Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Social Cause Diet: Finding A Service That Feeds Your Soul

Another fun thing I heard about on

The Social Cause Diet
Finding A Service That Feeds Your Soul

Here is a unique opportunity for anyone who has an amazing, humorous, or otherwise inspiring story to tell about a satisfying act of service. Author Gail Perry Johnston—with new publisher, Cupola Press—is requesting submissions for The Social Cause Diet: Finding A Service That Feeds Your Soul, slated for a release this summer.

The Social Cause Diet will feature everyday people giving of their time and efforts within the context of an established social service. Many people are willing to give of themselves but they do not know where to begin or realize that their interests and abilities match those of an existing organization. The range of stories collected in The Social Cause Diet will reveal that there are achievable, accessible, and satisfying ways for everyone to give.

See our guidelines and submit your story!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Letters to the Editor: Got Patience?

I want to get down a few words about writing letters to the editor (LTE's). I've been in this game now coming up on a year soon and sometimes it seems like forever. Most of the work is reading, skimming, searching for poverty news and op-eds to respond to...which can be few and far between when it has to compete with Britney (although it is picking up lately). Some of us in Bread for the World keep in touch with each other through email and, notifying each other when something juicy comes up to be responded to. We view ourselves as being part of a movement. We write so that many letters- ours combined with with those of members of ONE, Results and other advocacy orgs- will convince the editors of the newspapers that the issue is important enough to run a letter about it. On any given issue, my letter may not and probably will not run, but if I see someone else's anti-poverty message get in, I know that's because all of us helped put it there.

But what about getting my own voice in the national conversation? It can be pretty depressing and lonely work trying to get something printed in a national publication. A while ago, I was celebrating a printed letter to the editor of mine in the New York Times on-line. That was a really big deal to me. That came about after about 8 months of writing, 40 submitted LTE's, and I don't even know how many 1/2 written and abandoned ones. But it got in and that was a thrill! One that I owe to all the other writers who said about the same thing that I did that week.

In a way, I think this is the perfect kind of service work for me to be doing. Only when I consider myself as part of a movement does any of this make sense. This work has been for me a social justice outlet, a hobby, a writing exercise, and a lesson. A lesson in patience and humility. One that I could have benefitted from many years ago, but I gladly accept now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Poverty and Climate Change: on my reading list

Ever since Al Gore and Bono spoke together, I’ve been thinking more about how global climate change and extreme poverty are inextricably linked. I’ve been very adamant about my belief that we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime. Yet, more and more, I’ve been wondering if that has to be a qualified statement…that it’s true IF we don’t enter an era of destructive climate change. Whether or not global warming is a human-made event is really irrelevant if it comes to pass. Questions in my mind revolve around what sort of policies will be necessary to deal with climate refugees and the effects of widespread drought. I think I need to know more. Two books are on my reading list to educate myself more about this stuff. I’ll put a little about them, leaning heavily on reviews since I haven’t read them.

The first book is “Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet” by Jeffrey Sachs. If it’s anything like “The End of Poverty” it will probably be a pretty tough read, but an important one. Sachs is an optimistic economist tackling some of the most depressing problems of our time. The nice part is that he offers solutions. This book focuses on heading off global warming and environmental destruction, stabilizing the world’s population, ending extreme poverty and breaking political logjams that hinder global cooperation on these issues. In tonight’s Daily Show interview, I liked how he spoke of these issues as problems we share with the whole planet, even our “enemies.” He says that Darfur is mainly a conflict over water and that we have no hope of bringing peace to that area unless we address the water issue as well as bringing in military.

The second book is “The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations” by Brian Fagan. He writes about a period of history (800-1300) characterized as a medieval warming period. It brought great disasters for some parts of the world, which he says caused the collapse of the Mayan civilization and played a part in the Mongol incursions into Europe. Fagan notes how times of intense, sustained global warming can have particularly dire consequences. For example, by 2025, an estimated 2.8 billion of us will live in areas with increasingly scarce water resources. If that’s true, to me, that sounds like many more people will be considering going to war for water.

Budget Call-in results: $4.1 Billion shortfall RESTORED!

From yesterday...

(FYI Obama and Clinton voted for this. McCain did not vote.)
Early Friday morning of last week, the Senate decided overwhelmingly to restore the $4.1 Billion shortfall in the International Affairs Budget - which recommends funding levels for federal programs including effective anti-poverty efforts. The "Biden-Lugar Amendment" (S. Amdt 4245) passed 73-23 with overwhelming bipartisan support! (See how your senators voted here)

So here's what happened... Earlier last week, we asked you to called to support the Feinstein (D-CA) - Smith (R-OR) amendment to restore $2.6 billion to the International Affairs function of the FY09 budget resolution. Shortly after calls started to flood in (there were nearly a thousand calls from Bread supporters alone), we learned that Senators Biden (D-DE) and Lugar (R-IN) had decided to do even better and sponsor an amendment that brought the International Affairs back to the level of the president's request of $39.8 billion - a $4.1 Billion increase. So we turned our attention to the Biden-Lugar amendment which contained this bigger increase--and that amendment passed.

