Friday, December 26, 2014

Feel Good Friday - AAA Tipsy Tow

For those of you who have been following this blog for over a year, you'll recognize that this is a Feel Good Friday flashback!

Why in the world is there a repeat blog, you ask? Well, New Year's Eve is upon us and I want you to know about a way you can have fun and still stay safe. The original blog post from 2013 is below.


The American Automobile Association, really?


AAA makes me feel good every day, not just Friday. They can assist you with travel, buying a car and connecting you with tons of discounts. If you're me, they'll also jumpstart your car, change your flat tire and tow you when you blow a head gasket, burn out a clutch or otherwise breakdown on the side of the road. As a side note, I swear I spread these (and other) distress calls over 22 years and two cars.

The reason they are the topic of today's Feel Good Friday post is because of their Tipsy Tow program. New Year's Eve is this Tuesday and a lot of people will go out, celebrate and ring in the new year with a cocktail or two. This can be problematic if you've driven to the festivities. Research from the CDC states, "Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impared drive. This amounts to one death every 48 minutes."

AAA is here to help. From 6pm on December 31st to 6am on January 1st, AAA will provide a free ten-mile tow home for drinking drivers and their vehicles - whether your an AAA member or not!

If you need this service, call 800-222-4357 (AAA HELP), tell the operator "I need a Tipsy Tow" and they'll send a tow truck out to get you and your car and drive your drunk butt home. Even if you don't need a tow but you're happy that it's an option, show your support by liking their Facebook page.

For those of you living and celebrating in San Francisco, MUNI is FREE from 8pm Dec. 31st to 5am Jan. 1st. Most other Bay Area public transportation companies are offering free, and extended hour services that night as well so do yourself a favor and use them!

Thank you for all your support of the Feel Good Friday blog in 2013. I can't wait to share 52 more reasons to feel good in 2014! Have a fabulous, safe and happy New Year!


All of that and here's to a fabulous 2015!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Last Minute Gift Guide

Happy Feel Good Friday! Hanukkah is here, Christmas is coming... if you're like me, you've waited until the last minute to do your shopping. Don't worry, there's an upside!

For today's Feel Good Friday, we're going to take a look back at companies we've profiled in 2014 that have a feel good product to sell. Given how last minute this list is, you may need to make these presents for the new year or save them for someone's birthday in 2015. But hey, now you've got your birthday shopping taken care of too. You're welcome.

Click on the links below to go to the original FGF posts and get all the details!

Guardian Princesses - books about "super heroines who work together to protect the people and the planet."

GoodWeave -  rugs made without child labor by a group that also provides "education and opportunities to rescued and at-risk children."

Thistle Farms - beauty products made and sold by women in Tennessee "who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets."

luminAID - a solar-powered, waterproof, inflatable light. When you buy one for yourself, take a moment (and get a discount) to buy one for a person liven in a country without reliable access to electricity.

ChopChop Magazine - a magazine full of recipes to teach kids how to cook real food with their families.

GoldieBlox - engineering toys designed for girls to get them interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Wonderbag - "a non-electric, heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source." For every Wonderbag you buy, one is sent to a family in Africa!

If you'd rather make a donation to another organization in someone's name or buy a goat for a family in Guatemala, you can scroll through the Feel Good Friday archives to get ideas or just to feel good.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Homeless Prenatal Program

I learned about today's Feel Good Friday organization from a friend. Located in San Francisco, Homeless Prenatal Program is celebrating their 25th anniversary!

As summarized on their Twitter page, a great place for summarizing, "Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP): a nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood poverty and family homelessness. We serve over 3,500 families every year."

Founded in 1989 by Martha Ryan, HPP's mission is a simple one, "In partnership with our families, break the cycle of childhood poverty." You can watch this video to hear Martha tell her story and/or keep reading.

The services of HPP have evolved over the years from prenatal care for 72 women in the first year to a more comprhensive set of services provided to over 3,500 families each year. These include; housing assistance, prenatal education and parenting classes, community health worker training, mental health counseling, domestic violence support, substance abuse resources, child care, emergency food and SRO vouchers, a Community Technology Center, income tax assistance and a resume and interview workshop!

