Sunday, January 31, 2016

Humpbacks Singing in the Sea


C. Coimbra photo
Editor's Note: "The 1970 album Songs of the Humpback Whale broke sales records, helped galvanize a worldwide movement to end the commercial whale hunt," notes a report, that is excerpted here from Hakai magazine.  The Daily Prism shares this story because of the reported relaxing effect of whale songs on humans. We could probably stand a few extra minutes of relaxation every day!

The whales begin to arrive in the early spring, skinny from their months of fasting through the breeding season and their long migration. “June and July, we’re listening to feeding calls from sunrise to sunset,” says Wray. Through the summer, the feeding frenzy relaxes and the lab notebooks show scribbled attempts to capture the nuances of social calls. Gruuup? Bloop. Grumbly rawkkk. In October, the jotted lists of dates and recording times gain new embellishments: stars, exclamation marks, and occasionally a cluster of hearts. Song practice! Beautiful … Singing—amazing echoes!!! Into full song. Clear, resonant. Wow!!

“It’s pretty amazing to listen to,” Wray says. “One whale will start up, maybe with just a simple up and down: ‘dii doo, dii doo’; then ‘dii doo-DIP, dii-doo DIP, dii doo-DIP diidoo.’ He’s just playing around, changing one bit or another. Then another whale will pipe in. That whale will maybe just add a ‘woop,’ but the timing will be like ‘diiwoopDIPdiidoo.’” She waves her arms to the beat. “Two or three whales will do this together. Like musicians jamming, it’s all kind of random and then suddenly it’s a song.”

... Wray and Meuter believe that all of these features are important to the whales and hope that their research will help make the case to establish protected areas and acoustic refuges around Caamaño Sound. As humpbacks concentrate here in the fall, they mix, mingle, and sing in shifting combinations—like musicians dropping into one another’s studios. Then they split up, taking their songs on the road to different breeding grounds around the North Pacific. “It’s not one whale teaching another,” notes Wray. “It’s co-creation. Maybe they all have the same song because they have worked on it together already.”

Long after the whale song ends, Wray is still looking out to sea. “There is so much we don’t know. And that’s what makes it so exciting.” Then she smiles conspiratorially. “But really, I just still love listening to whales.”








Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feb. 1, Global Meditation for Peace in Syria


C. Coimbra photo

January 29, 2015


We are announcing the time of the meditation

Join us in silent meditation at 11AM Eastern US time, 5PM Israel Time on Monday Feb. 1. There will be millions of people holding the light at that moment.

In the last five days over 200,000 people have joined us through the video and the vigil website. On February 1st there will be millions of us radiating a peaceful pulse that has the power to shift the even darkest crisis. I have seen this work many times before, and with your help it will work again.

We will be on the ground overlooking the villages held by both ISIL and Hezbollah

Imagine how committed the spiritual leaders are who are joining us for this important meditation. They will join me near a Syrian village on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights where we can view several villages currently held by either ISIL or Hezbollah. From this vantage we will offer prayers and chants from all three of the great Abrahamic traditions ~ Jewish, Christian and Muslim, as well as the local Druze religion. Then at the designated time we will pause and join with people from around the world who are sending their prayers to heal the region.

Many have said that prayer and synchronized meditation will not heal the divisions that are so deep in this region, but millions of people disagree. Scientific studies have proven the power of focused, massive intent, and now we apply it to the suffering people of Syria.

Don't forget to join us at 11AM Eastern US Time
February 1. 
Send your light to the children of Syria.

For security reasons we are holding back exactly where we will be during the meditation. On Sunday, just two days from now, we'll let all of you know. Please continue holding us in your hearts as we prepare the way.

We received word that two of the Dalai Lama's monasteries in India will be joining us for the meditation, including Gyuto monastery near Dharamsala. We have also reached out to Pope Francis and are confident he will join us in prayer. A personal message is being hand delivered to His Holiness, and since both of these men put such a high priority on inter-religious harmony, we are sure they are supporting us. Speaking of harmony, Monday begins a week long celebration at the United Nations ~ Inter-religious Harmony Celebration. This is an auspicious time for so many dedicated people to be radiating their prayers of peace.




Friday, January 29, 2016

African-American Wisdom Summit Set For February

Photo from The African-American Wisdom Summit 


Editor's Note:  During the month of February, the African-American Wisdom Summit is open to all interested persons, and for free.  The following is excerpted from the website: 

With so much focus on all that’s wrong with our world, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we have visionaries, community leaders and citizens who are performing great acts of love, compassion and service every single day — forging new pathways and presenting innovative solutions for these challenging times.

And so many of these who exemplify humanity’s extraordinary potential draw their soul-powered strength, creativity and brilliance from African American wisdom.

...Too often, we define our conversation about African Americans around the challenges of racism and injustice, which — while important — can distract us from appreciating the amazing gifts, blessings and knowledge that have emerged from this rich culture.

Some of America’s greatest leaders — in realms from social change to spirituality to entertainment to business — have emerged out of a history of oppression.

...It’s difficult to talk about the huge racial divide taking place in America and across the planet, however this is THE most important conversation we as humanity can be having. During The African American Wisdom Summit, we’ll not only be opening up an honest dialogue and global conversation on race, we’ll also be identifying clear ways for you to create sustainable changes.

This global gathering is not only for African Americans, but for every citizen of the world who wishes to be blessed, transformed and bear witness to the flowering of real genius, great love, and profound wisdom.

