Sunday, November 2, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Whether you are from a blue state, red state, purple state, BIG state or small state... it is our duty as American citizens to VOTE. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to future generations to get out there and make our voices be heard this election.
If we truly want to see change it is up to us to make it happen. We can not get complacent and think to ourselves "my one little vote doesn't matter" I live in a fairly small community and in my precinct alone, there are over 300 eligible unregistered voters! Those are 300 voices that will not be heard, if they do not take action.
I urge those of you who are registered to double check your status. Have you moved recently- is it updated? You can find out easily here. If you are not registered, you can go here and do so. Most states require you be registered at least 30 days prior to an election that means OCTOBER 4th! To check your individual State requirements, check here.
If you have time find a local event where you can set up a table and register people to vote. It is one thing we have control over- our vote. The more voices we have out there taking action the more likely that change will happen. Talk to your neighbors, donate money if you can, wear a button, put up a yard sign. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Visit this site, and support those that are making a difference in our communities:
* I know I've been a bit lacking in my posts lately, I hope to be back to posting regularly soon.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
There is something wrong when 38.8 million people stand up in solidarity against poverty across the world in one day, and it's nowhere prominent in the major U.S. press. It's wrong that of those 38.8 million, yes 38.8 MILLION, North America only contributed 109.828 to that number (www.standagainstpoverty.org)
I don't claim to be a political activist, in fact, far from it. I have my views, but don't ask me to stand up and be able to eloquently and convincingly debate them. I also don't claim to have the answers...did I contact the press and try to get the word out? No. (To my defense, I had only heard about the Stand Up world-wide event less than 2 weeks before it was to happen, and did, on short notice, organize a small 14 person event in my community.) That again, to me means something is wrong. How come I hadn't heard about it? Moreover, how did I not hear that last year 23.5 Million people stood up for this same cause and broke a world record? I watch the news, read the newspaper every day. I may not be an "activist" but I do consider myself pretty well informed on world events, and a strong advocate of social justice.
I probably sound like a broken record you've all heard before. But if something's broken, shouldn't it be fixed? All too often we on the nightly news and in the newspaper of the casualties of war, the killing of kids, by kids, in our own neighborhoods. It leads a person to want to turn off their television and tune it all out. There is too much violence, too much hurt, too many crooked politicians. The list goes on and on. But you know what? There are also a hell of a lot of people out there combating every one of those issues and trying in their own way to make this world a little better. And the more we hear these stories, the more hope there is that one day we'll overcome these issues.
So why is it, when 38.8 Million people Stand Up and Speak Out for something as important as extreme poverty - something 189 world leaders pledged to eradicate by 2015, including our very own United States, it's not a MAJOR story?
The point of Stand Up and Speak Out was to show how many people DO care, and hold the governments responsible for the promise they made. But if 38.8 MILLION people stand up , and it's not deemed newsworthy, then something is wrong. Something is wrong when you go to Google News and type in "stand up against poverty" and you have to dig 4 pages deep before you come to an article published by a U.S. news source.
I don't believe in the "Ugly American" any more than I believe in the "Islamic terrorist" or the "lazy illegal immigrant." Individuals are terrorists, individuals are lazy, and yes, some American's behave very ugly. What I DO believe is that humans are generally good people. 38.3 Million of them proved that yesterday. But unfortunately millions more don't know that because apparently it's not newsworthy.
The above is a letter I wrote (and sent) to every major local and national news agency I could think of on October 17th of last year. And no, I did not receive any kind of response from any of them.
As I mentioned in this post, meeting Greg Mortenson profoundly changed my life. When he came last September to speak on Bainbridge Island, he mentioned the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): 8 goals for improving the lives of the world's poorest people that 189 world leaders promised to accomplish by 2015. The goals are:
ø eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
ø achieve universal primary education
ø promote gender equality and empower women
ø reduce child mortality
ø improve maternal health
ø combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
ø ensure environmental sustainability
ø develop a global partnership for development
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that prior to hearing Greg speak, I had never heard of the MDGs. But, I was so in awe and inspired by the things he spoke about and his desire to educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan that the next day I immediately googled "Millennium Development Goals" in hopes of learning more and seeing what I might be able to do. That is how I learned of the world-wide Stand Up event which was taking place in just two weeks. As I did with the penny drive I said to myself "heck, I could plan one of these, why not?!" And so I emailed a handful of people who had been involved with the penny drive asking if they would like to participate. I immediately ordered white wrist bands, printed out a bit of information to hand out about the MDGs, and hoped for the best. 2 weeks later, at a local coffee shop 14 people showed up to Stand Up and Speak Out. Not an earth shattering number by any means. But 14 people more than would have stood up had I not been inspired by Greg's words and learned about the MDGs myself.
