Monday, December 1, 2014

Volunteer Divers of Nonprofit Ghost Fishing Scours The Ocean Removing Nets That Kill Fish

For this Netherlands-based charity a very special set of unique skills, along with passion, are required.

And according to founder Pascal van Erp, “It is very important to show the world how big the problem is that we are talking about.” “There are lots of nets out in the oceans.”

Each dive costs between $2,000 and $2,700. Thus far the group’s only source of support has come from the Dutch government: $530,400 from a pool created by the sale of lottery tickets.

Pascal leads a team of 30 to 40 volunteer divers in the North Sea. His group coordinates and works with a loosely integrated network of like-minded divers around the world. “In the last three years, we have made 100 dives and removed 10 tons of fishing gear from the sea,” he says. The nets are then recycled into socks and other textiles.

Their efforts are both difficult and dangerous. “It’s the most difficult type of diving I’ve ever done,” says Heather Hamza, one of roughly 50 volunteer divers who make up Los Angeles Underwater Explorers a Ghost Fishing affiliated group. 

Volunteers encounter a number of dangerous hazards including low visibility, the possibility of getting tangled themselves and most of all being catapulted to the surface too quickly by the lift bags they used to get the nets to the surface. This can result in illness or even death. As a result the southern California affiliate only solicits help from advanced divers with military-like training. 

To learn more visit , where you can also shop at their store to support them or visit

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bikes From Lotus Pedals Helps Keep Girls Safe-And Gets Them To School- In Rural Cambodia

Due to the vulnerabilities of rape and sex trafficking most parents prefer to keep their girls home rather than subject them to the dangers of getting to school. As a result only 11% of girls in Cambodia reach secondary school. In 2013 the Lotus Pedals program was launched to provide bikes to young Cambodian girls. The program is slowly making a positive impact in increasing the number of girls going to school.

According to Erika ­Keaveney, executive director of Lotus Outreach International, the San Francisco charity that runs the program, “Lotus Pedals is a simple intervention but a terrifically effective one.”

The charity spends $80 to provide each bike, counting the costs for transport and delivery, a repair kit, and a pump, along with project management and follow-up.

In 2013  Lotus Outreach ensured that 302 young riders got to school. The program has identified 381 additional students who may qualify to receive a bicycle. There remain thousands of girls across the country want to attend school but have no means of transportation.

Beyond the bike initiatives Lotus International serves over 30,000 women and children mainly in Cambodia and India through initiatives on education, health, anti-trafficking and economic empowerment.  To learn more about the work of Lotus International and to find out how to support their Lotus Pedals bicycle initiative visit

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Growing Home Leading Us To New Thinking On Nutrition And Environmental Responsibility

Watching the documentary Urban Fruit by Roman Zenz I was fascinated by the story of Rishi Kumar a highly educated engineer by training who gave up a promising career in information technology to choose a different path. Along with his mother they have transformed their once wasteful and nonproductive meticulously landscaped yard into a productive bio diverse urban farm which uses about 1/3 the water it took to keep their lawn green. 

They have done so while creating healthy organic food in abundance. In fact more than enough for themselves, their extended family of relatives and friends and untamed wildlife not limited to rare butterflies, hummingbirds, mosquito fish, dragonflies and raccoons that struggle to eke out good diets due to urban sprawl.

This project has grown into a mission of education on the how-tos and benefits of urban farming and creating bio diverse mini ecosystems that give back to our environment as opposed to simply taking. 

The Growing Home is a model for sustainable urban living. 

They offer classes and workshops, and host talks by experts in native gardening and organic farming. Rishi works with educators and young students in the Pomona California School District on hands on organic urban farming projects. They also participate in the Institute of Urban Ecology and in hosting a radio show on KPFK 90.7FM called The Good Food Movement.

