In 2013, I began giving a seed grant every single day of the year to a social change visionary with a practical plan to make their community and the world a better place. Now 30 people have joined me by giving $1 or more a day to inspiring projects led by extraordinary individuals over the world. The Pollination Project facilitates this practice of daily giving and we will continue making daily grants of up to $1000 each day of 2014 and beyond. Please join us as a daily giver, or simply create your own giving practice. It will change your life!
Here are the extraordinary people and projects that we are honored to support this week.
JUST SAY YES TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN UGANDA: Most of Joseph Opio's community in Ngora, Uganda cook over fires, consuming vast quantities of wood and deforesting the land. He wants to change that by installing energy efficient stoves at local schools, starting with the college where he works. At the school, Joseph is responsible for collecting firewood, transporting it to campus and cooking for the students. "Each dry season is becoming worse and worse in northeast Uganda due to escalating deforestation. This is a poor area of the world, where over 95 percent are cooking on either firewood on charcoal stove," he said. "Through my project 'just say no to firewood,' I am looking to install two energy efficient stoves at the college I work for. This will cut our need in firewood by over 50 percent. This will not only save money for the college and the students, it will also benefit our local environment."
TAKE THE VEGAN PLEDGE: Brandon Gittelman wants to make it easy for people to stop eating animals. Alongside the volunteer-run Peace Advocacy Network, Brandon created The PAN Vegan Pledge to help people try veganism and then stick with the compassionate diet. "We created the project because when we talk to people about going vegan, which we do at tabling events throughout the year, we hear from them that they think it will be too difficult, or they don't know where to begin," he said. "We want to remove that barrier and help make it easy for people to go vegan. It's important to us because we believe it's better for the animals, the planet and for human health. We believe animal-based diets are not environmentally sustainable." Participants in the program pledge to go vegan for 30 days and are paired with a mentor, who guides and supports them through the process. There are weekly meetings with cooking classes, lectures, grocery trips and even a vegan goody bag, packed with recipes, pantry staples and munchies. Active in a dozen cities across the country, Brandon wants to continue growing the PAN Vegan Pledge.
SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA VEGFEST: Hope Bohanec has been active in animal protection and environmental activism for over 20 years and recently published the book The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat? Together with the Sonoma-based group, Compassionate Living, she is helping to organize the first ever Sonoma County VegFest in August, 2014, in Northern, California. The Sonoma County VegFest will feature nationally-recognized speakers, vegan cooking demonstrations, informative exhibitors, delicious samples of vegan food and meals from vegetarian restaurants. Their hope is to reach what Hope refers to as the "veg curious"- people who are meat eaters but open to a vegetarian or vegan diet and lifestyle.
DOCUMENTING PEACEMAKING IN UGANDA: Krista Imbesi has partnered with Pollination Project grantee, Solidarity Uganda, and the residents of Amuru, Uganda to produce a documentary film showcasing that community's peaceful fight to protect its land from corporate oil and sugarcane interests, which often have the residents' own government as an ally. "Ugandans know that land is a contentious issue all around the country, though popular models for dealing with land disputes have largely failed the most marginalized," Krista said. "This film will help us spread the message of nonviolence, detailing how one community has achieved success by defending their land through dialogue and nonviolent methods. It will help inspire similar movements and strategic planning for social and environmental justice throughout the nation."
EDUVEGGIN' IN ATLANTA: Helena Speights is the founder and CEO of GreenCityListings.com and is passionate about green lifestyle habits and sustainability. Helena's new project, Just Veggin': Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, is a garden education program for metro Atlanta youth. She will teach the plant lifecycle, how food is processed, and healthy food preparation, all in a community garden environment. By providing youth, ages 5-18, with in-depth information as a solid foundation to begin making healthier food choices and build healthier lifestyles. With Helena's hands-on educational approach she hopes "the children will gain an appreciation for plant life and natural foods, learn the plant life cycle and how the environment affects plants, healthy eating habits, and an overall awareness of how we as humans are connected to the Planet, and how it can sustain us if we take proper care of it."
A TICKET TO SUCCESS IN THE MIDWEST: Mark A. Lee saw african american kids in his community being left behind before they could even complete middle school. A growing void was created by an absence of in-school mentors willing to give the emotional and academic support all students need to achieve at the highest levels. Mark co-founded Ticket 2 Success, Inc., to promote the life-long benefits of leadership and education to students in Illinois and Missouri schools. "I started Ticket 2 Success in partnership with my son's Jr. High School Principal. He recognized that African-American students did not have teachers, role models or authority figures that looked like them in his building," he said. "In general, a result of this culture gap was lower standardized test scores and longer periods of full academic, programmatic and social integration." Now, all students who participate in Ticket 2 Success experience monthly interaction with supportive role models willing to share successful career, financial, networking and goal-setting examples.
A VOICE FOR CROWS: Erica Hansen has spent the past ten years exploring song and flight as both bird behaviors and common human aspirations. With her project, Counting Crows, she will be holding three community and school workshops in both Maine and Missouri to illuminate and influence the appreciation of crows. Crows are the most common and yet misunderstood bird species, and thus often killed and treated as a nuisance. Erica hopes to connect the communities most affected by crow proliferation to their complexity and conservation through an exploration of historic traditions and art making activities. Erica points out that "Crows have always lived in close proximity to human made environments. Crows are common, distinct and complex. I want to explore our relationship to them again, and offer something of value to artistic and scientific communities by examining the culture of crows in a creative and collaborative mode." Participants will create their own Counting Crows series in ink accompanied by an interpretation of a traditional rhyme about crows. A curated selection of the work and writing will be permanently installed at a chosen site within the community.
Congratulations to our grantees this week for their outstanding work to bring justice, peace, health and compassion to their communities. These are just a few examples of what a little seed money can do when put in the hands of someone with a vision and a plan to change the world.
Are you our next grantee? Please go to our website at www.thepollinationproject.org for funding guidelines and application.