Monday, July 24, 2017

Heal the Wounds of War in Syria

Former Templeton High School grad working in a refugee camp for Syrians
Several years ago, a then recent high school graduate from a local high school (Templeton, CA), opened my eyes to the tragedy of Syria and other nations undergoing endless war and the subsequent refugee issues.  This young man has no chips in this game of resolving the refugee issue, just inspiration. The issues have grown, and countries like Syria are desperate for good souls to help those caught in the Neanderthal quest for power, conquest and war.

Fortunately, brave people around the world have gathered up their compassion and put it to work every day.  From a recent note from Unify:

Today we invite you to UNIFY with us on a mission of global importance. Our campaign is intended to heal the wounds of war in Syria.  

We begin our efforts with global synchronized prayers and meditations to support the rise of peace and healing within us and all around us. We will transform this unified prayer into concrete "on the ground" assistance for children, mothers and families torn apart by this war.  

We invite you to watch our short film "Hope In Syria" and visit our website with complete details on our campaign efforts and the various ways you can join us, unify with our global partners, participate, and make a difference in the lives of those most in need of help.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Baltimore Program for Students Makes a Difference

Thread photo
Thread engages underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. We foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens.

Compelling Student Success
Thread engages students in the bottom 25% of their freshman class and radically and permanently reconfigures their social support structure. Each student is matched with a group of volunteers and provided individualized support for ten years while working toward realizing his or her potential.

  • 87% of students who have been in Thread for 5 years have graduated high school
  • 84% of students who have been in Thread for 5 years have been accepted to college
  • 86% of student alumni have completed a 4 or 2 year degree or certificate program
--From the Thread website






Thursday, July 20, 2017

Study Show Connection Between Generosity and Happiness


...a  study published in Nature Communications suggests we should treat others—or just think about being generous—if we want to feel happier.

Researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland told 50 participants they would receive $100 over the course of a few weeks. Half of these people were told to spend the money on themselves while the other half were told to spend it on a friend. Before they received the money, participants were asked to think about who they would spend the money on and how much they’d likely spend. The researchers then scanned regions of participants’ brains associated with “social behavior, generosity, happiness and decision-making” using MRI machines  ... While their brains were being scanned, participants also completed a decision-making task where they could "behave more or less generously," according to the study.

Previous studies have shown that being generous can lead to physical and mental perks, but the goal of this study was to see if simply committing to future generosity could yield similar benefits.

... The researchers found that depending on how they'd been directed to spend the money, participants’ brain activity and decisions changed: those who were told to spend the money on someone else were more likely to make generous decisions on the tasks throughout the experiment compared to the “treat yourself” group. 

The generous group also showed more interaction between the brain regions linked to altruism and happiness ... Plus, generous participants reported being happier once the experiment was over ...

... It's important to note that the researchers aren’t sure if these results hold true if your only motivation is to make yourself happier. Meaning just thinking about doing something nice for another person could make you feel good, but it’s in your best interest to actually follow through on that thought .

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Intentions: A Positive Starting Point


While the original intention of The Daily Prism was/is to focus on the good that occurs daily, helping each other grow in good, advice from leaders in the positive movement does fit into this blog's intention. It's a natural growth as we ride out this cycle of time.

The following is a lightly edited (for space) post by Deepak Chopra, MD, "5 Steps to Setting Powerful Intentions."

Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love.

Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention. When I decide to buy a birthday present, wiggle my toes, or call a friend, it all starts with intention.

In my book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, the Law of Intention and Desire lays out the five steps for harnessing the power of intention to create anything you desire.

1. Slip into the Gap
Most of the time our mind is caught up in thoughts, emotions, and memories. Beyond this noisy internal dialogue is a state of pure awareness that is sometimes referred to as “the gap.” One of the most effective tools we have for entering the gap is meditation. Meditation takes you beyond the ego-mind into the silence and stillness of pure consciousness. This is the ideal state in which to plant your seeds of intention

2. Release Your Intentions and Desires
Once you’re established in a state of restful awareness, release your intentions and desires. The best time to plant your intentions is during the period after meditation, while your awareness remains centered in the quiet field of all possibilities. After you set an intention, let it go—simply stop thinking about it. Continue this process for a few minutes after your meditation period each day.

3. Remain Centered in a State of Restful Awareness
Intention is much more powerful when it comes from a place of contentment than if it arises from a sense of lack or need. Stay centered and refuse to be influenced by other people’s doubts or criticisms. Your higher self knows that everything is all right and will be all right, even without knowing the timing or the details of what will happen.

4. Detach from the Outcome
Relinquish your rigid attachment to a specific result and live in the wisdom of uncertainty. Attachment is based on fear and insecurity, while detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of your true Self. Intend for everything to work out as it should, then let go and allow opportunities and openings to come your way.

5. Let the Universe Handle the Details
Your focused intentions set the infinite organizing power of the universe in motion. Trust that infinite organizing power to orchestrate the complete fulfillment of your desires. Don’t listen to the voice that says that you have to be in charge, that obsessive vigilance is the only way to get anything done. The outcome that you try so hard to force may not be as good for you as the one that comes naturally. You have released your intentions into the fertile ground of pure potentiality, and they will bloom when the season is right.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Four Thoughts About the Art of Kindness


With a concerted effort of living with kindness, it is possible that this current flood of discontent would subside.

