Monday, July 6, 2015

Ithaca Children’s Garden Anarchy Zone



Offering year round education in the form of innovative, research-based programs, events, and workshops, designed for children, families, schools, educators, volunteers, and community members Ithaca Children’s Garden is described as a program and a place. The garden was organized in 1197 by organized in 1997 by Harriet Becker, Mary Alyce Kobler, and Monika Roth.

In 2004 the organization secured a lease of 3 acres in Cass Park from the city of Ithaca. The garden’s Nature Anarchy Zone demonstrates and exemplifies the  educational and developmental benefits of unstructured play.

Kids can get dirty digging for worms, playing with rocks and sticks, building forts, climbing trees, and generally daring to engage in the kind of wild and unsanitized play that was common 70 years ago but would scandalize today’s average helicopter parent.

 Somehow  children’s lives and time have become overwhelmingly structured, scheduled play dates appointment outings that have supervised structure agendas and schedules. "We’re starting to make the connection that our children don’t have access to enough free play," says Erin Marteal, executive director of Ithaca Children’s Garden, which established the Anarchy Zone in 2012. "There’s data to back it up that children are more creative, more active, and they communicate better when they’re engaged in open-ended play that they’re directing."

Other such adventure playgrounds are popping up around the country as more and more parents embrace the idea of unstructured play.

The beauty of a space like the Anarchy Zone, Ms. Marteal says, is that almost nothing is dictated to the kids. There are only three rules: Children in the zone must take care of themselves, each other, and the environment. Their mission is a simple one.. to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards

To make a donation or learn more about Ithaca Children’s Garden and unstructured adventure playgrounds visit http://ithacachildrensgarden.org/

Monday, June 29, 2015

StoryCorps - Giving Us A Chance To Tell Our Stories

I have always been a big fan of spoken word and the art of storytelling. I look forward to platforms like the MOTH.org and TED.com because they give us a chance to get outside ourselves and literally jump into the experiences and perspectives of so many others.  Spoken word and story telling are ways of connecting in an intimate way with other individual's lives. I've always come away from these listening experiences with a greater appreciation that we ARE all connected.

The StoryCorps ("storycore") mission is to collect as many American stories as possible from all walks of life. StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit.   Since 2003  they have collected over 45,000 stories with over 90,000 folks participating.  

The storyteller gets a copy their story to share. The stories are also preserved  in the American Folk Center at the Library of Congress.  

These stories ranging from couples talking about how they met, families of immigrants sharing experiences of America assimilation, a daughter dealing with her mom's diagnosis of Alzheimer's and a Mother talking to her daughter about being a transgender woman make up an audio tapestry of American lives..... stories well worth sharing and preserving.  We can all use social media- a digital platform for sharing stories- to share the story of  StoryCorp and support their work.  Visit http://storycorps.org/
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Monday, June 22, 2015

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 http://www.pachamama.org
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Monday, May 25, 2015

United Nations Association- Citizens Engaged To Support the Millennium Goals Of The UN


If you’re a member of a local chapter of the United Nations Association stand up and take a bow. If you even know what the United Nations Association (UNA) IS raise your hand. 

The UNA is a nonprofit citizens' organization, separate from the United Nations, dedicated to supporting the mission of the United Nations, and with a key goal of making more citizens like themselves, and government officials, aware of the vital role the United Nations plays in global peace keeping, addressing global environmental challenges,  bringing war criminals to justice,  providing women and families in developing countries with family planning resources,  fighting for gender equality, universal primary education, reducing infant mortality and work to eradicate HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases.

Local UNA chapters reach out to educate politician and local folks about the missions of the United Nations. Chapter members help assure citizens and politicians are engaged in U.S. political dialogue, legislation and initiatives related to UN global efforts as global citizens.
Participation opportunities for local chapter members are only limited by the membership’s own creativity. Chapters host documentary film festivals, partner with the Levitt Pavilion summer concert series,  host community talks with professors from nearby colleges and university and hold meetings with local government officials. 

One of the UNA’s cornerstone programs is called “The Model UN.” Through this program, locally high school student actually join to act as a “model” United Nations, as “representatives” of a variety countries to discuss real issues the United Nations is dealing with.

To find a chapter near you or to learn more about the United Nations Association visit http://www.unausa.org/


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Light Bringer Projects Creative Contributions + Room 13



Light Bringer is a Pasadena California based nonprofit with signature events including the Annual Chalk Festival- the largest street painting festival in the world and the annual Pasadena Doo Dah Parade –a spoof on the Pasadena Rose Parade.