What has been the impact of these services? From their website, "More than 90% of children born to HPP clients are born healthy (of normal weight and drug free). More than 80% of our Community Health Worker Training Program particpants graduate, and more than 90% of the graduates secure meaningful, family-sustaining jobs in community based organizations within 30 days. In addition, more than 400 families each year are able to obtain permanent housing with our assistance."

Ready to support this organization? If you live in the Bay Area, you can volunteer in the Community Technology Center, Wellness Center or Low Income Tax Clinic and no matter where you live, you can always donate a little cash.

In the month of December HPP is celebrating 25 years by sharing 25 success stories. To keep this Feel Good Friday feeling going, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @HPP_SF.

If you've got a suggestion for a FGF story you'd like more people to know about, tell me! I'm always on the lookout for a reason to feel good.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Our Better World

Can you think of a better way to spend Feel Good Friday than giving a non-profit organization $10,000 that isn't yours? I can't! How is that even possible? Our Better World.

The "about us" section of their website explains it best. "We think stories are magical. And we think people are powerful. Both have the ability to touch the heart, challenge the mind and spark the soul. So we tell stories, with a focus on Asia, to bring together the magic of stories and the power of people, to inspire change - to make it our better world. Along with featuring people who are changing lives and whose lives are changed, we pull together a range of tangible, useful actions for you to join the journey."

It's like taking an Inspiration Safari through Asia! The basic idea is, the more people that share these stories, the more people will learn about, and potentially help, the profiled organizations. You can browse their entire catalogue of stories here.

"Yes, but what about giving away $10,000", you ask? Great question. For the entire month of December, Our Better World is asking people to vote for the "good story of the year". You've got 12 entries to choose from and you can vote for one video each day. Voting ends on December 31st at 10:00am Singapore time, so do yourself a favor and start watching these videos and voting now. I've got a few favorites so I'm glad I can vote more than once!

The reason I created Inspiration Safari was to help share good news stories from around the world and I'm very happy to support an organization that's doing the same! I also relish any opportunity to give away other people's money.

The best way to get the message about about Our Better World and the voting is using social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @obetterworld

Friday, November 28, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Giving Tuesday

Happy day after Thanksgiving! Many know today as "Black Friday" and spend their morning running  from store to store to get the super bargains. For me it's still a Feel Good Friday and here's why - Giving Tuesday!

In 2012, 92nd Street Y in New York (92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association) joined forces with the United Nations Foundation to create Giving Tuesday, "inspired by the core Jewish value of tikkun olam, 'repairing the world'."

The day is meant to counterbalance Black Friday and Cyber Monday's focus on consuming and celebrate the holiday season by giving. Although this is only the third year, the idea is catching on and now over 10,000 organizations worldwide participate. Non-profits create unique goals, corporations double employee matches, individuals find ways to give what they have whether that's money or time. Last year the city of Baltimore set a goal of becoming the most generous city in the United States and raised 5.7 million dollars in one day!

Not sure how you can get involved? There's an entire tools page with case studies on giving, tool kits, ideas, examples and videos. You've got the whole weekend to figure something out!

This campaing has a huge social media focus so while you're coming up with your Giving Tuesday goal, be sure to like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @GivingTues. Once you've got a plan, let the world know by using #GivingTuesday in your posts. The best part of this is you don't have to get up early or stand in line to participate. Now that's a tradition I can support!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Global Sisters

You've heard that sisterhood is powerful. Heck, you may have even said it! Today Feel Good Friday is taking a quick trip Down Under to learn about the power of Global Sisters.

As stated on their website, "Global Sisters is a unique online platform and e-marketplace which provides a 'start to finish' approach in assisting socioeconomically disadvantaged women in Australia to develop an income stream via micro business or social enterprise."

The goal of the organization is "financial independence for female micro-entrepreneurs." This will be achieved by having an online marketplace where women can sell their creations as well as to providing business advice and micro loans to fund these women.

Those of you in Australia can become Big Sisters and support the women in the program by taking their photos, helping them tell their stories or providing business advice. The rest of us can help out by bookmarking the shopping page, currently under construction, or liking their Facebook page, which has the latest and greatest news. Sisters really are doing it for themselves!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Global Women's Water Initiative: Update

It has been my goal to share a new inspirational story every Feel Good Friday and I've been doing it since November 30, 2012.

Today I'm going highlight an organization I first told you about in August of 2013, the Global Women's Water Initiative. Think of this as less of a repeat and more of an update. For those of you who are recent followers and/or don't keep meticulous track of this blog, you can find the original post here.

