Thursday, October 30, 2014

7 Practical Ideas for Compassionate Communities, From Free College to Debt Relief

by Shannan Stoll

Kerry Morrison interviews homeless veteran John Watkins in the Hollywood Hills. Hollywood was one of the first communities to join the 100,000 Homes Campaign. Watkins has been provided with housing. Photo by Rudy Salinas at Path.

1. 100,000 homes so far

Teams of volunteers across the country hit the streets early in the morning to put a name and a face to the long-term homeless in their communities. The volunteers started canvassing at 4 a.m., combing the streets to gather names, photographs, and stories of the people sleeping there. They searched for the people at the highest risk of dying from being on the streets. Once they identified the most vulnerable people, they offered them a home.

That was the 100,000 Homes campaign’s approach to eliminating homelessness in communities across the country for the past four years, and it worked. In June, one month before their deadline, campaign organizer Community Solutions announced that its more than 230 partnering cities, counties, and states had surpassed the goal of placing 100,000 people in homes in just four years. It was a bold goal. In the traditional housing placement system, it often takes more than a year to work through the multiple agencies, treatments, and counseling requirements to secure a home. The process is intended to ensure that government subsidies for housing go to the people best prepared to receive them. The 100,000 Homes campaign flipped this paradigm by offering housing first. Once housed, people received supportive services to deal with substance abuse, mental illness, and joblessness. The housing first method is quicker, and it’s successful. Studies show that two years after receiving supportive housing for free, more than 80 percent of people were still living in a home instead of on the street.

Community Solutions isn’t stopping with 100,000 homes. Next January, the organization will launch Zero: 2016. This new national campaign will target the elimination of all chronic and military veteran homelessness, one home at a time. It’s another bold goal, and they just might do it.

Photo by the All-Nite Images.

2. Suddenly debt free

When 80-year-old Shirley Logsdon went into the hospital for a back injury, she came out with nearly $1,000 in debt that she would never be able to pay. For a year and a half, she received persistent phone calls from debt collectors. Then Logsdon received a letter from Rolling Jubilee. “You no longer owe the balance of this debt,” it read. “It is gone, a gift with no strings attached.”
Letters like the one Logsdon received were sent to 2,693 people last November, when Rolling Jubilee bought and forgave $13.5 million in personal debt. A newly released study by the Urban Institute says about 77 million people in the United States have debt that is subject to collections—often debt that was incurred to pay for basic needs. That’s one of the reasons the Occupy Wall Street group Strike Debt formed the Rolling Jubilee project. “We believe that no one should have to go into debt for the basic things in our lives, like healthcare, housing, and education,” the group says. Since forming in November 2012, Rolling Jubilee has bought nearly $15 million of debt for just $400,000 on the secondary debt market, where lenders sell unpaid bills to collectors for just pennies on the dollar. Thousands of individual donations averaging just $40 have paid for these debt buys. It’s a bailout for the people, funded by the people.

3. Stuff of good neighbors

Freecycle and Craigslist give new life to old stuff by facilitating porch pickups for everything from free lamps and scrap wood to cans of food close to their expiration dates. That kind of stuff is posted on Buy Nothing’s local Facebook pages too, but the group is about a lot more than just stuff. It’s about the people and stories behind the stuff and the porch meetings between neighbors.

One year after it began, the Buy Nothing Project has grown into a social media movement with more than 225 local groups across the country and the world. Rebecca Rockefeller cofounded the first Buy Nothing group on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and says the project is helping communities discover their abundance. “There’s enough stuff to go around,” she says, “and the way we learn that is by getting to know our neighbors, asking for what we need, and giving what we have. Everyone has something to give.” People give away their dusty household goods, but they also give childcare, cooking classes, and garden produce. People ask for what they need, too: One neighbor asks for a piece of land to bury a beloved pet, another for a late-night store run to pick up medicine.
Photo by Mark Peterson / Redux.

4. The city that pays for college

In 2005, residents of the declining rust-belt city of Kalamazoo, Mich., received some unbelievably good news: A new program supported by private donors would fund Kalamazoo kids’ college tuition up to 100 percent at any of Michigan’s public colleges and universities. The Kalamazoo Promise would be available to any student enrolled in a Kalamazoo public school since the ninth grade. It was the most comprehensive scholarship program in the entire country.

