Friday, April 30, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Jobs with Justice

Tomorrow is International Workers’ Day so we’re focusing today’s Feel Good Friday on an organization fighting for workers’ rights – Jobs with Justice.

Since their founding in 1987, Jobs with Justice (JwJ) has been “fighting for workers’ rights and an economy that works for everyone.” A national nonprofit with 33 affiliates around the United States, JwJ brings together “labor, community, student, and faith voices at the national and local levels to win improvements in people’s lives and shape the public discourse on workers’ rights and the economy.” They do this by conducting research and policy analysis, mobilizing over 200,000 supporters and taking grassroots actions at the national and local levels. 


Current campaigns that JwJ is working on include:

  • POWER (Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation) – an effort seeking to “eliminate the threat of ICE in worker organizing efforts. It also aims to expand protections for worker leaders who stand up to unscrupulous employers. “
  • Advancing Black Strategists Initiative – “a cohort of black economic justice and labor-focused strategists committed to leading, developing, and advancing policies and campaigns that support the collective power-building of working people, particularly in the South.
  • Always Essential – born from the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus is on putting essential workers first and fighting to “improve health and safety standards, better pay, and working conditions for essential workers.”
  • Caring Across Generations a partnership of over 200 organizations working to “reshape the caregiving industry through public town halls, public education, policy solutions, celebrity engagement, and worker organizing.
  • Debt-free Future – a partnership with the US Student Association “working to make college more affordable, rein in student lenders through stronger regulations, and win debt relief for all working families.”

Throughout the pandemic in 2020, JwJ supported essential workers, launched a campaign demanding corporate landlords cancel rent and mortgage payments, and distributed over $2 million in mutual aid to working families. You can read all the details in the 2020 Annual Report.


Like what you see? There are many ways to get involved and support Jobs with Justice. Join the online activist network, sign and share petitions, make a donation and amplify JwJ’s work by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @jwjnational. Workers of the world, unite!



Friday, April 23, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Cure Violence Global

With so many mass shootings around the United States in recent days, I’m focusing today’s Feel Good Friday on an organization working to reduce gun violence, Cure Violence Global.


Founded in 2000 by Gary Slutkin, M.D., the mission of Cure Violence Global is “to reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods.” Launched in West Garfield Park in Chicago, the program has now expanded to 15 countries across the globe including Colombia, Iraq and Kenya. In their first year, the Chicago program reduced shootings by 67%. How do they do it? By using methods and strategies associated with disease control. 


Cure Violence Global believes that “violence is a health issue, that individuals and communities can change for the better, that community partners and strategic partnerships are keys to success, and that rigorous, scientific, professional ways of working are essential for effectiveness.” Learn more in this short video.


There are three steps to the Cure Violence approach: 

1.     Detecting and interrupting conflicts – trained violence interrupters and outreach workers identify and mediate potentially lethal conflicts in the community and follow up with victims, friends and family of the victim, and anyone else who is connected with the event to prevent retaliation.

1.     Identifying and treating the highest risk individuals – outreach workers identify high-risk individuals, talk to them about the costs of using violence and connect them to social services such as job training and drug treatment.

2.     Changing social norms – workers engage community leaders and residents to speak out against violence and organize neighborhood associations and block clubs to spread positive norms.


The impact  of all these efforts is impressive. Examples from around the world include:

  •  66% reduction in shootings in New York City
  • 45% reduction in violent crime in Port of Spain, Trinidad
  • 88% reduction in killing in San Pedro Sula, Honduras

If you want to take action to reduce violence, you can register for training or follow these steps to implement the Cure Violence program in your community. To help Cure Violence Global “make the cure contagious”, support their work and amplify their message. Make a donation, shop for merchandise, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @CureViolence.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

I just learned that April is National Garden Month so I’m making the focus of today’s Feel Good Friday The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Founded in 1926, The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (aka the Garden) is the nation’s first botanic garden dedicated solely to native plants. Their mission is “to conserve California native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet.” They do this through the gardens, research and education.

The work of the Garden covers Santa Barbara, Monterey and Kern counties as well as the Channel Islands. Research and education efforts include exploring and documenting California’s plant and lichen biodiversity, protecting California’s rarest plants and creating a conservation seed bank to safeguard against plant extinction, restoring habitats, advocating for plants, and educating tomorrow’s scientists with offerings at local universities and on the Garden grounds. 