Whether you’re an African American community leader, a caucasian social justice advocate or a mother who aches when explaining discrimination to her 5-year-old, the visionary and practical presenters in this event are sharing on eye-opening (and heart-opening!) subjects that can deeply transform your life... and the lives of all future generations.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Prosperity Candle--Lighting Women's Opportunities

Propserity Candle photo


Prosperity Candle is a small group of people who have joined together to create positive change in the world. We come from different walks of life, yet share a common dream: a world where all women have the opportunity to truly thrive.

We are a socially conscious company that delights customers through design, fragrance, and stories that brighten your heart and soul. We believe in contributing to the common good, prioritizing purpose over profit, and striving everyday to help end poverty.

We are a different kind of organization. As a social enterprise, we work at the intersection of business and philanthropy, seeking sustainable market-based solutions to today’s challenges. While we applaud every effort to to help people in need, we believe supporting women’s entrepreneurship and harnessing the immense resources of the global marketplace is the most effective way to achieve long-term impact.

Call us ambitious, even idealistic. But we believe our candles can help inspire a brighter future - homes full of light, gratitude, connection and community. Together, we can change the world . . . one candle, one woman, one community at a time.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Taking Action for Happiness


by Linnaea Mallette


Action for Happiness helps people take practical action for a happier and more caring world.

Our patron is The Dalai Lama and we have thousands of members taking action to increase wellbeing in their homes, workplaces, schools and local communities. Our vision is a happier world, with far fewer people suffering with mental health problems and far more people feeling good, functioning well and helping others.

Surveys in Britain and the U.S. show that people are no happier now than in the 1950s - despite massive economic growth.
Some societies are much happier than others. For example, if Britain was as happy as Denmark, we would have 2.5 million fewer people who were not very happy and 5 million more who were very happy.

  1. Trust is a major determinant of happiness in a society. Levels of trust vary widely between countries. The percentage of people who say "Most people can be trusted" is only 30 per cent of people in the U.K. and U.S., compared to 60 per cent some 40 years ago. But in Scandinavia the level is still over 60 per cent, and these are the happiest countries too.
  2. Economic stability has a large effect on the happiness of society, while long-term economic growth has little. Unemployment reduces happiness by as much as bereavement.
  3. People's happiness can be permanently altered. Surveys show that for many people long periods of unhappiness are followed by long periods of happiness.
  4. The most important external factors affecting individual happiness are human relationships. In every society, family or other close relationships are the most important, followed by relationships at work and the community. The most important internal factor is mental health. For example, if we take 34 year olds, their mental health at age 26 explains four times more of their present happiness than their income does.
  5. The subjective levels of happiness which people report are well correlated with objective measures of brain activity. They are well correlated with friends' reports, with obvious causes (like unemployment) and with subsequent behaviour (like quitting a job or a marriage)
  6. Doing good is one of the best ways to feel good. People who care more about others are happier than those who care less about others. When people do good, their brain becomes active in the same reward centre as where they experience other rewards.
  7. Empathy is a part of our nature. If a friend suffers an electric shock, it hurts in exactly the same point of the brain as if you yourself suffer an electric shock.
  8. Being paid can detract from the pleasure of giving. For example, if people interested in giving blood are divided into two groups, one of which is paid if they give blood and the other is not, more of those who are not paid decide to give blood.
  9. Studies have shown that giving money away tends to make people happier than spending it on themselves.
  10. The proportion of U.S.students who think that it is essential or very important to develop a meaningful philosophy of life has fallen from 65% in the 1960s to 45% today.
  11. Surveys of mental health in many countries show no improvement and in some cases worsening. In Britain the proportion of adolescents with emotional or behavioural problems is twice as high as in the 1970s.
  12. New psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy can transform lives. Within 4 months a half of people suffering from clinical depression or lifelong anxiety will return to normality.
  13. People who take 8 sessions of mindfulness meditation training will on average be 20 percentage points happier one month later than a control group and have better responses in their immune system. Such training can lead to structural brain changes including increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
  14. In an experiment, individuals with a positive outlook were less likely to get flu when exposed to the virus.
  15. Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.
  16. Most people think that if they become successful, then they'll be happy. But recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience show that this formula is backward: happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we're positive, our brains are more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient, and productive.
  17. Positive emotions - like joy, interest, pride and gratitude - don't just feel good in the moment - they also affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio to negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things. The evidence linking an upbeat outlook to increased longevity is actually stronger than the evidence linking obesity to reduced longevity.
  18. Happiness follows a U shape across the lifecycle, on average: we are happier when young and old and least happy in middle age.

Sources

For U.S., Gallup Poll and General Social Survey. For U.K., Gallup and Eurobarometer
R. Layard, Happiness, 2011, (second ed.) p32
R. Layard, Happiness, 2011, (second ed.) p64, 68-9, 80-82
R. Layard, Happiness, 2011, (second ed.) p64
B. Headey et al,PNAS Early edition1008612107, 2010
R. Layard, Happiness, 2011, (second ed.) p63 UK National Child Development Study
R. Davidson, American Psychologist, 5:1196-1214, 2003
S. Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness, 2007; J. Rilling et al, Neuron, 35:395-405, 2002
T. Singer et al, Science, 303:1157-61, 2004
C. Mellstron and M. Johanneson, J. of European Economic Association, 6:845-63, 2008
E. Dunn et al, Science, 319:1687-8, 2008
R. Easterlin and E. Crimmins, Public Opinion Quarterly, 5514:499-533, 1991 and updates
R. Layard and J. Dunn, A Good Childhood, 2008, p2-3
R. Layard et al, National Institute Economic Review, 202:90-98, 2007
R. Davidson et al, Psychosomatic Medicine, 65:564-70, 2003. BK Hölzel et al, Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaing, 191(1):36-43, 2011
M. Seligman, Flourish, 2011, Ch 9.
J.H. Fowler and N.A. Christakis,BMJ,337:a2338, December 2008
S. Lyubomirsky et al, Psychological Bulletin,131:803-855, 2005
B.L. Fredrickson, Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hidden strength of positive emotions, overcome negativity, and thrive, 2009. E. Diener and M. Chan,Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(1):1-43, March 2011
A. Oswald and D. Blanchflower, Social Science & Medicine, 66(6):1733-1749, 2008

---From the Action for Happiness website

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Humanitarians Cross All Boundaries



Regardless of faith or culture, it's breath taking when we see the wide berth of efforts to help, rescue, support refugees from the Syrian crisis.  The Daily Prism features another humanitarian effort by IsraAid.