Rose Wamalwa
In brief, GWWI trains women in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to bring sustainable water solutions to their communities. Women in these countries can spend up to 8 hours a day fetching water and doing water related chores. If the water is not clean or good sanitation and hygiene practices are not followed, people in these communities suffer from preventable water borne diseases. The women involved in the GWWI program become water, sanitation and hygiene technicians, trainers and entrepreneurs. More details can be found on their website or by watching the Inspiration Safari video interview with GWWI Executive Director, Gemma Bulos. (That's new since the original post!)

Godliver Businge
Last night two of the trainers from East Africa spoke in detail about the impact their work has. Rose talked about a clinic in Kenya that could not deliver babies because they had no clean water, forcing pregnant women to walk miles to the next village to have their babies. After women trained by GWWI built two rain  water harvesting tanks, the clinic has delivered over 30 babies and the government has taken notice and provided the clinic with additional support.

Godliver told the story of a woman who spent 25 years as a commercial sex worker to support herself and her two children after her husband left her. Inspired by the training she received through GWWI, she's now a skilled mason and respected member of her community, hired to work on local water projects. In fact, 70% of the women who have participated in this program have increased their personal income.

If you're still not convinced what an awesome program this is, watch this video of the women involved with GWWI. You can keep this work going by making a donation and/or sharing this story on social media. Like the Facebook page follow them on Twitter @womenwater and do what you can to help this ripple spread!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Guardian Princesses

Tired of watching and reading about the princess who waits for the prince to come save her? Worried about the impact that will have on a youngster in your life? Well then you'll love today's Feel Good Friday the Guardian Princesses!

I first learned about them through this Upworthy article. The summary provided on their IndieGoGo campaign page explains, "The Guardian Princesses are new super heroines who work together to protect the people and the planet.  They are a group of racially and cuturally diverse leaders who model compassion and intelligence, as well as the power of knowledge and collective action. Our stories transform the cultural meaning of the princess from a damsel-in-distress to brave heroines providing better role models for all children." You go, girls!

The Guardian Princesses were the idea of UC Riverside Professor, Shetsu Sigematsu, who was concerned about the effect the princess culture was having on her young daughter with it's focus on external beauty and the need to be rescued rather than take charge of a situation. She decided she couldn't fight the power of the princess so she wrote new stories. Not only do these princesses offer fabulous role models for young girls, but the stories also meet the Common Core requirements for all you teachers in the house.

The first three books are out, you can order them here, and there is an IndieGoGo campaign underway to launch a book for the next princess, Ten Ten, Guardian of the Skies. She's "the first ever gender independent East Asian super heroine." What's not to love?

You can learn more by listening to an NPR story from last year and stay current by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter @GPgeneration1

Last, there's a music video you can watch and get stuck in your head in case there's any other princess song you need to let go.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Giants Community Fund

Giants fans in San Francisco and beyond are certainly feeling good this Friday as the Giants celebrate a World Series victory with a parade!

There's another reason the Giants are today's Feel Good Friday topic and that's the Giants Community Fund. For the last 20 years, the team has sponsored the Junior Giants. 

As explained on their website, the Junior Giants "is a free, non-competitive and innovative baseball program for boys and girls ages 5-18 years old." The Community Fund provides all the uniforms, equipment and training and serves over 21,000 kids.

But it's not just about learning how to appreciate and play baseball. "Junior Giants focuses on the four bases of character development - Confidence, Integrity, Leadership and Teamwork - and offers programs in Education, Health and Violence Prevention."

Their Round the Bases Reading Program encourages kids to read during the summer months by awarding Giants branded awards as the kids reach various achievement levels. You can learn more about the program by watching this video and following the fund on Twitter @giantscommunity

I would love to tell you more about it but I've got to get to the parade!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Globetops

As I sit typing this blog on a MacBook Pro, I think about an old PC sitting in my closet that I no longer use. Is there a Feel Good Friday solution for what to do with my old laptop? Of course there is! The best news is it will work for your old laptop too.

Globetops is a non-profit organization founded by Becky Morrison which, according to their Facebook page, "connects people who have laptops they don't use anymore with someone in the world that needs one." So simple and yet, so awesome!

