Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Paper Antler and Fifty Nifty

A friend of ours told us about a project that his brother and sister-in-law are endeavoring on. They are Jonny and Michelle, boutique photographers, and the couple behind Paper Antler. Their work is beautiful and captivating. Looking through their photos I see hope, love, romance, passion, adventure, and an unquenchable joy for life. Their desire is to bring together their passions–their gift for capturing the beauty of the world around them and social justice– through the Fifty Nifty project. One of the things that I really love is that it will only work if others join them. We need each other and the success of this project is dependent on more than just this lovely couple. It isn’t safe. It is risky. They are putting themselves out there with faith that they will be joined and that is beautiful.

Fifty Nifty:

  • Beginning in January of 2012, Jonny and Michelle will begin an adventure that will span one year.
  • Their goal: photograph 50 weddings in 50 states in 50 weeks donating $1000 from each wedding to She Dances for a total donation of $50,000. While this is their ideal goal, their primary goal is to raise $50,000 for She Dances in 50 weeks.
  • She Dances is an anti-human trafficking organization that they have worked closely with over the years.
  • $50,000 would assist She Dances in sustaining their current safe home in Honduras for one year or allow them to open a new safe home in another place of need.
  • They have a route mapped out, so check it out to see if they will be in your area when you or someone you know is getting married. Download this PDF for information about their route.
  • Spread the word.

Paper Antler‘s blog will have updates on Fifty Nifty bookings and other Fifty Nifty related news.

Give A Gift

Being a mama has taught me that the most important thing I can do to care for my son is be present and available to him.  It has also shown me that that is really what all of us need.  We need people to be present and available to us. Sometimes that takes the form of showing up when there is a need, being there for one another, and giving what we can.

If you visit the site (versus getting it in your RSS feed or as an e-mail), you may have noticed a new addition to the site!  On the right hand side of the site you will notice the addition of “Give A Gift”.  We have chosen to highlight World Vision, Heifer International, and Partners in Health.  These are not ads and at a later point I will go into why I have decided to use that space on my site to support non-profits in lieu of ads.  Each of these images will bring you directly to a page on their site where you can choose to give a financial gift to the non-profit organization.  There are many great organizations out there, but these are ones that we know really well and trust.

The day after Thanksgiving has become a Holiday spending spree, so much so, that it has been dubbed “Black Friday” because it has become the most profitable day of the year for many businesses.  I know that there are very complicated economics involved here regarding businesses “counting” on shoppers to shop.  However, our vision of Christmas has evolved slowly, but rather dramatically, over our years together.  In fact, it has changed so much so, that even what I mean by vision has changed.  In the past, I strained to create The Vision of Christmas with hope that if I did so, I would be able to feel the warmth and love of The Vision inside myself.

I wanted so badly to feel that warmth, love, and closeness of family.  I thought the gateway to all this was to create the ideal picture of Christmas–presents, lots of food, holiday cheer which, was best created by having the right atmosphere… stockings, christmas tree, christmas lights, snow-hot chocolate-fireplace, the smell of food.  What I didn’t understand was that I got it all backwards.  That warmth and love came out of being close to Kendall and now also to Finn.  I now know within me (although my brain is still being re-trained), that when I give myself over to loving and being loved by these two people and other loved ones, and that when we have our need for food, shelter, health, and other basic needs met, that my life is bountiful.

I want to be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving gifts to those you know and love–you know yourselves and your loved ones best.  However, I would like to ask you to join our family in giving to those who are not able to rest in knowing their basic needs are being met.

Happy International Women’s Day

Today I am sharing with you a video that has repeatedly challenged and inspired me.

Sweatshop Free/Fair Trade Shopping

I was asked in response to my post yesterday to provide some suggestions as to what some of the best/worst companies to support are with regard to fair trade or to provide a resource.? Co-op America’s Repsonsible Shopper is probably the best resource that I can point you to.? It allows you to search for companies and get information about their environmental and social track record.? It is not a comprehensive list, but they are always adding new companies to their directory. Gap (this includes Old Navy and Banana Republic), Wal-Mart are some of the most notoriously bad companies as far as fair trade practices go.? Gap has repeated accounts of terrible working conditions overseas, including employing children as young as 10 years old in their sweatshops.? Some of the biggest complaints against Wal-Mart involve its treatment of workers in America.? According to reports, thousands of their employees are underpayed and rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs.? Nike is another traditionally bad company to support, however, they have been making a concerted effort to change their overseas labor practices. They recently have been more transparent about the locations of their factories and are being independently monitored.

Co-op America also has a great article on sweat shop free clothing.

Here is a list of some basic tips:

  1. Buy local.? Not only does this support your local economy, but you get to know the person creating the product and you can ask them as many questions as you like about their practices.? This goes for anything from food to clothing.? The clothing will more than likely be more expensive because it is handmade, but it guarantees that the product that wasn’t made in a sweatshop.? Etsy is a fun site to check out for handmade goods.
  2. Buy used products.? Go to a thrift store or local consignment shop and look around.? You will find some great deals.
  3. Research the companies you are buying from.
  4. Look for a UNITE label.