So, did my event, with a mere 14 people make a difference? I like to think so. The 14 of us became more aware, and if each of those 14 people told just one person about the event and the MDGs that means others are becoming aware and possibly taking action, and that I think is making a difference. One guy who attended was someone who walked up to me at the grocery store a week earlier (I had never met him before) and said "I think what you did with the penny drive was very cool!" and so I told him about the Stand Up event. Today I consider him a friend, and he has already volunteered to help with this year's event. A woman who was a tremendous help with the penny drive brought her two children to the event and they read the pledge to all of us. I still will often see a gentleman who attended on the ferry and he is still wearing his white wristband, as am I. In fact, the other day I had someone ask me what my white band symbolized and I enthusiastically told the person about the MDGs!
So sure, we didn't save the world that night, we didn't achieve any of the goals, and we didn't even write any letters to world leaders that night but we did come together for a common cause and became more aware. That is important. It may not be huge, but important nonetheless.
This year I have a bit more time to plan the Stand Up event (Oct. 17-19) and I hope to get more people involved, hopefully help out some local organizations who are fighting poverty and see more press coverage. If you live on Bainbridge Island and would like to get involved, please email me and leave a comment. And, if you are in another part of the country/world and want to organize your own Stand Up event please leave a comment and let me know. I think it would be wonderful if we had a whole list of bloggers out there Standing Up! I'd love to list them on here as well. Please don't think "oh, I couldn't possibly organize such an event, that's too big" because really, the size of the event doesn't matter. If just one person shows up, that is one more person aware and making a difference.
I hope to hear from you, and hope you too consider Standing Up and Speaking Out.
To learn more, and see pictures from last years event around the world please visit Stand Up Against Poverty.
~ Margaret Mead
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Something really struck me in the article. My state, Washington, became the first to pass a law making it illegal...in 2003. This shocked me on a couple of levels. 2003 was only 5 years ago. That means prior to that, human trafficking was legal here. Really? It's one of those things I guess you just take for granted...you assume "of course it's not legal to sell another human being into slavery." What's even scarier is that since Washington passed the law, only 28 other states have followed suit. Hello?? That means that today, in 21 states, it is STILL LEGAL TO SELL ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. I thought this was the United States of America...land of the free. It's heartbreaking. And something I don't think too many people think about on a regular basis.
I haven't had the chance yet to research which states have enacted the law and which ones haven't but plan to do so this weekend. After the run there are booths and live music...I am hoping to gather more information then as well. I will be sure to report back with my findings, and hopefully ways we can work to put an end to this in all 50 states. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
But that's besides the point. The point is, Seattle is taking a big step towards becoming greener. On a side note, they are also banning plastic foam food and drink containers. Finally.
I've been a convert to BYOB (bring your own bag) for quite some time now. I love my NEITHER canvas bags that are always stashed in the car for my grocery or market runs. One area that was difficult for me however was my produce. I was still using those darn plastic bags for my lettuce, apples, etc. I'd bring them home, wash them out, and reuse them as much as I could, but I still felt guilty using all that unnecessary plastic. I purchased a few mesh bags about a year ago, and have been using those- but we buy a LOT of fresh produce, my 4 little mesh bags weren't cutting it for my weekly grocery runs. I needed more. So, I was extremely happy when I stumbled upon Bag Green produce bags. Of course I could have just ordered more of my mesh bags which were serving me well, but Bag Green is made right in my own back yard on Bainbridge Island! They are super cute, work great, and Heather packages them in newspaper for mailing. She's super green, and I love it! (These pictures I took when they arrived a few weeks ago don't do them justice.)
If you live on Bainbridge, or even if you don't but are in the market for some produce bags, check out Bag Green and know that you are helping make a difference!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I'll often end up standing in the cleaning products aisle just staring at the products not knowing which eco friendly product is actually better. Is Clorox's new green line, really green? Does that brand clean better. I look at the ingredients and try and remember things I've read- reviews, etc. But sometimes that's hard. There have been times when I go to grab a product, be it food, or household, and I think to myself, "wait, didn't I read something about this company?" but I can't remember what it exactly was that I read and why I should or shouldn't buy it. Here's a perfect example. The only flavor of Luna Bar that I eat is Nuts Over Chocolate. But then I read an article about the horrors of palm oil and realized that flavor was one of only two that included palm oil. Bye-bye Nuts Over Chocolate, I won't be buying you anymore. I was discussing this with #4 and he said "you should make a list of all the products like that and the reasons to buy or not buy them so you don't have to wonder everytime you are at the store." Great idea, but haven't gotten around to it.
