Monday, March 31, 2014

Bringing Purpose and Peace to Gang Members

serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of free services and programs, and operates seven social enterprises that serve as job-training sites.

--The nonprofit's mission statement

Here's a brilliant idea to stop gang violence: Just get the rival gang members together in a nice kitchen and have them bake bread. Are you laughing? Well, stop, because it really works.

When Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, started Homeboy Industries 26 years ago, it was a small bakery in a gang-torn neighborhood in downtown L.A. That bakery led to a catering service and a café.
It looks as nice as any Starbucks.

Homeboy Industries is swarming with activity today. Upstairs, there's a GED class; downstairs, gang tattoo removal. There are counseling services and classrooms where former gang members are learning how to do a job interview.

Father Greg or Father G, as he's called around here, works with 15,000 former gang members a year. His success rate is astounding. Seventy percent of people who walk through these doors don't return to prison.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Science Group Tackles Plastic Pollution

"To fully understand hazards from plastic debris in aquatic habitats, it is necessary to alter our perception regarding direct and indirect threats associated with aquatic plastic debris and shift the focus of scientific research toward understanding how plastic debris and associated chemicals may act as a multiple stressor in aquatic habitats," explains Environmental Science and Technology.

A west coast based nonprofit, 5 Gyres, intends to discover ways to end the impact of such waste.  Their mission statement reads:

 Our mission is to conduct research and communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and employ strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the 5 subtropical gyres.

To understand the impact of plastic pollution we study the 5 subtropical gyres by sailing through them. Together with our partners, Pangaea Explorations and Algalita Marine Research Foundation, we organize research expeditions, inviting scientists, journalists and other sailors to join the crew.
To communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution, we share our findings through multimedia outlets and peer-reviewed publications. These include print and television media, websites and blogs, lectures and school outreach, and a traveling exhibition about plastic pollution to museums, science centers and aquariums.

To eliminate plastic pollution we employ strategies that work. To stop the flow of plastic to the sea we advocate new materials, better designed products, fair legislation, and engage in consumer education. Post-consumer cleanup efforts focus on coastal and island debris removal and mitigation.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Place For Pets with Humans Battling Cancer

"Helping Paws was started for cancer patients who aren't well enough to care for their animals. We will help care for your pet in any way we can. We also provide the comforting assurance that if anything should happen to you, your pet will have a loving home," explains the Helping Paws webpage.

When a young girl, whose father is an oncologist, recognized the need for pet care for patients who are burdened by cancer, she formed this volunteer group. "Helping Paws wants to make sure that those important furry significant others are taken care of and not forgotten."

The volunteers lists the following services:

 
Pet Care
If you are too sick to take care of your pet or if you cannot be there because you are in the hospital, call us to help out.  One of our volunteers will do what they can to assist in your pet care needs

Home Pet Care
We can help out with:

  • Feeding
  • Walking
  • Brushing
  • Cuddling
  • Letting your dog or cat out!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Veterans Seek Peaceful Alternatves

"Veterans For Peace is a global organization of Military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using our experiences and lifting our voices. We inform the public of the true causes of war and the enormous costs of wars, with an obligation to heal the wounds of wars. Our network is comprised of over 140 chapters worldwide whose work includes: educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars."

"VFP was founded in 1985 by 10 U.S. veterans in response to the global nuclear arms race and U.S. military interventions in Central America. It grew to more than 8,000 members in the buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 with veteran and associate members in every U.S. state and several countries, with more than 120 chapters across the nation."

From www.veteransforpeace.org

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Restructuring Urban Water for Conservation

From Surfrider Foundation
In Ventura’s urban Sanjon watershed, they Surfrider Foundation has "...advocated for water conservation measures such as greywater re-use and wastewater recycling and the installation of Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFGs) and other Low Impact Development projects such as green streets and permeable parking areas. Surfrider activists are out in the community raising public awareness and advocating for local policies that will take advantage of these opportunities to improve water quality, increase groundwater infiltration and conserve drinking water supplies."