The Globetops site says that "roughly 220 million tons of old computers and other tech hardware are trashed in the United States every year. 50% of those computers are in good working order." By donating your laptop to Globetops, you not only prevent your computer from flowing down the e-waste river, but you also empower someone to use technology to improve their lives and connect with the world.

The laptops are distributed in Guinea, Haiti, India, Nepal, Brazil, Kenya and the United States. You can watch this video to follow the journey of a laptop and see how it works. Much like Kiva, if you're interested in donating a laptop, you can either give it to the organization to send to any project or choose a specific recipient whose story moves you. Current people in need of your old laptop can be found here.

While you're waiting for the latest upgrade to whatever you have, get excited to donate your soon-to-be-old laptop by reading the origin story of Globetops in this article from Daily Good or viewing this gallery of photos guaranteed to make you smile.

As with all the groups profiled on Feel Good Friday, you can stay in the social media loop by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Globetops

Excuse me while I go dig through my closet.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue

Perhaps today's Feel Good Friday should be renamed, Look Good Friday. Why? Because Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue is raising funds by selling a 2015 calendar titled "Hunks and Hounds".

I first learned about this while swooning over, I mean reading this Huffington Post article. Yes, it has pictures.

According to their Facebook page, "Louie's Legacy is a non-profit, grassroots all-breed animal rescue which saves, rehabilitates and rehomes animals from high-kill shelters across the United States."

If you live in or near Cincinnati, OH or Staten Island, NY you can foster or adopt one of these animals. Anyone who loves shirtless men and animals can support the organization by buying a calendar at this link.

I haven't been able to figure out who Louie was but the organization in his name is doing great animal rescue work. Louie is leaving quite a legacy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Parikrma Humanity Foundation

A year ago, Feel Good Friday highlighted the work of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani advocate for girls education and today she shares the Nobel Peace Prize with another Feel Good Friday subject, Indian child rights campaigner and founder of GoodWeave, Kailash Satyarthi! On this Feel Good Friday we're going to share more good news about education in this part of the world.

The Parikrma Humanity Foundation was founded in 2003 in Bangalore by Shukla Bose. As stated on their website, "Parikrma's ambition is to ensure that quality education is accessible to marginalized children."

Children from the poorest slums in Bangalore typically go to government run schools, when they go at all. The education provided is substandard and dropout rates are high. To combat this Parikrma's model focuses not only on delivering top quality education with an emphasis on learning English, but also 3 meals a day and comprehensive health care and family care.

Parikrma schools educate students from levels K-12, afterwards they provide scholarships to college or vocational training before placing the children in jobs. With four schools and 1500 students, Parikrma is making a huge difference in the lives of these children and their families!

To learn more you can read this in-depth article from the Christian Science Monitor and watch a short video with fabulous music that shows how much change you can affect with 1/2 a day's salary.

To get involved as an international volunteer check this link. As always, an easy way to keep yourself educated about what Parikrma is doing is by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter @parikrma

Friday, October 3, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Bridges to Prosperity

If you've been following Feel Good Friday (and probably even if you haven't), you've heard of people building houses around the world with Habitat for Humanity. Well it's a new Feel Good Friday and time you heard about people building bridges around the world with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P).

Their mission, as stated on their website, is a simple one. "Bridges to Prosperity provides isolated communities with access to essential health care, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers."

B2P was founded in 2001 by Ken Frantz, a man who saw a broken Ethiopian bridge in a National Geographic photos and was compelled to rebuild it. Since that beginning, they have built 140 bridges around the world and, much like Habitat, B2P partners with local builders to use local building methods and materials in the bridge construction.

Their vision of "a world where poverty caused by rural isolation no longer exists" is slowly being realized. Data on their website shows that after a bridge is built, "12% more children enroll in school" and there is a "24% increase in healthcare treatment, 18% increase in women employed (and) 15% increase in local business".

Living in a city where the bridges I cross to get things done are iconic and photogenic, it's important to realize how vital something as simple as a well-contructed footbridge can be in a community of people that walk everywhere.

To learn more about the work being done by Bridges to Prosperity, you can watch a 3 minute B2P promo video or the 11 minute TEDx talk from CEO Avery Bang. As always, like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @B2P

Friday, September 26, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Read Indeed

You know I love literacy projects and this Feel Good Friday I want to let you know about one that was started by an 8 year old! 

