Friday, June 30, 2017

Feel Good Friday -

Summer is here and you may be planning to spend some time in the sun. So on this Feel Good Friday so I'm here to tell you about an organization that turns sunshine into peanut butter! is an organization with a mission "to eradicate energy poverty and minimize the damage of climate change by breaking down the barriers to solar energy access." Yes, but where does the peanut butter come in?

It starts with the technology. Instead of magnifying glasses to concentrate the energy of the sun, uses a series of mirrors which are bent to focus the sun's light on one spot. That spot can reach up to 300 degrees Celsius and is the center point for a variety of appliances. There are roasters for peanuts, coffee and cocoa beans; ovens for bread and other baked goods; and cooktops for scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches!

The benefits are explained on the website. "Users of our solar concentrators are rural businesses that currently rely on charcoal, firewood and unstable electric grids. Our machines can power bakeries, nut and bean roasteries, and fruit and fish drying businesses. By using our technology, entrepreneurs save money and use charcoal or electricity only during rainy days. They breath cleaner air, have lower costs and are empowered with energy independence."

If you've got 6 minutes to spare you can watch this video that shows people in Kenya using a solar oven to bake bread and roast peanuts for peanut butter, as well as photos of solar ovens in use around the world. Current and past project can be found at this link and include fish dehydrating in Tanzania, a bakery in Haiti and a workshop in New York that teaches people how to build and use the solar ovens.

You can support the work of by downloading their solar manifesto and spreading the word, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @GoSolOrg. I'm off to make a peanut butter sandwich now as I suddenly have a craving for peanut butter.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

It's the Feel Good Friday before the San Francisco Pride parade so we're taking a look at a group you're sure to see if you attend, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Easily recognizable by their painted white faces and habits, the Sisters have been around for almost 40 years! A quick visit to their website explains their history and mission.

"The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit."

When they say irreverent, they're not kidding. One of their most popular events is the annual Easter celebration which starts with an Easter egg hunt for kids then moves to a series of contests - Easter bonnet, Foxy Mary and Hunky Jesus. Not only does this make for an entertaining Sunday, it's also a way for the Sisters to fundraise for grant money they distribute throughout the year.

Grants range from $250 - $1,000 and are typically given to small organizations and projects working with under-served communities. The Sisters explain other qualifying factors. "We are especially attracted to progressive grassroots projects that promote wellness, joy, tolerance, and diversity within our communities. We have a vision that encompasses diverse communities and groups that have a common interest in human rights, people of every gender, gender identity, race, class, age and sexual orientation."

Though the amounts of the individual grants may be small, since their founding, the Sisters have raised and distributed over one million dollars to non-profit organizations that serve needy communities.

If this sounds like something you'd like to be a part of you can become a nun, make a donation or attend an event. The easiest way to stay in the loop is by liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter @SFSisters and saying hello to a Sister at the Pride parade on Sunday!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (#3)

If you are a regular follower of Feel Good Friday, you know I like to avoid repeats. Sure, I talk about AAA Tipsy Tow every New Year's Eve but otherwise my feeling is there are enough good programs and organizations in the world that every week should be a new story.

However, with the multiple mass shootings in the United States this week, I'm going to post about the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence for the THIRD time.

Lest you get too discouraged by lack of progress on this issue, you can go to the success stories page on the website to read about some of their legal victories. Most recently, "a federal appeals court struck down an NRA-backed Florida law that prevented doctors from talking to their patients about the risks of guns." '

Please read the original post from October 9, 2015 to find out what the Brady Campaign is all about and how you can get involved in preventing gun violence.

In the almost 3 years I've been writing these Feel Good Friday posts, there have been a number of mass shootings in the United States, including the most recent at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. So today we're going to focus on an organization with the goal of "cutting gun deaths in half by 2025", Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

You may remember Jim Brady, Assistant to the President. He was shot and paralyzed during an assassination attempt on Ronald Regan in 1981. It wasn't until 1993, the Brady Bill, which required a five-day waiting period and background checks on handgun purchases, was signed into law by President Clinton.

Today the Brady Campaign is "the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence." Their mission, as stated on the website, "is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries." You can go there to read shocking statistics on gun violence.A few highlights are below:

Every day, 89 people die from gun violence: 
    • 31 are murdered
    • 55 kill themselves
    • 2 are killed unintentionally
    • 1 is killed by police intervention
    • 1 intent unknown.
Every day, an additional 208 people are shot and survive.

In order to reduce these numbers, the Brady Campaign focuses on policy and legal changes, as well as a public awareness campaign. They ensure that all of their programs and efforts have an opportunity for impact, that no one else is doing similar work and that the actions fit into their core values. You can read their full list of solutions here or watch a 16 minute video Pathology of Gun Violence, which explains their strategy in great detail.
Support the work of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence by visiting their take action page, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Bradybuzz. Enough is enough.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Feel Good Friday - EMILY's List

How do you celebrate Feel Good Friday when it's been a disheartening week in the world of US politics? EMILY's List, that's how.

EMILY's List has a very simple mission - "We elect pro-choice Democratic women to office." Boom. The vision is to balance the voice of power by having the government more accurately represent the people it serves and to "elect leaders who ignite change".

As explained in the history section of the website, "the name "EMILY's List" was an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" (i.e., it makes the dough rise)." Since it's founding in 1985 by Ellen Malcolm, EMILY's List has become the largest national resource for women in politics and has helped elect "over 100 pro-choice Democratic women to the House, 23 to the Senate, 12 to governors' seats, and hundreds of women to state and local office." You can check this list to find representatives in your state.

So exactly how does EMILY's List get women elected? They have a program called "Run to Win" that recruits and trains women how to, yep, run for office and win. This video shows you what you can do when marching in the streets isn't enough. EMILY's List supports women's campaigns with money, research and strategic assistance and they mobilize women to vote!

If you'd like to get involved you can take the usual steps like donating to recommended candidates, liking the Facebook page and following them on Twitter @emilyslist. The most impactful way to get involved? Run! Since election day, more than 14,000 people have signed up to run for office, why not you? Check the schedule for upcoming training sessions in your area. If you're reading this blog, you've got my vote.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Rise Against Hunger

I learned about today's Feel Good Friday organization, Rise Against Hunger, when my office had a volunteer event last week packaging meals. Here's what I know.

"Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world's most vulnerable, mobilizing the necessary resources to end hunger by 2030." That summary from their website gives the basic details but you may wonder, why hunger?

The short answer is that 792.5 million people in the world don't get enough food and nutrition to lead active, healthy lives. This video from the UN explains how ending poverty and hunger will help people around the world live up to their full potential.

So, what role does Rise Against Hunger play? They've packaged over 300 million meals since 1998 and distributed them in 74 different countries. Last year alone 376,000 volunteers packed meals for over 1,000,000 people! Most of these meals are delivered to schools, and Rise Against Hunger uses distribution partners who are focused on promoting education and improving student's health and nutrition.

This two-minute mission video shows you what it's like to volunteer and who is at the receiving end of the food. Rise Against Hunger also works with a network of in-country partners to provide crisis relief and income-generating agricultural initiatives. You can learn more here.

If this sounds good, you can get involved by hosting a meal packing event, volunteering at one of their worldwide locations or donating money. You can also spread the word by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Rise2030.

I had a good time volunteering with Rise Against Hunger (at least half of my face did) and you can too!