Friday, October 27, 2017

Feel Good Friday - The Unity Council

This Sunday there is a huge Día de los Muertos festival in my new neighborhood! It's sponsored by today's Feel Good Friday organization, The Unity Council.

As explained in the "about us" section of the website, "The Unity Council is a non-profit community development corporation committed to enriching the quality of life for Oakland residents, with a focus on the Fruitvale neighborhood. Our Mission is to help families and individuals build wealth and assets through comprehensive programs of sustainable economic, social, and neighborhood development."

Established in 1964 to ensure political representation of the Latino community during the civil rights movement, the Unity Council has grown into a $19 million community development organization that reaches 8,000 clients each year. The Unity Council mission statement: "We believe everyone should have the opportunities to find self-sufficiency and advancement, no matter their language, background, or neighborhood." is reflected in their development programs.

Programs cover everyone! From children participating in head-start groups through career exploration for teens to a senior center that provides activities and educational classes to those 50 and up. There is a career center that can help with job search and job readiness, a Business Improvement District which supports local businesses and organizes neighborhood cleanups and a Farmer's Market! You can check out the full list of programs here.

If you want to support the work of The Unity Council and live in or around Fruitvale, you can volunteer your time. No matter where you live you can always donate your money!

Stay in the loop by liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter @TheUnityCouncil and going to the festival on Sunday! I'll be there (after I do some more packing) so let's connect!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Napa Valley Community Foundation

Today's Feel Good Friday focus is the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Here's why.

The NVCF is a local organization providing support in response to the devastating fires in Northern California.

They've raised $1.2 million from over 3,400 donors for the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which was established in 2014 after the earthquake that took place in Napa. Last Friday, they distributed $565,000 in grants to 16 local non-profits and, while there is no more capacity to accept in-kind donations, they continue to accept an need gift cards to assist evacuees. You can drop off a pre-paid Visa, MasterCard or American Express gift cards in $25, $50 and $100 denominations at Cope Family Center at 707 Randolph Street in Napa and Up Valley Family Centers at 1440 Spring Street in St. Helena.

When not in disaster response mode, the Napa Valley Community Foundation connects donors with charitable projects. As they explain in the "what we do" section of their website, "We mobilize resources, inspire giving, build knowledge and provide leadership on vital community issues to improve the quality of life for all in Napa County. We are a public charity; a grantmaking foundation; a philanthropic advisor; and a staging ground for people, resources and ideas. Every day we link donors to projects that do good in our community."

They make over 200 site visits a year to local charities so they can identify gaps and opportunities and make recommendations to donors. Donors can join a Community Impact Fund to pool their resources, start their own fund or work on estate planning. Non-profits can follow this link to apply for a grant.

If you're able to help people affected by the fires and want to work with a local organization, please consider a monetary, or gift card, donation to the Napa Valley Community Fund. To keep up with the latest information on the disaster relief efforts, and year-round updates, like the NVCF Facebook page.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Hip Hop Architecture Camp

Can hip hop music and culture inspire kids to become architects and designers? Of course it can - it's Feel Good Friday!

I learned about Hip Hop Architecture Camp when the creator Michael Ford came to Autodesk to give a presentation. [Disclosure time: Autodesk has been working with him to launch camps around cities in the US this past summer. That's what he came to talk about and that's why all the kids are wearing matching Tinkercad shirts in their videos.]

You can watch Michael's TedX talk to hear him explain Hip Hop Architecture or read this description from the website: "Hip Hop Architecture explores the intersection of Hip Hop culture and the built environment through three interconnected realms; media, professional practice, and academia. The goal of Hip Hop Architecture is to increase the number of underrepresented populations in the practice of architecture while simultaneously creating a new approach to architecture and design, one base on the Hip Hop's founding elements (DJ, Emcee, Graffiti and B-Boy/B-Girl). Hip Hop Architecture is a manifestation of the widely accepted fifth element of Hip Hop, Knowledge of Self."

The vision of Hip Hop Architecture Camp, is "to use hip hop culture as a catalyst to increase the number of underrepresented communities in S.T.E.A.M. fields." You're likely familiar with the science, technology, engineering and math portions of the acronym. The A stands for art and architecture.

These one week camps introduce kids to architecture and urban planning through the lens of hip hop culture. At the end of the week they not only create models of the communities they've designed, they also create a hip hop music video that summarizes their work and experience. You can get a great overview of the program by watching this 5:46 minute documentary encouraging kids to Build It Up. If you're curious to see the results from the camp you can watch a number of the camp mixtape videos and even download the songs here.

In 2017, camps took place in Los Angeles, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Bronx, Oakland and Richmond. If you'd like to see a camp come to your city, get involved and host one! Hip Hop Architecture Camp is free to students and you can help keep it that way by making a donation. To stay in the loop and share the social media love, follow Michael Ford on Twitter @HipHopArch.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (#4)

Normally, I try to stay away from Feel Good Friday repeats but as long as men keep shooting groups of people, I'm going to keep talking about the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

I don't revisit this blog this for every mass shooting and yet, this is still the fourth instance in 2 years. The original post is below, but first some updated info.

"Since 1994, the Brady law has blocked over 3 million prohibited purchases" of guns. That's good news but the Brady Campaign is striving to cut the number of gun deaths in half by 2025.

Their main areas of focus are educating people about the risks of guns in the home (because 80% of unintentional firearm deaths of children under 15 happen in a home), changing gun laws (because 40% of gun sales still require no background check) and holding gun manufacturers and sellers accountable in court (because 90% of guns used in crimes were supplied by 5% of dealers).

Read the original post to find out ways you can get involved and if you haven't already done so, contact your elected officials: 202-224-3121

Friday, October 9, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Brady Campaign to Prevent 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: (now 93)
    • 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. (now 222)
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.