To volunteer, request a speaking engagement, make a donation or visit their online shop for organic medicinal herbs visit

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Southern Rural Women Committed To Help Themselves And Others

The Southern Rural Black Woman’s Initiative (SRBWI), founded in 2000, works in 77 counties across the Black Belt regions of Alabama and Southwest Georgia, and the Delta in Mississippi.
SRBWI is focused on meeting the needs of unemployed and underemployed Black women using advocacy, self empowerment, capacity building, technical assistance and public education activities so that low income women become advocates for themselves and others. 
The organization’s mission is to support and facilitate the capacity of women to take responsibility for their own personal and economic lives. SRBWI, through outreach programs, engages women in advocacy and policy initiatives to redirect local, state, and federal resources to help ensure women’s full access to economic and social justice.  SRBWI also helps build links between women’s groups focused on this common goal. 

They also have an economic and community development agenda for women which includes workforce development for women in the region.

And, through their NEW VISIONS project the organization is engaging young women in the work of SRBWI by teaching marketable skills in media technology and production.    Training with local filmmaking-mentors in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi New Visions Apprentices receive instruction on industry standard software, artistic forms of storytelling and technology.

Go to, or email --- and use your social media "klout" and social networks to spread the word, donate or share expertise.
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Turning The Tables- Gen Y Talks To Parents About Cancer

Roughly 5 years ago while her mother was recovering from cancer Yael Cohen over heard the phrase "fuck cancer," said in passing.  It resonated with her... that and the fact that her generation... Gen Y has been left out of the cancer conversation because they are not the target demographic most susceptible to the disease. But Yael thought "We've taught our parents about technology. We've talked to our parents about watching their cholesterol. Why aren't we talking to them about saving themselves from this disease?

While the organization started out raising money and awareness by selling t-shirts with that explicit phrase-- and a PG version,  F___Cancer, the organization has grown to much more than t-shirt sales. The mission and message of Fuck Cancer is to promote early detection, prevention and awareness by engaging Gen Y'ers to engage their parents in "the cancer conversation.

To rally your social following to action and to learn more go to
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pachamama Alliance Works for Sustainability of Amazon Rainforests and Achuar Culture

Founded in 1995 by Bill and Lynne Twist the Pachamama Alliance is a remarkable partnership between socially conscious citizens of the “modern” world and the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest.

By the early 1990's, from contact with neighboring tribes, the Achuar knew that oil companies were poisoning the rainforest and everything alive in it and steadily moving closer and closer to their home.  They knew their land and their traditions were in danger.  They boldly reached out to the “modern” world that was threatening their land and their culture. Bill and Lynne Twist were among the people who traveled to Ecuador to hear the plight of the Achuar people.

The Achuar shared their vision of self-determination and a goal to change the culture of the “modern” world from over-consumption to a culture that honors and sustains life.  They were looking for allies from the North which they found in the Twists who returned to the U.S. and founded the Pachamama Alliance.

Among the key goals of the Alliance are to educate and engage citizens of the “modern” world around the vision of the Achuar, the global negative environmental impact powerful and influential oil companies are having in the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador and Peru and the importance to us all of sustaining the culture and worldview of the Achuar and its neighboring tribes.

It has probably NOT come to your attention  that President Correa of Ecuador recently announced plans to terminate the Yasuni-ITT Initiative to leave crude oil underneath Yasuni National Park untouched in exchange for financial support. The Pachamama Alliance has worked for the past 18 years, and continues to do so, to engage us through workshops and events to work for the ongoing protection of such areas and in appreciation and protection of cultures of the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest.

Visit their website to learn more about their workshops and trips they offer to experience the rainforest and Achuar culture. Most importantly you will find information on how to donate to support their work. 91% of their donations come from individuals like you. Visit
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Pay It Forward Foundation

The Pay It Forward Foundation is  based in An Luis Obispo, CA.

I will be conserving my words this post and instead sharing two video from the Pay It Forward Foundation. The first video is a reminder of this year's  upcoming "Pay It Forward Day" --April 25, 2013.

The second talks about how you can get involved.

You can find more informative videos at their site And as always remember you can use your social networks to do social good by sharing this information.
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