Friday, August 28, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Zen Hospice Project

I like Feel Good Friday to be a wide variety of stories from all around the world. Since we spent the last two weeks with talking trees in Australia and six year old superheroes in Singapore, it's time to bring it back to the United States and get serious.

Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco offers direct care, educational programs and inspirational support to both the dying and the living.  As stated on their website, "Our mission is to help change the experience of dying. We create space for living that offers the opportunity for individuals, their loved ones and caregivers to find comfort, connection and healing in this shared human experience. Through our pioneering model of care, we inspire each other to live fully."

They operate a 6-bed licensed residential care facility for the chronically ill known as the Guest House. It first opened in 1990 "as a community-based model to attend to those dying and in most need of support. As an early responder to the AIDS crisis, we provided care when others would not during this era of fear." Now they have a partnership with UCSF and host healthcare students and residents in addition to providing two beds for UCSF patients.

Zen Hospice also offers classes in mindful caregiving and has trained 1500 volunteer caregivers to date. They have 125 active volunteers who work both at the Guest House and also with hospice patients at Laguna Honda Hospital. Since they've been in operation, Zen Hospice has served more than 31,000 people in the Bay Area. 

To learn more about the impact they have had over the years you can listen to short stories told by people involved with Zen Hospice. You can also watch a 2 minute video and hear from the Executive Director BJ Miller or read a San Francisco Chronicle article about him from 2011. 

As always, to stay in the loop, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @zenhospice

Friday, August 21, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Superhero Me

You know what makes me happy on Feel Good Friday? Little kids in Singapore picking out superhero powers and names and then creating costumes for themselves. It's almost too adorable to handle but I encourage you to try.

As explained on their website, Superhero Me "is a values-based craft movement inspiring children to develop a stronger sense of self through costume crafting. It aims to create awareness for early childhood education in Singapore and trigger children to discover the joy of creative confidence."

The goals of Superhero Me are to build character, celebrate imagination and affirm doing good. It all began on Children's Day 2014 to empower preschoolers from less privileged families and is a part of Startwell, "A national movement that seeks to give Singapore's children the best possible start in life."

Deciding on what superpowers they will possess and creating their costumes from start to finish gives the children a sense of power and pride - and it looks like a ton of fun! If you click the "meet the superheroes" section of the website, you can use a sliding tool to transform children in matching uniforms into superheroes with names such as Lady Rain, Singing Tornado Boy, Master Chef and Electro Claw.

If you want to inspire a child in your world to become a superhero, you can download the toolkit here.  Even more information and craft cutouts can be found at the website of the Superhero Me festival that was held in June, 2015.

To up the adorable factor, you can watch the full 11 minute documentary about the program here or check out the 6 minute version included in an article from Our Better World.

To support the work of the Superhero Me project, like the Startwell Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @StartwellSG. And, since you've still got over 2 months, perhaps this will inspire you to Superhero You for Halloween!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Melbourne Urban Forest

We're starting this Feel Good Friday post with a trip down memory lane. If you're a fan of Dr. Suess, you'll remember his character the Lorax who speaks for the trees. Well in Melbourne, Australia, the trees have email addresses and they're speaking for themselves!

I learned about the Melbourne Urban Forest Visual from this Daily Good article by Adrienne LaFrance. Two years ago, the City of Melbourne gave an email address and ID numbers to the 70,000 trees they maintain so that people could report any problems with the trees. Here's why.

A quick read of the FAQ section of the City of Melbourne Urban Forest Precinct Plans provides the following information:

"Thirteen years of drought and water restrictions have now accelerated the severe decline of our trees. In addition, many of Melbourne's trees were planted at the same time, so they are now reaching the end of their life at the same time. Our research shows that we will lose 27% of our trees in the next 10 years and 44% within 20 years - that's almost 30,000 trees." In addition just three species (eucalyptus, planes and elms) account for 35% of all the trees, a lack of diversity that makes the tree population more vulnerable to future threats.

To combat this loss, the city has developed Melbourne Urban Forest strategies designed to:
  • increase canopy cover
  • increase urban forest diversity
  • improve vegetation health
  • improve soil moisture and water quality
  • improve urban ecology
  • inform and consult with the community
Citizens certainly have sent emails to the city to report problems with the trees as expected, but those emails have been far outnumbered by people sending love letters and other messages of support to the trees. Even better, the trees are writing back! Messages from the trees include educational emails about tree gender and comments on the Greek debt crisis. Not only are the trees wise (as I've always imagined trees to be) but they're also funny! You can read some example emails in the Daily Good article.

To send your own message to a tree in Melbourne, use and don't worry, if you select a tree from the visual map, the tree ID number will be automatically added to the subject line.

You can also show your love for the City of Melbourne by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter @cityofmelbourne.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Feel Good Friday - She Is ______ Project

It's Feel Good Friday and time to fill in the blank! Today we go to San Antonio, Texas to visit the "She is ________ Project : Empowering Girls Through the Celebration of Extraordinary Women". 

This public art initiative founded by marketing professional, Cassandra Yardeni and photographer, Kat Carey gives young women the chance to determine their own adjective by dressing up as real-life female heroines. 

Formerly known as The Isis Project, the website best explains the process: "The Isis Project... invites all girls, age infant through 18, to participate and pose as one female trailblazer. The photographs will be accompanied by a description of the heroine and shared via social media."

The girls are encouraged to pick a woman who inspires them and they've chosen a variety of women in science, the arts and history. You can view photos of the girls and their heroines in the gallery and meet some of the participants by watching this short video from KSAT news. 

If you live in the San Antonio area you can make an appointment here. Sitting fees are only $20! For those of you who don't, you can get the most current info by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @sheisprojectsa