Maria Keller is an avid reader and was surprised when she learned that not all children can afford to own a book. This inspired her to start Read Indeed

As their website explains, "Her original goal was to collect and distribute 1 million books to kids in need by the time she’s 18. She accomplished this goal before the age of 13! Now she wants to distribute books to all 50 states in the U.S. and every country in the world."

She's a much more ambitious youth than I ever was. It's no surprise Maria received a Jefferson Award in March of this year. You can watch the news report about Read Indeed here to see Maria in action.

If you support the idea of children around the world having access to books you can get involved by donating either books or money or, for those of you who live in Minnesota, you can swing by the warehouse to do a little book counting, sorting and hauling.

As always, stay in the loop by liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter @ReadIndeed or watching for an upcoming report by CNN. Read Indeed, indeed!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Feel Good Friday - GoodWeave

One of my sources for the Feel Good Friday inspiration is KarmaTube. They send weekly videos to my email (they can send them to yours too) and I wanted to share one I saw recently.

The short video, Stand with Sanju, explains the problem of child labor in the carpet industry and what GoodWeave is doing to stop it. For a more in-depth look at this campaign, read this article from Kristina Bravo at Take Part.

I found the most concise summary of their work on the GoodWeave website. "The handmade carpet industry exploits nearly 250,000 children. GoodWeave is helping to combat this problem and transform the rug industry by certifying child-labor-free rugs and by providing education and opportunities to rescued and at-risk children."

It took a coalition of businesses and NGOs to establish GoodWeave in 1994. The first carpets were exported from India to Germany and now GoodWeave operates in India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Germany, the UK and the USA.

Since those initial shipments, GoodWeave has sold 11 million carpets which has enabled them to free almost 3,600 children from looming rugs and send 11,000 children to school! Their success depends on donations and people purchasing GoodWeave certified rugs. Where can you find them? Check this page for a retailer in your city.

There are plenty more videos you can watch on their YouTube channel. Like their Facebook page  and follow them on Twitter @GoodWeave for updates on the Stand with Sanju campaign.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary

It's been a few months since Feel Good Friday focused on animals so today we're going to Thailand to learn about the Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary.

British traveler, Katherine Connor, was inspired by the courage of a young, very ill elephant named Boon Lott (survivor in Thai) when she was volunteering at an elephant hospital in Thailand. So inspired that she launched an international fundraising campaign to get him the medical treatment he needed and stayed in Thailand to help care for him. When he died, she created the Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary in his name.

As stated on their website, "BLES strives to rescue and protect the elephants of Thailand from abuse and ultimate extinction. We provide a safe home where we focus on individual survival and growth in numbers." With the use of elephants in industry in Thailand ending in 1989, many of the mahouts (people who care for the animals) began using their elephants for illegal logging or tourist entertainment in order to feed their families and their elephants. City life, and often being pumped with drugs, reduces the elephants'  life expectancy due to stress and malnutrition.

Not only does BLES care for the animals, they also employ local mahouts to work at the sanctuary. Again from the website, "We are deeply committed to our village community and provide jobs and housing to several mahouts and their families. We encourage local participation in BLES activities and promote education about elephants and their plight as well as the environment."

Want to get directly involved supporting BLES? Take a trip to Thailand, stay at the sanctuary and work as a volunteer. With room for only 6 guests at a time, you need to plan ahead since they are currently fully booked through April, 2015!

If you're not able to visit, you can adopt an elephant for $30/month. Profiles of the sanctuary elephants can be found here. More ways to stay involved from the comfort of your own home - watch a short video of frolicking elephants here. Read a more in depth article at this Christian Science Monitor link and be sure to like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BLESELE

Friday, September 5, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Pack for a Purpose

I'm back from Burning Man and have most of the dust out of my life! Most.

It was a good, and sometimes frustrating, time in the desert and I have ideas about how I will do things differently next time. One thing for sure, I will pack less.

For those of you who have already mastered this art and find yourselves with a bit of extra room in your suitcase every time you travel, let me introduce you to today's Feel Good Friday organization, Pack for a Purpose!

In 2009, Rebecca and Scott Rothney had the idea to use extra space in their luggage to bring supplies to a school in Botswana. They worked with their safari company to determine what supplies the school needed and Pack for a Purpose was born.

Their mission, as stated on the website, "is to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to bring meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit." With the help of fellow travelers, more than 30,000 pounds of supplies have been brought to communities that need them.