The following four thoughts of developing and living with more kindness is an edited version (for space) of the original post "A Bouquet of Kindness Practices."

Visualize Loving Kindness

"Practice these two visualization exercises daily. Wake up each morning and stand in front of a mirror, seeing your body as the incarnate Name of God. As you go about your day, see everyone and everything as the Name as well. Listen for your angel announcing your true nature, and listen for the angels of others doing the same. In time you will break up the hard-packed soil of the narrow mind and plant in it the seeds of lovingkindness that will soon grow and awaken in you the spacious mind that is your holy and most true self."

Serve Others with Kindness

"A rabbi I know devotes one day a week to simply being of service. She gets up in the morning and dedicates the day to God. She then leaves her home for the city close by and wanders about looking for ways to be of service to others. 'I have no plan for the day, other than to be present to what needs doing and to do those things I can without pride or prejudice. Sometimes I will find myself helping someone move into or out of an apartment, or sitting with the homeless, or walking tourists to their destination. The idea is to be free of any idea other than to serve, to befriend, to be kind."

Be Kind in Speech

"Avoiding hurtful speech has as much to do with how you say something as it does with what you wish to say: Keep it simple; stick to what you know to be true; and move on."


Preserve Kindness

"How do we preserve kindness? We preserve kindness the way we preserve any other value we cherish — we tell stories about it. Preserving kindness means telling stories of loving kindness from your past, but not only your personal past. Working this attribute means exploring your family history to find stories of loving kindness. Talk with relatives and explore your collective memories to sift out these tales. They may be small incidents of kindness that were largely unnoticed at the time, but which, in hindsight, are the stuff of kindness tales. When you find these stories, share them. The more you tell them, the more kindness will take root.

"One of the best ways to practice preserving kindness is to create a ethical will. Writing an ethical will is a centuries-old Jewish practice that is making a comeback among Jews and others. Originally an oral tradition, with parents passing on their values, blessings, life lessons, and forgiveness to their children, ethical wills have been committed to writing for the past one thousand years."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Loving while Hating Your Partner -- 7 Relationship Survival Steps



It's true, we can't always love the one with are with all the time. Sometimes partners just get on your nerves.  But if we can't always love the one we are with, what steps can we take to make sure those moments of not loving, are pastuerised to remove any lingering toxins?  The following is a severely reduced take of a post from the Greater Good Magazine,  "What to Do When You Hate the One You Love."

Have you ever hated your partner?

You are not alone: It turns out that almost all of us have times when we strongly dislike the people we love the most—although some of us may not even realize it.

In a series of studies, Vivian Zayas and Yuichi Shoda found that people don’t just love or hate significant others. They love and hate them—and that’s normal. The key to getting through the inevitable hard times, as my own research suggests, is to never stop trying to understand where your partner is coming from.

So how do you increase understanding during conflict? Here are seven suggestions for how to think and act to do so.

  1. Instead of asserting your own point of view, try to take your partner’s perspective. Make it your goal to understand why your partner feels the way they do.
  2. Avoid the four horsemen of the apocalypse—criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
  3. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Assume that their intentions are not malicious.
  4. Take a moment to reflect on your partner’s positive traits. You can even try some gratitude-inducing techniques.
  5. Think of you and your partner as a team, rather than opponents. Your goal is to figure out together why you do not see eye-to-eye and find a solution; it is not to win the fight and prove your partner wrong.
  6. Recognize that it won’t always be easy to follow these suggestions, especially if your partner isn’t playing by the same rules.
  7. Give yourself a mantra to repeat when you start feeling angry to help you remember your goal—even something as simple as “be understanding.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

10 Positive Statements for a Better World


Regardless of one's belief-system, these 10 statements spoken within or aloud, may help lessen the daily challenges and bring a more positive attitude to brighten the world.  The following was written by Jean Houston, Ph.D., a scholar, philosopher and researcher in Human Capacities.

Say aloud and in your heart’s mind (and mind’s heart) the following:

  1. I live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future. I know that with quantum practice I have access to entering and making whatever changes I wish in the worlds of past and future, for I live in the eternal present.
  2.  I cultivate the art of making connections—cosmic connections, local connections. I pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life. I become the friend of nature and preserve her beauty and harmony wherever and whenever I can.
  3.  I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. I spell out my days with the grammar of gratitude. I speak forth my gratitude: “Thank you for this food and all who worked to bring it forth. Thank you, Grandma, wherever you are, for teaching me how to cook.”
  4. I practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the other is shunned. I see no one as other. I welcome guests and even people with very different ideas from mine with graciousness, with deep seeing of the fullness and wonder of the other.
  5.  I seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world, a world that works for everyone.
  6.  I add to the planet’s fund of goodwill by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.
  7.  I cultivate the skills of deep listening. I will cross the great divide of otherness. I remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside of me.
  8. I practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world. Everything exists within the field of the sacred.
  9.  I give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I listen to what my shadow side says, but I will not just live there. I know that I am releasing many of these old forms, these old shadows, and I am bringing in light to banish shadow and to bring me into luminous light and life.
  10. I am willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