There are also educational programs at the Garden for school groups, families, and community scientists who are volunteers that help gather data in the field. If you’re interested in getting your own garden started (and you live in California) there are resources on gardening with native plants and how to choose plants that are water wise. If you live in the Santa Barbara area you can sign up for classes and events here.

And how has this work helped? According to the 2019 impact statement the Garden welcomed 78,368 visitors, held 113 classes, mentored 19 student interns, planted 3,709 plants and founded the first vascular plant tissue bank in California to name just a few of their accomplishments.

If you want to experience all the Garden has to offer, plan to visit in person. However, no matter where you live, you can explore the Garden online and visit the image gallery to see over 50,000 photos from the archives.

Santa Barbara locals can get involved with the Garden by volunteering and the rest of us can show our support with a donation and by following their social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram. I’m going to follow through on this sudden urge I have to water my plants and I’ll see you next week for another Feel Good Friday. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Ecology Project International

Since more people are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations and the potential for travel is in sight, we’re using today’s Feel Good Friday to highlight travel programs for youth with Ecology Project International.

Founded in 2000 by an educator and a scientist working in Costa Rica, the mission of Ecology Project International (EPI) is “to inspire and empower the world's youth through immersive experiences with nature and science.” They do this by engaging local communities in youth development, leadership and habitat conservation and running world-class, science focused travel programs for students and teachers. You can watch the founders explain in this short video.


With a focus on conservation for the next generation, EPI’s global initiatives educate youth in communities where they have research sites including: conservation efforts in the Galapagos, scientific research in Yellowstone and protecting habitat in Belize.


EPI’s travel programs are open to middle school, high school, and college-aged students and there are also professional development programs for all teachers and non-traditional educators. Examples of these student and teacher expeditions include studying whale ecology or marine science in Mexico, learning about rainforest species, primates or sea turtles in Costa Rica and studying the island ecology of Hawaii.


Since they began, over 40,000 students have joined EPI projects in the field. And what have they done? Released 36,000 sea turtle hatchlings in Costa Rica, counted 505 yellow-headed parrots in Belize and registered 84 benthic marine species in Baja (think anemones and sea stars). You can read more details about the students’ impact here.


Programs and procedures have been adjusted to minimize the risks associated with COVID-19 and enrollments are currently open. If you’re not looking to participate in a trip but still want to support the work of EPI you can do that by making a donationshopping for clothing and gear and amplifying their message on social media. Like the EPI Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @ecologyproject. Happy trails.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Limbitless Solutions

Nothing says Feel Good Friday like free bionic arms for kids! That’s why the focus of today’s post is the organization, Limbitless Solutions.

Founded in 2014 by students at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the mission of Limbitless Solutions is “to empower confidence and increase accessibility in the limb difference community through art-infused bionics.” They do this by creating and donating personalized, 3D-printed prosthetic arms for children.

According to this Fast Company article on Limbitless Solutions, “There are likely more than 30,000 children under the age of 16 in the U.S. with “limb difference,” the full or partial absence of a limb.” Realistic prosthetic arms can cost between $20,000 to $30,000 and won’t fit a growing child for very long. The team at Limbitless works with UCF interns focused on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education. They use free Autodesk software (yay!) and consult with the children to design and create unique arms that can be 3D printed. Check out this link to see some examples of their work or visit the lab with Bill Gates in this video.


The arms come with interchangeable sleeves and are very artistic. They’re also bionic! Using non-invasive electromyography (EMG) technology, children are able to control the function of the arms and make multiple gestures. They learn the mechanics of their new arms by playing video games created by Limbitless. To date, Limbitless has delivered 40 arms to 36 children who are now part of the Limbitless bionic family.


In addition to arms for children, Limbitless is expanding its mission to provide bionic limbs to adults, veterans, and first-responders. They’re also developing “a powered wheelchair attachment designed for individuals with mobility limitations, such as ALS patients or quadriplegics.” Code name, Project Xavier.


The team at Limbitless Solutions believes that the families of children with limb difference should not have to pay for the bionic arms or the occupational therapy needed to learn how to use them. That means they rely on the support of their donors. If you’d like to be one of them, you can make a donation here. You can also amplify their work on social media. Like the Limbitless Solutions Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @Limbitless3D.