From the IsraAid website:

IsraAID The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, founded in 2001, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to providing life-saving disaster relief and long term support. For over a decade, our teams of professional medics, search & rescue squads, post-trauma experts and community mobilizers, have been first on the front lines of nearly every major humanitarian response in the 21st century. Our mission is to efficiently support and meet the changing needs of populations as they strive to move from crisis to reconstruction/rehabilitation, and eventually, to sustainable living.

In over a decade, we have...

  • Responded to crises in 31 countries
  • Reached over 1,000,000 people
  • Distributed over 1,000 tons of relief and medical supplies
  • Trained more than 5,000 local professionals
  • Mobilized over 750 staff, volunteers, and professionals (among them 156 doctors and nurses and 100 therapists and social workers).

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Simple Act of Talking for Peace

Connect Across The Divides

C. Coimbra photo
From the Force for Good website
When we stop thinking of the world in terms of “us and them,” battle lines disappear and dialogue can begin. The simple act of talking, person-to-person, across divides can defuse conflict and dissolve prejudice, humanizing those whom we’d considered our enemy. Peace on the ground starts inside ourselves, with the acceptance of the core beliefs listed below.


  • War cannot resolve differences; only dialogue can.
  • The traits that unite humans far outnumber the differences that divide them.
  • Hatred is learned and can be unlearned.
  • True compassion has no national, ethnic, religious, or sectarian boundaries.


Forget doomsday asteroids, global plagues and super volcanoes. British theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking says we're facing a much more immediate threat -- and it's our own behavior.

“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression,” Hawking told contest winner Adaeze Uyanwah, according to the Independent. “It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.”

Friday, January 22, 2016

An Occupyathon -- Nonviolent Response to Armed Militia at Refuge

C. Coimbra photo

January 20, 2016

Two Oregon brothers have employed nonviolence against violence-promising self-styled militia men now illegally occupying a federal compound at the Mulheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

After 16 days of illegal occupation by the militia group, brothers Jake and Zack Klonoski, Eugene natives, are determined to help rid the refuge of the occupiers, “In a peaceful and meaningful way,” according to Jake.

“These extremist outsiders need to leave the refuge and Oregon,” said Jake in a telephone interview. “Zack and I wracked our brains for the first 16 days to find a way to engage the public using a nonviolent means to make our point.”

He is sure that the majority of Oregonians are offended by the occupation. “So how do you oppose bad behavior?” Jake rhetorically asked. “I read about a group in Germany who found a way to protest an annual neo-Nazi march in their town by raising money against the marchers.”  For every meter the neo-Nazis walked, $12.50 was donated to a NGO devoted to help educate neo-Nazis to change their ideology.

On Sunday (January 17), the brothers launched a website, G.O.H.O.M.E , an acronym for Getting Occupiers of the Historic Oregon Malheur Evicted. The website asks supporters to pledge any amount of money for each day the occupiers remain at the refuge headquarters.  When the occupiers are gone, donors are asked to split up their pledge between four nonprofits that are the antithesis of the self-styled militia:  Burns’ Paiute Tribe, Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“Our goal is to provide a platform that shows how clearly wrong the occupiers are, and to create a counterforce to the negative energy of extremism and complete self-absorption. The refuge is beautiful and these occupiers have managed to damage that beauty on the land and by their swarming of the internet,” Jake explained.

G.O.H.O.M.E. has drawn a substantial amount of attention. As of this writing, four days later, over $52,000 has been pledged.  (As of 1/22, the total pledged is over $62,000!)

“You can’t imagine how surprised I am,” Jake said today. “It’s a little overwhelming.” Support for the brothers’ effort has come from mostly from fellow Oregonians, but has reached across the oceans to Switzerland and Australia. Pledges run from a nickel a day to several dollars a day.
--by Charmaine Coimbra

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Canadian Vietnamese Refugees Pledge Help for Syrian Refugees

Lifeline Syria photo
Regardless of the negative news blasting through the air, at The Daily Prism, the backlog of good news keeps piling up. (The video at the bottom of this story is a smile-guarantee.)  From a December, here's an excerpt from The Globe & Mail about how Vietnamese refugees in Canada are working to help Syrian refugees:  

There are many memories of his desperate escape from a chaotic Communist Vietnam nearly 40 years ago that haunt Kyanh Do.

Saying goodbye to his family at age 17, knowing he could die during the journey ahead.

Terrifying black nights on a tiny fishing boat during the four-day journey to Malaysia.

...The scarcity of water when he arrived at a refugee camp, and the sight of shell-shocked fellow countrymen shattered by robberies, rapes and assaults since leaving home.

“The major concern that we had then was we did not know what was going to happen to us,” says Do, who managed to secure sponsorship in Canada months later and now lives in Toronto and works as a chartered accountant.