First Step to Happiness: Gratitude





The following is an excerpt from "Three Things I Learned from Teaching Happiness" by
Emiliana Simon-Thomas 

Whenever I teach the science of happiness, I try to leave people with something they can do right after they walk out of the room. Often the simplest, most accessible message is gratitude. Feeling grateful fosters a more accurate understanding of happiness, strengthening our social connections and motivating us to engage and give back to others. Gratitude is often a theme of mindfulness practices, and is squarely focused on the role that others play in our own life’s goodness. Reflecting upon and expressing gratitude is an exercise in capitalizing on enjoyment, building trust, and softening self-focus; we acknowledge what is good and attribute the source of that goodness to others, and this can help anyone avoid the common pitfalls of pursuing happiness.

How can we get better at expressing gratitude? Try this: when thanking someone,
1) say what they did that you are thankful for,
2) acknowledge the effort it took for them to do this, and
3) describe how it was good for you.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Morning Prayer


Cholla Garden Sunrise

Prayer for the Morning

by Audette Fulbright Fulson


Did you rise this morning,
broken and hung over
with weariness and pain
and rage tattered from waiting to lawn in a brutal wind?
Get up, child.
Pull your bones upright
gather your skin and muscle into a patch of sun,
Draw breath deep into your lungs;
you will need it
for another day calls to you.
I know you ache.
I know you wish the work were done
and you
with everyone you have ever loved
were on a distant shore
safe, and unafraid.
But remember this,
tired as you are:
you are not alone.
Here
and here
and here also
there are others weeping
and rising
and gathering their courage.
You belong to them
and they you
and together,
we will break through
and bend the art of justice
ll the way down
into their lives.


By Audette Fulson, an ordained Unitarian minister in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Solace for Sidney. Fighting Childhood Cancer

Sidney, an 11-year-old fighting childhood cancer 


There are days when we are so caught up in the world's hoopla of politics and crazy-humanity, that we don't always capture the moments when humanity takes charge and people walk away from political discourse, name calling, war-zones, and all that stuff that is truly temporary and nothing more than humans behaving badly. Today is one of those days. The news is grim and the players and their puppets take the spotlight when they should be reduced to nothing more than dust.  Today, real people with real world issues have stepped up to ask for help and support for the children and the families of children dealing with childhood cancer.

Let's dump the divisiveness and work for our greater good, which includes our children, as exampled in this recent Go Fund Me project, Solace for Sidney.

From the Go Fund Me page:

Solace means to provide comfort in a time of distress or sadness. Imagine being 11 years old and having to face cancer not once, not twice, but three times in your life? Sidney is an AMAZING 11 year old girl who beat Leukemia twice, but has tragically just learned that she has two inoperable brain tumors. Despite all of her challenges, Sidney has remained a light in the world. As the family is forced to once again make heart wrenching decisions, they want to continue to give Sidney opportunities and experiences that will bring joy to her life. Sidney is legally blind from treatments, but that does not keep her from attending music and theater events and amusement parks. We are hoping that through this fundraising, it can help provide financial relief for the family so they can plan special events that they will treasure and remember forever. 

Sidney was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in June of 2007 and completed treatment in August of 2009. After a great year of getting to be a normal kid, she relapsed in August of 2010.  She had a leukemic tumor in her brain that was wrapping itself around her optic nerve, and small leukemic masses all around the outside of her brain and spine.   After several treatments, her end result was limited vision in her left eye (3/200) and her right eye was totally blind. Anything further than 2-3 feet from her face she cannot see. Sidney was getting adapted to her new life with blindness.  Now after seven years, Sidney is back in the cancer world for the third time with tumors that are high-grade, aggressive gliomas. Radiation will begin after the July 4th holiday and go for 6-7 weeks. After that it will be up to her family to determine next steps.  

Help us relieve the financial burden from Sidney’s family so they can focus on what matters most: providing solace for Sidney during this time of distress.

Please see Sidney's CaringBridge site for updates: 
Sidney's CaringBridge Site Updates 

From the page by Sidney's mother:

From Sidney's CaringBridge: 
I’m sorry I’ve been silent for the past 3 weeks. I don’t know what to say. My thoughts are a constant stream of 
“Is this real?” 
“What are we going to do?” 
“Am I doing right by Sidney?”
“How am I supposed to make these decisions?
“Try to be positive Jackie”
“Screw ‘positive’, this sucks”
“How do I DO this?”
“It’s worse this time than ever before”
“What if…”
But in person I’m a constant stream of
“Sidney is feeling good today!”
“She had some good moments today”
“We’re all good on our end today, thank you!”
“Sid is going to kick cancer’s ass!”
“We’re focusing on the good times!”

