Friday, August 25, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Surfrider Foundation

It's another Feel Good Friday where I share an organization I learned about while volunteering with my coworkers. This week it was picking up trash at Ocean Beach in San Francisco organized by the Surfrider Foundation.

The Surfrider Foundation was created by a group of surfers in Malibu, California in 1984 to protect their favorite surf spot. As the organization has grown, the mission has remained the same: "The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network." This video shows you what people are fighting for.

With a national network of 84 chapters, Surfrider volunteers are the first response to local threats in coastal communities across the US. Campaigns organized by Surfrider focus on issues related to beach access, clean water, coastal preservation, ocean protection, and plastic pollution. They've had over 400 victories since they started counting in 2006, including banning plastic bags in my home state of California!

The beach cleanup project I worked on helped with the Rise Above Plastics campaign. Did you know that "plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris"? Me either! As with all their campaigns there is an intro to the topic, as well as information and tips on what you can do and links to partner organizations also working on the issue. In the 2 hours our group was at the beach we cleaned up 900 cigarette butts, 80 pounds of trash and 30 pounds of recycling! Use this interactive map to see the campaigns happening in your area.

Volunteering your time and donating your money are great ways to support and protect our oceans, beaches and waves. You can also take action from the comfort of wherever you are right now by contacting your elected officials, liking the Surfrider Foundation Facebook page, following them on Twitter @Surfrider or going shopping! Doesn't that feel good?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Showing Up for Racial Justice

The reason I started writing these Feel Good Friday posts in 2012 was to focus on good work being done as a counter to all the negative events that dominate the news. Some weeks are harder than others to find the good, but I always do.

Given last weekend's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA and the murder of Heather Heyer, I'm going encourage you to read my November post on the Southern Poverty Law Center to see what they're doing to combat hate groups. Next, let's talk about today's organization, Showing Up for Racial Justice.

As explained on their Facebook page, Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) "is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability."

Why the focus on whites? SURJ "believes in collective liberation -- and that none of us can be free until we end white supremacy. SURJ's role as part of a multi-racial movement is to undermine white support for white supremacy and to help build a racially just society."

In order to realize this goal, SURJ employs three core strategies:

  • Delegitimize racist institutions
  • Fight for a fair economy that refuses to pit communities against each other
  • Shift culture (meaning the underlying beliefs folks have about people and the world) in a way that undermines support for white supremacy
These strategies are used when organizing community events and providing resources on topics such as direct action, fundraising, working with the media and facilitating meetings. There are chapters throughout the United States, including one in the San Francisco Bay Area, and if there isn't one near you - you can start a new chapter.

If you've been looking for a way to turn your anger into action, I recommend you attend a local eventvolunteer your time or donate your money. You can also show your support on social media by liking the SURJ Facebook page and the SURJ Bay Area Facebook page. If you want to make a difference on Twitter, you can follow @ShowUp4RJ and @surjbayarea. It's time to show up.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Biosphere Foundation

Happy Feel Good Friday! There is so much emphasis on what divides us these days, I'm going to take a moment to celebrate what unites us. Earth.

The Biosphere Foundation (BF) works to "inspire intelligent use of the earth's natural resources and empower individuals to become leaders in biosphere stewardship." I learned about them while watching a 30-minute program called Vanishing Coral, which I recommend when you're done reading this.

BF was founded in 1991 by three people who spent two years in the research facility Biosphere 2 and came out with a greater appreciation of how our daily actions affect Biosphere 1 (aka earth). Recognizing that the health of the biosphere is decreasing due to climate change and a growing human population, BF works directly with local island people whose livelihood is most affected by the ecological changes.

A visit to their website explains the four focus areas of their work:

"(1) implementing conservation programs which are community-based and sustainable;
(2) restoring coral reef, mangrove and forest ecosystems;
(3) creating educational programs that inspire people to care for the biosphere and get involved to make a difference; and
(4) providing an unbiased, "trusted source" of data about the biosphere to the users around the world."

A fun example of getting the local community involved in a coral reef conservation program is this video of students on Menjangan Island in Bali, Indonesia. They sing about not throwing plastic trash into the sea, set to the tune of Bob Marley's Jammin.

Much of the work of BF is done from the sailing vessel, Mir, which sails between conservation programs in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and produces short films about the ocean along the way! You can learn more about the ship as well as current conservation and stewardship programs at the Biosphere Foundation website.

If all of this makes you want to show mother earth some love, you can make a donation to support this work and follow the adventures of the BF team on Facebook and Twitter @biospherefdn.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Feel Good Friday - International Sanctuary

I learned about today's Feel Good Friday organization, International Sanctuary, because a coworker volunteers there and just came back from a trip to India. Here's what you need to know.

International Sanctuary, or iSanctuary, is an organization that "empowers young women rescued from human trafficking through education, income, health care, and community." Founded in 2007 by Stephanie Pollaro, "iSanctuary has served hundreds of young women in Mumbai, India and Orange County, California." Mumbai has one of Asia's largest red light districts and Orange County is a major stop on the trafficking circuit.

The problem of human trafficking is explained with some shocking statistics from the iSanctuary website: 45.8 million people are enslaved in the world today, 80% are women and over 50% are children. Every country, including the United States, is affected by this $32 billion a year industry.

The mission of iSanctuary "is to empower people escaping human trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth." The vision is to have 10 new sanctuaries worldwide by 2020 and funds are currently being raised for a location in Uganda.

The existing sanctuaries in Mumbai and Orange County are the next step for survivors after they are rescued and their basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing are met. iSanctuary provides medical and dental care, education, counseling, life skills training, micro loans and financial training, university scholarships, job training and employment! Since inception, iSanctuary has served over 300 women and girls and enabled them to create better lives for themselves and their children.

Watch this 2:09 minute introductory video to see the women whose lives are being changed and, if you like what you see, support the work of iSanctuary by volunteering your time, donating your money or shopping for Purpose Jewelry, made by survivors.

Liking the International Sanctuary Facebook page and following them on Twitter @isanctuary are great ways to stay in the loop and share the work being done to combat human trafficking.