Check the destination page to see if you'll be traveling anywhere near a Pack for a Purpose project. With partners in more than 50 countries, the odds are good!

So next time you hit the road, leave some room in your suitcase to bring supplies to your destination. Once you've made your donation, you've get room for some local souvenirs. Win-win.

Learn more by watching this introductory video and stay in the social media loop by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @PackforaPurpose.

With back to school sales in all the stores, this is a great time to start plotting your next adventure!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Burners Without Borders / Black Rock Arts Foundation

This Feel Good Friday is a two for one - both inspired by Burning Man! Why? Because on Monday I leave for Burning Man and will be there next Feel Good Friday with no internet connection.

As they explain on their website, "Burning Man is an annual event and a thriving year-round culture. The event takes place the week leading up to and including Labor Day, in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. The Burning Man organization (Black Rock City LLC) creates the infrastructure of Black Rock City, wherein attendees (or "participants") dedicate themselves to the spirit of the community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, leaving no trace."

Burners Without Borders (BWB) and Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) are the two feel good examples of Burning Man's year-round culture we're going to highlight today.

BWB takes its name from Doctors Without Borders and has a similar mission of providing help around the world. From the website, "BWB promotes activities around the globe that support a community's inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative approaches to disaster relief and grassroots initiatives that make a positive impact.

It started in 2005 when some burners (Burning Man participants) went to Biloxi, Mississippi to help rebuild a Vietnamese temple that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers continue to provide disaster relief, helping people in the Philippines rebuild after Typhoon Halyon and people in Colorado rebuild after the recent floods. Some examples of their support for community initiatives include fundraising for maternity clinics in Nicaragua and sending post Burning Man bikes to Namibia with Bicycles for Humanity. You can see a full list of their projects here and find out how to get involved. 

To stay connected via social media, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @B_W_B

BRAF was also founded by burners with the mission to "support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation". More from their website on how they work - "Through our Grants to Artists and Civic Arts programs, BRAF works with communities in the Bay Area and around the world to collaboratively produce innovative, relevant and pioneering works of public art that build community and empower individuals."

This includes providing grants and fiscal sponsorship for artists bringing their work to Burning Man as well as public displays of art outside of Nevada. People living in San Francisco may remember the recent interactive monkey piece outside the Exploratorium or be familiar with the rotating art pieces along the Embarcadero at Pier 14. All brought to you by BRAF.

You can see examples of this art in their online gallery or watch videos on their YouTube page. Stay connected by liking their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BRAF

I've got to get back to packing and preparing for the big event so I will leave you to enjoy the art.

See you in two weeks!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Comic Relief

It's been a sad week with the sudden passing of Robin Williams. As more people fill social media with memories of their favorite Robin Williams' films, I wanted to make today's Feel Good Friday about an organization he supported for many years -  Comic Relief.

Comic Relief USA was a non-profit organization "created in 1986 by comedy writer, producer and actor, Bob Zmuda, to raise funds to help those in need." From what I can tell on the website, they have not been active since 2010 but I remember many a fundraising show hosted by Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal. Why shouldn't laughter be a way to help people in need?

For their 20th anniversary in 2006, they raised money for the people of New Orleans who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. You can watch a clip of Robin's standup from a 1987 Comic Relief show here.

While the US organization seems to be no more, the UK version of Comic Relief, which got its start a year earlier in 1985, is still going strong!

Like its US counterpart, Comic Relief raises money to fund projects that help people in need. You can go to this interactive map to see exactly what they're doing. International organizations they support work on issues such as climate change, people affected by HIV and AIDS and people affected by conflict. Domestically they support issues related to mental health, young people and alcohol and using sport for change.

Since 1988, Comic Relief has celebrated Red Nose Day. From the website, "It's the one day, every two years, when people across the land can get together and do something funny for money at home, school and work." Doing something funny and wearing a red nose sounds like fun, but then what? "Comic Relief spends the money raised by Red Nose Day to help people living tough lives across the UK and Africa." Kind of makes you want to get a red nose, doesn't it?

You can watch highlights from the last Red Nose Day here or go to their YouTube page for additional videos. To keep up on social media, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @comicrelief and/or @rednoseday.

