Monday, September 30, 2013

We'll be back next Friday

The Daily Prism has non profit work to do this week.  We'll be back posting all the good from around the world next Friday.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Small Gifts, Enormous Care

This week's local news:

A 7-year-old is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.  Family and friends discover that childhood cancer is on the shorter end of research funding.  They take the lemons and literally sell over $4000 worth of lemonade with all funds going to childhood cancer research.

Another young man with a young family is diagnosed with cancer.  The cost of treatment and loss of work is devastating.  A restauranteur says, I'll make Sunday a day for a benefit dinner.  Volunteers selling $10 tickets for the special dinner like crazy.

Yet one other young person challenged with a deadly disease.  What's the community do?  Sell over 700 tickets for a special dinner with all profits going toward his treatment and family expense.

Check your local paper and see how many people in your community make these "small" efforts to bring more light of giving to this planet.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Funding "Genius"


Jeffrey Brenner, a physician and founder of a nonprofit that is working to reduce repeat emergency-room visits in Camden, N.J., and elsewhere, today received one of 24 “genius” grants awarded by the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Dr. Brenner and the other fellowship winners will each receive a five-year, $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend an increase from the $500,000 the foundation previously provided.
• Margaret Stock, 51, an Anchorage, Alaska, a lawyer who has helped craft federal policy to recruit foreigners into the U.S. military and expedite their citizenship process.
• Carrie Mae Weems, 60, a Syracuse, N.Y., photographer documenting the African-American struggle for equality.
• David Lobell, 34, a Stanford University professor who has been investigating the impact of climate change on crop production.
They join the 873 other fellows since the program began in 1981.
From: Philanthropy Today.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Growing Good In Your Brain

A blog posted yesterday on the UC Berkeley website, Greater Good, seems appropriate to share during these times when our news cycles can seem overwhelming when compounded by our personal lives, oft times making it a challenge to continue to perceive and create good.


How to Grow the Good in Your Brain

By Rick Hanson | September 24, 2013 |  Rick Hanson explains how we can protect ourselves from the stress of negative experiences.

Imagine that your mind is like a garden. You could simply be with it, looking at its weeds and flowers without judging or changing anything. Or, you could pull weeds by decreasing what’s negative in your mind. Or, you could grow flowers by increasing the positive in your mind. In essence, you can manage your mind in three primary ways: let be, let go, or let in.

When something difficult or uncomfortable happens—when a storm comes to your garden—these three ways to engage your mind give you a very useful, step-by-step sequence.
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First, be with your experience. Observe it and accept it for what it is even if it’s painful. Second, when it feels right—which could be a matter of seconds with a familiar worry or a matter of months or years with the loss of a loved one—begin letting go of whatever is negative. For example, relax your body to reduce tension. Third, again when it feels right, after you’ve released some or all of what was negative, replace it with something positive. For instance, you could remember what it’s like to be with someone who appreciates you, then stay with this experience for 10 or 20 seconds.

This post continues at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_grow_the_good_in_your_brain?utm_source=GGSC+Newsletter+%232+-+September+2013&utm_campaign=GG+Newsletter+%232+-+Sept+2013+&utm_medium=email

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bikes For Kenyan Students




When Glendale teenager Sebouh Bazikian learned how orphans in Kenya had to walk an hour to school, he wanted to find a way to help make their lives a little easier.

For a year, Bazikian worked to raise about $5,000 to buy 43 new bicycles through the organization World Bike Relief, which delivered the bikes in August to the children at the Machao Orphanage in Makueni County, about 115 miles from the country's capital of Nairobi, the Glendale News-Press reports.

From Los Angeles Times

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Einstein's Genius Inspires Response to Humanitarian Crises

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to
survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

At work today in over 40 countries and in 22 U.S. cities, the IRC restores safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home.

From the website:

In 2012, the IRC restored hope and opportunity for millions of conflict-affected people around the world. Here’s a look at some of our recent achievements: 
 
  • Our doctors, nurses and community health workers provided 14 million people with primary and reproductive health care.
  • We gave 1.4 million people access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
  • We vaccinated over 292,000 children against disease and our IRC-supported clinics and hospitals helped 151,000 women deliver healthy babies.
  • We provided schooling or child friendly spaces for 589,000 girls and boys, and trained over 15,000 educators.
  • We treated or vaccinated over 477,000 head of livestock.
  • We counseled and cared for over 22,000 survivors of sexual violence and educated and mobilized over 982,000 men, women and children to lead prevention efforts in their communities.
  • We counseled or cared for over 19,000 vulnerable children and provided skills training or access to financial services to over 3,000 youth entrepreneurs.
  • Through our Resettlement Support Center in Thailand, we assisted over 14,000 refugees who departed from camps and cities in East Asia to enter United States and build new lives with help from the IRC and sister resettlement agencies.
  • In the United States, we helped resettle some 7,600 newly arrived refugees and provided services to over 24,500 refugees, asylees and victims of human trafficking.
We created 789 village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) in 9 countries that benefited over 18,000 members.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