From Surfrider Foundation.org

Monday, March 24, 2014

Seeds to End Kenya's Malnutrition

From The Pollination Project,


Vincent Atitwa’s project is to end chronic malnutrition in Western Kenya. In the past year, Atitwa has trained 25 families, providing them with potatoes vines, amaranth grain seeds, cassava cuttings and sorghum and teaching them how to grow and propagate the crops. Some of these families are now paying it forward and providing seeds to the next group of families who will be trained in farming these nutrient rich grains.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The "Spirit of Water" Honored Today

From Unify.org  

Please dedicate Saturday,  March 22 to Love Water and Join Us at 3:00 pm in your Local Time Zone as we create a wave of intention moving across the planet. The Global Synchronized Moment for the World’s Waters will be at 3:00 pm PST (wherever you are in the world).

 This launches a full year of action to deepen our relationship with water and get clean water to every human on the planet.Sign up to our email list to stay updated on movements you can plug into.

Together, we are a Global Synchronized Force of Nature.
Together, the World’s Waters will become Holy again.
Together, Love prevails on this Blue Planet.
-The UNIFY Global Family


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Students Stand for Muslim Soccer Teammate

A Ref Wouldn't Let This Girl Play in Her Hijab — Here's How Her Team Responded
Image Credit: Twitter/@DivineDavis
From Policy Mic

Earlier this month, FIFA lifted its ban on headscarves, allowing female Muslim players to wear hijabs while playing soccer. But that didn't stop high school soccer referees in Aurora, Colo. from prohibiting Samah Aidah to play with her head covered.

Last week in response, the Overland High School girls soccer team took an inspiring stand in support of their teammate and her freedom of religious expression by donning headscarves representative of Aidah's hijab.
With more than 40,000 retweets and favorites so far, teammate Divine Davis' photo of the team in headscarves is making a loud statement about equality.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Smile! International Day of Happiness Today!

Today, March 20, 2014 is 

A Day to Reclaim Happiness

From the website:

The Day of Happiness campaign is a global celebration to mark the UN International Day of Happiness. It is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from over 140 countries and supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations.

A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that 'progress' should be about increasing human happiness and well-being, not just growing the economy.

All 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority and March 20 has been declared as the International Day of Happiness.


Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change. We're bringing together people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone.

For fifty years we've aimed relentlessly at higher incomes. But despite being much wealthier, we're no happier than we were five decades ago. At the same time we've seen an increase in wider social issues, including a worrying rise in anxiety and depression in young people. It's time for a positive change in what we mean by progress.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Flower Show Combats Hunger

From One Miracle At a Time

C. Coimbra Photo
Last week, thousands of people filed into the Philadelphia Convention Center for the city’s annual flower show—the largest and oldest in the country. The event, hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, gives us all a chance to marvel at the spectacular beauty created when man plants a garden...

... A large portion of the proceeds from the International Flower Show—and other PHS-hosted events—goes toward nonprofit programs and services started by the 187-year-old nonprofit..

PHS supports the unification and beautification of communities throughout the city by funding public landscapes, mass tree-plantings, neighborhood parks and communal gardens.

City Harvest

PHS also combats hunger in Philadelphia through its City Harvest program, an initiative to help community gardeners grow food for impoverished people.

A Citizen's Mobile App in Philadelphia

Code for America inspired a new app that eases citizen engagement, called Textizen.  The mobile app
From the Textizen website
created for the city of Philadelphia".. is a civic dialogue platform that allows residents to connect with a powerful mix of offline outreach and online engagement..."

In other words, " What if you didn’t have to trek a town hall or city council meeting be heard? could open its ears nearly the entire city? textizen asks questions on posters in public places, then collects citizen feedback via text message. anyone with minute and an opinion can reply. textizen’s cloud-based platform allows officials community groups create surveys track as it comes in. not only garner more representative from larger cross-section of their communities, but for data-driven decisions empowered residents," explains the Code for America website.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Lover Leaves Funds for Library

From Philanthropy Today:
An avid reader who gave regularly but modestly to the New York Public Library during her life left the system $6-million in her will, writes The New York Times.
Library President Tony Marx said he was “astounded” by the gift from Lotte Fields, a New Yorker and book lover who died last summer at the age of 89. “But we are deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading.”
Ms. Fields inherited her wealth from her husband’s relatives, who were in the wool business. Per her wishes, the bequest will be split between the library’s main Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and its branch system.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pro Bono Volunteering

From Points of Light:

If you’ve got professional skills you can share to help people in your community, pro bono volunteering may be for you.
Investor’s Business Daily recently highlighted the practice by telling the story of Rebecca Fayed, associate general counsel and privacy officer at the Washington, D.C.-based Advisory Board Company, a consulting firm. The company offers its employees 10 hours of paid time a month to volunteer at local nonprofits.