Because what am I supposed to say? I know I can say whatever I’m feeling…but what I’m feeling is pretty negative and I just refuse to live my life negatively every day. And I refuse to teach Sidney to live negatively…even though she has every right at this moment to live that way! So…I think fearfully every single day but I live positively each day (well, most days I try to! Just ask my fianc√© Jared, I’m not perfect at this but I do try!). Because it’s a choice. And I’m hoping it rubs off on Sid so she can get through as much of this with a smile as she can.

Sidney starts 30 rounds of targeted radiation today. She will go to the hospital every week day for the next 6 weeks for radiation and take an oral chemotherapy at night. Doctors tell us this course of action will slow down the growth of the tumors but will not eradicate them. We are told the tumors will never be eradicated and that more tumor growth is likely. We aren’t just sitting around accepting that diagnosis but it’s still a tough one to hear.

At this moment, Sidney is struggling emotionally more than anything. She is 11-years-old and she isn’t stupid. We’ve told her she has brain tumors and that she had surgery so the doctors could look at the tumors and remove some of it. We’ve told her that she is doing radiation to shrink the tumors. We’ve told her that the tumors are pushing on parts of her brain that cause her vision to get fuzzy, that cause her speech to get slurred, that cause her to run into walls when she walks, that caused the facial seizures, that cause her to feel wonky. We’ve told her that all the medication she is taking is to help the swelling in her brain and to help her not have seizures anymore. She understands all of that.

What she doesn’t understand is why everyone is making such a big deal of it. She says, “Why are people so worried about me? People make such a big deal of me being sick. It’s not a big deal, especially for someone like me. I’ll just get better, I always do.” And she’s right. She always has. This time there is just so much uncertainty and there is just not a reason right now to burden Sidney with that uncertainty. After all, she’s only 11. But she has had so many visitors, so many phone calls, so many gifts that she is confused about why she’s getting all that attention. (I am so thankful and humbled by all that attention, it’s honestly wonderful!) We are just trying to figure out how to balance that line between telling Sidney enough so that she understands, but not so much to scare her. So far we’re just doing the best we can.

So that’s where we are at the moment. I’ll end this by saying thank you to all who are praying. I have been struggling to pray because I just don’t know what to pray for. I want to pray for His will but I get so distracted and I just can’t finish one single prayer. He is a constant in my thoughts, but I continue to struggle to put my thoughts into prayer. So, those of you who are praying, thank you.
Jackie

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sidney/journal



Friday, July 7, 2017

4 Steps to Increase Your Altruism (& a Quiz too!)



Want to discover new ways to boost your habits of helping? Here are some tips and exercises:


  • Fill a day with kindness. According to research, acts of kindness have a bigger impact on our happiness when we perform them all at once, rather than sporadically. Pack one day a week with five acts of kindness, such as feeding a stranger's parking meter, donating blood, helping a friend with a chore, or providing a meal to a person in need.
  • Get connected.We’re more likely to behave altruistically when we feel close and connected to others. To bolster those feelings, try the Feeling Connected practice, where you reflect and write about a moment when you feel very connected to someone. Also consider adding reminders of connectedness to your home or work space.
  • Feel good about giving. Not all giving is creating equal. When we give in ways that not only help others but also make us feel good, we’re more likely to make giving a habit. Research has found that the most happiness-inducing acts of giving don’t feel like an obligation, and they allow us to connect with others and see the impact of our help. So consider choosing activities where you get to spend time with recipients—like helping a friend move or volunteering at a soup kitchen—or donate to charities that clearly explain where your money is going.
  • Visualize and reflect on giving. According to Stephen Post, we can expand our everyday habits of generosity with a few simple exercises, including journaling about the ways we give to others and receive gifts from them, and visualizing how we could help people we encounter on a daily basis.

TAKE AN ALTRUISM QUIZ AND DISCOVER WHERE YOU STAND WHEN IT COMES TO HELPING OTHERS:    ALTRUISM QUIZ


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Transform Your Words



The Daily Prism has extracted a few paragraphs on words from an essay, Transform Your Words in 4 Steps written by Tony Robbins:


  • If somebody asks you, “How’s it going?” instead of saying, “Okay,” what would be a word that might put a smile on your face to even say, that would break your own pattern? Like, “You wouldn’t even believe how I’m feeling!” with a smile, to be playful with yourself. Or a simple response like “I’m committed” or “I’m lucky” or “I’m grateful.” And then take a moment to think about what you are grateful for. We often lose sight of what’s beautiful in our life because of a few things that are out of line with our expectations.
  • Write down three words you currently use on a regular basis that intensify your negative feelings or emotions. Maybe you use words like “I’m frustrated,” “I’m depressed,” or “I’m humiliated.” Come up with alternative words that will lower the intensity of those negative emotions. Maybe instead of “depressed” you say you are “a little bit down.”
  • What would happen if instead of saying you feel “humiliated” you say you are “uncomfortable” with how the situation was dealt with? You can soften emotional intensity even further by using modifiers like “I’m just a bit peeved,” or, “I’m feeling a tad out of sorts.”
  • Write down three words that you use to describe your experience that is somewhat positive. When someone says, “how’s it going?” come up with three alternative words that will amplify and intensify the positive feelings and inspire you. Instead of talking about how things are “all right,” replace those words with “incredible,” “outrageous,” and “spectacular.” What’s a positive word that if you really thought about your whole life, you could say and own congruently?
  • By carefully and consciously selecting the words you are attaching to your experiences and doing it for a ten-day period, you’ll find an immediate change in how you feel and this becomes positively addictive. I can tell you for those who have lived this ten-day plan,