Despite the fact that sad things happen in the world , there is always something positive going on and finding those stories is what Feel Good Friday is all about. Thank you for following and supporting us!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Feel Good Friday - WE CARE Solar

It's Feel Good Friday and time to shine a light on a great project that brings light to maternity wards in developing countries!

First some statistics from the WE CARE Solar website. "Maternal mortality worldwide accounts for 300,000 deaths a year; 99 percent of those occur in underdeveloped countries."

Dr. Laura Stachel, co-founder of WE CARE Solar, went to Nigeria in 2008 to study ways to lower maternal mortality. She discovered that lack of reliable electricity was a huge problem which impaired maternal and surgical care and often resulted in patient death. She contacted her husband and energy educator, Hal Aronson, who created a portable solution using solar panels to power LED lights, headlamps and walkie talkies. She brought this "solar suitcase" back to Nigeria where it was well received as having the potential to save lives.

Together, Dr. Satchel and her husband founded WE CARE Solar. Their mission, as explained on the website, is "seeking to improve maternal health care delivery and thereby reduce the number of women who die in childbirth or pregnancy in the developing world."

To date, "approximately 300 Solar Suitcases have been assembled and sent to 25 countries around the world." You can go to this interactive map to see how many suitcases are in each country and what the impact of having them has been.

Dr. Satchel was recently celebrated as a CNN Hero for her work bringing solar suitcases to clinics around the world. You can read the article on CNN and watch a video about the project here. For more photos and videos visit their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @wecaresolar - let there be light!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Feel Good Friday - RainCity Housing

Happy Feel Good Friday!

Today, we revisit a popular topic on this blog -  the homeless. Of course I don't mean popular because we love it, but popular because it is a big issue that many organizations are working on.

This time, we go to RainCity Housing in Vancouver to see what they're doing to fulfill their vision of "a home for every person".

You may have seen the recent online article by Take Part about bus benches that convert to shelters for the  homeless. This is only one of the innovative solutions RainCity provides!

As they state on their website, "The homeless are not homogenous. By offering a variety of housing and support options, RainCity Housing can ensure that appropriate, supportive environments are available to our clients." These environments include emergency, transitional and long term housing. They also have housing designed to meet the unique needs women and people living with mental illness, addiction or other health challenges.

Although their focus is "housing first" other services provided include community outreach to the chronically homeless, food support and life skills classes on issues such as medication administration and money management.

Statistics from their site show that last year alone
  • 149,845 meals were served
  • 58,968 interactions were recorded, all leading towards personal goals
  • 29,660 shelter stays were provided
  • 180 people previously homeless were assisted in securing independent housing 
Individual success stories are published at this link on their website and you can watch their Open Your Heart News Videos here. As always, to keep most current, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @raincityhsg.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Upworthy

If you're a fan of Feel Good Friday, it's quite possible you're already a fan of Upworthy.

It's a website created in 2012 by "Eli Pariser, the former executive director of, and Peter Koechley, a former managing editor of The Onion who also worked at MoveOn". (For all the details, read this early review of their site in The New York Times.)

Under the tagline "Things that matter. Pass them on." Upworthy curates video content that has more substance than most of the viral videos I get suckered into watching. The mission statement from their original launch read, "Hi, we're Upworthy, a new social media outfit with a mission: to help people find important content that is as fun to share as a FAIL video of some idiot surfing off his roof."

    If you've never seen any of their videos, this "best of" link is a good place to start. Topics include, among many others, community, diversity, environment, gender, inspirational and political posts. Their videos always have an impact and whether they make me angry or happy, I'm glad I watched.

    As a person who is also trying to get more positive, important and inspirational stories out in the world, I love to see what they offer and I'm impressed with how their cleverly written headlines make me click on videos I might not have watched otherwise. Inspiration Safari could learn a lot from Upworthy!

    To stay in the loop, like their Facebook page, subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Twitter @Upworthy. I'm doing all three!

    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Feel Good Friday - Girls Who Code

    We start today's Feel Good Friday with some statistics that don't feel good. "In middle school, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.3% of high school girls select computer science."

    This info comes from Girls Who Code, an organization formed in New York in 2012 that works "to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities."

    During the academic year, their nationwide clubs offer computer science education and tech industry exposure to girls from 6th to 12th grade.

    For the last two summers they've operated a Summer Immersion Program. As they explain on their website, it's "seven weeks of intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development with engaging, career-focused mentorship and exposure led by the industry's top female entrepreneurs and engineers." For girls in the Bay Area, this year's programs are taking place at Intuit, Facebook, eBay, Twitter and Square to name a few.

