Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Inspire. "Forest Man of India"

At sunrise each morning, a rare creature begins his mission in life on a remote river island in India. This rare creature, Jadav Payeng, AKA "Forest Man of India," according to a recent NPR report, "... has single-handedly changed the landscape in his state of Assam."

From the report: 
"Earlier, this was all sand. No trees, no grass — nothing was here. Only driftwood. Now, seeds of grass carried downriver from China wash up, and pollinate, on their own."

Today fields of swaying grasses stretch into the distance. Along with emerald pastures dotted with cows, cotton trees stand straight in rows as far as the eye can see — "excellent plywood," Payeng says. He planted them, his hands transforming this once barren island the size of Martha's Vineyard.

"First with bamboo trees, then with cotton trees. I kept planting — all different kinds of trees," Payeng says.

"It's not as if I did it alone," says the self-styled naturalist. "You plant one or two trees, and they have to seed. And once they seed," he adds reverentially, "the wind knows how to plant them, the birds here know how to sow them, cows know, elephants know, even the Brahmaputra river knows. The entire ecosystem knows."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#1 Social Cause for Millennials: Civil Rights, Racial Discrimination

In the U.S., young people are engaging with social and political issues in numbers and with an enthusiasm that harkens back to the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War protests. The difference is that, in addition to protesting in the streets, they are using platforms such as Snapchat and Facebook Live to advocate for social justice. They’re responding in huge numbers to traditional media that tackle these issues. Outlets such as Teen Vogue, which have traditionally steered clear of more political topics, have begun to publish in-depth coverage of social justice issues in response to their readers’ interest in politics. In fact, their most-read article of 2016 was an op-ed by Lauren Duca titled, "Donald Trump is gaslighting America."

Last year’s election of Donald Trump has only increased desire to engage and to be heard. Achieve, a cause research and marketing agency, teamed up with the Case Foundation to survey more than 100,000 Millennials over the last eight years. Their Millennial Impact Report found that before the election, Millennials were most concerned with issues of education and employment. Today, the number one social cause of interest is civil rights and racial discrimination, even if respondents felt these issues did not affect them directly.

I’m confident that Millennials and Gen Z will be powerful activists who demand that their leaders defend the rights of others and, if we are lucky, they will fight to protect and defend human rights like no generation before them. They’re already off to a great start.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Health Via Self-Compassion

For the past decade or so I’ve been conducting research on self-compassion, and have found that people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed, and are much more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about their future. In short, they have better mental health.

The power of self-compassion is not just an idea – it’s very real and actually manifests in our bodies. When we soothe our own pain we are tapping into the mammalian care-giving system.  And one important way the care-giving system works is by triggering the release of oxytocin. Research indicates that increased levels of oxytocin strongly increase feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity, and connectedness,and facilitates the ability to feel warmth and compassion for ourselves. Oxytocin is released in a variety of social situations, including when a mother breastfeeds her child, when parents interact with their young children, or when someone gives or receives a soft, tender caress. Because thoughts and emotions have the same effect on our bodies whether they’re directed to ourselves or to others, this research suggests that self-compassion may be a powerful trigger for the release of oxytocin.

Read more at: The Secret Way Self-Compassion Soothes You

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nonprofit Reforests Coal Mine-Striped Appalachia

Volunteers fan out over a recently bulldozed plot on Cheat Mountain to plant red spruce and other native seedlings. Green Forests Work's photo.

Yale Environment 360 reports:  "Previous efforts to restore former coal mine sites in Appalachia have left behind vast swaths of unproductive land. Now, a group of nonprofits and scientists are working to restore native trees to the region — even if it means starting the reclamation process from scratch...a small nonprofit (Green Forests Work's), (is) part of a project to rehabilitate a rare red spruce-dominant forest on 2,000 acres that were mined for coal in the 1970s and 1980s.'

From the Green Forests Work's website:

Green Forests Work's (GFW) vision is to create a renewable and sustainable multi-use resource that will provide economic opportunities while enhancing the local and global environment. By converting reclaimed, non-native grasslands and shrublands into healthy, productive forestland, GFW is effectively addressing two needs of the region. Our reforestation projects provide jobs for equipment operators, nursery workers, and tree planters, and improve the environment by eradicating non-native species and restoring ecosystem services. With the help of our partners and volunteers, this vision is quickly becoming a reality...

 Since 2009, we have planted more than 2 million trees on more than 3,000 acres, but there are nearly one million acres left to reforest.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

7 Steps Toward Loving Kindness

Set aside a quiet period to go through these simple steps with intention and openness.
  1. Recognize the place of loving kindness inside yourself. It is there. Honor it, awaken it, and actively draw upon it.
  2. Drawing upon the source of loving kindness within, bring to mind someone for whom you feel sincere goodwill and tenderness, someone you love very much. From your source, send loving kindness toward this person and bless them.
  3. Awaken loving kindness for someone who is a casual friend or associate—someone not in your inner circle, but a bit further removed, someone you admire or appreciate. Send love to that individual.
  4. Now send loving kindness to someone about whom you feel neutral or indifferent—for example, a gas station attendant or a cashier. Send your blessing to this person.
  5. Think of someone who has hurt you, who has talked evil of you, whom you find it difficult to like or you don’t enjoy being around. Bless them; send this would-be enemy your love.
  6. Bring all of the first five individuals into the stream of flowing love, including yourself. Hold them here for a few moments.
  7. Finally, extend this love to embrace all beings in the universe. It is one piece of love, one love toward all, regardless of religion, race, culture, or likability.

