspects of ranch life, including working cattle and more importantly experiencing the camaraderie with cowboys who are Veterans themselves.

Sharing our experience, our strengths, and hopes we give veterans a new and vital mission where they can recuperate, recreate, and reintegrate into their communities. We believe that Horsemanship is Leadership and by assisting veterans through the way of the horse and cowboy culture, we are able to support their journey, integrating mind, body and spirit.

We are staffed entirely by volunteers and are privately funded by your donations.   100% of your contributions goes to keeping our Heroes horseback.

10 Easy Compassionate Deeds

Compassion is a genuine sympathy for hardship or suffering that other people are experiencing, and a desire to ease that pain. There are many different ways to show compassion for others; the important thing is that it comes from your heart. Ignore differences and find commonalities to help you relate to what someone else is going through. Whether you’re interacting with a friend, colleague, peer, patient, or family member, here are some ways you can demonstrate your compassion.

1. Start with Yourself.

The best way to learn how to be compassionate toward others is to be compassionate with yourself. Praise yourself for your successes (even things as little as making your bed in the morning) and forgive yourself for your mistakes. Focus on your strengths and positive qualities.

2. Communicate Verbally and Non-verbally. 

Make eye contact, keep your body turned toward the person speaking, and listen quietly. You might also practice active listening, which involves paraphrasing what you’ve just heard, and ask open-ended questions to send the message that you’re ready to hear more.

3. Touch (if appropriate).

A gentle touch goes a long way. To be sure touch is welcome, ask first. Try “Would you like a hug?” or “May I touch your shoulder?” Gentle touch assists in balancing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. A soft touch to the hand or shoulder during the conversation helps demonstrate your genuine care and concern.

4. Encourage Others.

 When we praise and encourage others we can sometimes kick-start a positive spiral of behavior in that person. Positive reinforcement is always helpful to a person who is thinking they are either stuck or will never get out of the circumstances they are in at that moment.

5. Express Yourself.

Don’t assume that because you’re dealing with someone else’s strong emotions, your own emotions have no place in the interaction. Match your facial expressions to your felt emotions to let another person know you understand what they are going through. A sincere smile often works wonders. It is also okay to show sadness by crying or to laugh without reservation. A good laugh can be incredibly healing.

6. Show Kindness.

Give your kindness away without expecting anything back. Kindness is contagious. the person you are being kind to benefits through your help and you’ll feel good for having helped someone. The world is made better through your kindness.

7. Respect Privacy.

Be attentive to someone’s personal privacy. Protect their dignity. Shut the door, pull the curtain, and don’t gossip. Remember that sometimes people just need to go for a walk or see a movie with a friend. Be ready to listen when they want to talk, but also offer a different kind of interaction if they don’t want to talk about the hard stuff.

8. Learn How To Advocate.

An advocate is a person who speaks up for and defends the rights of another person by helping them communicate their needs in a challenging situation (such as a hospital visit). To effectively advocate, you must actively listen to what your friend needs and communicate in an assertive and respectful manner to help them take advantage of resources in your community.

9. Volunteer.

Cultivate compassion through volunteer service. Volunteering connects you to others, giving you the opportunity to make new friends and increase your social skills. Spending time helping people is good for your body, mind, and soul.

10. Consider Your Words.

Think before you speak. At its heart, compassion is about paying attention to the present moment with a loving attitude. Simple things like turning off your cell phone during a personal encounter or sending a thank-you note after someone has you over for dinner can go a long way.

Compassion arises through empathy and is characterized by actions. The simple act of showing compassion can make a world of difference in someone’s day (and in yours!). You don’t need to wait for a crisis to practice compassion, either. Try smiling at a stranger today.