To Save an Indian River

    • SaveYamuna, is a volunteer group devoted to resurrecting a dead Indian river, the Yamuna.  The website reads:
      The river Yamuna is one of the two biggest rivers (other being Ganges) which flow through the world’s largest river basin, the Ganga River Basin.  This basin area is approximately 1,086,000 square kilometers and has a population of 500 million.  This area is also the land to one of the most ancient civilizations known…World Heritage Taj Mahal situated onits banks is under threat as conservationists fear a dry Yamuna river would weaken the wood-based foundation of the Taj Mahal, which requires moisture. 

      The group notes the following achievements:


      Freeing 5300 hectares of Wilderness Hills from Mining and getting them declared as Protected Forests.
    • Repairing and restoring 30 large water Bodies(Kunds) in areas with scant water.
    • Planting of thousands of plants in deforested area and help rejuvenate ancient forests.
    • Nursing & serving over 20000 neglected & sick cows.
    • Holding of Inspirational / Educational Camps and marches ( vraja yatra) to save the environment of Vraja Vrindavan.
    • Creating and sustaining the big “Bring Back River Yamuna to Vrindavan” campaign.
The save Yamuna website is a part of the “Bring back River Yamuna to Vrindavan” which is part of the wider Save Vraja Vrindavan project.

N2N--Neighbor to Neighbor Bring Home to Homeless Persons

From The Pollination Project:

“Skid row would not exist if each community cared for its own members,” said Rebecca Prine, a social worker and founder of the volunteer run, grassroots organization, Recycled Resources for the Homeless in North Los Angeles, CA.  Rebecca is seeking to launch a new program, Neighbor to Neighbor (“N2N”) that places a solution to ending homelessness in the hands of the community.

Many times homeless individuals are labeled as transients, when many of them are not passing through a community, rather they are part of it.  In North LA, there are an estimated 280 chronically homeless individuals, most of whom were born in the area and want to remain there, but have no assistance in transitioning into housing.

The goal of the N2N project is to pair a housed neighbor to a homeless neighbor, similar to a buddy system, in order to develop the trust rapport and understanding that is needed to support someone while transitioning from living on the streets to securing and maintaining housing.  Rebecca has found that the most successful way to assist people in ending their homelessness is to have trust and confidence in the person who is assisting them, which is the backbone of the N2N program.

The N2N volunteers will participate in a 6-hour training and attend a one-day workshop that entails education surrounding homeless issues: outreach and engagement, safety, mental illness, substance use, and how to navigate resources.  After this training, volunteers are paired with a homeless individual, identified by Recycled Resources for the Homeless, to begin building a relationship with their ‘buddy’. The volunteer commits to visiting and engaging their ‘buddy’ a minimum of 2 x weekly, with the goal of developing a trusting relationship with them. Visits will include relationship building, socializing, offering clothing and other resources, and educating them on the process of securing housing. The volunteer also provides updates to RRH about any challenges or needs. Once the homeless individual secures housing their ‘buddy’ transitions with them and becomes a life skills coach to ensure housing can be maintained.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thank You Ocean

In Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2004 Ocean Action Plan, he called for the development of a public awareness campaign that empowers individuals to understand and take action to address the threats facing the ocean. The 2004 federal U.S. Ocean Action Plan also called for greater public education about the importance of the nation’s coasts and oceans. In 2006, the California Thank You Ocean Campaign was launched to fulfill both of these plans’ call to action.

The campaign features a public service announcement produced by world-renowned cinematographer, Bob Talbot, an out-of-door advertising campaign, a bi-weekly podcast series featuring leaders in ocean policy, and this Web site. The campaign is focused on educating the public about the importance of sustaining ocean life and inspiring Californians to practice ocean stewardship to alleviate four major threats to the ocean:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Grant That Goes To "Waste"

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A recent $250,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation will allow the Cal Poly
Global Waste Research Institute (GWRI) to integrate new waste-related issues and environmental impacts related to nanotechnology into the school’s broader undergraduate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

GWRI Director Nazli Yesiller said the funds, which follow a $50,000 Keck Foundation planning grant, will affect a wide variety of courses and disciplines, both technical and non-technical.

