Friday, April 26, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Arbor Day Foundation

Happy Arbor Day! This holiday has been celebrated on the last Friday in April since 1872. That makes today a perfect day to learn about the Arbor Day Foundation.

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s largest member nonprofit dedicated to planting trees. In fact, their mission “is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”

With more than 1 million members and supporters, and projects in over 50 countries, the work of the Arbor Day Foundation is divided into two main categories: Trees in Communities and Trees in Forests. This 3-minute video, 500 Million Trees and Counting, explains more and celebrates the planting of the 500 millionth tree!

Many of the trees planted by the Arbor Day Foundation are located in communities to counteract some of the destructive effects of climate change such as “natural disasters, food insecurity, urban heat islands, unsuitable air and water quality, and desolate landscapes”. Examples of specific programs include one that helps cities around the globe maintain and grow their tree cover, one that fosters positive connections between youth, grades K-12, and the trees in their community, and another that recognizes health institutions that make a mission-aligned impact on community wellness through tree education, investment, and community engagement.

Forest programs include vetting, funding, and selling carbon credits to climate-conscious corporations, reforesting five priority planting regions, and supporting local partners and communities in their efforts to protect, sustain and restore tropical rain forests.

A look at the FY2023 Annual Report breaks down the impact tree by tree. In 2023, the Arbor Day Foundation planted and distributed 632,990 trees through community events, 

distributed 4,012,925 trees to members to plant in their yards, and supported 129 individual reforestation projects in 25 countries! You can go to the stories section of their website to learn more.

If you’d like to spend this Arbor Day helping the Arbor Day Foundation celebrate trees, there are many ways to do so. Become a member, shop for trees to plant, coffee to drink and apparel to wear, or make a donation. If you’re in Nebraska, you can visit and explore Arbor Day Farm, and no matter where you are you can amplify their work on social media by following the Arbor Day Foundation on Facebook and Instagram.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Earth Guardians

Earth Day is on Monday so this is a great time to learn more about a global community of diverse youth leaders, better known as Earth Guardians.

Founded at a high school in Maui in 1992 to foster environmental awareness and action, Earth Guardians (EG) is now a global network spanning six continents. Their mission is to train “diverse youth to be influential leaders at the forefront of the climate movement across the globe - using art, music, storytelling, on-the-ground projects, civic engagement, and legal action to advance solutions and create grassroots and global impact.”

The main way EG empowers worldwide youth is through their Crews program. “Crews are youth-led, intergenerational groups of impassioned leaders taking action for a healthy, just, and sustainable future.” The requirements for Crews are that they include 2 or more people, have a youth (under 30) leader, run at least one project per year and have regular checkins with their Regional Crew Councilor (RCC). These RCCs oversee Crews in 7 regions: North America, South America, Central America, North Africa, South Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Europe.

In addition, the Indigenous Youth-leadership Initiative is focused on Native American Crews and provides indigenous youth a place to celebrate, honor, and share their traditions while also developing social and environmental justice leadership skills.

Finally, EG runs a Speaker’s Bureau program to amplify the voices of inspiring youth speakers and storytellers. They provide training and guidance to help speakers deliver impactful presentations at large-scale events, conferences, schools and universities. Speakers share their experience leading crews and participating in programs, in order to inspire audiences into action on ecological issues and the climate crisis.

In 2023, there were 70 EG Crews around the world busy making an impact. Examples of what was accomplished include planting 14,000 trees in Togo, installing over 50 rooftop gardens in India, and hosting a Youth Climate Conference for 60+ elementary and middle school students in North America.

Earth Guardians has a goal to increase their impact by 25% in 2024 and you can help them do it. Join or start a Crew, book an EG speaker for your next event, or make a monetary donation. As always, you can help spread the word on social media. Follow Earth Guardians on Facebook or Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Oakland Asian Cultural Center

Last week we celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in New York so this week we’re taking it back to California to highlight the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

Founded by a coalition of volunteers in 1984, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) has been located in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown since 1996. Their mission is explained on the website, “OACC builds vibrant communities through Asian and Pacific Islander arts and cultural programs that foster inter-generational and cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, collaboration, and social justice.”

Live classes currently offered at the center include Persian belly dancing, Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement), Chinese calligraphy, Chinese music lessons and a GER youth center on Saturday afternoons that supports Mongolian youth. 

If you aren’t ready to commit to a class, check out the OACC calendar of events and make your plan to visit. Stop in before June 8th to see the multimedia Dalit art exhibition of over 30 artists, “Dalit Dreamlands: Toward an Anti-Caste Future”, or join the Southeast Asian New Year celebration on April 20th. There will be performances, workshops and vendors. Admission is free!

In addition to all the cultural events, OACC provides information on safety issues and community-based responses. Visit the resource section of the website to find out how to report a hate crime, to volunteer at a community cleanup or get connected to the Bay Area’s only Korean language toll-free navigation phone line. 

In 2021, during the COVID shutdown, OACC ran 30 virtual programs, added 41 new community partners and directly impacted 4,920 people. If you’d like to help the Oakland Asian Cultural Center build vibrant communities through AAPI arts and culture there are many ways to get involved. 

People local to the Bay Area can take a class, volunteer at an event, or rent the OACC space to host their own event. No matter where you live, you can support OACC with a donation and by amplifying their work on social media. Like the OACC Facebook page, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and follow them on Instagram @oaklandasiancc.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Heart of Dinner

We’re heading to New York to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an organization that provides meals to Asian elders, Heart of Dinner.

Founded in 2020 at the onset of COVID-19, and headquartered in New York City, “Heart of Dinner's mission works to directly address food insecurity and isolation experienced by Asian American seniors—two long-standing community issues.”

This Fortune Magazine video with founders Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang gives a great overview of the problem and the program. Asian Americans are the fastest growing older adult population in the U.S. but because there is a false belief that they don’t experience poverty and health disparities, there are less culturally and linguistically relevant services available to them. This leaves low-income and homebound seniors living in socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic isolation

Enter Heart of Dinner. They work with local independent restaurant partners to source culturally thoughtful ingredients and meals. Every Wednesday, volunteers (called “Big Hearts”) pack that food into bags that have been illustrated by other volunteers. They also include a handwritten love note in the native language of the recipient. The bags are then delivered to the elders, providing them with nourishment of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

While the operation started in the founders’ apartment, it has since expanded to four locations across Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The Big Hearts are an intergenerational community of volunteers numbering in the thousands. Heart of Dinner serves over 650 elders every week for a total of more than 185,800 meals and notes delivered since they began.

If you’d like to help Heart of Dinner spread empathy and compassion along with the food, there are many ways to get involved. You can volunteer to deliver meals, illustrate bags or write notes. You can also shop for merch, make a donation and amplify their work on social media. Follow Heart of Dinner on Facebook and Instagram.