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EXPRESSING YOUR INNER GREEN SANTA

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When I emerged from the NYC Food and Climate Summit onto Washington Square Park last Saturday, I was astonished to see hundred of Santas hovering near the great arch.

At first I thought it was silly, this gathering of raucus, red-jacketed folks chanting "ho, ho, ho," and "we love Santa." I learned afterwards that this annual SantaCon gathered 1,000 pounds of food to NYC food banks last year and was aiming to double that amount this year.

In an even broader sense, I like to think of this celebration of a folk hero who gives, gives, and gives some more as a metaphor for this moment, when a burgeoning number of people feel compelled to look beyond their next of kin and give voice to a more universal Santa.

This voice is compelling us to act upon the urgent messages heard loudly and clearly at the Food and Climate Summit: Feed the Hungry! Heal the Earth!

Consider expressing your inner green Santa by sending bounty to one or more of these worthy causes.

Great last-minute gifts and no angst of crowded malls. Just a simple click, and you can learn more about their healing missions and make donations or buy sustainable, sustaining gifts on line.

Heiffer International: With gifts of livestock and training, Heiffer helps families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. They refer to the animals as "living loans" because in exchange for livestock and training, families agree to give one of the animal's offspring to another family in need. It's called Passing on the Gift because it creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace.

Seed Savers Exchange: This member-supported organization is the largest non-governmental seed bank in the United States. It maintains the seeds of more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties, most having been brought to North America by members' ancestors who immigrated from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world. Members have distributed an estimated 1 million samples of rare garden seeds over the past 35 years.

Palms for Life Fund: Palm in palm with the poor around the world, this organization works with local NGO's and uses microfinancing to alleviate hunger, support education, adult literacy, and health care for mothers and children.

The Smile Train: You've probably seen the heart-breaking ads of children with cleft palates. This organization trains local doctors to perform a 45-minute surgery to reconstruct their faces. The surgery costs as little as $250 and gives each child their birthright: the ability to smile.

Global Goods Partners: Creates sustainable livelihoods for women by offering a wide selection of fair trade products including jewelry, home decor, toys, bags and accessories handmade by female artisans. You can either buy last-minute gifts or make a donation.

Just Food : Trains urban community members to start and manage Community Supported Agriculture projects in partnership with their farmers. Also teaches people in under-served neighborhoods to grow and cook their own food.

Local Harvest: Give a season's bounty of local vegetables and other farm products by gifting membership to a local Community Supported Agriculture group. Here's how it works: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Local Harvest helps you locate the CSA nearest the recipient of your inner green Santa generosity.

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