“The nanotechnology waste management portion could involve more than 700 students a year in nine separate disciplines including civil and environmental engineering, chemistry, materials engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, industrial technology, political science, and ethnic studies” Yesiller said.
“Securing this grant involved a highly selective process and takes Cal Poly into a new area — a leading edge — of integrating new emerging waste-related subject matter into the classroom, an area for which currently no text books are available.”

According to Yesiller, advancements have been made in the manufacture and use of nanomaterials with commercial applications and available products numbering in the thousands. However, the short-and long-term environmental impacts of these new materials and effectiveness of common waste management technologies for nanomaterials are largely unknown.

The Keck grant will support a postdoctoral fellow who will develop teaching and learning tools related to nanowaste management, including course content, classroom and laboratory exercises, databases and curriculum modules.

“This grant helps ensure that the next generation of workforce and graduate students will be equipped with awareness and interdisciplinary technical skills required for providing solutions to emerging global environmental problems,” explained Yesiller.

The goal of GWRI is to educate future generations of professionals in sustainable waste and byproduct management.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Research Brings Answers to Sustainable Transportation Systems

Dr.  Daniel Sperling, Professor, University of California, Davis,   has conducted research on the impact of transportation on the environment, addressing vehicle technology, fuels, and human behavior, and has been a pioneer in opening up new fields of study to create more efficient, low-carbon, and environmentally beneficial transportation systems.

Dr. Sperling is also a policy leader, playing a key role in designing California’s climate change and air pollution policies, which have influenced technologies offered by automobile manufacturers and other businesses in Japan and around the world, and are a model for creating sustainable urban transport and land use systems. 

Sperling's work was recently recognized by  the Asahi Glass Foundation. Sperling is one of the  Blue Planet Prize recipients, "...an award presented to individuals or organizations worldwide in recognition of outstanding achievements in scientific research and its application that have helped provide solutions to global environmental problems. The Prize is offered in the hopes of encouraging efforts to bring about the healing of the Earth’s fragile environment." explains the award's website.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

U.S. Coast Guard Helps Sea Turtle Survival

The Miami Herald reports:
A baby sea turtle moments before being released into the ocean off the coast of Boca Raton, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney.
More than 500 sea turtle hatchlings were gently released by hand Thursday onto sea beds off Florida's Atlantic Coast, where the turtles have a better chance to survive.

The U.S. Coast Guard assisted with the release about six miles off the coast of Boca Raton because it is committed to protecting endangered species, officials said in a statement.

"I'm very passionate about the environment," said Chief Cannon Schider-Heisel with the U.S. Coast Guard. "And my job affords me the chance to do that sometimes, where I get to help educate the public about the environment. It's a facet of my job that I love."

Schider-Heisel, who volunteers at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, where the hatchlings were collected, joined marine scientist Melanie Stadler and other turtle rescue volunteers to release 311 loggerhead and 194 green sea turtles...

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/05/3607060/coast-guard-to-help-release-300.html#storylink=cpy
One of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard is marine environmental protection. Whether educating the boating public about reducing speeds around manatees, enforcing protection zones for whales or working with partner agencies to remove derelict fishing nets from reefs, the Coast Guard ensures our nation’s waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and sustainable.
But it wasn’t manatees, whales or reefs in the limelight last week – it was turtles; 505 turtles to be exact.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/500-baby-turtles-get-a-lift/#sthash.GRQsmoEu.710HHw0r.dpuf
One of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard is marine environmental protection. Whether educating the boating public about reducing speeds around manatees, enforcing protection zones for whales or working with partner agencies to remove derelict fishing nets from reefs, the Coast Guard ensures our nation’s waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and sustainable.
But it wasn’t manatees, whales or reefs in the limelight last week – it was turtles; 505 turtles to be exact.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/500-baby-turtles-get-a-lift/#sthash.GRQsmoEu.710HHw0r.dpuf
One of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard is marine environmental protection. Whether educating the boating public about reducing speeds around manatees, enforcing protection zones for whales or working with partner agencies to remove derelict fishing nets from reefs, the Coast Guard ensures our nation’s waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and sustainable.
But it wasn’t manatees, whales or reefs in the limelight last week – it was turtles; 505 turtles to be exact.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/500-baby-turtles-get-a-lift/#sthash.GRQsmoEu.710HHw0r.dpuf
One of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard is marine environmental protection. Whether educating the boating public about reducing speeds around manatees, enforcing protection zones for whales or working with partner agencies to remove derelict fishing nets from reefs, the Coast Guard ensures our nation’s waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and sustainable.
But it wasn’t manatees, whales or reefs in the limelight last week – it was turtles; 505 turtles to be exact.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/500-baby-turtles-get-a-lift/#sthash.GRQsmoEu.710HHw0r.dpuf
One of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard is marine environmental protection. Whether educating the boating public about reducing speeds around manatees, enforcing protection zones for whales or working with partner agencies to remove derelict fishing nets from reefs, the Coast Guard ensures our nation’s waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and sustainable.
But it wasn’t manatees, whales or reefs in the limelight last week – it was turtles; 505 turtles to be exact.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/500-baby-turtles-get-a-lift/#sthash.GRQsmoEu.710HHw0r.dpuf
One of the core missions of the U.S. Coast Guard is marine environmental protection. Whether educating the boating public about reducing speeds around manatees, enforcing protection zones for whales or working with partner agencies to remove derelict fishing nets from reefs, the Coast Guard ensures our nation’s waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and sustainable.
But it wasn’t manatees, whales or reefs in the limelight last week – it was turtles; 505 turtles to be exact.
- See more at: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/500-baby-turtles-get-a-lift/#sthash.GRQsmoEu.710HHw0r.dpuf