Nearly a decade later, the place-based scholarship program has inspired more than 30 similar programs across the United States. While not all communities have donors with pockets deep enough to fund a program like the Kalamazoo Promise, the program is demonstrating how radical investment in youth can transform a struggling community and have a huge impact on its most vulnerable populations. Since 2005, young families have returned to the city, and enrollment in the school district has increased 24 percent. The number of minority students taking AP courses has increased 300 percent. The city has spent more money on the district than ever before—a lot more. Test scores have improved, and GPAs have increased, most notably among black students. The list of achievements goes on, and just this June, the program announced its expansion to include tuition coverage at 15 of Michigan’s private liberal arts colleges. “There is no wholly literate urban community in the United States,” says district superintendent Michael Rice. “We aim to be the first.”

Photo by O+.

5. Medical care for a song

Without a steady paycheck, retirement package, or health care, independent artists and musicians often have to sacrifice health and security for their art. In Kingston, N.Y., a unique arts festival is helping change that by bringing neighbors together to care for one another.

At the O+ Festival, art and music are exchanged for fillings, physical therapy, routine physician’s exams, and other health services. The festival began when a Kingston dentist wondered aloud to his artist friend if he could get a band he liked from Brooklyn to play for free dental care. He could, it turned out, and with the help of a few friends in the arts, his idea grew into the first O+ Festival in 2010. At the fourth annual O+ last year, providers at the festival pop-up clinic offered 99 dental appointments and 350 hours of health services for the 80 artists and musicians who performed and presented during the three-day festival. “Building a community around O+ speaks to the simple idea of compassion and being part of a community,” says Joe Concra, a painter who co-founded the festival. “Because we’ve become accustomed to huge companies providing everything we need, we forget to look to our neighbors to see what they can offer.”

Photo by Masbia Photo.

6. The finest dining

Masbia serves up dignity with dinner to hundreds of hungry New Yorkers every day. Instead of long lines and a tedious intake process, diners at this soup kitchen are greeted by a friendly host and ushered to a private table for a delicious three-course kosher meal. No questions, just healthy food. Original artwork decorates the walls, the atmosphere is cozy, and the menu is prepared using fresh ingredients donated by farmers markets and CSAs. Nearly all the kitchen and wait staff are volunteers.

“It’s a restaurant with no cash register,” says executive director Alexander Rapaport. When Rapaport began Masbia, his goal was to provide kosher food in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. “Doing it with dignity means people will come,” he says, and he’s right. Every day, more than 500 people come to Masbia’s three locations. This year alone, the growing organization expects to serve more than 1 million meals.
Photo by IMAS.

7. Immigrant Mutual Aid

Before state-funded programs and large insurance companies, many people turned to community networks for services like health care, unemployment aid, and education. In mutual aid societies, people pooled resources to pay the salary of a community doctor, outfit a schoolhouse, or give financial and emotional support to members who were sick or out of work. Today, mutual aid remains an important alternative for people with limited or no access to state-funded services. Cooperatively run pre-K schools, lending circles for low-income groups, and even some housing associations fill in the gaps left by state services. Mutual aid societies are still particularly relevant among immigrant communities.

In Chicago, home to some 3,000 Iraqi refugees, the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society is Iraqi immigrants helping each other adjust to American society. Language and vocational classes provide practical skills while social and cultural events like poetry contests and concerts help refugees remain connected to their unique culture and community. Resources include free and reduced-cost child care, and the group’s Immigration Legal Services Program provides help with naturalization petitions. According to, the region expects at least 800 more refugees annually over the next several years.


Shannan Stoll wrote this article for The End of Poverty, the Fall 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. Shannan is a freelance writer.
Read more:

Heart - Mind Online

A learning resource for anyone who cares for or about children.

The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education is excited to announce the launch of Heart-Mind Online (, a brand new resource for parents and educators. Officially launched on stage with the Dalai Lama in Vancouver at the Heart-Mind Summit, this exciting online learning tool is a one-of-a-kind hub for evidence-informed resources that educate the heart. 

Heart-Mind Online provides resources and activities that build capacity in parents and educators so they in turn can support the children in their care in areas such as anxiety, stress, managing conflict, friendship and other key domains of a child’s Heart-Mind well-being.

"Heart-Mind Online is a really exciting project,” says Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, interim director of the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership.  “It is so important for parents and educators alike to have a place where they can find practical resources and tools, rooted in science, that really educate the heart. These competencies, like empathy, altruism and compassion, are so critical not only in childhood, but also later in life."

Heart-Mind Online draws on the expertise of leaders in child development and education like Schonert-Reichl, as well as Daniel Siegel, Mark Greenberg and others. 