Author Bio
Laurie Squillaci is an RN MSN, and an instructor in the Medical Specialties program at California College San Diego.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Student Poetry on Being a Global Citizen

Yesterday's The Daily Prism featured a website that offers ways educators can bring compassion into a classroom.  A Baltimore teacher read the post and shared this:  

At the end of this school year I had my 7th grade World Cultures students write poems about what it means to be a responsible global citizen. I had the privilege of teaching many of these kids in my 6th grade World Cultures class the previous year. We have learned a lot about the interconnectedness between people on our planet, and that there is a delicate balance between human behavior and the consequences they bring. This was a special group of kids who give me hope for our global future.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Seeds of Compassion Designed for Educators

Editor's note:  Let's face it, the news stinks! So, this week The Daily Prism will seek to bring the sweetness of a rose to each post and feature groups, individuals, and academics devoted to bringing more compassion in to our world.  Please read our opinion piece:  Nourishing Compassion Seeds

Seeds of Compassion came about through a collaboration of the Kirlin Foundation and the Venerable Tenzin Dhonden to focus world attention on the following:

• Our communities need thoughtful, creative adults who are actively engaged citizens.
• Our global society needs people equipped to communicate across cultures and address differences through understanding and collaborative problem solving.
• These qualities must take root in early childhood.
• When children build from strong foundations emotionally, socially and cognitively, they can develop into compassionate adults.

Seeds of Compassion invites everyone who is passionate about early childhood education to join our movement.
--From Seeds of Compassion website

Friday, July 8, 2016

Citizen Scientists Study Summer Heat in Harlem

C. Coimbra photo

NEW YORK, NY -- A pioneering news initiative this summer will bring together a unique team of non-profit journalism and community partners to investigate how summer heat affects the health of residents of the Harlem section of Manhattan and to explore ways to build community resilience.

The Harlem Heat Project will use heat-and-humidity sensors to capture hard-to-access indoor air conditions with the help of a crew of community-based citizen scientists. These “ambassadors” will also gather updates about residents via a mobile app. Reporters will document the process and the results in multiple installments over the summer.
More people die of extreme heat in this country every year than in hurricanes and other natural disasters combined. Many heat-death victims are elderly and poor, and their deaths occur behind closed doors, out of the view of public agencies and the media.

… Radio station WNYC Senior Editor Matthew Schuerman, one of the team’s leaders, “The Harlem Heat Project will be one important way to get into those hot stuffy rooms where that population lives, document the dangers they face through crowd-sourced data, and identify ways to reduce the risks.”

The heat and humidity sensor is being developed and prototyped by WNYC’s Data News Editor John Keefe. “We’re using do-it-yourself hobby electronics, and documenting our process along the way, so that anyone could replicate this project in their own community,” Keefe said.
The project expects to gather insights directly from the citizen science ambassadors and participating community members through a new phone app developed by iSeeChange and NASA. The iSeeChange Tracker app newly released on iTunes, as well as the mobile website, allow community members to contribute directly to the Harlem Heat Project’s urban heat investigation.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Power of Awe and PTSD

Nature's beauty often inspires a feeling of awe.
Editor's Note: Do you feel awe when looking out over the Grand Canyon, lying beneath the stars on a clear desert night, looking straight up on a thousand-year-old tree?  The following notes on the study of awe and how it impacts us for the greater good is excerpted and edited for The Daily Prism's format. Click this link: The Benefits of Feeling Awe, to read the complete story.

Two researchers, Craig Anderson and Linda Saunders, have combined an online platform called Project Awe, which gathers stories and records of awe-inspiring experiences, with studies in the lab and out in nature.

Their in-the-wild experiments have brought groups of Bay Area high schoolers and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan—now all students at UC Berkeley—on white-water rafting trips along the South Fork of the American River. Their goal: to understand how the experience might affect their well-being—and perhaps even alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Saunders is a Marine veteran who served in Iraq in 2009-2010, and then in Afghanistan three years later. In between tours, she became the mother of twins, who are now five years old. She went straight from Afghanistan to UC Berkeley in 2014 to start studying environmental science.

"What is awe?"

Craig Anderson: Awe happens when you encounter something so vast that you don’t feel like you wrap your mind around it completely, right at that moment. So, awe could involve experiences of profound beauty, or feeling super-connected to other people or to nature or to humanity as a whole.

Awe is a response to things that are perceptually vast, that we don’t fully understand at the moment. This makes it a very unique emotion. We find behaviors associated with awe that are adaptive in situations that are super novel, like trying to connect with other people or just being curious. When faced with something that blows your mind, you want to find out more information.

...We are finding that across the board participants (veterans in the Awe Project, river rafting)  report that they’re getting along better with their family and friends, they are feeling more connected to their community— all those things we would call social well-being.

