Rewild Your Life 30-Day Challenge

456641_87486155Social media is ablaze of late with 30 days of happiness, or 5 days of gratitude, or similar challenges we post to our circles in the hopes they will help keep us accountable for our forward momentum and results. I love these (love less the calling out of others in what gets dangerously near to a chain letter, participation coercion, no-way-out dynamic).

Here’s one (no pressure or guilt trips) I just learned of, though folks have been taking it on for a while. Rewild Your Life asks each of us to spend at least 30 minutes outside in nature for 30 days. We know it is good for us whether a strenuous hike, a session of surfing, gardening, a walk on a path, or eating lunch on a park bench. At least once over the next month of time, find a new place nearby you haven’t yet explored. Go check it out.

Non-processed air and natural sunlight (or rain or fog or clouds) better our mood, increase motivation, lower stress and anxiety, and profoundly affect our feeling of connectedness. I would add taking each of these opportunities to look for ways to connect with another while you’re at it. On the way to or from our slice of green for the day, make eye contact, smile, genuinely ask how someone’s day is going, hold a door, let that other car merge, tell the telemarketer no thank you in a calm way, leave a larger tip than you might, look up from your phone, ask someone to join you for your 30 minutes of rewilding…

If you do the official Rewild Your Life challenge, there are support systems, guidelines and suggestions, a social media community, even prizes from some cool sponsors.

Thank the day for being there. Thank nature for welcoming you.

India’s New Program of Planting and Employment is a Win/Win

photo: Ben Earwicker Garrison Photography, Boise, ID www.garrisonphoto.org

photo: Ben Earwicker
Garrison Photography, Boise, ID
http://www.garrisonphoto.org

India’s Prime Minsiter, Narendra Modi, has launched an initiative to combat unemployment AND environmental issues in one shot. The government will be hiring jobless youth to plant trees along the entire National Highways network. Millions of trees are in the plan, providing more than simple roadside beauty, but a density of greenery (some suggest is wishful thinking and mathematically impossible) that would be forest-like. In light of the intense impact the Indian nation has had on the environment, this is a large step in the right direction. In some versions of the plan, fruit trees are the model, so local communities suffering from food scarcity can also reap the crops.

The plan is aiming quite high, and it doesn’t stop there. It was announced along with grand schemes to clean two of the major river systems and other waterways, and developing systems to better capture rainwater–more than 60% of which is lost and washed to the oceans while locals clamor for potable drinking water, water for hygienic use, and agricultural/irrigation water to increase food yield.

While some suggest these are political promises, if the nation can put some action behind them, even falling short of these lofty goals would still be progress. Here’s hoping India takes these bold steps toward viable environmental solutions that also address underemployment, and that many nations will take notice and follow suit.

Mandela Day – Now That’s My Kind of Holiday

nmdnodate copyToday, July 18, is Mandela Day, a cause for celebration and gratitude. A day for looking for connection with others, not distance or difference. A day to honor and touch others.

Especially now. Especially in days so dark in so many parts of the world.

July 18 is the birthday of Nelson Mandela, “Madiba” as a name of respect from his clan heritage…and it is the first Mandela Day to be celebrated since his death. A perfect day to look at how we respond to crisis, to disagreement, to discord. A shining opportunity to look at how we do for others and how we might do one thing more. A stunning day to look at how we sometimes retreat when chaos is too strong for us to navigate…when the exact opposite is the answer…to go forward and to reach out and do something for someone.

Today is a global call to action. Each of us has the power to change the world for the better. Each of us can make an impact on how we, as a global community, embrace peace and community and quality of life and assured safety. Each of us can.

Human rights for every human, no one more than another–that is when we know we did it. We have a lot, still, to do. Many minds must open. Many hearts must open. Many conversations must open. Many hands must open.

Find listings of actions and activities around the world here. Mandela worked for peace for 67 years–todays’ request is that we each start with just 67 minutes. Got an hour for the rest of us? If not today, use this special date to commit yourself to doing something soon.

How will you open hand and heart today, to touch another? For Madiba? For yourself? For all of us?

 

Now Boarding…

evoxandrew

Peak Volunteering – The Peace Corps Just Made it Easier

088d38c0-c883-11e2-cc13-e66f45590581The Peace Corps has long been the gold standard for American volunteering. A huge commitment most of us can’t make, two years in service to a foreign community is a lot…and it has immeasurable rewards. I have a few friends who have traveled the Peace Corps path and would not change those experiences for anything–a few who have done back-to-back stints, giving years to service.