The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education is an independent, secular, non-political, charitable organization based in Vancouver, BC. The Center is inspired by the Dalai Lama’s belief in the importance of balancing the education of children’s minds with that of their hearts. The DLC educates the hearts of children by informing, inspiring and engaging the communities around them. All of the Center’s programs aim to create support and environment to enable positive human qualities in children and youth. For more information, visit


Natalia Angheli-Zaicenco, DLC Communications Manager
604-215-2352, ext 3

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pioneers of Peace

Pioneers of Peace ™ is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating peace by fostering compassion, altruism, and gratitude. We do our part in relieving local and global suffering by providing humanitarian aid to women and children.
As Pioneers of Peace (POP) we are dedicated to the promotion of human development and resilience. Our efforts are founded on principles of gratitude, compassion, and altruism.  We choose optimism over cynicism. We recognize that even simple acts of kindness are powerful, whether performed by individuals or groups. Such efforts alleviate suffering and elevate consciousness. Acts of generosity inspire others and foster a spirit of giving; we are thus committed to raising the awareness of individuals and groups who are actively engaged in making a positive difference in the world.
As pioneers of peace we make a personal commitment to our own kindness and growth, understanding that we cannot ask of the world what we are unwilling to do ourselves.  We hold that the act of “giving back” is the strongest evidence of resilience; therefore as Pioneers of Peace, We Walk, Not Just Talk.
Pioneers of Peace ™ has a two-fold mission.
1) We cultivate peace by promoting compassion, altruism, and gratitude.
  • We define peace as individual well-being, and goodwill toward others.
  • We believe well-being is enhanced, on every level by focusing on the needs of others.
  • We seek to strengthen pro-social values across all age groups through education and opportunities to practice pro-social behavior.
  • We walk, not just talk.
2) We relieve suffering by providing humanitarian aid to women and children
  • We support The Zero Hunger Challenge[i] by providing school meals
  • We support World Food Program USA, in their effort to fund the School Meals Program[ii].
  • We believe hunger is a solvable problem
  • We utilize fundraisers, the sale of unique products and educational presentations to accomplish our humanitarian goals.
[i] The Zero Hunger Challenge is a global initiative, which aims to build support around the goal of achieving Zero Hunger. It was launched by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and call on everyone-governments, the private sector, non-government organizations (NGOs), and the public- to do their part to achieve this goal. It is based on a shared conviction that hunger can be eliminated in our lifetimes.
[ii] No child should go to school hungry. Today, an estimated 66 million students across the developing world attend primary school hungry, with 23 million children in Africa alone.
School meals can be life-changing for the world’s poorest children. School meals also help to get students into the classroom, giving them an important key to a better future—an education.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides school meals to more than 24 million children each year. Just 25 cents provides a child with a nutritious meal, such as porridge, rice or beans. School meals help to improve children’s nutrition, ability to learn and life chances. School feeding also gives poor families an incentive to send children to school, especially girls.
Come on over to and check us out :-)
Until next time may you find your cup half full :-)


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sweden Is Now Recycling 99 Percent Of Its Trash. Here’s How They Do It


Everyone produces waste, and the Swedes are no different. It’s what they do with it that is unusual. Sweden recycles and sorts its waste so efficiently that less than 1 percent ends up in landfills. But perhaps even more interesting, and somewhat controversial, is that Sweden burns about as much household waste as it recycles, over 2 million tons, and converts this to energy. But even with this amount of domestic waste, the country’s 32 waste-to energy (WTE) incineration plants can handle even more. And when Sweden runs out of its own garbage, it offers a service to the rest of garbage-bloated Europe: importing excess waste from other countries.

Source: Truth Theory

Friday, October 24, 2014

Measuring Innovation in Education - A New Perspective

Measuring Innovation in Education

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Click to Access: 
Publication Date :
17 July 2014
Pages :
9789264215696 (PDF) ; 9789264215689 (print)
Do teachers innovate? Do they try different pedagogical approaches? Are practices within classrooms and educational organisations changing? And to what extent can change be linked to improvements? A measurement agenda is essential to an innovation and improvement strategy in education. Measuring Innovation in Educationoffers new perspectives on addressing the need for such measurement.

This book’s first objective is informative: it gives readers new international comparative information about innovation in education compared to other sectors. And it documents change in a variety of dimensions of school practices between 1999 and 2011. Its second objective is methodological: it assesses two approaches to capturing the extent and type of innovation occurring within and across education systems. The third objective is exploratory: this book showcases a large-scale pilot that presents over 200 measures of innovation in education using existing international data. Last but not least, the fourth objective is prospective: this report proposes new approaches to measuring innovation in education in the future.