But guess what? I don't have to anymore because someone already has done something similar! I just heard about this great book The Better World Shopping Guide. It was first published in 2006, but they have a revised edition being released this October (if you order via Amazon, make sure you are pre-ordering the new version...unless of course you want the older version). It ranks items on your grocer's shelf from A to F for social and environmental responsibility. And it doesn't just rate grocery items, there are computers, gasoline, airlines, and other items as well. What's even cooler is that you can download it onto your iPod! There is a lot of the information available for free on their website to tide you over until your book arrives in the mail.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
- Nelson Mandela
Today there are 27,000,0000 enslaved people worldwide --- more than at any time in human history! Human trafficking is a very real problem. Just one you probably don't see every night on the news. And it's not just happening in other parts of the world. It's happening in our own backyard. Take a look at these stats from GOOD magazine:
*A slave is imported into the United States every 30 minutes
* 14,500-17,500 slaves are brought into the United States annually
* 50% of slaves in the United States are engaged in the commercial sex industry
And we aren't just talking about women. Modern day slaves come in all ages, sex, and colors. Young girls as young as 10 being being taken from their families with the promise of a better education, only to be sold to a foreigner as a slave. These numbers might be shocking to some, as they were to me when I first started researching it, or perhaps you already are aware of this horrible problem (and problem isn't nearly a strong enough word to describe the enslavement of another human being). Regardless, it is tragic. Michelle Obama was in Seattle yesterday at a fundraiser for our Governor, Christine Gregoire. On the cover of today's PI was a quote from Obama which embodies why I am running this race, and on a larger scale, why I have created this blog. She said,
I for one, don't believe in settling. That is why, when attending the local 4th of July parade on Bainbridge, and seeing an organization go by advertising this run, I investigated. As it turns out my most recent issue of GOOD had a two page layout concerning the issue, as does the Utne Reader this month.
So, the morning of August 9th you'll find me running (or perhaps walking) the race on the island in hopes of raising more awareness on this issue. For more information on human trafficking check out the Utne article, and GOOD Magazine. If you live on the island or nearby and would like to participate you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is benefiting The Tronie Foundation and the Not For Sale Campaign.
(this post was originally going to be for Monday, but when I realized that today is Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, I thought it a fitting topic)
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Similar to the concept of FreeRice where you are learning your vocab while providing food for the hungry, FreePoverty is a geography quiz. The more locations you are able to locate on a map of the world the more "cups" of water they donate. Water is the most basic element on earth, and no one should be deprived of safe drinking water. Did you know that every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-borne disease due to unclean drinking water? So, why not educate yourself and brush up on your geography skills, all while helping people around the world get the clean water they deserve! Play the game at FreePoverty and learn more about the worldwide water crises at Allie's Answers and Water.org
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We really are very lucky to live where we do. This time of year in the Northwest means sun, farmer's markets, fresh veggies, and the juiciest berries you've ever tasted! Sorry California, your strawberries just don't stack up.
As I mentioned briefly in yesterday's post, we just returned from the Methow Valley and had an amazing time traveling through the North Cascades, and enjoying nature. We returned late Saturday night, and had a packed day on Sunday. Needless to say, having been gone for a week, our cupboards and refrigerator were bare and I hadn't had a chance to get to the grocery store...we were overdue for a home cooked meal! Commuting daily for work, and usually not arriving to my front door until 6:45 every night makes it hard to grocery shop during the week (especially when my preferred market is Central Market in Poulsbo). So, what is a girl to do? Believe me, there was no way we were going to eat out...again! Lucky me, I work just blocks from the infamous Pike Place Market.
But...I have a confession. I haven't always liked the Pike Place Market (gasp!). I know, I know...how could you not love the diversity of vendors, abundance of fresh fish, locally grown produce and people watching? Well, for starters, I used to despise fish (something #4 has since changed) and then there are the tourists. It is, afterall, aside from the Space Needle, the biggest tourist attraction in Seattle. My idea of shopping for groceries doesn't usually include having to navigate through hordes of picture taking, stroller totting, path blocking, oblivious gawkers (yes, that is a generalization, but not too far from what you'll experience any given day at the Pike Place Market). I think that shopping for an eggplant shouldn't involve weaving my way through 5 layers of people taking pictures of the flagship Starbucks (seriously...it's insane how popular that Starbucks is...and it isn't even big enough to sit down and enjoy your coffee). Ahh, but I digress. Don't get me wrong...I always thought the Pike Place Market was a great place for what it was...a tourist mecca! I appreciated the flower vendors, farmers, and quirky shops...I would obligingly stroll through when visitors came to town...it just wasn't my idea of a place where I would actually shop for my daily grocery needs. Why put up with the hassle and (what I assumed where) inflated prices when I can get it at my local grocery store?
