Friday, March 29, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Plastic Soup Foundation

This week the European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastics! That inspired today's post on the Plastic Soup Foundation.

Preventing plastic pollution is a favorite Feel Good Friday topic and the Plastic Soup Foundation (PSF) has been working on this problem since their founding in 2011. Based in Amsterdam, the mission of PSF is, "no plastic waste in our water!"

To achieve this mission, PSF focuses on raising awareness of the problem, running educational programs in schools and promoting solutions which will keep plastic out of the oceans in the first place. They use humor to get their points across as demonstrated in this mock commercial for plastic soup. A clever way to explain how 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year and is lethal for many marine animals. Not so funny anymore, is it?

They are running several active campaigns including asking consumers to stop using personal care products with microbeads; organizing trash hunts where people pick up, identify, register and dispose of trash; and developing a Plastic Footprint, a standardized way for corporations to measure their use of plastics. You can read about all their campaigns here.

There are a variety of ways you can support the work of the Plastic Soup Foundation, including making a donationshopping for sustainable, durable products and downloading the My Little Plastic Footprint app to learn more about the problem and get inspired to reduce your personal plastic footprint. Want more people to know about the Plastic Soup Foundation? Like their Facebook page (best if you speak Dutch) and follow them on Twitter @plasticsoupfoun.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Feel Good Friday - United Farm Workers of America

My neighborhood in Oakland is celebrating Cesar Chavez day tomorrow, which is why today's Feel Good Friday is all about the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).

You may know the UFW because you remember striking farm workers in the '60s and '70s, the fasts of Cesar Chavez or because you boycotted grapes in support of farm worker rights. Younger people may recognize the UFW slogan ¡Si Se Puede!, which President Obama translated to English and used in his campaigns, Yes We Can!

Founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla, the United Farm Workers of America is "the nation's first enduring and largest farm workers union" with the vision of "working for a safe and just food supply". There are four pillars supporting their vision:
  • Integrity: Doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
  • Si Se Puede Attitude: A personal and organizational spirit that promotes confidence, courage, hard work, and the belief that we can do the impossible.
  • Dignity: Recognizing and respecting the inherent worth of all people.
  • Innovation: The active pursuit of new ideas.
As they've done since the beginning, the UFW champions legislative and regulatory reforms for farm workers. Current campaigns focus on issues such as: immigration, with a bill to provide a path to earn lawful permanent residence; overtime, so that farm workers are paid time and a half after 8 hours work; reforming the unsafe labor practices of the largest dairy that supplies milk to Starbucks; and a voter registration drive. 

If you want to take action on any of these issues or learn about additional campaigns, you can click this link and fill out a short form to contact your congressperson. 

Other ways to support the UFW are to make a donation, shop for merch and spread the word on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @UFWupdates. 

¡Si Se Puede!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Ruhama

It's Feel Good Friday, St. Patrick's Day is coming up this weekend and it's still Women's History Month, so I searched for an organization in Ireland that works with women and found Ruhama.

Since 1989 Ruhama, based in Dublin, Ireland, has been working "on a national level with women affected by prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation." This short video from the CEO, Sara Benson gives you a good introduction to their work.

As explained on their website, all services are free and confidential and are offered to "women who are currently involved in on-street and off-street prostitution; women who are exiting prostitution; women who are victims of sex trafficking; and women who have a history of prostitution." Specific services include counseling, housing support, work placement, mobile street outreach and court accompaniment. You can read the full list of services here.

Ruhama also advocates a legislative framework that decriminalizes those in prostitution and works with national media to raise awareness of prostitution, sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

When they celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2014, their records show they assisted more than 2500 women from over 60 countries!

If you live in Ireland, you can get involved with Ruhama by volunteering. No matter where you are, you can show your support by making a donation, liking the Facebook page and following them on Twitter @RuhamaAgency.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Feel Good Friday - SHE-CAN

Not only is today Feel Good Friday, it's International Women's Day. That's why we're highlighting an organization that supports women around the world, SHE-CAN.

SHE-CAN stands for "Supporting Her Education Changes A Nation". As explained on their website, the organization "empowers low-income women from countries restoring peace with the education, leadership skills and mentorship needed to become change-agents at home."

The process involves working with local partner organizations to identify young women with high potential, providing test preparation and connecting them to a team of mentors who will help the women apply for college in the U.S.  Mentors also host scholars and provide emotional and financial support.

SHE-CAN gives the scholars leadership training, career guidance and helps them secure internships so they can return to their countries as leaders, ready to make positive changes in their communities.

Currently, scholars are being identified in Cambodia and Rwanda, two countries that have experienced genocide in the not-so-distant past. You can read the stories of scholars and alumnae at this link.

The results of SHE-CAN's work are positive. Since 2011:
  • 55 low-income women have won full-ride scholarships to 23 U.S. colleges
  • 17 women have graduated and are now emerging leaders
  • 220 professionals are SHE-CAN mentors, increasing the network of support
  • $15 million in scholarship funds have been awarded
Sisterhood is powerful!

If you're interested in becoming a mentor, info sessions are happening now. You can also support the work of SHE-CAN by making a donation, and spreading the social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @SHECANGlobal.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Feel Good Friday - DIY Girls

Last week we talked about an organization focused on young men so for today's Feel Good Friday, it's all about the young women and the support the get from DIY Girls.

Founded in 2011 by Luz Rivas, the mission of DIY Girls is "to increase girls' interest and success in technology, engineering and making through innovative education experiences and mentor relationships."

The reason it matters is that less than 15% of girls show an interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) between 4th and 8th grade, which translates into women representing less than 25% of the STEAM workforce and Latinas representing only 2% of employed scientists and engineers.

DIY Girls focuses on girls in grades 5-12 in underserved communities in the Northeast San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. 97% of girls served are Latina, 2% African American and 1% Asian-Pacific Islander. Since 2012, over 3,000 girls have participated in various DIY Girls programs.

These programs focus on electronics, coding and invention - you can read an inspiring article on a team of DIY Girls who invented a solar powered tent for the homeless here. There is also a summer camp and an active alumni group that creates a strong support network for current and past DIY Girls.

If you work with girls, you can order a club kit, which provides materials for six one-hour sessions including a paper circuit kit, art bot and interactive friendship bracelet. All of us can support the work of DIY Girls by making a donation and showing the social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @DIYGirls. You go, girls!