It’s those memories that consume the 52-year-old Do as he reads stories about the current plight of displaced Syrians and what’s considered the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

...Do, president of the Vietnamese-Canadian group Voice Canada, which is spearheading the effort in tandem with Toronto settlement group Lifeline Syria.

A fundraising goal of $100,000 to sponsor three families has reached $80,000 and Do hopes to close the gap by the end of the month.

Fellow former refugee Tom Tang says it’s their turn to help those in need.


He will take charge of sponsoring a potential family of five and is shouldering the responsibilities with three friends — each former refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Tanzania.
----

Lifeline Syria recruits, trains and assists sponsor groups as they welcome and support 1,000 Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants to resettle in the GTA over the next two years.

The video below captures Syrian refugee children tobogganing for the first time in their new Canadian homeland.




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

An Iman, Pastor, and Rabbi Walk into a Room...

From Interfaith Amigos website

Excerpted and edited from Interfaith Amigos website:

Known for their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor, Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon openly address the usual taboos of interfaith dialogue — the “awkward” parts of each tradition — in order to create a more authentic conversation.

They started working together after 9/11. Since then, they have brought their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor to audiences in the US, Canada, Israel-Palestine and Japan.

In their presentations, the Interfaith Amigos share why interfaith dialogue is so critically important in our world, and how each of their Abrahamic traditions both support as well as inhibit that deeper dialogue.

The Interfaith Amigos present a crucial message in their unique humorous style, helping participants appreciate the promise and the problems of the interfaith experience.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Using "Radical Transparency" as a Force for Good

Heal the Earth

C. Coimbra photo
From A Force for Good website

“A genuine concern for humanity,” the Dalai Lama has said, “means loving the environment.” His words highlight an elementary truth: our well-being links to the ecological well-being of our planet. This holds especially true for the poor, whose lives tend to depend more directly on nature and its dwindling resources. Because environmental degradation is a slow-motion event that easily escapes our notice, we can take the following measures to understand and minimize our role in it.
  • Advocate for “radical transparency” that exposes the ecological impacts of what we buy and do.
  • Embrace tools that measure the ecological “true cost” of a product or service.
  • Encourage finding better solutions to man-made problems, and remain focused on progress—not doom and gloom.
  • Extend our compassion to include both people and the planet, in equal measure.
-----

A sample of radical transparency is Social Hotspots Database --"A project (that) aims to foster greater collaboration in improving social conditions worldwide by providing the data and tools necessary for improved visibility of social hotspots in product supply chains."

Other sources include GoodGuide, BrandKarma, and SourceMap.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Conscious Beyond Convenience


From the One With Nature website
From the One With Nature website

We are a community rooted collective, promoting active outdoor lifestyles. We believe the more time you spend outside, the more connected you become to the natural world. Our products and services foster environmental awareness and we allocate no less than 25% of our profits to environmental projects. Enacting positive environmental change one project at a time.
In the past 50 years human beings have emitted carbon at a rate that exceeds the emission levels of our prior existence combined. Couple this with mass deforestation, and increasingly acidic oceans (both act as carbon sinks), there’s plenty of evidence that we are disrupting ecological systems around the world at an alarming rate and scale.
The technology boom has created the world’s fastest growing waste stream, also known as e-waste. All instigating a mass scale, resource intensive consumption culture. Yet we must realize our current consumption habits are not sustainable, but destructive. Frustrated with this reality, we formed One With Nature. An environmental collective set out to connect people with the outdoors and shape responsible consumption habits. We are not separate from nature, but rather we are a part of it and we must not lose sight of that. Therefore go outside and connect to the natural world. We must become aware of our consumption and develop a conscious beyond our convenience. Currently we are focusing on two local projects that initiate change.
1) Responsible Tourism
2) Hiking Trail Signs

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Bakery That Transforms People

"Economics as if People Mattered"

C. Coimbra photo
Greyson Bakery is a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. We operate a profitable business, baking high quality products with a commitment to customer satisfaction. Grounded in a philosophy that we call PathMaking, we create jobs and provide integrated programs for individuals and their families to move forward on their path to self-sufficiency.  From the Greyson Bakery website

"The bakery hires, trains, and houses people who were homeless, ex-convicts, drug addicts, on welfare, battered wives, or illiterate --all well trodden paths to despair.

"Tutored in skills like baking, the bakeries workers have a solid livelihood. The bakery supplies a vast amount of brownies daily to Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory in Vermont, where they are mixed into flavors like chocolate fudge Brownie. The company's motto: quotation mark we don't hire people to bake brownies; we bake brownies to hire people." From a Force for Good by Daniel Goleman

Friday, January 15, 2016

Extending a Hand -- A Force for Good

Help Those in Need



From A Force for Good website:

Being a force for good means extending our hand, our heart, and our intellect to serve the neediest among us. This may mean leaving our comfort zone to address the misery of others head-on, with selflessness and compassion. The hard work of helping the defenseless, the disabled, and the impoverished entails more than just charity—it asks us to get to the root of those plights. We can start with the following steps.
  • Recognize that the origins of poverty are not just circumstance but also mind-set.
  • Give people the tools they need to help themselves.
  • Advocate against the inequitable social policies that cause poverty and dislocation.
  • Support the advancement of women in leadership roles.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Compassion Games Begin January 15. Are You In?



From Compassion Games

The MLK Weekend: Living Beloved Community Coopetition is a 4 day challenge to bring the vision of Dr. King’s Beloved Community to life through acts of kindness and organized service projects. Beginning January 15th on MLK’s birthday and going through January 18th (a U.S. National Day of Service), participants are encouraged to honor the people and places in their lives where Beloved Community thrives while we each more fully realize our unique role in the unfolding story of our time. Uplifting one another, players strive to make the world a more just, safe, and equitable place to live for all members of the Human Family.

Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the Earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred.


How to Play

There are many ways that individuals and teams can play, from organizing creative service projects to performing acts of kindness. During each day of the MLK Weekend: Living Beloved Community Coopetition, all players will receive a Secret Agent of Compassion mission offering tangible ideas and inspiration for ways to play. Players then report and reflect on their activities on the Compassion Report Map. The reports of Registered Teams are displayed on the MLK Weekend Coopetition Scoreboard, displaying the number of volunteers, number of hours served, number of people served, and the monies raised for local or global causes. Even though we keep score, no one can lose the Compassion Games: the more people that play, the more people win.

THERE ARE 4 STEPS TO PLAY:

STEP 1:

Sign Up to Play!  Click here:  http://compassiongames.org/mlk-weekend-coopetition/
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Sign up as an individual or team to play and prepare for the Games! Invite and challenge others to generate excitement and catalyze more compassion!

STEP 2:

Play Your Hearts Out!

Organize service projects and inspire acts of kindness to give back to your community! As an Agent of Compassion fulfill missions during a coopetition, and get ideas from the gallery of Ways to Play to get started!

STEP 3:

Report and Reflect

Compassion Games Report

After your compassionate actions, report on your activities and outcomes on the Compassion Report Map, capturing the number of volunteers, hours served, monies raised, and people served!

STEP 4:

Share and Celebrate!

Share your Compassion Report to elevate compassion in the world and inspire others to play!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Honoring the Light Within Our Neighbor




Tracy Hoover writes for Points of Light:

Perhaps peace on Earth feels too removed from the terror and vitriol that fills the news, and the suffering we see in the faces of too many of our neighbors – whether in Baltimore or Chicago or Paris or the Syrian refugee camps. 

Yet a simple greeting from a Hindu friend gave me fresh perspective and made the traditions of this season come alive for me in new ways.

“Namaste,” she said. With hundreds of yoga classes under my belt, it’s a familiar refrain, and one I’ve said many times. But thankfully, this week my friend reminded me of its profound meaning – “the light in me recognizes the light in you.” 

Those words and their promise have clung to my consciousness...

... And as I’ve thought about our changemaking – and how we go about this work of helping each other and building a better world – I’m again reminded that our best work, our highest purpose and our most lasting change don’t come from ferreting out and fixing what is wrong with each other. 

Rather, it comes from seeking out, lifting up and calling on what is good in each other, in our world. It comes from recognizing the light in one another. 

The invitation to call out and connect to the good that lives in every one of us is powerful and perspective changing. It’s a habit-forming practice that gives us an extra measure of patience for a harried coworker or holiday shopper, extra grace for a demanding child, brusque spouse or that braggadocious relative you see once a year. 

It calls on our better nature. It calls us to value and be in community with people we could otherwise dismiss or demonize. And especially this year, I believe, it can be a light of hope – desperately needed hope – for our world. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Muslim Women Speak to Hundreds in Santa Fe



The following is excerpted from The Santa Fe New Mexican:

By Anne Constable
The New Mexican

Not a single seat was empty at The Forum at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design on Sunday afternoon where 10 Muslim women on a panel were preparing to answer questions about their faith. People were leaning against the walls, perched behind the stage or sitting on the floor. A Sikh man stood guard at the door. And after the two-hour question-and-answer session was over, members of the audience lined up to talk further with the panelists.

Clearly, Santa Feans, and women especially, wanted to know more about the faith that has been linked to acts of terrorism in the U.S. and abroad.

Except that that isn’t Islam, these women said. The people setting off bombs in Paris, gunning down innocent people in San Bernardino, Calif., or stoning women for charges of adultery, are not really Muslims, they said. Despite Islam’s image in the press, their faith is one that seeks peace and empowers women rather than subjugates them, they wanted the audience to know.

The audience, which numbered in the hundreds, was sympathetic to their message...

...After (the 10 Muslim women) briefly introducing themselves, they eagerly answered a variety of questions written on index cards by members of the audience. Nobody was shy.

“How does your community monitor or deal with people you know or suspect of getting radicalized?” one person wanted to know.

Sandra Akkad said they report them to the authorities. “We are part of the American fabric,” she said, adding that many potential incidents in the U.S. had been thwarted by Muslim-Americans.

Samia Assed agreed, and suggested that recruiting in the U.S. is harder than people think. “For the most part, Muslims are happy here. It’s hard to radicalize Muslim-Americans,” she said. Fatima van Hattum, who started wearing a head scarf as a teenager in Abiquiú, added that although, “We have a good relationship [with] law enforcement, we’re also watched a lot.”

When asked whether Islam advocates killing or violence, Akkad pointed out, “It’s not the religion that is killing anyone. It’s these fringe elements.” And Sabiha Quraishi chimed in, saying the Quran holds that if one person is killed the whole of humanity is killed.

... Akkad states that there are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world and the community is hugely diverse. Fewer than 20 percent are Arab, and different cultures adopt different styles of dress, she said.

... Asked whether they felt they or members of their family were in danger for denouncing the violence for which “Islamic” radicals are responsible, Assed said, “I don’t feel I have to answer for radical Islam. Of course, terror is terror, no matter what your color or race. But we shouldn’t scapegoat the whole community for the actions of some.”

She said she sees those radicals as extremists and, “We feel violated. For Islam to be taken in vain is hurtful on so many levels.”