It is important to note that none of these can guarantee that the entire product was made in a fair trade facility.? Most products are assembled from pieces made all over the world and a Made in America label could mean that only the finishing touches were put on in America (like buttons).? However, following these guidelines is still important.? It is just not a perfect solution to the social justice issues of labor practices.

Here are a few more helpful resources in your search for responsible shopping:

No Sweat Apparel

Co-op America’s National Green Pages

Green Home’s Products Page

Fair Green Trade

The Green Earth Directory

Finally, I would like to leave you with an interesting article on Portland, OR, a city that is attempting to go sweatshop free.

It’s been a long time

I have read many a blog post with titles similar to the one I have used here. Often it is used by guilty bloggers, who feel that they have abandoned their faithful readers. Yet, while my writing has been inconsistent and often absent from One/Change over the past year, I do not come here today out of guilt, but instead to share with you what I have been up to lately.

As you know, I went back to school last year to finish up my undergraduate degree. This has been a 6-7 year on again/off again process.? Although this does not hold true for most of my college career, I am pleased to be able to report that this season of my education has been a very positive experience and that, in less than two weeks I will be a college graduate!

shishi

In the summer of 2007 Kendall and I took a camping trip to Shi Shi beach just a couple of months before the start of classes. It was then that we talked about how we would integrate school into our lives.? As a married couple we had gone through me being a student before and had quickly come to learn that I did not do a good job setting boundaries. ? We wanted it to look different this time. So, in the peace and calm of that camping trip we talked.

fandk

That conversation ended up setting the tone for the year. It was not all smooth sailing, but we had set our course and with gentle reminders, the support of loved ones, and the grace of God we were able to, for the most part, stay the course.

At the beginning of this endeavor I feared that, although I desperately wanted and needed these boundaries, freeing myself from my self-imposed pressures would lead to me becoming an average, un-driven human being. What would become of me if I no longer expected perfection? A sloth? A loser? An idiot with a degree?

I am happy to say that none of the above happened. What did happen is that I had the opportunity to put into practice the very things that I been working on internally for years. The result is that the setting of those boundaries and the subsequent work I did to implement and re-implement them, led to me having my most successful experience thus far.

prague

I am having a hard time figuring out how to write what I want to say next without it coming out sounding like college entrance essay.? But this summer, oh this summer.? It was great.? It makes me want to break out into song everytime I think about it: Summer lovin’ had me a bla-ast, summer lovin’ happen so faaast.? Kendall and I spent my last summer quarter of school studying abraod in Prague.? Thanks in large part to the support and campaigning done on our behalf by Kari Tupper, Kendall and I were able to do it together (despite his being a long-time college graduate that would not officially be part of the program). It was an unusual situation and one that had never been braved before, but it was important to us that we have this experience together or not at all.? This was part of the verbal manifesto we created on Shi Shi, that although we were at different points in our lives we wanted to create shared experiences that strengthed our friendship and marriage.? We wanted to be part of each others individual worlds and we wanted to do this in person, not over e-mail, IM, or phone.? The result of the commitment we made to each other was that we got to experience together what has become the highlight of my formal education.

What stands out to me in all of this is the immeasurable value of the times Kendall and I have taken the opportunity to step out of the chaos.? When without distraction we inevitably end up having conversations in which we evaluate our own lives, as well as, our life together.? As a result we end up reorienting our lives according to what we value and arrive at conclusions that bring us immense freedom from the previously unexamined expectations of life.

There was so much that I learned during this trip that I look forward to sharing with you all here.? In addition, I have had the benefit of taking a few environmental science courses and hope to share with you some of the knowledge I gained through that participation.

Seattle City Council approves 20 cent fee for plastic bags

The Seattle City Council approved a proposal (by a 6-1 margin) that will charge shoppers 20 cents for each plastic shopping bag they use. This is great news. The fee will go into effect in January.

Opponents of this proposal have said that it taxes those who cannot afford to purchase reusable bags. So to alleviate that cost, the city of Seattle will distribute reusable paper bags to all residents, also giving lower income residents additional bags to use.

The council also passed a ban on plastic foam food containers that is a two-phase project. The first phase will address take out containers and it will take effect in January as well. Restaurants will not be allowed to use plastic foam in their takeout containers. The second phase will take effect July 2010 and focuses on all plastic food containers and utensils. Businesses will be able to use only recyclable or biodegradable products for their food containers.

I’m glad to see that our city is taking steps to reduce the unnecessary waste produced by convenience. If you live in a place that is using plastic bags and you feel like you want to make changes to that, Bring Your Own Bag is a great organization that is fighting for that. They also recently posted to their blog specifically addressing the situation in North America.

