Sunday, May 27, 2007

Van Jones Testifies Before Congress on Green Collar Jobs

You can't lead a country you don't love. That is the big problem that the Left has had since the late '60s. You're trying to lead a country but you don't love the country. You can't lead a country you don't love.--Van Jones

Wherever he goes, Van Jones inspires. Over the past month, many of you have posted comments or sent me emails about my interview with Van Jones, the President and Co-founder of Oakland's Ella Baker Center, that I posted here, and on the Big Vision Podcast.
I just finished listening to your podcast interview of Van Jones. Whoa. This guy is a genius.

He is really inspiring - I've listened to it more than once.

Van Jones' project and politics are very inspiring and refreshing! Seriously, I had almost forgotten what my passion in life was until this article woke me up and reminded me.

His work as a nonprofit leader of color is a great inspiration to me.

Listened to your interview with Van Jones yesterday from Big Vision - I almost cried.
I am happy to tell you that The U.S. Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Chaired by Edward Markey (D-MA), also got to hear Van Jones when he testified last Tuesday, May 22nd, along with Jerome Ringo, President, Apollo Alliance; Elsa Barboza, Campaign Coordinator for Green Industries, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) in Los Angeles, CA; and Bob Thelen, Chief Training Officer, Capital Area Michigan Works! in Lansing, MI.

The Select Committee held a special hearing, entitled: "Economic Impacts of Global Warming: Green Collar Jobs." According to Jones' post on The Huffington Post the next day, green-collar legislation is being developed:
"Congresswoman Solis spoke of the need to respond to the global warming crisis by investing -- not only in new infrastructure -- but also in people. . . Congresswoman Solis mentioned legislation she is drafting, along with several other Members. The legislation will invest in green jobs as means to help workers and low-income people get in on the ground floor of this booming sector of the U.S. economy.

Her exciting, new proposal would give federal support to 'green collar job training' programs, which would help give U.S. workers (and would-be workers) access to the skills they will need to compete in the new, green job market."

Too often the work of social change feels separate from government. As Vandana Shiva writes in Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace,
"For too many people democracy is periodically voting for leaders who turn their backs and say, 'It doesn't matter if you don't want war, I'll still go to war. It doesn't matter if you don't want GMOs. We'll still force-feed you with GMOs. It doesn't matter if you don't want to privatize your education system, we'll still privatize it anyway.' This 'democracy' does not represent or inspire the people."
But I gotta tell you, when I heard about this hearing and that green-collar legislation was being developed, for the first time in a long time, our democracy inspired me and I loved my country.

Photo Credit: Van Jones with permission from the Ella Baker Center.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Activist Filmmaker on Speilberg's "On the Lot"

*Update July 8. Shalini is in the top 10. You can view her latest comedy short here. Her next film airs on Monday, July 9th 8/7c on FOX. The genre is Drama and the theme is "When 2 Worlds Collide."

*Update June 26th.
Shalini is now in the top 15. Shalini will be showing her next film tonight, June 26th, at 8/7c on Fox. The genre being featured tonight is comedy, and Shalini's new short will be 1 of 6 films. After the show airs, you will have 2 hours to vote, with results being announced next week.

*Update June 4th. Shalini is now in the Top 15. The next episode will air in the US on June 5th at 8/7c. You will be able to vote for her again on the On The Lot web site. This is an incredible opportunity to generate widespread attention for her work as an activist filmmaker. You can view her new web site at

*Update May 28th.
Shalini's 1-minute comedy short, "Love in 2007" made it to the voting round. To vote go to, and click on "Vote" in the black menu across the top.

In February, I posted about Shalini Kantayya's short film about water rights, A Drop of Life, being entered into Steven Speilberg's On The Lot reality competition, and asked you to watch her film. Guess what? Your watching made a difference.

Out of 12,000 directors from 33 countries who applied, she is one of the 50 semi-finalists in the running to win a 1 million dollar filmmaking deal with DreamWorks.

The "audition round" of On The Lot premiered May 22nd and will continue on May 24th (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

If she makes it to the May 28th, "Film Premiere" episode, where the first films produced by the 18 finalists will be shown, she'll need your help again. The viewers will vote, American Idol style, for which directors will stay and which will go.

You can view Shalini's submission video about the privatization of water here and read more about A Drop of Life here.

Photo Credit: Shalini Kantayya from a Drop of Life

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Do-Gooder Burnout: How Do You Beat the Burn?