... The terrorists are not really Muslims, said one of the panelists, pointing out that some of the 9/11 bombers were spotted drinking in a bar prior to the hijackings and some of the Paris terrorists had criminal records, both forbidden in the religion of Muhammad.

... Many people in the audience were interested in Sharia, the body of jurisprudence in Islam that is often cited in stories concerning the punishment of women. But its interpretation depends on where you come from, Quraishi, the lawyer, said, and Iran doesn’t really get it right, “which drives me insane.”

... As for whether Islam subjugates women, the panelists insisted that was one of the biggest misunderstandings about their faith. When Islam was revealed, they said, women were assured certain rights and freedoms. “Patriarchy exists,” van Hattum agreed, “but Islam does not teach the subjugation of women.”

Another panelist pointed to the treatment of women in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, calling the limits on their activities as “terrible, but that’s cultural. That has nothing to do with Islam.” Of those countries, she said, “My personal feeling is that they are afraid of women.”

Monday, January 11, 2016

Humane Economics--A Force for Good

Choose Humane Economics

Public Doman photo
From A Force for Good website:

Business can both do good and do well. But acting on this principle requires us to reframe our notions of profit, wealth, and success. The ultimate measure of economic strength—on local, national, and global levels—includes the well-being of all people, not just an elite few. Humane economic policy reduces financial inequality while allowing for entrepreneurial dynamism, and it respects the truths listed below.


  • Loving relationships of all kinds and meaningful work, which yields more than money, are keys to happiness.
  • Economic freedom can be balanced with altruism.
  • Humane economic policy is guided by compassion, not self-interest.
  • Businesses cannot be a force for good when profit is the only yardstick for success.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Rewilding" a Child's Mind

An exploratory trip through grandmother's garden is one way to bring nature to children. C. Coimbra photo

Educators and research scientists, Dr. Sarah M. Bexell and Dr. Rick A. Adams, share a concern for a growing challenge in children, called Nature Deficit Disorder. "Nature Deficit Disorder is not a medical condition — it describes our lack of a relationship to the environment. It hurts our children, our families, our communities, and our environment. Luckily, the cure starts in our own backyards," explains the website, education.com.

Bexell and Adams serve as directors for Rewilding the Mind Research Institute.  From the website, Rewilding the Mind :

Rewilding the Mind Research Institute (RMRI) is the research arm of the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch which offers hands-on, immersive naturalistic experiences for kids to inspire emotional links with nature. The focus of RMRI is to research and test innovative methods focused on fostering the human-nature bond and our innate emotional connection with healthy environments and ecosystems (Biophilia, Wilson 1984). RMRI forms partnerships with universities and NGOs in support of research and scholarship on human emotional bonds with nature, the development and disseminate of innovative lesson plans for stimulating Biophilia in any environment, and the training of in-service teachers, degree-program students, and naturalist interpreters. RMRI provides a formalized gateway for faculty and students to conduct research on Biophilia as well as studies on biodiversity and conservation at the Sylvan Dale Ranch field site.

The Challenge: Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD, Louv 2005) is defined as the maladaptive emotional disconnection of children, and thus of future adults, from the natural world in their everyday lives (Louv 2002, Charles 2009, Dickenson 2013). Though NDD is becoming more widely known, there are currently no programs or institutes, until now, specifically designed to address this immense and growing problem. The negative impacts of NDD are profound and include Attention Deficit Disorder, as well as reduced cognitive, emotional, social and physical development (Charles 2009). Moreover, the disconnect of people from nature has produced generations of adults that seem to believe that human existence is possible without functioning ecosystems, but this is far from true. Human existence is fully reliant on healthy ecosystems that oxygenate our atmosphere, remove deadly gases (e.g., CO2), clean our drinking water, buffer the damaging effects of storms and natural disasters while providing for our food and medicines.

Nature Deficit Disorder Research: The Heart J Center brings in hundreds of kids a year providing a rich opportunity for researchers to study the effects of experiential leaning and to help devise innovative ways to engage kids with nature. The development of Ph.D dissertations as well as faculty-driven research are encouraged






Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fairness, Transparency, and Accountability--Becoming a Force for Good

OPPOSING INJUSTICE

Vito Manzari from Martina Franca (TA), Italy - Immigrati Lampedusa Creative Commons
From the A Force For Good website:
Being compassionate does not mean being passive. Living by the principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability—the three pillars of an equitable society—sometimes requires us to act on those principles in the face of injustice. Beyond sympathy with victims, we are moved to speak out in their defense, to come to their aid, and to shed light on the source of the injustice. This “muscular” compassion is rooted in the simple ideas below:

  • Do not allow anger to be be a spur to action; compassion, not anger, is a better guide.
  • Act without hatred or resorting to violence.
  • When confronting injustice, oppose the act but don’t give up on the person.
  • Recognize that restraint and nonviolence are not signs of weakness but of strength.
---

From TED Talks a sample of opposing injustice, this time with the current issue of Syrian refugees:

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres thinks that we can solve the global refugee crisis — and he offers compelling, surprising reasons why we must try. In conversation with TED's Bruno Giussani, Guterres discusses the historical causes of the current crisis and outlines the mood of the European countries that are trying to screen, shelter and resettle hundreds of thousands of desperate families. Bigger picture: Guterres calls for a multilateral turn toward acceptance and respect — to defy groups like ISIS's anti-refugee propaganda and recruiting machine.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Earth Island Institute Tackles Earth's Environmental issues

C. Coimbra photo
Earth Island Institute was fashioned, in one sense, to encourage people to be bold. The name Earth Island came from Margaret Mead, who urged respect for “The Island Earth.” Her famous admonition, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has,” could be the organization’s motto.

