Friday, August 31, 2018

Feel Good Friday - The Happy Newspaper

While looking through The Independent's Happy List 2018 this week, I found my sister from another mother. Today's Feel Good Friday celebrates The Happy Newspaper!

The Happy Newspaper was created by Emily Coxhead and the first issue launched in December, 2017. As you might expect it is "a Newspaper to celebrate all that's good in the world. A platform to share positive news and wonderful people."

Released every quarter, it's a 32-page publication that highlights good news stories from around the world and the actions of people they call "everyday heroes". An example of recent story is that of a trash collector in Bogota, Columbia who has created a library from books he rescued from the trash. His library is now over 20,000 books and he opens it to children in the community every weekend.

Everyday heroes are nominated by the newspaper's readers. Some recent heroes include a woman who has undergone a mastectomy and now makes heart shaped pillows to provide comfort to other women and men who have undergone surgery and a boy who paints positive messages on rocks then scatters them for other people to find.

If you want to support another person who is sharing good news you can subscribe to receive The Happy Newspaper once a quarter. You can also keep current by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @HappyNewspaper_ 😀

Friday, August 24, 2018

Feel Good Friday - GreenToGo

Today's Feel Good Friday is about an innovative takeout container program in North Carolina called GreenToGo.

If you watched the PBS News Hour this week, like I did, then you've seen the story on GreenToGo. For those of you who missed it, you can watch it here or read the summary below.

GreenToGo is a project of Don't Waste Durham that was launched by Crystal Dreisbach and Amy Eller last summer after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Their goal is to reduce the number of single-use  disposables going into the landfill. As explained on Twitter "GreenToGo is the East Coast's first returnable, reusable takeout container service. We're a subscription-based model making it easy to #SkipTheTrash."

It works like this:
  1. Become a member ($25/year for one box)
  2. Go out to eat at one of the 25 participating restaurants in Durham
  3. Check out a box for your take-out or leftovers
  4. Rinse and return your box to a participating restaurant or drop off station
  5. A team of volunteers picks up the containers, then washes and sanitizes them in a commercial dishwasher before redistributing the boxes back to the restaurants.
With 507 subscribers and over 1500 uses, GreenToGo is already making a big impact. A Duke University study found that "one GreenToGo container replaces the need for on average 1,000 disposable takeout containers"! If San Francisco can find a way to share electric scooters, certainly we can get on board with this idea.

If you live in Durham, you can sign up for the program here. The rest of us can show our support and follow new developments by liking the GreenToGo Facebook page and following them on Twitter @GreenToGo_Life.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Skateistan

I learned about today's Feel Good Friday organization, Skateistan, from a friend. Not only is skateboarding not a crime, it's a great way to inspire children around the globe!

Skateistan, Sanskrit for "land of skate", started in Afghanistan as a way to empower children. As explained on their website. "Through the hook of skateboarding, we engage with children, especially girls and youth from low-income backgrounds, giving them access to safe spaces and education and provide valuable life skills that go beyond the skatepark and the classroom." 
Since their earliest days in 2007, Skateistan has expanded to include programs in Cambodia and South Africa. The four core programs are designed for ages 5 to 17, offered free of charge and focus on keeping the youth involved for the long term. 

Outreach involves educators and youth leaders bringing skateboards and equipment into the communities for an hour of recreational activity. Skate and Create is a combo of one hour in the skate park and one hour in the classroom. Back-to-School varies by country. In Afghanistan it's an accelerated learning program covering the national curriculum for children who are not in school. They spend 5 days a week in class and are enrolled in public school after graduating. In Cambodia and South Africa it's a drop in program after school that provides homework help and further education and career planning. The final program, which must be applied for, is Youth Leadership. Youth leaders assist educators, mentor younger students and help plan events.

If you've got 13 minutes, I highly recommend you watch the documentary, "Land of Skate" here. Children involved in the program share how skateboarding has changed their lives and you can see how happy they are when they're skateboarding.

The best way to support this work is by making a donation and becoming a Citizen of Skateistan. You can also represent by shopping for merchandise to wear and showing your support by liking the Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Skateistan.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Twende Social Innovation Center

Jambo! Let's take a Feel Good Friday trip to Tanzania to learn about the work of Twende!

Twende, Swahili for "let's go", is a social innovation center located in Arusha, Tanzania. Their mission is "to empower people to become creative problem solvers who make their own life-improving technologies."

Founded in 2007 by Jim Elsworth, Twende began as a workshop where people could identify local needs and create innovative technology solutions. In 2012 Twende merged with AISE, an organization focused on running creative capacity building workshops.

The idea behind both organizations is that community members, rather than outside organizations, are the best people to identify their challenges and create solutions that use locally available, inexpensive materials that can be maintained and repaired by locals. Now, Twende offers workshops for the community, products for sale and support for innovators.

The current workshops are "Creative Capacity Building", a 5-day workshop teaching people the design cycle of build-test-iterate then putting them in teams to brainstorm and build one of their ideas and the "Build It Workshop" which teaches specific skills, either electronic or mechanical, and results in students building practical items such as a flashlight or stove.

The two products developed by the Twende Core Team that are currently in production and being sold in Tanzania are a drip irrigation kit and bicycle-powered maize sheller.

Twende has taught more than 1,300 people in their workshops and over half of the students have been women! Twende also provides funding, space and technical advising for participants who want to continue their projects and complete their first prototype.

If you like what Twende is doing, share their work and their story on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @TwendeTZ. Asante sana!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Feel Good Friday - The Posse Foundation

It's that back-to-school time of year. For students going to college, wouldn't it be nice to have a scholarship and a support system? Enter today's Feel Good Friday organization, The Posse Foundation.

As explained on their Facebook page, "The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains incredible young leaders and sends them in Posses to top colleges and universities across the country." Since they began in 1989, they've recruited and trained 5,574 public high school students and awarded 1.2 billion dollars (yes, billion) in scholarships from partner colleges.

Here's how it works:

1. Every year, from September to December Posse uses a unique evaluation method called the Dynamic Assessment Process to identify young leaders who might be missed by traditional admissions criteria. They recruit in 10 cities around the country and are looking for motivated, talented, ambitious people who have demonstrated leadership and academic potential in high school. You can nominate a student here.

2. Once selected, scholars meet weekly with Posse peers and staff for workshops focused on: academic excellence, team building and group support, cross-cultural communication and leadership, and becoming an active agent of change.

3. The four-year campus program is all about retention. The Posses of 10 students meet with mentors individually and in groups and attend an annual weekend retreat to to discuss campus issues.

4. Final support comes in the form of a career program which provides internships, career development workshops, coaching and access to an alumni network.

Posse scholars graduate at a rate of 90% and alumni go on to do great things, like become president of Ithaca College.

President Obama made a donation to The Posse Foundation and you can too! Not only will you be supporting future leaders of America, a one dollar donation allows Posse to secure five dollars in scholarship funding! To stay current with all the activities, like the Posse Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @possefoundation.