Friday, June 30, 2017

Chef's Legacy Inspires a Charitable Project



Charlie Trotter’s spirit of mentorship and giving back to the community lives on through The Trotter Project—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created in part by our Founding President Chef Homaro Cantu and supported by Chef Trotter's mother Dona-Lee, sister Anne, brothers Scott and Tom, and his son Dylan, along with countless alumni and friends.

The Trotter Project seeks to unite budding talent interested in the culinary arts, along with the hospitality and service industries, through a variety of mentorship programs designed to educate and inspire. Our programs inspire the next generation of talent, propel careers and build community through our partnerships with:


  • ProStart Program – The Trotter Project and ProStart Mentor Menu program in all 50 states and U.S. military bases in Europe and Asia, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
  • Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) – Paid fall and summer internships for under-served high school students in Arizona, Illinois, Virginia, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.
  • After School Matters – Six-week paid summer internships for at-risk high school teens in Chicago.
  • Fundraising events – Seasonal events and celebrations of Chef Trotter’s legacy. Proceeds go toward funding our mentorship programs, operations and maintaining the site of the original Charlie Trotter's restaurant and studio as a hub for youth engagement and events. 

Charlie Trotter the chef changed the world of cooking through his Michelin-starred restaurant. Charlie Trotter the teacher had an even broader reach as a mentor who fostered a generation of world-class chefs, while also welcoming high school students into his kitchen to learn the art of excellence in service.

Chef Trotter opened his namesake restaurant in 1987. During its 25-year tenure, the kitchen welcomed over 800 aspiring cooks. Many cite Charlie Trotter for cultivating the discipline, skill and curiosity integral to their culinary careers. These include Bill Kim, Matthias Merges, David LeFevre, Mindy Segal, Giuseppe Tentori, Christian Ramos, Michael Taus,  David Myers, Jesse Dunford-Wood and many more from across the country and around the world who have each gone on to open their own successful restaurants.

Charlie Trotter the knowledge center lives on as a hub for youth engagement, programming and events. None of this is possible without generous donations from lovers of the culinary community who believe, like Chef Trotter, “One of the most beautiful things that I can do for you—or that any one of us can do for another—is to serve each other.” 
--from the Trotter Project webpage

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beer Company Commits to Clean Oceans with Grant Offer

The CODE

Clean Oceans Depend on Everyone


Alaskan Brewing Co. has committed 1% of all proceeds from Alaskan Icy Bay IPA to support the cleanup of waterways and coastlines in an initiative call the Coastal CODE (Clean Oceans Depend on Everyone). The Coastal CODE provides grants to organizations and activities that promote the health of the Ocean and the waterways that lead to it, the Coastal CODE Fund grants money to projects that promote: beach, lake or waterway cleanup activities or water habitat restoration.

Interested in applying?

Download the Coastal CODE Application, which details the application and selection process, as well as grant reporting requirements.

Grant requests and inquiries should be directed to info@alaskanbeer.com

The Coastal CODE Advisory Committee chooses a select group of non-profits to work with each year. The Committee meets once a year to make granting decisions. The proposal deadline to be qualified for the coming year’s partnership is September 1.


Making a difference, one beer at a time


Since the creation of the Coastal CODE in 2007, over 1 million pounds of trash have been removed from cleanup efforts made possible by the CODE and thousands of volunteers. Beaches and waterways from Alaska to California and now the Gulf to the Midwest can all benefit from this beer with a cause.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Groups Now Taking Grant Applications for National Funding

The United Soccer Foundation is one of the many organizations now taking grant applications. C. Coimbra photo
The current newsletter from The Grant Station, a webpage that lists available grants from foundations, corporations, governments, etc., list the following available grant to apply for. Grants range from proposals for program that support a just society, education, health, and safe playgrounds for children.


National Funding
Current Opportunities Throughout the U.S.

Support for Community Organizing for Social Change in the U.S. and Canada
Unitarian Universalist Association: Fund for a Just Society 
The Fund for a Just Society, a program of the Unitarian Universalist Association, provides grants to nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada that address issues of social and economic justice. The Fund supports organizations that use community organizing to bring about systemic change leading to a more just society and to mobilize with those who have been disenfranchised and excluded from resources, power, and the right to self-determination. Priority is given to active, specific campaigns to create change in the economic, social, and political structures that affect their lives. Consideration is given to projects that are less likely to receive conventional funding because of the innovative or challenging nature of the work or the economic and social status of the constituency. The maximum grant amount is $15,000; however, most grants range between $6,000 and $8,000. Requests are reviewed two times per year; the next application deadline is September 15, 2017. Visit the Unitarian Universalist Association website to review the funding guidelines.

