Tag Archives: #WATWB

We are the World Blogfest: The Volleyball Team from Paradise

“Camp Fire” is a strange name for such a terrible thing. I grew up thinking of campfires as cozy opportunities to gather around and roast marshmallows. But that is the name for the most devastating wildfire in CA history, destroying the town of Paradise, killing 88 people, and causing $7 billion worth of damage. Thanksgiving rains brought relief from smoky skies and a reason to be truly thankful as they helped the fire to reach 100% containment.

There are many stories from the Camp Fire, which was only about 180 miles from my home. Some scary, some sad, a few happy. I chose this particular story for the “We are the world” blogfest: “OUTPOURING OF LOVE: Forest Lake Christian community lends helping hand to Paradise Adventist Academy during time of need”  by Walter Ford, from The Union, Nov 12, 2018.

This was a semi-final girls’ volleyball game in the CIF NorCal Division VI. The Cougars from Paradise, the town devastated by the fire, still showed up to play the Lady Falcons. They didn’t even have uniforms. But their opponents welcomed them with jerseys, shorts, knee pads, and socks, donated food and clothing, cash, and gift cards collected from the community. It struck me that these young people know better than adults how to treat others who may be their adversaries in one area of life.

These communities will be dealing with the fire’s aftermath for months and years to come. Please consider donating to fire relief efforts.

~~~About #WATWB~~~

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Cohosts for this month are: Eric Lahti Inderpreet UppalShilpa GargPeter NenaDamyanti Biswas. Please visit their blogs and say “hi.”

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo

Advertisements

Faith Floods the Desert for #WATWB

It is the end of the month, which means it is time for this month’s installment of the We Are the World Blogfest. In this blogfest we seek to share a story of positive news of people helping others.

In August, faith leaders along with the organization No More Deaths and the Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee went to Arizona to bring water to migrants in the Sonoran Desert. I had been meaning to share this story previously but time got away from me. Although the weather has gotten cooler as the year marches on, this issue remains very much in the news.

The initiative was called “Faith Floods the Desert.” Two groups of workers distributed water via the Devil’s Highway and the Charlie Bell Road, a trail in the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge along the Growler Mountain Range. Rabbi Brant Rosen’s report is here in People’s World: Faith Floods the Desert: Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime. Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari’s report is here: Faith Leaders Bring Life Saving Water to Migrants in the Desert.

This article resonated with me because earlier this year humanitarian aid workers from No More Deaths were arrested and charged. Mary Katherine Morn, CEO and president of the UUSC said:

“As people of faith, there’s an intrinsic obligation to help others in need and protect and affirm the inherent dignity and beauty of every single human life.”

~~~About #WATWB~~~

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Eric LahtiInderpreet UppalShilpa GargMary Giese and Roshan Radhakrishnan  Please stop by and say hello!

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo

Workers Wages for #WATWB

IMG_3344Silicon Valley was once called The Valley of Heart’s Delight, because of all the agriculture and fruit trees that used to grow here. The housing development where I live was a pumpkin patch until the 1980s, and I still have a persimmon tree in my backyard. Nowadays when people think of this area, they mostly think of computers and cutting-edge technology: Google, Facebook, Apple, Genentech, 23andMe, and many others. The history of both industries has a dark side: the conditions of the workers that make all this bounty possible.

According to Silicon Valley Rising, an advocacy coalition of labor, faith leaders, community-based organizations and workers, high-tech companies contract out most of their service jobs to workers who are poorly paid and don’t receive basic benefits. Latinx and Black people make up the majority of these janitors, food service workers, maintenance workers, security guards, and shuttle bus drivers who help build and sustain the tech economy. Many of these families have lived here for generations, long before the arrival of the tech riches that have priced them out.

This article, “Silicon Valley Security Guards Approve Contract to Raise Wages,” by Wendy Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle, highlights some recent results of Silicon Valley Rising’s efforts to change this narrative.

Security officer Elizabeth Valdivia’s job is to protect the employees and property of offices in the Bay Area, including from encroaching homeless people.