Well, that all changed when I moved to Bainbridge Island and began commuting every day. No longer could I just swing by the store on my way home (the ferry captain and bus driver don't generally accomodate those requests from passengers - go figure!) and by the time I hit the house closing in on 7pm, the last thing I wanted to do was run out to the store for that one tomato, or head of lettuce we were out of. So, about two years ago, on a sunny Wednesday lunch hour I gave in. I decided having a salad with our dinner was important even if it meant I would pay inflated tourist prices and risk my life dodging stollers and suffocation from being squeezed between zillions of onlookers. A salad was worth it. I headed down there expecting to be annoyed, and hoping I could use my amazing crowd darting abilities (really, ask #4, I'm pretty good at getting through a mob) and return with some expensive lettuce and a tomato.
If you've been to the Pike Place Market, you know exactly what I am talking about with the crowds. Head into the enclosed area, and be prepared to move at a snails pace. I made the decision that day to go to one of the first vendors I saw, on the outside sidewalk rather than attempting to manuever the interiour of the market. I also assumed, by doing this I'd be paying even more for my produce. You know, like gas stations...the first one off the freeway exit is always the most expensive. And you know what? I. was. wrong. Their prices were actually cheaper than what I paid at my "regular" grocery market. And, because they weren't "inside" the market, but instead on an open sidewalk, manuevering the crowds wasn't nearly as treacherous as I anticipated...I could breath, there weren't people 4 rows thick in front of me! Really? All this time I've avoided it because it's so crowded and I assumed (I know, NEVER assume) prices were inflated so sometimes we'd go without a tomato or head of lettuce (the horror!) for a couple of days until I could make it to the "regular" grocery store?? Well, from that day forward, no more.
I still do my regular shopping on Sunday mornings up in Poulsbo. But...when we've run out of something fresh, rather than just doing without until the weekend arrives, I grab my canvas bag and take a stroll to the market on my lunch hour -- I've actually become somewhat of a regular at that stand I went to the very first day. They know me, and I know I'm getting fresh, local produce and it is NOT priced for tourists! Looking back, I'm not really sure why I had that notion of their produce being overpriced. It's not like tourists are in the market (no pun intended) for produce. "Hey honey, let's pick up some lettuce, a ruttabega, and some cucumbers and take them back to the hotel room!" Yeah, probably not.
So there you have it...last night we had organic local red leaf lettuce, HUGE green onions, roma tomatos, cucumber, corn on the cobb, and lime with our beer. All this without having to ask the ferry captain to make a pitstop for me at the store!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I just heard about this new site about a week ago. I've visited it several times since, and after reading every last thing on their site, I can't come up with one good reason why I would NOT become a "loaner." So, I did. I took the plunge and made my very first personal micro loan to a woman in Ecuador.
The thing that is so great about the concept of Kiva.org, and other micro loan organizations like Global Partnerships, etc., is that it's not just "charity." You (the lender) are helping others help themselves. I don't believe one single person on this planet deserves to live in poverty. Nor do I believe anyone wishes it upon themselves or others. Being a "loaner" I am helping someone build their business from the ground up and helping them achieve success in their business that they may not have otherwise had, given their circumstances.
I may not be able to contribute a lot, but even a small amount I, or anyone else for that matter, is able to loan, is an integral piece in helping end the horrible cylcle of poverty.
Check it out and see what you think! Kiva.org
Monday, July 7, 2008
(I'm out this week celebrating #4's 40th birthday so if you don't see any more posts this week don't think I've already given up on the blog...I haven't, just not sure I'll be around internet and besides, you only turn 40 once!)
Thursday, July 3, 2008
We try to buy local and organic whenever possible. This time of year that means lots of veggies and fruits- yea! There is a fairly new organization on Bainbridge Island called Sustainable Bainbridge which focuses on the environmental, economical and social concerns of our community! They are tackling things such as the plastic grocery bag issue, green buildings, and what I want to highlight here - Sound Food. This site is a great resource for anyone who lives on Bainbridge as it has a map of the local farms, offers resources for buying local and what that means, recipes, and lots more. One of the coolest things they have implemented this year is a Ferry Farm Stand - every Wednesday at the ferry terminal on Bainbridge they offer locally grown produce in convenient $5 bags. The program just started last week. I made sure to have cash on me, but low and behold, it was so popular that by the time my ferry arrived, they had already sold out. Bummer for me but great for them as all proceeds go directly to the farmers! I wasn't about to miss out again yesterday. With my $5 in hand I headed towards the front of the boat as it was approaching the dock in order to be one of the first off...it paid off...