K-12 Parent-School Collaborative Projects Funded
Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant Program
The Toolbox for Education Grant Program, offered by Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, provides grants of up to $5,000 to public K-12 schools, as well as school parent-teacher groups associated with public schools, throughout the United States that develop projects to encourage parent involvement and build stronger community spirit. Preference is given to funding requests that have a permanent impact such as facility enhancement (both indoor and outdoor), landscaping, or cleanup projects. The Fall 2017 grant cycle will open on August 7. Visit the program’s website during the grant cycle to submit an online application.

Grants Address HIV/AIDS Issues in Local Communities
Kent Richard Hofmann Foundation
The Kent Richard Hofmann Foundation is dedicated to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Grant requests from throughout the United States are considered, with particular interest in smaller communities and rural areas. The Foundation supports community-based nonprofit organizations that focus on HIV/AIDS care and direct services, education, or research. Grants are provided to developing or established programs, with emphasis on those that provide direct benefit to clients or target audiences. Requests are reviewed two times per year. The upcoming deadline for letters of inquiry is September 1, 2017; invited grant applications will be due September 22, 2017. Visit the Foundation’s website to submit an online letter of inquiry.

Soccer Field-Building Initiatives Supported
United States Soccer Foundation: Safe Places to Play Grants
The United States Soccer Foundation is dedicated to enhancing, assisting, and growing the sport of soccer in the U.S., with a special emphasis on underserved communities. The Foundation's Safe Places to Play Grants are provided for field-building initiatives in four categories: Synthetic Turf, Lighting, Irrigation, and Sport Court. Eligible applicants include community organizations, schools, municipalities, and other groups that offer soccer opportunities to youth. Requests for Safe Places to Play Grants are reviewed three times per year. The upcoming deadline for letters of interest for the 2017 Fall Grant Cycle is September 29; invited applications must be submitted by October 6. Visit the Foundation's website to learn more about the application process.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Tech Applications for the Greater Good



Predictions for the potential of artificial intelligence wax poetic — solutions from climate change to curing disease — but the everyday applications make it seem far more mundane, like a glorified clock radio.

Thankfully, the future may be closer than we think. And the miraculous feats are not happening in Silicon Valley X-Labs — in a plot twist, nonprofits are leading the charge in creating human-centered applications of the hottest AI technologies. From the simplest automated communications to contextual learnings based on analysis of deep data, these technologies have the potential to rapidly scale and improve the lives of our most underserved communities.

Chatbots
Take chatbots for example, a new spin on mobile messaging that has historically been human-powered. Organizations like mRelief have for years used simple mobile messaging to meet users where they’re at. Recently, tech nonprofits are taking a new approach. Raheem.ai, a Facebook Messenger bot for reporting and rating experiences with police officers, engages with users to walk them through reporting police incidents and provide follow-on support. The interactions are simple, but powerful.

Machine learning
Crisis Text Line still implements a human-to-human volunteer model, but the tech nonprofit has the largest open source database of youth crisis behavior in the country, and has been able to use AI to dramatically shorten response time for high-risk texters from 120 seconds to 39. Crisis Text Line leveraged machine learning to identify the term “ibuprofen” as 16 times more likely to predict the need for emergency aid than the word “suicide.” Now using AI, messages containing the word “ibuprofen” are prioritized in the queue.

Machine learning even allows you to select the energy source that powers your home appliances. WattTime creates software that enables smart hardware devices to prioritize clean energy with a simple flip of a switch. Their product relies on machine learning to detect when to tell smart devices like thermostats to pull from the power grid, based on surges in clean energy. This means your A/C may turn on five minutes earlier or later than it typically would, because the algorithms instruct your utilities to capitalize upon instances of excess clean energy from sources like windmills, thus minimizing the use of dirty power.

Natural-language processing
Quill, a free online tool that helps students measurably improve grammar and writing, discovered that natural-language processing was essential to remedy students’ struggles with sentence fragmentation. Using open source tools and online training programs, Quill’s technical team built its own fragment detection algorithm powered by a combination of machine learning and natural-language processing. Quill’s methodology is exemplary for resource-constrained tech nonprofits. It leveraged Wikipedia to amass a dataset of 100,000 high-quality sentences, integrated the natural-language processing tool Spacy.io to break the sentences down, and incorporated Tensorflow for data classification.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

We Are Connected to Everything


John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) was a Franciscan philosopher and theologian who in many ways paralleled Bonaventure’s ideas. Duns Scotus helped develop the doctrine of the univocity of being. Previous philosophers said God was a Being, which is what most people still think today. Both the Dominican Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and Duns Scotus said Deus est ens, God is being itself. The Dominicans said everything other than God participated in being only by analogy and by attempts to make connections, but it was not really the same being as God’s being. Yet Duns Scotus believed we can speak “with one voice” (univocity) of the being of waters, plants, animals, humans, angels, and God. We all participate in the same being. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), and thus reality is one, as well (Ephesians 4:3-5).