    One of the statistics that Girls Who Code reported after the program in 2013 is that "99% of participants said they are considering pursuing a career in technology and 81% definitely intend to do so."  You go, girls!

    You can get more information in this short article from PC Mag and since they are a technology focused organization, the best way to stay in touch is by using technology! Like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @GirlsWhoCode. I've managed to do it and I was a Sociology major!

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Feel Good Friday - It's Not About Us

    Today's Feel Good Friday is quick, simple and fabulous.

    It's Not About Us is an organization in New Zealand focused on "finding, developing and implementing solutions that target the root causes of poverty, suffering and need."

    As explained on their website, they "research, design, develop and implement solution focused systems and process's that target underlying causes rather than consequences". They also raise funds and work "to develop turn-key systems that allow other people/groups to undertake their own autonomous missions/projects that fit with (their) vision."

    The products they've developed include a hydrobine which can bring water from a low pressure source to a water tank that can supply a village, and a fire pipe which cooks with less smoke, less wood and more heat.

    Currently, they're raising money to bring a hydrobine to Vanuatu. You can watch this video to see the installation of the first hydrobine in 2013. If you like what you see, you can support this campaign via their Facebook page.

    See? That was quick, simple and fabulous!

    Friday, July 4, 2014

    Feel Good Friday - Swords to Plowshares

    Happy Feel Good Forth of July Friday! As we celebrate the independence of the USA, I want to take some time to highlight people who defend our country and an organization that defends these veterans.  

    As explained on their website, Swords to Plowshares "is a community-based, not-for-profit veteran service organization that provides wrap-around care to more than 2,000 veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area each year. We are committed to helping veterans break through the cultural, educational, psychological and economic barriers they often face in their transition to the civilian world."

    Swords was founded in 1974 by six veterans who were concerned with the unmet needs of veterans returning from Vietnam. Early services focused on discharge upgrades, employment, training and educational assistance. 

    40 years later, Swords has programs focused on employment and training, legal services, supportive housing, health and social services, women veterans, as well as national advocacy and policy. The last update on their history page states, "Today Swords is operating with a budget of more than $8 million each year and employes over 100 employees across seven sites. With the support from foundations, corporations, state and federal grants, Swords is able to provide services to veterans from all walks of life and a variety of complex needs." Most recently, they received a $1.35 million grant from Walmart, which they will use to expand job training programs for veterans throughout California. 

    To learn more about Swords and the work they do, watch this 3 minute introductory video or attend a free play highlighting issues of women veterans. Details here. You can always like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @vetshelpingvets. Best of all, if you're looking for workthey're hiring!

    Now get outside and grill something.

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Feel Good Friday - DreamPower Horsemanship

    If you're like me, when you think of Gilroy, you think of garlic. Not only is Gilroy the "Garlic Capital of the World", it's also home to DreamPower Horsemanship, the organization I'm profiling on this Feel Good Friday.

    Founded by Martha McNiel in 2002, DreamPower Horsemanship is a non-profit organization that provides equine assisted activities and therapies to people with special needs. They have a variety of programs, including equine facilitated psychotherapy, therapeutic horsemanship, and working with veterans with PTSD.  Their mission is "Building lives filed with dreams, and the power to make dreams come true."

    As explained on their website, "Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is provided by the synergistic team of the horse and the therapeutic riding instructor, who is a licensed mental health professional. In the barn setting, therapeutic activities provide powerful tools for building self-awareness, self-esteem, appropriate boundaries and a sense of personal responsibility. Therapeutic interactions incorporate the power of the horse, the clinical skills of the therapist and the hopes, dreams and challenges of the person working with the horse." While this treatment is still considered experimental, according to the Equine Psychotherapy website, "Equine therapy provides students with skills of patience, self-confidence, trust, and compassion." All that and you learn to ride a horse!

    DreamPower also a Ponies & Preschoolers program to help children get ready for kindergarten and you can set up a team-building retreat if you want to get your whole crew to experience the power of working with horses. It's the only organization I've seen so far that not only includes a link to meet the staff but also a link to meet the horses.

    To learn more, watch this short documentary by Alexandra Granados or like their Facebook page to so you can be in the loop with their upcoming events.