Informative New Solar Energy Report

In June Co-op America and Clean Edge Inc. released an assessment of the potential of solar energy in the next fifty years entitled Utility Solar Assessment Study. The 75 page report is detailed enough to include data and evidence to support it’s claims while refraining from being written in a dry, unengaging fashion.

The report’s analysis includes a general introduction to solar energy, including CSP (concentrated solar power), PV (Photovoltaics) technology and the electric utility industry. The report goes on to give a comparison of projected solar energy costs per megawatt with fossil fuel costs. I found this section especially intriguing because the solar cost projections given here, which are based on progressions in similar computer technology and the annuals decreases in solar energy costs in the last 20 years, are what will inevitably draw electric utilities toward major solar investments. Solar Utility investment as well as updating an aging, one way electrical grid are the greatest obstacles that stand in the way of major U.S. solar development according to solar energy experts. Presently, .1% of U.S. energy consumption is produced from solar energy, but Co-op America and Clean Edge Inc believe that this could reach 10% by 2025 if solar energy continues to grow at a rate of 40% each year as it has for the last decade. It’s an excellent report and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in solar energy.

Mental Health Parity Bill

I am groaning under the miseries of a diseased nervous System; a System of all others the most essential to our happiness–or the most productive of our Misery…Lord, what is Man! Today, in the luxuriance of health, exulting in the enjoyment of existence; In a few days, perhaps in a few hours, loaded with conscious painful being, counting the tardy pace of the lingering moments, by the repercussions of anguish, & refusing or denied a Comforter.–Day follows night, and night comes after day, only to curse him with life which gives him no pleasure.

–Robert Burns

Worsted Witch (thank you) brought to my attention the Mental Health Parity Bill, which will require insurers to treat mental illnesses in the same manner as physical illnesses. Please write to congress in support of this bill.

StatAttak: tshirts that tell quite a story

StatAttak Mozambique TShirt

Los Angeles-based design company Stolen, Inc. was researching a project they were working on and came across some staggering information.

came across “Life Expectancy at Birth.” Andorra was the highest with 83.51 years, and all the way at the bottom was Mozambique with 31.1 years

They decided to do something about it. They’ve created a line of tshirts to educate and raise funds. It’s called StatAttak. Stolen will be setting aside 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts to build an orphanage in Mozambique.

Since Mozambique was the country that inspired all of this, the Sons of Stolen are putting 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts towards building an orphanage in Mozambique. Instead of giving the money to a charity, we will go to Mozambique with a group of volunteers from the design industry and build an orphanage from the ground up. We hope that this will help us better understand Africa and that a personal interaction with the local population will inspire everyone involved to keep working towards solutions to the many problems facing that continent.

Not only is this a great opportunity to make a change in the world, the shirts are also beautiful. Mollie and I will both be sporting StatAttak tshirts.

Creative problem solving

Creative problem solving has become a very valuable tool in my life. My husband and I regularly use it to address problems that come up in our business, relationship, and various life issues.

I also use creative problem solving regularly when it comes to environmental and human rights issues and the growing need to make changes to my lifestyle that can be difficult. Sometimes the difficulty arises because I am being a stubborn mule, other times it is because I have a major or minor need or want stands in opposition to a lifestyle change I feel I need to make. To keep from getting stuck or from just not doing anything at all I have to figure out a way to get enough of what I need/want without compromising the more important need.

There are times, like when the issue of buying fair trade coffee came up for me, that I needed to decide what I was going to do about it. I evaluated the situation, and my want (I don’t think that you can ever call coffee a need in any sort of seriousness) for coffee was never going to be more important than the well being of the person(s) that work on the coffee farms and therefore I made the decision to only support fair trade coffee. This means I have to ask if it is fair trade and do research on the local coffee shops. It also means that there are times when I don’t buy a cup of coffee even though it sounds like the perfect treat. Again, when the situation of switching to florescent light bulbs came up I wasn’t thrilled about the idea. Florescent light bulbs are depressing and sterile, which is the last thing I want my home to feel like when I am snuggling in to read a book at night. My solution was to have lampshades that are warm colors and therefore, soften the florescent light and allow my home to still feel warm and cozy.

There are times where I find myself picking the wrong battles to fight, or taking the wrong stance. I get resentful at times of life being hard and feel that I am entitled to not think of other people, or the world around me. Times where I feel I have earned the right to be selfish or not make one more sacrifice. However, part of life is making various sacrifices and it is best to come to terms with that. Some sacrifices are small (like the examples I listed above) and some are large and extremely difficult. Life is not about getting everything we want and getting it right now. Immediate satisfaction does not always equal long term satisfaction, pleasure, peace, happiness, or health. I have found that in many of the sacrifices I have made have ended up bringing me such a greater depth and joy to my life.

I want to encourage you all to use creative problem solving as much as possible. The more you do it, the better you get at it. At times solutions will easily surface and other times you will have to dig for them. Let’s not get stuck because an easy solution to what we want/need and what is best for other human beings and the Earth is not presented to us. Each of us has the ability to think and it can be such a wonderful thing when used.

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