For the longest time, since the organization’s founding in 1961, you signed up and crossed your fingers, waiting to hear when and where you would be sent and the type of work you would do. Your preference or desire wren’t part of the equation–you were willing to work, they would send you where they needed you most. Now, as of changes announced today, the exhaustive application process has been streamlined, and registrants can now CHOOSE what nation they will serve and the type of project in which they will engage (Agriculture, Community Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, Youth in Development, or a grab bag “Anything” category, which still  plays by the old rules of matching able bodies to greatest need). This is huge. The website now lists all open projects, the type of work required for the project, and departure dates, so volunteers can more harmoniously engage in the work that inspires them most and where their talents and interests are strongest.

How about you? You busy for the next couple of years?

 

 

Heading Into Your Weekend, Remember to ReCORK

794575_88920138Even if you are a teetotaler, you definitely are aware that a summer weekend is a time when lots and lots of wine gets opened and finished. I’d wager a bet that most folks get the bottles into the recycling system more often than not…but what about the corks?

Now, of course, there are lots of very fine wines with screwtops (once upon a time the symbol of rotgut vino, but no more) and plastic corks…but the good old fashioned stripped form the tree cork? Unless you’re collecting them for your next Etsy craft adventure, they probably get tossed in the trash.

STOP!

Recycle your corks with ReCORK, America’s largest cork recycling initiative. With the help of over 1,700 recycling partners in the wine and hospitality industries, as well as individuals like you and me, they have recycled more than 49 million corks! They grind them up and up cycle them for use in shoes and other consumer goods. Harvesting cork is good for the cork trees and actually extends their lifecycle, and cork represents the lowest carbon footprint of wine stopper options…and now there is an aftermarket solution for responsible continued life. ReCORK goes the extra mile and plants new trees, too—over 8,000 planted so far!

Chances are good that there is a participating center or retailer near you that will receive your gathered corks—check for drop-off locations at this link. It’s a great and celebratory way to engage and get involved in the recycling/sustainability world…and besides…you don’t really want that wine cork bulletin board up on your wall, do you?

What Price Irony? Rich Potato Salad

483170_75337697So…I don’t blame the dude. The dude was just having fun. The dude was hungry.

Kickstarter went viral with the fundraising campaign of Zack Danger Brown who, being an irreverent fella, decided to start a fundraiser to crowd fund ten bucks so he could make some mediocre potato salad. Kickstarter and similar crowd-funding sites (like Indiegogo) are the life’s blood of many creative projects…and this guy has earned (thus far) over $45,000 from 5,571 donors. People jumped on the irony bandwagon, perhaps donation plea exhausted, like we all are, and threw money at this joke project. His total had actually been about $70K but then dropped 30 thousand to the low/mid forties…not sure what’s up with that–quite possibly people revoking their pledged donations.

The cynicism of this whole thing kind of weirds me out.

I get it. I get that it’s funny to fund potato salad. Having run projects through fundraising obstacle courses and angst pits myself, I wish I’d thought of it and just called a youth education program “Potato Salad” or similar…but that’s just it. Those five- and ten-dollar donations from around the country could make a real difference for some truly world-bettering work. If it is so inconsequential to us that we can toss a twenty at irony, why is it like pulling teeth to get $20 to fund a program for mentoring youth living on Native American reservations (mentorartists.org summer fundraiser for creative arts education for underserved youth–an organization I am proud to work with and support) or educational supplies to displaced kids in Haiti? These are just two examples of funding efforts I have personally undertaken.

I in no way mean to devalue the incredibly generous folks who have supported my efforts and the millions of other worthy causes out there. They truly make a huge difference, no question about it. Cynicism isn’t the guiding principle of most of us…and yet…here we are.

That potato salad thing really puts a burr under my saddle. There are rules that prevent Zac from donating the funds raised to charity, but that’s not his fault. I don’t blame him and have read he is looking for ways to give back and get around the bylaws of Kickstarter (maybe making tons of actual potato salad to donate to homeless shelters, or similar). This will assuage my rankled sensibilities…but that double-edged money is nothing haha vs. money is too tight to give to good causes dynamic has me perplexed and challenged.

Throwing money at a problem doesn’t often solve the problem, but funding worthy causes and tirelessly working service groups to empower them to do great work, essentially on our behalf, means the world to so many cash-strapped charitable and philanthropic organizations who are trying to keep the doors open. I know I’m preaching to the choir with readers of this blog…but isn’t that a little more profound than Russets and mayo and vinegar for a joke?

….annnnnd…now I’m hungry.

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