The irony is that Valdivia is homeless herself, living in her Mercury Tracer because she couldn’t afford a place to live.

Now, after more than five years of negotiations and activism, thousands of security officers at Silicon Valley tech companies will get pay increases, higher healthcare contributions and paid holidays after ratifying this, their first ever union contract, through Service Employees International Union/United Service Workers West. This was one of the largest private sector organizing efforts in California history.

I chose this article for #WATWB because it represents a vision worth fighting for, both in Silicon Valley and world-wide: an economic model that rebuilds the middle class and doesn’t leave hard-working people behind.

~~~About #WATWB~~~

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Simon FalkAndrea MichaelsShilpa GargSylvia Stein, and Belinda Witzenhausen  Please stop by and say hello!

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo

The Geocaching Community for #WATWB

I started this blog with a Geocaching theme, although over the three-and-a-half years of its existence, it has strayed from those original roots. Geocaching, or the “global treasure hunt,” as it’s sometimes called, can be a metaphor for many things. For things lost and found. For the quest and the hunt. For “finding yourself.”

For this Blogfest post, I want to focus on the geocaching community, which is a group of some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. There are over 3 million geocaches hidden worldwide and an estimated 451,316 active geocachers in the United States in 2017. When we moved to California, geocaching was a great way for us to meet new friends.

My husband finds more caches than I do. To do so, he likes to go to some out of the way places, and this past spring, he and one of his friends managed to get their car stuck in the Yuma desert. A quick post to a Facebook group and local geocachers who were on the scene in Yuma came to the rescue.

DesertRescue.png

They weren’t in serious danger, mostly inconvenience. But this story, Canadian geocachers rescue stranded camper in remote woods, is a great example of what the community can do in more dire circumstances. Without these geocachers out looking for their First to Find, Robert would have died.

Geocaching events are a rare place in which folks of different ethnicities, income levels, gender orientations, and political persuasions come together and share an activity and friendship (at least this is true in the United States; worldwide Geocaching is still heavily concentrated in wealthier industrialized countries). Geocachers also organize regular CITO (cache-in, trash-out) events to help clean up local parks and waterways.

The featured photo for this post is a picture from a virtual geocaching souvenir called the “World Turtle.” In order to earn this souvenir, I had to find 100 caches between June 27 and July 25th. I finished just in time, on the last day, by attending a lunchtime geocaching event. There were 13 souvenirs to earn in total, called “Hidden Creatures,” most of which were easier and required finding fewer caches than the turtle. I found most of them while I was on my trip to Europe. (I like the Hippocamp especially because, as a neuroscientist, I am reminded of the hippocampus!)

HiddenCreatures.png
Hidden Creatures Geocaching Souvenirs, and the number of found caches required to earn them

The World Turtle was the most difficult one, requiring 100 finds in the time period. A turtle carrying the world on its back is a creation myth in Hindu, Chinese, and Indigenous Peoples mythologies. Here’s an interview with Roxxy, the artist behind this World Turtle. The geocaching community is truly a worldwide phenomenon, and I think appropriate for a “We Are the World” shout-out.

WorldTurtle

The We Are the World Blogfest seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are:
Peter Nena,
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal,
Shilpa Garg
Roshan Radhakrishnan
Sylvia McGrath
Belinda Witzenhausen

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing good newst. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

We are the World Logo

 

 

 

 

May #WATWB: New Redwoods Park in Silicon Valley

When people come to visit in the SF Bay Area, they often want to see redwoods. The iconic place to go is Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County north of San Francisco, which is amazing, but it has gotten crowded and difficult to park there.

There are others, around Lake Tahoe:

TahoeRedwoods

Or on the peninsula in Woodside and Portola Valley:

Even in Los Altos, the next town over from Mountain View where I live, there is a small redwood grove:

LosAltosRedwoods

And in Sunnyvale town, or on Sunnyvale’s Sunken Gardens golf course where squirrels play:

Walking among the redwoods, even some closer to home, brings a feeling of peace and even enlightenment.