Reporter Amy Alexander writes: “Fayed sharpened her planning smarts while doing pro bono work at Wonders Child Care, a nonprofit day care serving D.C. and Maryland. She crunched a corporate vision statement for Wonders. She studied the kiddie care competition. She floated ideas for new offerings. Then she joined the tots as they played with water.”

For tips on “how you can leverage good works at your firm,” read the Investor’s Business Daily article here.

Interested in having your company pledge pro bono service to make life better for others in your community? Check out A Billion + Change, a national campaign managed by Points of Light that is inspiring the largest commitment of pro bono service in history.

And if you have your own great example of pro bono volunteering, tell us your story at listen@pointsoflight.org.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Celebrity's 90th Birthday To Benefit Animal Foundation

Doris Day Animal Foundation Photo
The Associated Press reports:
Screen legend and icon Doris Day will celebrate her 90th birthday by giving back to those who mean the most to her: the animals...charity event designed to raise money for the nonprofit Doris Day Animal Foundation
The attendees of Day’s birthday celebration can expect a doggie fashion show, an adoption event, and a tribute dinner for friends and fans on April 4. To help raise money for the event, Day will auction off autographs from herself and celebrity friends...

"The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(3) Public Charity founded in 1978 as the Doris Day Pet Foundation...with a straightforward mission that continues to this day:  to help animals and the people who love them," reads the foundation's mission statement.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gratitude and America Attitude

From Greater Good Science Center:

Americans are very grateful and they think gratitude is important—they’re just not very good at expressing it.

...That’s one of the conclusions from a national survey on gratitude commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, which also funds the Greater Good Science Center’s Expanding Gratitude project. We’ve stressed the importance of gratitude for years, as more and more research reveals its benefits. But we don’t really know: How grateful actually are Americans today?

That’s why Templeton’s new survey is so significant.

The polling firm Penn Shoen Berland surveyed over 2,000 people in the United States, capturing perspectives from different ages, ethnic groups, income levels, religiosity, and more. Their results provide an unprecedented snapshot of gratefulness in America.
  • More than 90 precent of those polled agreed that grateful people are more fulfilled, lead richer lives, and are more likely to have friends.
  • More than 95 percent said that it is anywhere from “somewhat” to “very” important for mothers and fathers to teach gratitude.
  • 93 percent of those polled agreed that grateful bosses were more likely to be successful, and only 18 percent thought that grateful bosses would be seen as “weak.”
  • Asked about their own habits and feelings about gratitude, only one percent selected “I think that gratitude is unnecessary.”





Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crowdfunding to Pay It Forward For Solar Power

Yes! magazine reports:

RE-Volv, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, is working to make solar more financially accessible to local community groups. The organization is building a program that allows community centers to make the switch to clean energy with no upfront costs.

Here's how it works: Money donated to RE-Volv by community members and a growing network of solar enthusiasts is used to finance the purchase and installation of solar panels for a community center. Then, instead of paying a power company, the community center makes a monthly payment to RE-Volv. These payments are then rolled back into the revolving fund, providing the seed money for the next solar project. With each new project, RE-Volv increases the size of the fund—making more financing available to facilitate the spread of solar.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Maasai Warriors Become Lion Guardians

"The loss of lions has a negative effect on Africa’s fragile ecosystems.  Lions play an important role in the food chain, helping to regulate numbers of the more dominant herbivore species, such as zebra and buffalo.  Without lions to control them, these species out-compete other animals, causing their extinction and reducing biodiversity." writes Lion Alert
 The Lion Guardians were formed to protect this species.  From their website:

 Our mission is to promote sustainable coexistence between people and lion using cultural values, community participation and science.