Hope for Paws in City of Angels

From Huff Post Good News :

Hope For Paws and the Bill Foundation have brought us several poignant stories of animal rescues. This tale, though, is about what happened AFTER the dog was rescued.

Eldad Hagar, Hope For Paws founder, and his friend Lisa Arturo, were touring the streets of L.A.'s South Central neighborhood when they came across a sweet but skittish stray. They took the dog, now named Scout, into their care and along with it, the task of finding her a permanent home.

That's when this story goes from good to great. Within a few weeks of searching for an adoptive family for Scout, the organizations struck gold with Mike Daniels, a writer and producer for the hit television series, 'Sons Of Anarchy.'

According to Annie Hart of the Bill Foundation, it was a perfect match from the very beginning.
"Mike and his wife Michaela [McManus] had recently lost one of their dogs and wanted to adopt a companion for their other dog, named Sully," Hart told HuffPost via email. "I knew just from reviewing [their application], something magical was going to occur through this adoption."
Once Scout and Daniels met in person, Hart's predictions came true.

Celebrating A Life Lost 12 Years Ago Today

From the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation Facebook post:

On the evening of September 10, 2001, Andrea Haberman, a young woman from Wisconsin, flew to New York on the first business trip of her career. She walked into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:00 a.m. on September 11th and made her way to the 92nd floor – 45 minutes before terrorists flew a Boeing 767 into the floors directly over her head.

Before she left, Andrea’s father Gordon told her to say goodbye to their aging Golden Retriever, Morgan, in case her beloved dog passed away before she returned. Those were among her dad’s last words to his daughter.

After the disaster, Andrea’s family came to New York and went through 32 medical centers, hoping to locate Andrea alive. Eventually they had to give up the search. Since then, they have been dedicated to honoring Andrea and celebrating her life.

In 2004, a dog called “Toby” was rescued by Golden Retriever Rescue of Wisconsin. They brought this unruly, unwanted, but driven dog to the Search Dog Foundation. When the Haberman family found out about the Search Dogs, they decided to honor their daughter’s memory by naming Search Dog Foundation’s newest recruit.

Toby, renamed “Andy,” was partnered with Russell Tao, a firefighter with Chino Valley Fire Department in Southern California. Russell and Andy spent six great years training together. They deployed together to the La Conchita mudslide in 2005 and Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana in 2008. Today, Andy is enjoying his golden retirement years with Russell, Russells’s second Search Dog, Major, and his wife and two small children.

In the front pocket of Russell’s search vest is a photo of Andrea Haberman. He has not forgotten.

Monday, September 9, 2013

$2-million Offer For Improving Ocean Pollution Idea

Philanthropist Wendy Schmidt is offering $2-million for an X-Prize competition to develop technologies that will boost scientists’ understanding of ocean chemistry, The Wall Street Journal writes.

The contest will seek proposals for improving knowledge of pollution levels in the ocean, the study of which is now expensive and largely limited to shallow waters. Ms. Schmidt, the wife of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, has made oceanographic research one of the priorities of the couple’s foundation.