I was able to get 1 Quart of fresh, juicy and oh so sweet LOCAL strawberries...YUM! Can't you almost taste them just looking at them? (something tells me #4 will have eaten them all by the time I get home tonight!)
Please pass along any local organizations or businesses you know that are working to make the world a better place. I'd love to know about them, and get the word out.
Have a safe and fun 4th of July!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I met Laura last year when I did the Pennies for Peace Drive. She was the first person to contact me and offered her full support. Without Laura's help during the drive, it would not have been the success that it was- thank you Laura!
All of us probably have been affected in some way by knowing someone diagnosed with Breast Cancer...a mother, sister, aunt, coworker, or maybe even yourself. I admire Laura for what she is doing and am very happy to hear that her mother is doing very well. This is a horrible thing to have happen to anyone, and I fully support every effort to find a cure. If you'd like to join me in supporting Laura in her 60 mile walk, please click here, or on the link to your right and you will go directly to her fund raising page.
Friday, June 27, 2008
So, a little about GoodSearch. It's a search engine, just like Google, Ask.com, etc. Just another search engine? Heck No!! Would I even be wasting your time if it was just another old search engine? No I wouldn't, I'm not like that, thankyouverymuch! So what makes it so spectacular? Are you ready? Ok...what is so totally rad (did I really just use the word rad?) is that every time you enter something into GoodSearch's search engine, money is donated to the non-profit of your choice. Seriously. Don't believe me? Go check it out. There are thousands of organizations on there to choose from - even Greg Mortenson's (see my last post) and if there's a non-profit you don't see you can ask for it to be added. Come on, really, how cool is that? You're reading this blog right now, so I know you use the internet...why not put your internet usage to do good? Could it be any easier?
Edit: Ok, after a bit more snooping around on their site, I learned you can do even more good just by shopping at some of your favorite online retailers like Amazon, iTunes, ebay, Target, and hundreds more! No kidding...check GoodShop!
As I research and learn more about the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) and ways we, as individuals, can help, I realize how many "easy" ways, like playing a vocab game, there are for average Joe's like you and me. So, while I may not be a big non-profit, or a philanthropist who's able to write big checks, I can do my part by trying to educate others and get the word out.
So, what are you waiting for - go check it out - it's FREE, it's FUN, you'll feel SMART, and you'll do be doing GOOD!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
It was almost exactly this time last year that I placed a phone call that would turn into quite possibly the most extraordinary thing I’ve done to date in my life. I don’t mean to say that what I did was extraordinary, but rather what transpired – the journey, events, and results of that phone call where extraordinary. I had just finished reading Three Cups of Tea One Man’s
Ok, welcome back. Hopefully I didn’t sound like too much of a dork in that article that it scared you off. To tell you the truth, immediately after finding out that I had the “ok” to proceed with the drive I emailed the local paper thinking that maybe, if I was lucky, they might eventually contact me and run a little blurb. What ended up happening was that I received a phone call less than an hour later asking if they could interview me the very next day for an article. Wow, that was quick, and needless to say (as apparent in the article) I wasn’t all that prepared. What did I know? It was still just an idea at this point and I hadn’t really thought the whole thing through as to execution and such. I’m spontaneous like that!
To make a long story short…because believe me, this could be VERY long…the Pennies for Peace Drive on the Island ended up raising just shy of $15,000 for Greg Mortenson’s foundation! Yes, I too was amazed. Of course there were a few high roller checks and some $20’s thrown in, but in large part it came from thousands and thousands of pennies and other small coins being dropped in 5 gallon water jugs placed throughout the community. Like I said, I could write forever on this event because it truly did change my life, and I’m sure I’ll touch on aspects of it in other posts in the future, but…I don’t want to scare you off right away with the first post being too long. What I wanted to say though, was that it was this book, this completely out of character (for me) spur of the moment call, the man, Greg Mortenson, and the ensuing experience with the drive that finally made that old cliché ring true for me. ..one person really can make a difference…no matter how large or small your effort is, the fact that you are making one is making a difference because…all the little things do add up. And that, right there, is why I’ve created this blog. To share with others the little changes I’ve made, or am trying to make, and also highlight others in the world making small and big changes as well. I hope you enjoy.