Cuesta Park, Mountain View, site of several geocache finds and many a Pokemon raid
Cuesta Park in Mountain View, site of several geocache finds and many a Pokemon raid

Now there is going to be a new park for more people to enjoy: “Silicon Valley has a new redwoods park, groundbreaking Tuesday,” from the San Jose Mercury News, by Paul Rogers.

It is known as the Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, and sits in the hills west of Highway 17 across from Lexington Reservoir. From 1934 to 1969, the land was the site of Alma College, a Jesuit campus. Now trails and amenities such as parking lots are being built for more access. There is a growing tension between preservation of wild open spaces and public access as California’s population increases. But I believe that projects like these are the best chance for balancing those needs.

We are the World LogoWe Are the World Blogfest,” posted around the last Friday of each month, seeks to promote positive news. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world. The #WATWB co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Kaur UppalPeter NenaAndrea Michaels, and Damyanti Biswas. Please check out their posts and say hello!

 

April WATWB: Out of Harm’s Way

We are the World LogoThe “We are the World” Blogfest (#WATWB) is in its thirteenth month! This blogfest is a blog hop that takes place on the last Friday of every month. This event seeks to promote positive news, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Your cohosts for this month are:  Shilpa GargDan Antion, Simon FalkMichelle Wallace, and Mary Giese. Please link to them in your WATWB posts and go say hi! Click HERE to check out the intention and rules of the blogfest and feel free to sign up.

I have chosen this story, Louisiana Islanders Find a New Home Beyond the Water, by Nicky Milne. Isle de Jean Charles is a small strip of land in Southern Louisiana. In the 1950s it measured 11×5 miles. Since then it has lost 98% of its land. Its inhabitants are mostly descended from the Biloxi, Chitimacha, and Choctaw tribes who took refuge from white settlers on the island in the early 19th century.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 5.06.21 PM

What I think makes this story good for We Are the World is the community effort the inhabitants are making to resettle all the families on the island.

Chantel Comardelle, the Executive Secretary of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, won funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase land where the islanders can move. She says that the plan “blazes a trail for other groups who face the prospect of losing their land, both in the United States and other countries.”

“Right now, there’s very little positive in the form of relocation or resettlement of people,” she said. “We presented a different model of doing it – a community-designed, community-driven process.”

Lowlander Center logoThey are also working with a group called the Lowlander Center, a non-profit organization supporting lowland people and places through education, research and advocacy.

The inhabitants of Isle de Jean Charles are climate refugees right here in the United States. Climate change is no longer a “slow-moving disaster” happening somewhere else in the distant future. It is happening right here, right now.

Photo credit: Newlands Sugarcane farmland near Shriever, southeast Louisiana which has been purchased by Louisiana State for resettlement of the community of Isle De Jean Charles. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Chad Owen

We are the World Blogfest: Strings for Haitian Musicians

This is the second year that the Musicians of the Utah Symphony (MOTUS), led by their music director Thierry Fischer, have gone to Haiti to teach young musicians there in an orchestra institute. Last year’s institute received coverage in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, and others.

Fischer said the students’ work ethic and eagerness to learn quickly dispelled any qualms about “talking about intonation when they don’t have a roof over their heads.” Beyond musical technique, he hopes the lessons learned at the institute strengthened skills and traits the students can use throughout their lives: “persistence, consistency, determination, discipline.”

–Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 2017

The Utah Symphony musicians are in Haiti right now for this year’s Institute, and are blogging about it here on Tumblr: MOTUS in Haiti.

tumblr_inline_p64pm7srhh1vf9tft_1280
Kate (L) with Mercedes (R), the principal flutist at the Utah Symphony

A violinist friend of mine, Kate Little, pictured at left and on the Tumblr blog, collected used-but-usable strings to be sent along with the musicians in their luggage. The climate in Haiti is such that strings deteriorate quickly, so they can make good use of our old used strings that are still in decent shape.