Bottom line: we couldn't have done this without you. This victory signals the power of grassroots demands for building a more just world. Moreover, this is an important first step in Bread for the World's campaign to increase poverty-focused development assistance by $5 billion next year.

Yet our work is not done. The budget resolution is just a spending blueprint and does not dictate the details of how this money should be spent. However the budget does send an important signal to appropriators who will be making these final decisions, and last Friday's vote shows the broad support these programs have.

Let's build on this momentum. Can you write a letter to the editor? Over the next few days, your local papers may run stories about the federal budget. We need to make sure the story focuses on what the budget resolution could mean for reducing poverty and giving hope to millions of our brothers and sisters around the world.

We also want to thank the senators that voted in favor of the amendment, and call those into account who did not. We have sample talking points if you need help getting started (see the 'comment' under this post), but your letter is always more likely to get published if it is original and comes from the heart. Please consider writing one, and if you have any questions, you can e-mail or call Shawnda Hines, Grassroots Media Associate at Bread, at or at 888-752-7323 x2.

Thank you again for your passion for working to end hunger in our time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama Supporters Food Drive

If you are an Obama supporter looking for a grass-rootsy way to support your candidate while feeding hungry people...well, this event is for you. In an effort to do some good and help the people of Pennsylvania see that Obama's camp cares about them, a food drive is officially underway tonight to help hungry people in the Pittsburgh area. Please read on...

no, this wasn't my idea and it's not me organizing it, but I think it's faboo and am lending the power and might of the "Obama Supporters Against Hunger and Poverty" group behind it! :)

"The moral question about poverty in America - How can a country like this allow it? - has an easy answer: we can't. The political question that follows - What do we do about it? - has always been more difficult. But now that we're finally seeing the beginnings of an answer, this country has an obligation to keep trying." -- Barack Obama, Washington, DC | July 18, 2007

Yes We Can! (and No We Won't!)

Who? YOU

When? Right Now

What? National Obamafolk Against Hunger Food Drive

Where? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Food Bank

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
1 N Linden Street, Duquesne, PA 15110

Why? Our message of Hope, Change and Yes, We Can! has been hijacked and we need to take it back. Our Hope is our better future. Our better future comes through Change. We can only have Change if we resurrect the spirit of Yes, We Can!

Yes, We Did! In Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, BOTH Washingtons and Wisconsin.Yes, We Can in Pennsylvania!

So, to take back our message and positively impact the future of our campaign, we are showing Pennsylvanians who we REALLY are by driving the fight against hunger at the grassroots level. This food bank is the state's second largest, serving 11 counties and distributing more than 18 million pounds of food each year. While Pittsburgh's Allegheny County has a population of over 1.2 million, the agency's remaining 10 counties average less than 125,000. Four of its service counties are 90% or more rural, with five more predominantly rural.

If you'd prefer to make a donation rather than send nonperishables, the food bank website features "tribute" donations through a checkbox at the bottom of the page just below "Do you have any additional requests for your contribution?" At the "Next Step," you may enter your choice of Gift (Tribute) and Person being honored (Suggestion: Obama supporters against Hunger and Poverty)

The attached list of items are badly needed at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Items the Pittsburgh Food bank needs

(If you are in the Philadelphia area, please contact Chandrima Chatterjee ( who is gearing up a parallel food drive supporting Philabundance, the state's largest food bank.)

CHALLENGE: CAN THE ONLINE DRIVE BEAT THE ONE ON THE GROUND IN PHILLY? We will post results here as they come in, so let us know your progress out there! Yes We Can!

"READ MORE>>" For packing and shipping instructions.

♦ Pack NON PERISHABLE food items in sturdy, medium sized boxes. Use a corrugated, brown box free of other markings or wrap in plain, brown paper.

♦ Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape. Do not use cord, string, or twine. Tape the opening of the box and reinforce seams with 2-inch-wide tape.

♦ Try to stagger the sizes of the cans/boxes so the boxes all weigh approximately the same.

♦ Fill extra spaces with foam peanuts, bubble wrap and popcorn

♦ Do NOT send product in glass or liquid items that may leak.

♦ Please discard any opened packages or perishable foods as they are donated. The food bank cannot use them, and they may contaminate the other products.

♦ Do not put monetary donations in with the food donations.