But it takes more than thoughtfulness and commitment to repair this abused planet. To make a real difference, a group, sometimes an individual, needs support in a variety of areas – a place to work, for example, money to pay the bills, a website, maybe help with press relations or advice on the political process, help in keeping the books in order, and a myriad other tasks, large and small, that can too easily detract from time better spent on the real work, whether that means combating climate change or saving an endangered species.

This is part of the philosophy of Earth Island Institute, founded in 1982. The general idea was to provide a home for people who had an interesting new strategy for saving the Earth: Encourage them, offer administrative support, process grant money, give advice when asked for it. Earth Island would be a new kind of service organization, “a temple for all the people doing good,” in the words of Herb Gunther of Public Media Center (PMC), a nonprofit ad agency that was instrumental in getting the Institute started.



Projects include:

  • ALERT – A Locally Empowered Response Team
  • All One Ocean
  • The Altai Project
  • Alter Terra
  • The Armenian Environmental Network
  • Baikal Watch
  • Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT)
  • Bay Localize
  • The Borneo Project
  • Burrowing Owl Conservation Network
  • California Student Sustainability Coalition
  • California Urban Streams Partnership
  • Campaign to Safeguard America's Waters (CSAW)
  • CarbonfreeDC
  • Center for Ecosystem Restoration
  • Center for Safe Energy
  • Changing Gears
  • The Children in Nature Collaborative
  • Climate Wise Women
  • CoalSwarm
  • Eco-Village Farm Learning Center
  • EcoEquity
  • EFCWest
  • Ethical Traveler
  • Food Shift
  • Friends of Barefoot College
  • Friends of Muonde
  • Generation Waking Up
  • Global Trails Alliance
  • Global Women's Water Initiative
  • Green Life
  • Greenwash Action
  • Hempstead Project Heart
  • The Historically Black Colleges & Universities Green Fund
  • iMatter, Kids vs. Global Warming
  • International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP)
  • John Muir Project
  • KIDS for the BAY
  • Los Angeles Wilderness Training
  • Nature in the City
  • The Oakland Food Policy Council
  • Plastic Pollution Coalition
  • Project Coyote
  • Project Survival Media
  • Raptors Are The Solution
  • Real Food Real Stories
  • Renew Missouri
  • Rooted in Community
  • Sacred Land Film Project
  • Safe Food and Fertilizer
  • SAVE International (SAVE)
  • Serengeti Watch
  • Shark Stewards
  • Solar Campus Initiative
  • South Coast Habitat Restoration
  • Sustainable World Coalition
  • Transition Earth
  • Ultimate Civics
  • Urban Biofilter
  • Urban Bird Foundation
  • Urban Farmacy
  • Viva Sierra Gorda
  • West County DIGS
  • Wholly H2o
  • Wild Hope
  • WildFutures
  • Women's Earth Alliance
  • Youth Empowered Action

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"Social & Emotional" Education

Educate the Heart

Public Domain photo by George Hodan
From the A Force for Good website:

A goal of education could be to create not just good minds but good people. This requires a fundamental rethinking of how teachers prepare children for the challenges of adulthood. It can start with “social and emotional” learning: helping students learn how to recognize and master their turbulent feelings and to acknowledge kindness as an essential ingredient of everyday life. This fresh approach to education rests on the precepts below.


  • Education should be rooted in both knowledge and ethics.
  • Social and emotional learning should be based on sound science.
  • Techniques for emotional self-mastery are as fundamental as math.
  • An ethics-based education is one key to solving our global problems.
____

For parents and teachers, visit Social & Emotional Development website for tips on how to apply the above precepts toward students Pre-K through 12th grade.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Stand for Trees!

C. Coimbra photo

Stand For Trees empowers everyday citizens – all of us – to take direct action to protect endangered forests and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Every time you buy a Stand For Trees Certificate, you help local forest communities around the world keep a specific forest standing and prevent a tonne of CO2 from entering the earth's atmosphere.

Stand For Trees Certificates are high-quality verified carbon credits based on the proven REDD+ model and meet the rigorous standards set by the Verified Carbon Standard. Further, all Stand for Trees projects have attained or are committed to attaining verification to the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance standard, a partnership of leading NGOs that includes CARE, The Nature Conservancy, and The Rainforest Alliance. The credits are registered on the world's largest environmental registry services provider, Markit, and meet Code REDD's peer-reviewed international Code of Conduct.

What if we all stood up for trees and saved a tonne? The term 'tonne' represents a metric ton – a unit of measurement equal to approximately 2,205 pounds or 1,000 kilograms. That's a lot of CO2 that would otherwise be released into air, contributing to the man-made greenhouse gases that are accumulating and accelerating climate change in our lifetimes.

The fact is, when we stand together and purchase these unique carbon credits (or should we say 'community credits'), we shift the economics so that the trees are worth more alive than dead. And we help communities protect their forests for the long-term benefit for the many versus the short-term depletion by the few.

The funding these communities receive helps local residents pursue sustainable livelihoods that don't rely on the destructive practice of clearing their greatest resource. Communities get stronger. Vital habitats – many of them home to endangered species – are safeguarded. And fresh air is generated for all living things on the planet. Not a small thing.
HOW MUCH IS A TONNE ANYWAY?

The term 'tonne' refers to a metric tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2). By protecting forests, we are preventing millions of tonnes of CO2 from entering our atmosphere. For instance, one single mature tree in the Congo rainforest would emit as much as 18 tonnes of CO2 if it is cut down.