Kate put out a call for strings in some online music groups that I am a part of and I collected them from friends and teachers and sent them on to Kate, who gave them to the traveling musicians to take in their luggage.

The collection of strings pictured here is a selection of what was donated by friends I play music with in local community orchestras. It includes violin, viola, and cello strings! My son’s cello teacher also gave me a large envelope containing strings, collected from her professional colleagues and her own closet.

StringsforHaiti

The orchestra under Maestro Fischer is currently rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony!

tumblr_inline_p6bxu58kdw1vf9tft_1280

We are the World Logo

We Are the World Blogfest,” posted around the last Friday of each month, seeks to promote positive news. There are many oases of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world. The #WATWB co-hosts for this month are:  Belinda Witzenhausen,  Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein,  Shilpa Garg, and Eric Lahti. Please check out their posts and say hello!

WATWB: The Life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas

We are the World Logo

The last Friday of the month brings the February installment of the “We are the World Blogfest.” WATWB seeks to promote positive news. There are many an oasis of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world. For more information, visit:  http://www.damyantiwrites.com/we-are-the-world-blogfest/ 

Continue reading WATWB: The Life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas

The Ozone Hole is Healing!

Remember the Ozone Hole? It was one of the big environmental problems of the 20th century that seemed to go along with all the other reasons that our planet was in trouble. It was a reason all we light-skinned people, especially the Aussies, were going to get skin cancer and cataracts. According to the Ozone Hole website, the ozone hole of 2006, over Antarctica, was the biggest ever:

The 2006 ozone hole over Antarctica (Photo credit: NASA)
The 2006 ozone hole: big, blue, and scary (Photo credit: NASA)

So what is ozone and why is a hole in it bad?

Ozone is a gas made up of three oxygen atoms, with the chemical formula O3. (The normal oxygen we need to breathe is O2). It occurs naturally in small amounts in the upper atmosphere (also known as the stratosphere) and forms a thin layer covering the entire planet. This stratospheric ozone layer (“good ozone”) protects life on Earth from the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Near the Earth’s surface, however, ozone is created locally by chemical reactions between air pollutants. High concentrations of ozone down here on the ground are toxic (“bad ozone”). The Ozone Hole is a thinning of the layer of protective “good ozone” that allows too much UV radiation to reach Earth’s surface.

Why did the layer get thinner?

Some chemicals that were used in spray cans and in air conditioners and refrigerators contain chlorine and bromine atoms, and these atoms are released when the chemicals come into contact with UV light. Then, when these chlorine and bromine atoms drift up into the stratosphere and encounter the ozone layer, they destroy it. A single chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules. The most common of these ozone-depleting chemicals are called CFCs.

In 1985, the Montreal Protocol regulating CFCs was introduced. This is an international commitment to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals that was ratified by all UN countries. On January 4 of 2018, the first study was published that used measurements of the chemical composition inside the ozone hole to confirm that not only is ozone depletion decreasing, but that the decrease is caused by the reduction in CFCs. In other words, the Montreal Protocol is working! NASA Study: First Direct Proof of Ozone Hole Recovery Due to Chemicals Ban.

This is only a first step and more needs to be done, because CFCs last a long time and the CFCs made in the last century are still around causing trouble in this one. But it is still a good example of how science can influence governments’ decision-making, and how the nations of the world can work together to solve big environmental problems. May our leaders learn from this example!

EarthSculpture

This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase stories of hope and light. The #WATWB cohosts for this month are:  Shilpa GargSimon FalkLynn HallbrooksEric LahtiDamyanti Biswas and Guilie CastilloPlease link to them in your #WATWB posts and go say hi!

We are the World Logo

We are the World Blogfest: Saving the Environment through Art

Late November in the USA marks the start of the crazy holiday season. Thanksgiving. Advent. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday . . . With my daughter home for Thanksgiving and two concerts and my birthday coming up, I just wasn’t in the space for posting anything.  Continue reading We are the World Blogfest: Saving the Environment through Art