The Lion Guardians program was developed in 2006 by the Living with Lions project and the local communities, and was initiated in collaboration with Maasailand Preservation Trust in January 2007 on Mbirikani Group Ranch in the Amboseli Ecosystem

The Lion Guardians approach involves recruiting young non-literate Maasai warriors to become actively engaged in protecting lions rather than killing them. Enrollment in the Lion Guardians program becomes a life-changing experience for these young Maasai who have had no formal education. Taught to read, write and communicate in Swahili and trained in wildlife management and conflict mitigation techniques, the Lion Guardians monitor lion movements, warn pastoralists when lions are in the area, recover lost livestock, reinforce protective fencing and intervene to stop lion hunting parties. Collectively these efforts lead to a reduction in the loss of livestock, which in turn enhances the livelihoods of the local people and builds tolerance for lions and other carnivores. Most notably, these conflict mitigation efforts are founded on century-old traditional techniques and thus are easily understood and accepted by the community.
  
Lion Guardians draws its strength from using indigenous culture and traditional knowledge rather than attempting to change the culture. Transforming lion killers into Lion Guardians was possible because we have spent seven year working with Maasai communities to understand the traditional motives and symbolism of lion killing. And through Lion Guardians, we are able to demonstrate that conserving and “protecting” lions through participatory monitoring, ownership, education, and employment can bring similar prestige and status to a Maasai warrior.




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Science of 'Global Coherence'

"The Global Coherence Initiative is a science-based, co-creative project to unite people in heart-focused care and intention, to facilitate the shift in global consciousness from instability and discord to balance, cooperation and enduring peace," says the nonprofit's website

"The Global Coherence Initiative will include an important scientific measurement component. Advanced sensing technology, now being developed at the Institute of HeartMath, will allow us to observe changes in the earth’s magnetic field and test the hypothesis that the earth’s field is affected by mass human emotion, positive or negative. The Global Coherence Monitoring System (GCMS) will consist of approximately 14 sensors strategically located around the world. This system will enable a new level of scientific inquiry into the relationship between the earth’s magnetic field, collective human emotions and behaviors, and planetary changes.

"This project has been initiated because millions of people sense that this is an extraordinary time; that a paradigm shift of human consciousness is now under way; that we are at the crossroads of change and must move toward the healing of ourselves and our planet. Many people are feeling a strong desire to help change our present and future conditions and are looking for ways to use their heart, spirit-aligned wisdom and care to make a meaningful difference.

"The Global Coherence Initiative is one of many care and compassion initiatives taking place on the planet. Each year, an increasing number of groups and online communities are radiating compassion and care to the planet in these times of need. We and others feel that these collective heart-based initiatives, rather than being a trend, represent the proactive consciousness platform of the future, in which individuals and communities take responsibility for shaping a new world by increasing love, care and compassion for the global whole."


Consciousness Shift toward Peace

"The Shift Network, Inc. empowers a growing global movement of people who are creating an evolutionary shift of consciousness that in turn leads to a more enlightened society, one built on principles of sustainability, peace, health, and prosperity. Through our online Summits and Courses we have already served more than 200,000 worldwide who are committed to shifting our world’s operating system." reads the webpage for the group.


Ploughshares for Peace

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. — Isaiah 2:3-4

The Transform Now Ploughshares movement is a nonviolent, anti-nuclear group of Christian pacifists. The nonviolent group, originated by Daniel Berrigan in 1980 organize symbolic demonstrations that can include damaging weapons or military property. 

Sister Meagan Rice, the elderly nun recently arrested and convicted for breaching a nuclear site, is a Ploughshares Movement activist.   



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Students Study Aftermath of Animal Exploitation

Barbara Stam


Barbara Stam, a teacher at the Youth Opportunities Unlimited branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), along with fellow teachers Nora Zaragoza and Misty Cervantes, are facilitating sixty students to visit and learn about the Silver Horse Healing Ranch. The ranch works with horses who were formally used to harvest Premarin, a hormone treatment that has since been linked to cancer. Consequently, the demand for Premarin decreased, and consequentially, thousands of horses needed to be rescued since they were no longer economically necessary. Students will create photo essays, art and videos and present them during a school assembly to educate other students about the web of issues that arise when animals are exploited.

With Barbara’s background in both education and veterinary sciences, she strives to help her students see animals not as an economic commodity, but as companions, and states “By taking these students on these field trips, they will be educated on how these horses were rescued and how the Healing Ranch rehabilitates the horses and helps them bond with each other and people.”