This book is the beginning of a new journey: it calls for innovations in the field of measurement – and not just of education.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sustainability Science Fellowships at Harvard University

Doctoral, Post-doctoral, and Mid-career Fellowships
Due date for applications: February 2, 2015
The Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University invites applications for resident fellowships in sustainability science for the academic year beginning in September 2015. This year’s competition is focused on three thematic areas related to energy and sustainability. We are seeking applications focusing on: 1) decarbonizing energy systems in the European Union; 2) designing, developing, and/or implementing sustainable energy technologies and policies in China; and 3) the impacts of fossil fuel subsidies on economic, environmental, and health indicators and the actions that can be taken to reduce them. The fellowship competition is open to advanced doctoral and post-doctoral students, and to mid-career professionals engaged in research or practice to facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective interventions that promote sustainable development.  The thematic areas are led by Professors Henry Lee and Joseph Aldy. The Program is also open, however, to strong proposals in any area of sustainability science.  In addition to general funds available to support this fellowship offering, special funding for the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowships in Sustainability Science is available to support citizens of Italy, China, or developing countries who are therefore especially encouraged to apply. For more information on the fellowships application process see Applications are due February 2, 2015 and decisions will be announced in March 2014.
Sustainable Energy and the European Union
Faculty leader:
Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders:
Laura Diaz Anadon, William Clark
This thematic area explores policies that will aid in decarbonizing the energy in the EU in view of the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policy which will be decided on in October 2014. The EU is considering more ambitious targets for renewable energy options, increased energy efficiency goals for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030. Fellows will be expected work on the sustainability of the supply chain of renewable energies in the EU, from inception to commercialization. The overall renewable energy life-cycle can be considered in its entirety or the work can focus on a specific stage of the life-cycle. The program is particularly interested in analyzing the renewable energy sustainability in EU economies that have traditionally lagged behind other member states in terms of increasing the use of renewable energy technologies and the challenges and opportunities to expand deployment and use of those technologies.
Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector in China: Challenges and Options
Faculty leader: Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders: Laura Diaz Anadon, Venkatesh Narayanamurti
This thematic area addresses the environmental implications of energy policies in China and explores how China can manage these implications. Fellows work to identify and promote policies that will contribute to the thoughtful use of China's natural resources (e.g., water, air, land) and/or the adoption of cleaner and less carbon-intensive industrial and energy technologies. Research areas include, but are not limited to: analyzing the impact of energy and industrial policies on water scarcity and air pollution; assessing polices to promote a low-carbon energy portfolio and an analysis of options to improve the efficient use of energy and greater penetration of alternative energy sources.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Impacts, Opportunities, and Challenges to Reform
Faculty leader:
Joseph Aldy, Assistant Professor of Public Policy
Fossil fuel subsidies distort the prices for electricity and fuels for a majority of the world’s population. Failing to account for the full social cost of energy – such as human health and environmental damages – results in implicit subsidies of nearly $2 trillion globally each year. In many developing countries, government subsidies for fossil fuel subsidies compete with potentially socially desirable uses of fiscal resources, such as investments in public health, education, infrastructure, and low- or zero-emitting sources of energy. Nonetheless, pricing energy, and especially fossil fuel-based energy, below its social opportunity cost persists throughout the world and it begs the question: if fossil fuel subsidies are so bad, why are they so common? We are interested in fellows whose research focuses on 1) empirical estimates of the environmental and health impacts of subsidizing fossil fuels in developing countries, 2) the potential fiscal trade-offs associated with fossil fuel subsidies, 3) how pricing energy below cost affects global commodity price levels and volatility as well as incentives for investment in non-fossil energy alternatives, 4) the political economy that supports policies that continue to subsidize fossil fuels in developing countries, or 5) case studies of successful energy price reforms to identify key lessons for informing future reform efforts.
Nancy Dickson
Senior Researcher, Harvard Kennedy School
Co-Director, Sustainability Science Program


The concepts of sustainability and resilience are interrelated (National Research Council, 2012a). Sustainability tends to focus on long-term goals and strategies, while resilience is oriented to preparing for unexpected disruptions that may destabilize an otherwise sustainable system. Generally, approaches taken to address one concept would also be supportive of the other, although there may be tradeoffs. The more sustainable we are, the less we expose ourselves to unpredictable disruptions; the more resilient we are, the less we risk compromising our future well-being (Fiksel et al. 2014).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Civic economy and sharing economy

compendium for the civic economy

“The idea at the heart of the Big Society is a very simple one: that real change can’t come from government alone. We’re only going to make life better for everyone in this country if everyone plays their part – if change in our economy and our society is driven from the bottom up.” Compendium for the Civic Economy by the London-based research and design bureau 00:/ presents 25 cases on how we can envision the future, create a new form of economy, and organise society in the UK and elsewhere.