Last March, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported about a survey by the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network that found:
"Young charity workers cited burnout and low pay as the biggest reasons they might leave nonprofit work. When asked why they would not pursue leadership jobs, they cited concerns about the pressure from board members, grant makers, and heavy work burdens that face executive directors.

'We need to think about ways to make these positions sustainable,' said Mr. Solomon, who presented the results. 'Passion isn't enough to keep people in these roles.'"

How can nonprofit, activist and helping professions prevent and/or heal burnout?

Fried Social Worker Blog recommends reading Banishing Burnout: Six Strategies for Improving Your Relationship with Work and taking their My Relationship with Work Test. The Test evaluates your relationship with work around 6 variables: Workload, Control, Reward, Community, Fairness and Values. According to Fried Social Worker, "The chapters are constructed in such a way that you can specifically define a problem, set goals to address the problem, develop an action strategy and track your progress in meeting your goal."

Intensive Care for the Nurturing Soul blog has 8 ideas for how to avoid "Nurturing Burnout":
1. Prioritize by Your Core Values
2. Put Intensive Self-Care as a Top Priority
3. Practice the 3-D Principle (Do It, Delegate It or Dump It)
4. Learn to Say No
5. Learn to Let Go
6. Avoid Multi-Tasking
7, Slow Down
8. Realize That You Cannot Do Everything and Be Everything to Everyone

The Centre for Emotional Well-Being blog suggests using the Life Balance Journal she created for her book, The Art of Calm. The journal has four categories: diet, recreation, nurturing and relaxation, with lists of activities beneath each category. Each night you check off which stress-reducing activities you did. You can see a close up of one of the journal pages here.

In her article, "Set Limits at Work to Beat Burnout," Washington Post writer Mary Ellen Slayter has an interesting quote from an executive coach, Mike Staver, who says that, "Burnout is an internal issue. There's no real correlation between hours spent doing something and burnout because it isn't just about activity." He suggests that burnout is related to the lack of return for the amount of energy expended. Slayter's three tips are: 1. Limit the stimulation (in particular electronic stuff like email checking and instant messaging), 2. Limit the obligations, and 3. Limit the power mistakes have over you.

Finally, Ken Goldstein of the Nonprofit Consultant Blog calls for a Nonprofit Selfishness Movement, "We all need to set aside certain times and days to do something entirely selfish. . . . A little 'me time' to guiltlessly get away from the stress of constantly being other-focused. Time for our own families, time to take a vacation, and time to recognize our own worth."

Photo Credit: Burn Out by Patrish

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Dad: Allen Stamm Humanitarian of the Year

I spent the weekend in New Mexico celebrating two important days with my parents: Mother's Day and my dad's receiving the Allen Stamm Humanitarian of the Year award from the United Way of Santa Fe County.

I wanted to share with you the blurb about him from the New Mexico Business Weekly:

Tom Aageson, Executive Director of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, has been named the Allen Stamm Humanitarian of the Year by the United Way of Santa Fe County.
Aageson's is one of six awards the United Way will present on May 10 at La Posada Hotel in Santa Fe. The Stamm award honors individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership with particular impact in education, health and human services. United Way officials said Aageson is a 'catalyst for making valuable connections between the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds.'

Aageson was a co-founder of the International Folk Art Market and he helped develop New Mexico Creates, which markets the work of New Mexico artists and artisans through the Foundation's shops and on the Internet.
And some more juicy bits from the United Way press release:
Tom says, “Cultural entrepreneurs have been creating solutions to problems and have been cultural change agents for years.…” Tom feels that if we do not invest in our Santa Fe arts and cultural industries and keep pace with other larger and smaller cities, Santa Fe’s cultural economy will go into serious decline, we will lose our employment base and what supports our broader enterprise sector, for profit and nonprofit. Tom’s colleagues describe him with terms like “amazing energy”, “grace”, and “persistent spirit.” “…most important is his sense that art in itself cannot be separated from people’s basic need for food, health care, education, and housing and how he incorporates his professional work with those aspects of his commitment to social justice,” comments Norty Kalishman of the McCune Charitable Foundation.