The Playa Vista, Calif.-based X-Prize Foundation manages competitions for various groups and donors looking to address large-scale social and environmental problems.

From Philanthropy Today

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Butterfly Peace Garden

 "Within the cocoon of the Butterfly Peace Garden, children of war are given the tools of peace as they learn to practice and cultivate the arts together, friend with foe."

The Butterfly Peace Garden in  Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, was created by a monastic Jesuit priest  for St. Michael's College.

The "Spirit Garden" team consists of doctors, artists, community outreach agents, psychologists and environmentalists.

The garden's  intention is to serve diverse backgrounds through imaginative art Tamil, Muslim, Sinhala & Burgher with Hindu, Christian, Islamic and Budhist religions.

Animators & children work toward the emergence of peaceful community while promoting values of humility, patience, kindness, and good work ethics to ensure creative and non-violent problem solving.




Friday, September 6, 2013

Hunger Action Month

The New York Times reported yesterday, "THE Advertising Council and Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief organization, introduced a public service campaign on Thursday to tackle childhood hunger...The ad campaign is the latest initiative in a long collaboration between the Ad Council and Feeding America, which each year supplies food to more than 37 million Americans through a network of some 200 local food banks. Those food banks, in turn, distribute food to 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. ..Chuck McBride, founder and chief creative officer of Cutwater, said the issue of childhood hunger “isn’t cancer. It’s a completely rectifiable issue. The quantity of surplus food clearly outnumbers the number of hungry people. It’s logistics.”

He said the “food angel” ads “take the rhetoric and flip it.” 



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Librarians Shun Borders


Librarians Without Borders is "...an organization that was formed in February 2005 by a group of socially-minded librarians who wanted to address the vast information resource inequity existing between different regions of the world. Our vision is to build sustainable libraries and support their custodians and advocates — librarians," reads the nonprofit's website, http://lwb-online.org/


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Saving the Bonobos

When  Deni Béchard first learned of the last living bonobos—great apes that are, alongside the chimpanzee, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom—he was astonished. How could the world accept the extinction of this majestic species, along with the rainforest they call home? 

As he looked more closely, Béchard discovered that one relatively small NGO, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI), has done more to save bonobos and their natural habitat than any number of far larger organizations.

In contrast to many Western conservationists,  BCI works closely with Congolese communities, addressing the underlying problems of poverty and unemployment, which lead to the hunting of bonobos. By creating jobs and building schools, they gradually change the conditions that lead to the eradication of bonobos.

The BCI's mission is "...to protect bonobos (Pan paniscus), preserve their tropical rainforest habitat, and empower local communities in the Congo Basin. By working with local Congolese people through cooperative conservation and community development programs, and by shaping national and international policy, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) is establishing new protected areas and leading efforts to safeguard bonobos wherever they are found."
  

 
 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Families "Doing Good Together"

The idea behind Doing Good Together is to inspire, encourage and equip families to volunteer together, to spend time with loved ones while also helping the larger world. In the process, we raise children who are compassionate, aware of social issues, and are instilled with the lifelong habit of giving. DGT provides hands-on tools specifically for parents, and also teaches organizations how to more effectively engage families in service.

One of DGT's projects is Big Hearted Families where, "simple, fun and engaging activities for your family to live generously. Some projects are short and simple while others are more involved. Some take planning, while others require spontaneity. There are ideas to suit every family’s style," explains the website.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Buddies for Bats

From the Pollination Project

Thirteen year old Truth Muller is a passionate advocate for bats. His passion began in August of 2011 when Truth visited the New York State Fair. He explains, “They had a bat information booth hosted by the New York State Fish and Wildlife Service on the grounds. I knew that bats had been missing from my neighborhood for a few years, but what I learned that day astounded me. More than 93% of New York State’s bats were already gone. The culprit – White Nose Syndrome, a new species of fungus that was discovered in a cave in New York State, not far from my home. It was spreading like wildfire throughout the northeast and killing bats all along the way. I was horrified. I asked the bat biologist what I could do to help. She simply said, “spread the word about bats”.

Truth started immediately.  He founded Buddies for Bats, an environmental education outreach program that teaches the public about the importance of bats to our environment and dispels common negative myths about bats. Truth has since taught classes in local grade schools, set up a Bat Information Booth at local street festivals, was part of a  piece about bats on his local public radio station, and published articles in a local nature newspaper.  Truth has already reached over 400,000 people through his efforts.  A Brower Youth Award runner up in 2013, Truth was recently accepted as the youngest member in history to the Bat Conservation International’s Speaker’s Bureau.