 In the context of a global financial crisis as well as complex social issues and environmental change, a growing and diverse number of change-makers are already working towards a different economy. Through organisation, connection with people and use of the best approach to collaborative investment, an alternative economic platform is on the horizon. Compendium for the Civic Economy contains 25 case studies showing how the civic economycombining the spirit of entrepreneurship with the aspiration of civic renewalactively contributes to community resilience, everyday innovation and shared prosperity. From local food growing projects to sustainable supermarkets, community waste-to-energy plants to cooperative telecoms services, these initiatives are having a tangible impact on the social and economic realities in cities, villages and towns.
The book advocates that people should not wait for the government to solve the crisis, but instead play an active role in facilitating the ventures presented here. It is truly an inspirational read for entrepreneurs, activists, policy makers and anyone who is concerned with community empowerment and ways to withstand the consequences of deep socio-economic and environmental crisis. Flipping through the pages, you can find what the fertile conditions are for this new economy to thrive and how to turn ideas into practice.


The Rise of Peer-to-Peer Companies

The sharing economy is a based on the provision of services or goods for a limited time from consumer (not a registered as a company) to consumer in exchange of a payment. This transaction is done through peer-to-peer platforms that facilitate the contact and enable consumers/peers to offer and buy products. This operation is based on trust as much as it is based on matching offers and demands from consumers/peers. These platforms constitute accessibility-based systems and are the support of a growing number of companies operating within the sharing economy.
sharing-economy en

The customer is always right

The sharing economy growth has been stirred by a combination of circumstances. Technology and communication media development are considered to be the main driver. Consumers’ increasing mistrust in corporations and finally the economic crisis has decreased consumers’ buying power. The raise of unemployment is also a strong factor that pressed consumers into searching for alternative to traditional business models that are more centered on their needs as potential suppliers and buyers.

Business challenges

Companies involved in the sharing economy in Europe still face several challenges. One of them is the lack of trust from the users’ perspective. The second is the availability of funding sources as many of these companies need to prove their ability at generating stable streams of revenue. Another challenge is business regulations and policies, or rather the lack of them.

This report from the Business Innovation Observatory explores all these topics and provides insights into the socio-relevance of the sharing economy, its drivers and the challenges it faces. The report concludes by policy recommendations that would facilitate the establishment of the sharing economy within Europe while regulating its activities and setting quality and safety standards.

The Sharing Economy: accessibility Based Business Models for Peer-to-Peer Markets
Case study 12
Business Innovation Observatory
European Commission, September 2013


Better Growth, Better Climate

One of the most critical and urgent challenges facing countries today is achieving economic prosperity and development while also combating climate change. 

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and its flagship project The New Climate Economy, have been set up to help governments, businesses and society make better-informed decisions on these crucial issues.

The Global Commission is chaired by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón and comprises former heads of government and finance ministers, and leaders in the fields of economics and business. The Commission's work is being conducted by a global partnership of leading research institutes. Reporting in September 2014, the project will make recommendations on actions and policies that can achieve high quality economic growth at the same time as addressing dangerous climate change. 

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate was commissioned by seven countries - Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom - as an independent initiative to report to the interational community.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Choice Point Movement

2012 - Choice Point - The Movie

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of Our Lives

Jeffrey M. Smith, author of the world’s bestselling book on GMOs, Seeds of Deception, is a leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices.

Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives has won the 2012 Movie of the Year by the Solari Report and the Top Transformational Film of 2012 by AwareGuide!

Never-Before-Seen-Evidence points to genetically engineered foods as a major contributor to rising disease rates in the US population, especially among children. Gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, inflammatory diseases, and infertility are just some of the problems implicated in humans, pets, livestock, and lab animals that eat genetically modified soybeans and corn.

Monsanto’s strong arm tactics, the FDA’s fraudulent policies, and how the USDA ignores a growing health emergency are also laid bare. This sometimes shocking film may change your diet, help you protect your family, and accelerate the consumer tipping point against genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Don’t miss this film!