Tom’s personal philosophy springs from his belief that, “leadership that enhances the common good comes after the development of a strong set of values through a spiritual life……the common good is what must be first and foremost in our lives…” United Way honors Tom as a leader who has put his beliefs and integrity into action for the betterment of our New Mexico community and beyond.
Yay, Dad!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Mother's Day for Peace

Mother's Day was originally started by Julia Ward Howe in 1870 as a protest against the Civil War. In the beginning of her Mother's Day Proclamation she wrote:
"Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
'We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.'"
Given that Mother's Day is this Sunday and today is Buddha's Birthday (according to my calendar produced by the "peace and justice publisher" Syracuse Cultural Workers), it seems like a good day to pass on some peace-related links:

The blog post, "Mother's Day for Peace Bandwagon" by Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) shares links to the Mother's Day for Peace web site, and a Rediscover Mother's Day ecard.

Friday, May 11th will be the 3rd annual Mother's Day "Peace of the Pie" National Action Day as part of The Peace Alliance's campaign for a U.S. Department of Peace. Campaign supporters are asked to bring pies to their local Congressional offices and let their Congresspeople know that "Peace wants a Piece of the Pie" (the federal budget). Beth Kanter posted about this a couple weeks ago.

PeacePlayers International is a nonprofit organization that uses basketball to unite and educate children and their communities in conflict and post-conflict areas. They have programs in Northern Ireland, South Africa, the Middle East and Cyprus. A volunteer from their Middle East Program, David Lasday, emailed me about their program and pointed me towards the Middle East Program's blog.

Going Within is a 10-minute web short about Donnelle Malnik who teaches yoga and meditation in the San Francisco County Jail No.7 through the Resolve to Stop the Violence Program (RVSP).

The same people who produced "Going Within", 49th Parallel Productions, have also created Not Just a Number, a community journalism project for The Oakland Tribune which focuses on the topic of violence and violence prevention. Last year Oakland's homicide rate reached a five-year high of 148 people. NJN was created to give Oakland a place to share stories and to connect and develop solutions. Two of the creators of Not Just a Number will be speaking at NetSquared's Net Tuesday in San Francisco tomorrow, May 8th.

The Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland is looking for a summer Peace and Solidarity Intern.

The Bay Area based Agape Foundation's Fund for Nonviolent Social Change is accepting nominations until May 31st for its 3rd Annual Peace Prize for local peacemakers.

CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq. You can learn about joining or hosting a CODE PINK Mother's Day event here, and read an interview with their Local Groups Coordinator, Rae Abileah, here.

At the end of her Proclamation, Howe wrote:
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
Do you think that if the United States Congress had more women in it we would be at war? You can see which Congresswomen voted for and against the Iraq War here.

Photo Credit: Peace Log by Alan Levine.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why Do You Work for Social Change?

I got some good news the other day that I wanted to share. Each year our local weekly, the East Bay Express, does a Best of the Easy Bay issue where they name the best restaurants, movie theaters, record stores, etc. in the area.

This year, they named me the 2007 Best Podcaster:Blogger Most Dedicated to Social Change. The Readers' Choice was the Daily Kos, its founder, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, or "Kos", lives in Berkeley.

This past weekend I was on a panel at the Stanford Women's Leadership Conference called, Solutionary Women: How Can I Create Social Change? I asked four other women, who I interviewed for the Big Vision Podcast, to be on the panel: Alli Chagi-Starr of Art in Action, Ilyse Hogue of, Melinda Kramer of Women's Earth Alliance and Reem Rahim of Numi Tea. I asked each of them to talk about the work they do, why they do the work they do, and their advice for other women who want to work for social change.

The morning of the panel I woke up and realized that I would have to answer my own questions, since I was on the panel too. Whoops! I'd never really thought about it--why I do the work I do.

I suppose it is partly from my family upbringing. Both of my parents have been involved in social change work, in fact, next weekend my dad, Tom Aageson, is receiving the Allen Stamm Humanitarian of the Year from the United Way of Santa Fe County. And I have always been drawn to work with some kind of service aspect. A quote by Rabindranath Tagore that I really resonate with is:
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."
My goal with Have Fun * Do Good, the Big Vision Podcast and all of the other blogs and podcasts I am involved with is to share and highlight stories that give people hope, and inspire them to take action for positive change--including me!

In Mariane Pearl's book, A Mighty Heart: The Inside Story of the Al Qaeda Kidnapping of Danny Pearl (which I highly recommend), she says, "If hope is our most powerful weapon, fear is the greatest threat the terrorists wield against us. Fear paralyzes you, and I cannot afford that."

We live in a time where there is a lot to fear, but we also live in a time where we cannot afford to be paralyzed. It is a time when we all must share stories that give each other hope and inspire us to take action for positive change.

Why do you work for social change?

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