Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hiedelberg Project - Art As A Means To Revitalize Horribly Blighted Detroit Community

Named for Hiedelberg Street in Detroit The Hiedleberg Project began with Tyree Guyton decorating houses in a  Detroit community that resembled a burnt out war zone in 1986. Today the project uses art to teach community children about art and the environment while instilling a sense of community. Through the organization's ingenuity they have engaged students and professors from Wayne State University to the University of Michigan and Harvard.

The photo here is of artwork from Tim Burke's Detroit Industrial Gallery

Working with children that walk past rubble, debris, crime and abandon houses day after day The Hiedelberg project networks urban vacant lands into art/play/garden spaces while teaching children the philosophy of  "art-as-life."

They have a Young Adult Heidelberg program that is nurturing and mentoring young adults, 18 - 25, to become community leaders and nurture the growth of art in Detroit.

To aid the growth of art in Detroit the organization features emerging artists in 4 rotating shows annually. And coming soon will be a children's book "Magic Trash," telling the story of  Tyree Guyton and his art.

Learn more and share with your social media followers and connection. Go to http://heidelberg.org/

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Helping Teens Aging Out of Social Services and Terminally Ill Kids Through Education, Camping and Bass Fishing

Last week sitting at "Five," the bar at Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley, CA I struck up a great conversation about social responsibility and giving back with Chris and Roy-- 2 independent contractors taking a break from their work. Their passion and personal mission is to reach out and help  teens "aging out" of our social services system and kids with terminal illnesses whose parents -- as a result of drug addiction, finances or other circumstances -- really aren't there for these kids.

Through our conversation I learned about  a national organization called  Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) and their charitable work including education- literally getting kids to college and striped bass fishing trips - giving many kids  their first experience outside of gang and violence riddled neighborhoods. They even have a summer camp program.

What's more I mentioned to Chris and Roy, in passing, my own little effort with my kids of literally filling our living room and kitchen with  hundreds of brown paper bags and making  lunches we hand out to the homeless (generally at 5th and San Pedro in Los Angeles) from the back of our car.  I'm not wealthy and with the tight economy I have recently done less of this than I'd like. Chris and Roy  volunteered to, through IOOF, provide me the food to give out to the homeless. I'm probably going to get their Lodge wrong - I think it is Lodge 206 or 207 (sorry Chris and Roy). But by all means got to http://www.ioof.org/ourwork.html to learn more and get involved.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Robin Hood Tax To Take On Poverty and Climate Change?

Started in the UK and spreading  to  25 countries and counting The Robin Hood Tax initiative is a collaboration and partnership between many nonprofit organizations, politicians and activist volunteers in countries including England, Canada, the United States, Spain, Mexico, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands and more. The idea is to turn our global financial crisis into an opportunity to provide funds to address gender equality, climate change, international maternal healthcare.  The thinking is-  as result of the financial crisis  created by  hedge funds, banks and other financial institutions  these issues have gotten worse.  An example from Britain is that according to an IMF report as a result of the global financial crisis 1 in 5 British families has to choose between food or paying for heat.

Now think of conditions in  impoverished developing countries that were in the worse economic circumstances to begin with and where the  result of the financial crisis has resulted in even more devastating poverty, slower progress toward access to clean water sources and towards improving conditions  for the healthcare of infants and mothers. 

The idea of The Robin Hood Tax is that the financial institutions that caused the global meltdown need to pay to clean up the mess they made. The idea is that instead of mega bonuses and government  bailouts these financial institutions be charged a tiny tax on their billions that would go toward improved education, cleaner environment,   healthcare, gender equality and more.  This coalition of nonprofits, politicians and volunteers is not only spreading an idea they are getting legislation enacted.  In March 2013  volunteers protested in Washington DC. American celebrity supporters  include Russell Simmons, actor Mark Alan Ruffalo, Michael Moore and Tom Morello Grammy winning guitarist for Rage Against The Machine. To learn more visit the Robin Hood Tax YouTube Channel

Thursday, February 23, 2017

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 http://www.globalunderwaterexplorers.org/ , where you can also shop at their store to support them or visit  http://www.ghostfishing.org/

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jessica’s Hope Project –Providing Nutrition-Based Care Packages To Deployed Military

It all started when Jessica Maddin was inspired to send an email to the CEO of 24 Hour Fitness and within 10 days had received an unbelievable amount of donated goods. Since December 2013 Jessica’s Hope Project has shipped nearly 2,000 nutrition-based care packages to deployed troops. They are raising money to cover shipping of more care packages and keep the momentum going.

The nonprofit says that according to data from the U.S. Marine Corps, “The average deployed individual loses 50 pounds per deployment.” The mission of the Jessica’s Hope Project is to keep this from happening by providing protein bars, muscle milk and vitamin supplements to as many military individuals as possible to maintain their physical well-being and mental sharpness.

In many locations where troops are deployed there are very few, if any, food options other than
MRE’S (made ready to eat) which were not designed to be the daily sole nutritional source for 2000 daily calories – and apparently the MRE’s are not appealing in terms of each taste or texture.

In addition to donations to cover shipping costs of the care packages donations will also make possible Bam-Bam Feasts for some lucky recipients returning home. That’s when Jessica’s Hope gets a chance to actually meet someone returning home that has received a care package and take them out to a restaurant of their choice for a “feast.”

To see examples of their care packages, more images of recipients – and of course to make a donation visit http://www.jessicashopeproject.org

Monday, January 23, 2017

Growing Peace Through A Ugandan Coffee Bean

If you haven’t heard the inspiring story already you must find a way to see the documentary “Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean,” directed by  Curt Fissel. The film tells a story we can all learn from.

 In 2003 J.J. Keki , a Ugandan coffee farmer had a dream. To make his dream a reality he walked door to door and asked his Jewish, Christian and Muslim neighbors to put their differences aside for the benefit of all. They were all third and fourth generation coffee farmers struggling to make a living with  low local coffee prices.

The farmers did put difference aside and formed the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.  With help from Laura Wetzler from the US-based organization Kulanu, and  Paul Katzeff, CEO of Thanksgiving Coffee Company in Fort Bragg, CA,  these Jewish, Christian and Muslim farmers formed a coffee cooperative that is not only sharing delicious coffee around the world but also showing by example that  differences can be put aside, and with dialog and partnerships in their place, a delicious peace can grow as well.

The coop has grown from a few hundred farmers to around 1200 and has expanded to cocoa and vanilla. To support the coop you can learn more about purchasing coffee products at www.thanksgiving coffee.com or by visiting  http://www.mirembekawomera.com

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hillsides- Serving Vulnerable At Risk Youth in SoCal

This Southern California nonprofit group home provides special education and counseling to children of abuse, mental illness or in foster care. The main campus is 17 acres and includes 6 group homes serving kids 7 – 18. 

Founded nearly 100 years ago HILLSIDES, based in Altadena, CA,  has made its mission is to create safe places for children, strengthen families, provide special education; and advocate for children’s rights. This Southern California nonprofit creates safe places for children in its residential treatment program where children living in the group homes, are in foster care or that have been referred by the Department of Mental Health or public school districts. On the Hillsides’’ campus  they have the chance to live in a secure, stable environment enabling them to heal and rebuild trusting relationships with adults.

Hillsides works with many social and child services organizations, including Los Angeles County, Pasadena, Glendale, and San Gabriel Valley school districts who refer their students to the nonprofit. Through the efforts, support and encouragement of the Hillsides’ staff children begin to heal through programs and services that offer therapeutic activities, special education and family crisis intervention. To learn how you can volunteer, donate school supplies, school clothes or make a cash donation visit  www.hillsides.org.