We are also seeing a decrease in self-reported PTSD symptoms, which we measure in both adolescents we’ve studied and in the military veterans. The adolescents we take out on these rafting trips are from underserved communities in the Bay Area. Many of them actually exhibit PTSD symptoms as well. For both groups, we see a decrease in self-reported PTSD and also stress levels, and people are saying that they are sleeping better as well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Power of Youth Philanthropy Efforts

A new website aims to highlight the grant-making prowess of a surprising set of philanthropists: children and teenagers., a project of the Foundation Center, compiles data on young people who directly oversee the distribution of money to nonprofits. So far the project has documented more than $14.7 million in grant funding since 2001 — and that is likely a low estimate, says Jen Bokoff, director of knowledge services for Foundation Center.

The site defines youths as people ages 8 to 30, but most of the data comes from people 8- to 21-year-olds, according to the center.

Only a small fraction of these young people are privileged children giving away family money. Rather, they are mostly youths who participate in institutional grant-making programs that give money for a variety of causes, often related to serving their peers.

"My observation of young people deliberating grants is that adults have a lot to learn from them," Ms. Bokoff says. "They’re doing site visits so much smarter, listening to each other in the boardroom, and talking about how a budget is structured."

The new site, which has case studies, a program directory, and an interactive funding map, is designed to underscore the substantive nature of youth-driven grant making and inspire both kids and adults to learn more about the burgeoning movement.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Incentives and Human Reaction

Editor's Note:  This brief take from Can You Incentivize Generosity, is a report on a fascinating study.  To read the complete story, click the link at the bottom of this page.
In "The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens", author Samuel Bowles argues that most economists are way behind the curve in understanding what motivates people to behave honestly, fairly, and generously in economic interactions. Bowles, a behavioral economist at the Santa Fe Institute, reveals fascinating new research on economic decision making and encourages us to rethink the ways we design our workplaces and our communities.
How incentives affect our behavior
Bowles provides ample evidence in his authoritative book that the model of Homo economicus doesn’t bear out in real life. For example, in one study, when preschools instituted a fine for every minute parents were late in picking up their kids, parents responded by being late more often, not less. In another study, toddlers who had avidly and spontaneously helped someone in need helped less when given a toy as a reward.
Bowles suggests that incentives like these—rewards and punishments—often fail because they send an unintended message. In the first case, imposing fines for lateness implied that lateness was expected and okay, as long as parents paid; in the second case, rewards sent the message that altruism is something you do for reward, not because it’s inherently gratifying. Incentives can overwhelm people’s good intentions, says Bowles, leading to unexpected outcomes.
“Motives such as reciprocity, generosity, and trust are common, and these preferences may be crowded out by the use of explicit incentives,” he writes. People behave differently than one might expect from economic theories of human nature.
Incentives may cause people to think in terms of cost-benefit calculations, rather than acting on natural goodwill. In one study, participant “investors” were given the opportunity to transfer money to “trustees,” who then received triple that amount and could give some back to investors. When trustees were told that investors could impose a fine if they didn’t return part of the gift, the trustee actually gave back less to the investor. In other words, imposing punishments to prevent the participants from being self-interested served only to crowd out their natural generous instincts. In addition, if the investor declined the right to impose a fine, and the trustee was aware of that choice, the trustee appreciatively gave back more to the investor than in the initial scenario.

Friday, July 1, 2016

LA City Council Approves Bond To Fight Homelessness

Public Domain Photo

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to place a $1.2 billion bond measure before voters to raise money to fight homelessness.

The council voted 14-0 to put a measure on the November ballot to provide a decade’s worth of money for shelters, permanent housing, drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services to the homeless. It also would provide affordable housing to poor people in danger of becoming homeless, ranging from the elderly to battered women and their children.

Los Angeles is struggling to deal with a surging homeless population, now estimated at 27,000.

“Every night in Los Angeles, tens of thousands of Angelenos — men, women, children, veterans, and seniors — sleep on our streets,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement praising the council decision. “This crisis is pervasive, it endangers public health and stifles economic prosperity.”

“As we continue working on regional solutions with state and county officials, we must seize this moment — and we’ll need everyone’s help,” the mayor said.

The cost of repaying the bonds would fall on property owners, who on average would pay an extra $40 to $80 a year in taxes, according to city estimates.

Click here to read the entire story from The Washington Post