This gives us a foundation for understanding the sacredness of everything and our connection with everything. We are already connected to everything—inherently, objectively, metaphysically, ontologically, and theologically. We don’t create the connection by going to church or reading the Bible, although we hopefully enliven the connection. In Francis’ worldview, we begin with “original blessing,” as Matthew Fox rightly said. Our DNA is already divine; that is why we naturally seek to know and love God. There has to be a little bit of something inside you for you to be attracted to it; like knows like. You are what you are looking for!

A heart transformed by this realization of oneness knows that only love “in here” can spot and enjoy love “over there.” Thus true spiritual teachers see fear, constriction, and resentment as blindness that must be overcome. These emotions impede growth. Thus all mystics are positive people—or they are not mystics. Their spiritual warfare is precisely the work of recognizing and then handing over all of their inner negativity and fear to God. The great paradox here is that such a victory is a gift from God, and yet somehow you must want it very much (Philippians 2:12b-13). God does not come unless invited.

The central practice in Franciscan mysticism, therefore, is that we must remain in love, which is why it is a commandment (John 15:4-5), in fact, the great commandment of Jesus. Only when we are eager to love can we see love and goodness in the world around us. We must ourselves remain in peace, and then we will see and find peace over there. Remain in beauty, and we will honor beauty everywhere. This concept of remaining or abiding (John 15:4-5) moves religion out of esoteric realms of doctrinal outer space where it has for too long been lost. There is no secret moral behavior required for knowing or pleasing God, or what some call “salvation,” beyond becoming a loving person in mind, heart, body, and soul. Then each of us will see all that we need to see!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Photojournalists "Help a Woman -- Help the Planet"

Anni Griffiths photo from Ripple Effect Images

"Annie Griffiths has captured indelible images of life and landscapes in some 150 countries," writes a recent feature in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Those experiences led Griffiths to launch Ripple Effect Images, with the mission "...to harness the power of visual storytelling to help scale solutions for women and girls globally. We identify best practice aid programs and document their innovative solutions. Using our films and images, aid organizations have raised millions of dollars to expand their programs. Ripple’s dynamic photo library is a unique collection of world-class images and video footage that is shared and repurposed in hundreds of ways. The extraordinary Ripple Effect team includes Pulitzer Prize, World Press, Emmy Award, and National Humanities Medal winners. Ripple is dedicated to covering under-reported issues that impact women and girls. Chief among those issues are our Seven Pillars: Water, Food, Health, Education, Energy, Economic Empowerment and Climate Change," states the nonprofit's website

From the Chronicle of Philanthropy,  "Ripple Effect photos and videos have been put to use by global development groups like BRAC to raise $10 million over the five years for sustainable programs that enhance women’s lives."




Friday, June 23, 2017

7 Elements of Leadership


Lolly Daskal, founder of Lead from Within, a global leadership, executive coaching, and consulting firm based in New York City, wrote the following 7 Top Habits of Great Leaders:

  1. The habit of confidence. Confidence is the cornerstone of great leadership. You can learn high-level skills in problem solving, decision making, communication, coaching, mentoring and accountability — but they won’t take you very far if you don’t believe in yourself. Great leaders are called to be decisive, resourceful, competent and unwavering, and self-confidence is the basis for each of those attributes. Confidence is the quality that allows leaders to take action. They may not always be right, but they don’t fear being wrong.
  2. The habit of trusting intuition. Top leaders are able to make tough decisions because they have learned to trust their instincts. One of the keys to great leadership is the ability to be creative, think on the fly and make important judgments decisively and correctly, and intuition fuels those processes. Intuitive leaders don’t ignore data, but they don’t overthink or get stuck on details. They know their intuitive hunches aren’t wild guesses but are grounded in their ability to quickly assess a situation, filtered through their education and experience. Facts represent the science of decision making, and intuition is the art.
  3. The habit of candor. Great leadership is based on honesty and transparency. It requires speaking up about wrongs and making them right — and, on a personal level, being up front about your own weaknesses and mistakes. The habit of candor will never be the easiest path, but it allows for difficult conversations and deep dives into tough issues. Above all, honesty and candor show care and respect for those around you, which is why it’s the first step in establishing a reputation for strength and integrity. Candor is the cornerstone of character.
  4. The habit of courage. Great leaders are willing to make courageous decisions when others shy away. That kind of courage means having the ability to see your fears and the strength to not only face them but move beyond them. When a leader stands up for what they believe in, the effect is multiplied as others are prompted to act in kind. In leadership, courage is at the heart of both action and inspiration.
  5. The habit of integrity. A leader with integrity holds to the highest moral and ethical code in everything they do. Integrity comes about when you’re motivated by deeply held values, and it’s always characterized by reliability and excellence. Part of integrity — literally — is the word grit, which denotes firmness of mind and unyielding character. It takes grit to be true to yourself and the things you believe. In the end, though, it’s worth the effort, because your integrity is central to the legacy you leave behind. Great leaders make integrity a habit because they understand its value.
  6. The habit of trust. Without trust, you can never really have collaboration — only coordination or, at best, cooperation. It is trust that transforms and changes a group of people into a team whose members work together and succeed together. It’s a process best carried out with a great leader, one who understands and demonstrates trust and makes it a habit, one who delivers on promises and is consistent in everything they do. Trust is the most essential ingredient in creating and defining the meaningful relationships that lie at the core of leadership.
  7. The habit of loyalty. Great leaders have a profound sense of loyalty and service to others; they hold their team’s best interests closer than their own. A leader who is seen as loyal, committed, caring and protective has earned credibility and respect. Being loyal to your people is among the greatest virtues a leader can have.