The organization is credited with opening the first young artists’ Room 13, an international network of self-sustaining young artists driven creative studios, to the U.S.A. To date Light Bringer is credited with spearheading the opening of five Room 13 young artists’ studios in the greater Pasadena and Los Angeles County area and the momentum of more Room 13 studios opening across the country.

Other studios are now open in Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina and Indiana. A recent display showing in Pasadena’s Public Library was inspiration for a Room 13 to start in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Room 13 studio model is based upon four pillars of learning: philosophical inquiry, creative expression, reciprocal learning, and business enterprise. Each studio is guided by an adult artist-in-residence/mentor, referred to as AiR, who facilitates the students in their studio practice and achievement of the four stated objectives.  Each studio is led by a student management team, responsible for decision-making and implementation of the business model.

Other Light Bringer programs include “L.A. Futures” providing real-world experiences to high school graphic design students to project mentoring by creative professionals, “Literature for Life” which brings creative works of Los Angeles area writers to the classroom and state of the art writing curriculum to teacher as well as their “Expressing Feelings Through Art” program.
To donate or learn more visit http://lightbringerproject.com

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Art Aids Art Creating Sustainable Development Through Art, Literacy and Self-Image



Art Aids Art is an Altadena California and Cape Town South Africa based nonprofit founded in 2003 by educators and human services professionals. The organizations serves two key initiatives; educating American citizenry about South African culture and the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis and serving women and children in the impoverished areas surrounding Cape Town.

The organization provides economic opportunities to South African artists collectives through art sales in the U.S.A. Annually the organizations  leads an intergenerational group to Cape Town to provide services in partnership with South African organizations.

Art Aids Art also has an ongoing “Babies And Books” program collecting gently used black dolls and multicultural literature for the children of eKhaya eKasi Center in Khayelitsha township. Books are prohibitively expensive in South Africa and still often limited to the Afrikaans and in South African child centers dramatic play areas tend to have only white dolls – providing no opportunity for children to see a reflection and validation of themselves.

To find out more about getting involved through cash contributions and donations of dolls and books visit http://www.artaidsart.org

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shine On Sierra Leone-Shining A Light Creating Sustainability And Self-Sufficiency




Shine On Sierra Leone (SOSL) has made great and impactful strides since I first spotlighted them two years ago.  Everything has been achieved through the sheer determination, positive spirit and a conviction to change things for the better in the 7th poorest country in the world. Behind it all are founder Tiffany Persons and the organization’s committed and energized teamof staff and volunteers.

Since I last posted here SOSL’s projects have expanded form education, microcredits (through a partnership with Salone Microfinance Trust, SMT) and sustainable development—adding the SOSL Maternal and Child Healthcare program and a nationwide Computer and Adult Literacy, partnership with ST Foundations' Digital Unify Program, and Ecotourism.

They have also added some impressive and impact-adding partnerships; Operation USA privately funded NGO focused on providing reconstruction and development aid around the world, the Lower Eastside Girls Club of NYC creating a SOSL chapter of the organization focusing on entrepreneurship and educational programs and Cash & Rocket a luxury brand platform. through one initiative Cash & Rocket engaged 70 of its female entrepreneurs driving from Barcelona to Cannes to Florence to Rome successfully raising $170,000 for SOSL.

To date SOSL has built 5 primary and secondary schools today serving over 1,700 students.  The adult and computer literacy program outreaches to 6,000 individuals annually.

With all of this momentum, including a planned groundbreaking a new secondary school, SOSL is now facing the added challenge of the impacts of EBOLA. As Tiffany says, "We have come a long way grown exponentially and fought tooth and nail every step of the way.”  

SOSL has stepped up and is leading an active role in the fight against EBOLA. As of Tiffany's most recent update SOSL was the only organization in this fight on the frontline in this battle in the Kono region of Sierra Leone where SOSL Muddy Lotus School and the planned news secondary school are located. They are responding by providing education on and resources against this threat in their region in partnership with Well Body Alliance. This includes training of more than 100 community workers doing outreach as well as creation and distribution of a “Village Kit” including preventative supplies and resources. SOSL along with Well Body Alliance, has a goal to put together and distribute 10,000 of these kits which each cost $150.

There are a number of ways to support SOSL and those it serves- donate to provide one Village Kit which saves many lives, sponsor a Shine On Sierra Leone school student, pay a teacher’s salary. Get involved spread the word through YOUR social media, donate and learn more at  http://shineonsierraleone.org