This practice can help you know—in your mind, heart, and body—that love is not determined by the worthiness of the object. Love is determined by the giver of the love. These steps can be repeated for the other three limitless qualities. Remember, spiritual gifts increase with use. Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity will grow as you let them flow. You are simply an instrument, a conduit for the inflow and outflow of the gifts of the Spirit. You are “inter-being.”

Monday, January 8, 2018

Kindness Begets Kindness at Work

Kindness begets kindness. Past research suggests that when we receive goodness from others, we’re often motivated to pass it on.

A new study, published this year in the journal Emotion, found that this ripple effect can occur in a somewhat unlikely arena: the corporate workplace.

Researchers from UC Riverside asked a group of employees at Coca-Cola in Spain to perform five acts of kindness for a dedicated group of their coworkers, each week for a month. The givers did things for receivers like buying coffee, providing encouragement, and writing thank-you emails.

After the experiment, givers and receivers reported greater well-being and satisfaction of their basic psychological needs, when compared to a control group. Givers felt a greater sense of competence and autonomy after the experiment; one month later, they had higher life and job satisfaction, as well as fewer symptoms of depression. Receivers felt more autonomy—and, one month later, they also felt happier.

More strikingly—according to surveys of behaviors people saw and performed during the month—receivers seemed to be performing more kind acts toward others. They were paying kindness forward.

We often see work as separate from our personal life, a competitive environment where we check our feelings at the door. But this study—along with other research on the benefits of gratitude at work and the drawbacks of ruthlessness—suggests a different vision for our professional lives. It’s possible to cultivate kinder, more compassionate workplaces, for the benefit of employees and employers alike.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Cross-Industry Group to Address Ocean Plastic Pollution

NextWave is supported by global thought leaders in scientific research and environmental advocacy.

(NextWave members agree) to decrease the volume of plastic and nylon litter and waste before it enters the ocean the members of NextWave commit to demonstrating to other companies the commercial viability and advantages of integrating ocean-bound plastics into their supply chains in the context of heightened consumer, stakeholder, and policy-maker awareness of the environmental impacts of marine plastic.

Each member has committed to these Ten Principles:

In all of its actions the Working Group will be open, completely transparent, and accessible both internally with respect to Members and externally with respect to the public at large.

The Working Group will utilize and consistently employ the principles of a creative common approach both internally and externally by taking all actions jointly and by donating to the public domain and to the public at large all of its publications, processes, copyrights and other joint intellectual property, and results.

The Working Group will utilize and consistently employ the best available peer-reviewed science and will develop an external, objective scientific and NGO advisory group to review the Working Group’s efforts and results, and to counsel and advise the Working Group through public recommendations also based on the best available, peer-reviewed science.

Recognizing the critical nature of its invaluable work, the Working Group will cooperate with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to complement and build upon its New Plastics Economy Initiative.

The Working Group will complement the Clean Seas Campaign, a global UN Environment Initiative that encourages government, corporate, and individual commitments to reduce the extent and impact of marine litter, and the Working Group commits to the Campaign’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and other marine resources for sustainable development.

The Working Group will minimize its social, environmental, and financial costs while maximizing its benefits to the environment, to the public at large, and to its Members.

The Working Group will evolve together with its long-term Initiative to create a lasting reduction, ultimately to zero, in the amount of plastic flowing into waterways and the oceans.

To demonstrate and document the Working Group’s impact to industry, government, and global audiences, the Working Group will utilize and consistently employ objective performance measures of volume and weight of reduced and recovered ocean-bound plastics and marine litter, of the amounts of original plastics replaced by Members with materials derived from ocean-bound plastics, of the anticipated community and environmental benefits and of those actually achieved, and of stakeholders’ heightened awareness of ocean-bound plastics and marine litter.

The Working Group is committed to working jointly and collaboratively rather than under a single leadership or Member’s direction, is committed to achieving equity in the burdens it places on its Members, and for sensitivity to Members’ needs and concerns to achieve lasting, win-win outcomes that benefit the Members while benefitting the environment and the public at large.

Because Members are also competitors in the marketplace, the Working Group will respect the rights of its Members to their own intellectual property and other proprietary, non-public, confidential, and market-competitive information pertaining to such things as manufacturing processes, supplier contact information, supplier pricing, product composition, and the like while remaining vigilant to avoid even the appearance of potentially collusive or anti-competitive behavior involving the Working Group and its Members.

---From the NextWave website