Great leadership — the kind that inspires those around you to change the world — all begins with confidence. Confidence leads to purpose, which guides you toward the right actions. These actions form habits, which in turn determine your character, and your character fixes your destiny as a great leader. No matter where you are on the journey of your leadership, create good habits and you’ll be moving in the right direction.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

YES! A "most dangerous prayer"


by Frederic Brussat.

I have been rereading a book called "Praying Dangerously: Radical Reliance by God" by Regina Sara Ryan. She begins her book with a prayer, and the prayer ends with these words:

Let us say Yes, again and again and again.
and Yes some more.
Let us pray dangerously,
the most dangerous prayer is Yes.

This really resonates with me. I love the word, "yes." My friend and colleague, Naomi King, once told me that since she'd heard the opening of the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word," she has liked to think about what that word might have been. She likes to ask people what they might think that Word was. And I told her, without hesitation, when she asked me, that I think that original Word was, "yes."

There's a poem by the Sufi poet Hafiz that confirms my opinion:

I rarely let the word 'No' escape
From my mouth
"Because it is so plain to my soul
That God has shouted, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'
To every luminous movement in Existence.

It is so easy, and so common, to respond to things with a strong "no." No, I don't know what that would lead to. No, we've never done it like that before. No, there just isn't enough (time, money, energy, what have you). No.

Often this is just our first reaction. Given time to think on things we make our way to seeing how something to which we'd first said "no" might be possible after all. We warm to the idea. But it can take a while.

Yet what if we could find our way to "yes" more quickly? What if our first instinct was to say "yes," and only then take our time to see what we'd just gotten ourselves into? Could our prayer become, "yes"? Could our lives become, "yes"?

Long ago I came across words from Dag Hammarskjöld that I would love to have as my epitaph:

For all that has been —
Thanks.
For all that will be —
Yes.

The most dangerous prayer is "yes."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Today is World Peace Day





On this day of the most light, peace seekers from around the world will join in prayer and meditation during the 22nd Annual World Peace and Prayer Day.

From the website:

World Peace And Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites Day is an international and intergenerational celebration for people of all faiths, nations, races, ages and genders who share concern for the welfare of humanity and the Earth to share in One Prayer.

During World Peace and Prayer Day the honoring ceremonies, invocations and prayers at the main chosen site are observed in collaboration with local indigenous representatives. Wisdom keepers and activists share spiritual insight and discuss important environmental concerns and solutions on both a local and global level.

In addition to a main gathering at a sacred site chosen each year, we ask others to join us at their own sacred sites as well as in their churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of prayer.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Solstice -- A Celebration of Light




Click here for the exact time for Summer Solstice where you live.


On June 21, 2017, many time zones in the Northern Hemisphere welcome the first day of the summer, as the Sun reaches its northernmost position in the sky.

A significant turning point during the year - the days start getting shorter and the nights longer - the June Solstice is often associated with change, nature and new beginnings.

People around the world celebrate the day, which is also known as the Summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, with feasts, bonfires, picnics, and traditional songs and dances.

11 interesting facts about the June Solstice

An Ancient Celebration
Celebrations surrounding the June Solstice have a time-honored history. In ancient times, the date of the June Solstice was used to organize calendars and as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops. Traditionally, this time of year was also popular for weddings.
Stonehenge: An Ancient Calendar Organizing System?

Some historians point to the Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England as evidence of the fact that ancient humans used the June Solstice as a way to organize their calendars. Some believe that Stonehenge's unique stone circle was erected around 2500 BCE in order to establish the date of the Summer Solstice. Viewed from its center, the Sun rises at a particular point on the horizon on day of the June Solstice. Some theories suggest that the builders of Stonehenge may have used the solstice as a starting-point to count the days of the year.

Celebrating Femininity in China
In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the Winter Solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Feasts
In ancient Gaul, which encompasses modern-day France and some parts of its neighboring countries, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona. The celebration was named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses. In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

Honoring the Sun
In North America, some Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the Sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Preparations for the event included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).

Modern day celebrations
In northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, Midsummer is a festive celebration. When the summer days are at their longest, and in the north it is the time of the Midnight Sun, festivals generally celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth. In Sweden and many parts of Finland people dance around Maypoles. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated with flower garlands, greenery, and tree branches.

New Age and Neopagan customs
There are many solstice observances held by New Age and Neopagan groups throughout the world. Thousands of people, including modern-day druids and pagans, usually gather at Stonehenge for this occasion.

In some parts of the United States, events that focus on the theme of the Summer Solstice are held. These events include: local festivals featuring art or music; environmental awareness activities that focus on using natural sunlight as a source of energy; and family gatherings.

--From Time & Date