Compassion: A Crucial Moral Rudder

Embody Compassion

C. Coimbra photo

From the A Force for Good website:

Kindness toward others is part of our biological makeup and can play a larger role in our lives. The first step is simply to recognize that compassion is good for us: Our own well-being lies in the welfare of everyone. Genuine compassion calls for us to transcend the small differences that define race or tribe or group and embrace the commonality of all human beings. Understanding the principles below can help guide us to that goal.

  • Humans have an innate need both to give and to receive affection.
  • Caring for others improves our own emotional state.
  • Our “circle of concern” can gradually extend beyond our own group to include all people.
  • Compassion is a crucial moral rudder as we tackle the world’s problems.
---------


Monday, January 4, 2016

Swarm Social Media with Kindness Connections

C. Coimbra photo
The march to push good things to the forefront, regardless of the tantrums that can fill the pages of social media, hit my social media page this morning.  This is one of many efforts that have included:

  • Fill social media with photos of flowers.
  • Fill social media with nature photos.
  • Fill social media with kind words
To a better year-After all the highs and lows that the past year has brought personally, and after all the terrible tragedies that happen everyday, this world needs as much kindness as it can get.....I'm participating in a Pay it Forward initiative: the first five people who comment on this status with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point during the 2016 calendar year- anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown, homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once my first five have commented "I'm in" I will forward this message to put on your status. (Don't share it) so we can form a web of connection of kindness. Let's do more nice and loving things in 2016, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other. Here's to a more enjoyable and friendly, and love filled year.... Also, when I PM to you, I will need you to PM your address back to me.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Feed the Compassionate Wolf

Wolf fractal by Irina Pechkareva. Public domain.


Are you one of the growing numbers of white people in America that is angry--and more angry than ever before?

From today's Meet the Press:

Nearly half of Americans are angry, and no groups are angrier than whites and Republicans, according to a new NBC News/Survey Monkey/Esquire online poll about outrage in the country.

Overall, 49 percent of Americans said they find themselves feeling angrier now about current events than they were one year ago. Whites are the angriest, with 54 percent saying they have grown more outraged over the past year. That's more than Latinos (43 percent) and African-Americans (33 percent).

Seventy-three percent of whites said they get angry at least once per day, compared with 66 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.

The poll also found Republicans are angrier than Democrats. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say current events irk them more today than a year ago, compared to 42 percent of Democrats.

___

Sadly, anger does ooze from the pages of social media, public speaking,  or letters to the editor. Much of the anger appears rooted in fear.  Henceforth the growing want for weapons and divisive tribal or like-minded alliances.

I would challenge readers and non readers of The Daily Prism to step outside of the gnawing grasp of anger and fear.  Study upon study shows the definitive dead end of harboring those emotions and allowing them to dominate your way of life and way of thinking.

Consider this Native American tale:

Father to son:  "There are two wolves battling in my heart. One wolf is violent and dangerous, the other full of warmth and compassion."

Son to father:  "Which wolf will win?"

Father to son:  "The one I feed."

____

Todd Kashdan, Robert Biswas-Diener, suggest in an essay on the Greater Good website

When you’re angry, give yourself permission to pause for a moment, even if someone is standing there awaiting a response. You can even let them know that you are intentionally slowing the situation down. Choose to make good decisions rather than fast ones. When you’re angry, pauses, deep breaths, and moments of reflection more effectively exercise power and control than rapid-fire responses. If you feel less angry when you slow down, great, but that’s not the goal. This is about giving yourself a wider range of options to choose from in an emotionally charged situation.

Think like a chess player. Before deciding on a course of action, imagine how the other person will counter and how the situation might look two moves from now. If it looks good, continue along your present path. If it looks bad, consider an alternative behavior, imagine how they will counter that, and evaluate this scenario. Keep checking in with yourself by asking, “Is my anger helping or hurting the situation?”



Saturday, January 2, 2016

Freeing the Mind & Heart--Steps Toward Becoming a Force for Good

Free The Mind & Heart
C. Coimbra photo
From the website: A Force for Good


When we’ve learned to clear our mind and calm our heart, we can begin to overcome fear, anger, or any of our other destructive daily emotions. To become better at helping others, we can question our self-defeating emotional habits and learn to face turmoil in a calm and reasoned way. There are many techniques to train the heart and mind, but we can start with the steps below.
  • Understand our emotional patterns—our personal map.
  • Practice “emotional hygiene” to minimize the spread of destructive feelings.
  • Pause before acting on impulse.
  • Combine a calm mind with a warm, giving heart.



Friday, January 1, 2016

2016! Be a Force For Good


There is no doubt that the negative emotions of fear and anger dominated the headlines during 2015.

The near-overwhelming dark news of human behavior disheartens us. We can feel loss of ways to make our personal and social lives filled with promise and hope.

But what if we individually, and thereby, collectively decide to become "A Force for Good" and take personal action to bring fear and anger to its knees, and learn to breathe in rhythm with the earth, and smile when we feel the muscles in our face begin to grimace?

Until we each find our own peace within and act upon and share that peace, I suppose universal peace is nothing more than a dream.  But dreams can come true.  Just as we can force our anger upon others, so can we bring peace with compassionate acts overriding fear-driven behavior.

What if instead of open carry laws that represent fear and retribution, we open carry kindness and empathy?

What if instead of mocking the poor and disenfranchised, we take action to erase poverty?

What if instead of shopping 'till we drop, we find satisfaction with the many gifts that we already hold?

These are just a few thoughts about taking action to change the course of this planet and the people with whom we share this cosmic carnival ride through space.

Take 5 minutes to watch this video from the I am a Force 4 Good campaign.