He was a medium-sized, brown mutt of indistinguishable breed. Whether it was his sad eyes or tentative approach that softened my heart, I cannot say, but it was clear to me he just needed some loving. It was he who drew me to the “Animal Hope-Nitra” (ATN — German only) booth at the pet show in town. The volunteers of this rescue organization explained that he had been found in one of the “killing camps”, “living” under inhuman conditions, nearly starving. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Animal Conservation & Welfare’ Category
Posted in Animal Conservation & Welfare, volunteering, tagged Animal Hope NITRA, animal rescue, animal shelter, Ärzte für Tiere, dog killing camps, donate blankets, donate towels, helping animals, Lab Rescue on June 25, 2011 |
I nearly wrote “One of our favorite charitable organizations …”, but that thought goes through my head nearly every week. We haven’t yet supported an organization or a cause that didn’t become a favorite in some way.
So, to be more precise, this week we’ve decided to continue support of our favorite adopted child. (more…)
Posted in Animal Conservation & Welfare, breast Cancer, Cancer, carbon footprint, Diseases, Eco-Friendly, Environment, Product Safety, women's health, tagged Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, cosmetic safety, Safe Cosmetic Act, safe cosmetics, Story of Cosmetics, Story of Stuff, Triclosan on January 28, 2011 | 4 Comments »
Earlier in the week, I presented a dilemma I had last year with the cosmetic industry. I was shocked to discover what we’re putting on our and our children’s faces, bodies, and even in our mouths (in toothpastes).
I shared my own natural beauty solutions, which I hope you’ll consider and adapt for yourself. But, in addition, I think it’s important that we help the beauty industry do their own makeover to keep us, future generations, and our wildlife and environment safe.
Simple actions we can all take (more…)
Posted in Animal Conservation & Welfare, Eco-Friendly, Environment, tagged Bat preservation, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, white-nose syndrome on October 31, 2010 | 1 Comment »
On Halloween, what better time to contemplate the ickies on our planet? The blood suckers, the scaries that fly at you at night, and that build nests in your hair when your unaware!
In case you haven’t guessed, on this crisp fall day, as I chew on Halloween Gummies in grotesque shapes, I’m thinking of bats. I admit, outside of them in Gummie forms, I’ve never been a big fan. But, thanks to a friend who works at Defenders of Wildlife, I’ve become a convert. Maybe you too?
Bat Myths and Fact
Even before they became a part of popular culture, I was a huge vampire (in “human” or “ex-human” form) fan. I can’t say how many times I’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I’ll even admit I’m one of the early Buffy the Vampire Slayer series fans. But, unfortunately, all this vampire-ness has really given the real animals a
bat bad rap.
- 70% of the species of bats are insect eaters. A single bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour! By doing so, they protect our crops and help lower the spread of insect-carrying diseases. Most of the remaining species are fruit, nectar, and pollen eaters. The fruit eaters are known to be great seed dispersers; those that feed on nectar are pollinators (like bees) to nighttime blooming flowers.
- There is, indeed, such a thing as a vampire bat. However, of the more than 1,100 species, only three are vampires, are limited to Latin America, and even those will only lick up teaspoon amounts of blood from livestock or birds.
- Bats are not “rats with wings,” they are not even part of the family rodentia. In fact, they’re closer to primates.
- Bats have no interest in our hair and have such great “sonar” that they’re unlikely to get caught. They’re kind of like dolphins in their way of navigation. Being pretty shy creatures, they’re more likely to avoid us altogether. IF a bat seems to “swoop” toward you, it’s probably after some of those yummy mosquitoes hovering above your head.
- Bats are no more likely to carry rabies than any other wild animal.
- Bat poo, or guano, is so high in nutrients, it’s mined in caves and used to fertilize crops.
- Some biologists believe that without bat pollination and seed-dispersal, many local ecosystems would gradually collapse.
- Bat populations from the Northeast to the Midwest of the United States are threatened by “White Nose Syndrome”, a fungus that grows on the nose, ears and wings of a bat. Mortality rates of 90%- 100% have been observed. More than a million bats have already died.
- Because of their bad reputation, humans have been known to light fires in caves to destroy them. There have been incidents cited where humans beat bats to death which were roosting in construction areas.
- Cave explorers (spelunkers) can inadvertently wake bats up during their hibernation period. Bats store up fat for the winters months, and if woken up, can use up anywhere from 10 – 30 days of energy. This could prevent them from surviving through the cold months.
A world without bats would be a very different place. Exactly how great an impact their extinction would have isn’t exactly known, but it would have a rapid agricultural and direct human impact.
What can we do?
Via the Center for Biological Diversity, Nils and I have sent a petition to the Secretary of the Department of Interior urging him to declare White-Nose Syndrome a wildlife emergency, to dedicate funding toward research, and to put in place plans and take action toward preservation.
I don’t want to someday be eating my candy bats out of a bag of ”Extinct Animals Gummies”, so Nils and I have decided to adopt a bat through Defenders of Wildlife. We’re having the “adoption papers” put in the name of our six-year-old nephew, to help him to understand the importance that bats have on our lives.
Last, but not least, Nils has specs for building a bat house on the farm!
Posted in Animal Conservation & Welfare, Eco-Friendly, Environment, Homeless, Hunger, Micro-volunteering, Random Acts of Kindness, volunteering, tagged bee hive adoption, colony collapse disorder, helpfromhome, Meals for others, Publix, recycling, Slacktivist, Slacktivist Impact Challenge, Slacktivity on October 27, 2010 | 2 Comments »
So, the results show that winner is …
… the winner is …
… the winner is …
Aw heck, we just couldn’t do it!
MEALS FOR OTHERS and RECYCLING WALKS and BEE A SLACKTIVIST and MICRO EFFORTS, MACRO IMPACT
are ALL WINNERS!
We couldn’t bring ourselves to make one a winner over the others. All finalists, of course, received votes, and Nils and I decided (and, in situations like this, we can do whatever we want, can’t we? :-p) that all four finalists are winners. Each Slacktivist Finalist is a winner, and $25 U.S. (or equivalent in other currency) will to go to each of their charity of choice.
Congratulations to all four finalists. And, thank you to everyone who voted.
Winning Slacktivists: Please contact us with the name of your charity and information so that we can send the donation. We’d also appreciate if you’d send a brief synopsis of your charity so we can add it in a posting at a later date.
If you missed our finalists’ Slacktivist Slacktivities, click here.
A Sampling of Comments
Posted in Animal Conservation & Welfare, carbon footprint, Children, Eco-Friendly, Education, Environment, Product Safety, volunteering, women's rights, tagged Ellen Degeneres, Frankenfish, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, in2Books, plastic bottles, stoning, The Extraordinaries, Tuberculosis and Malaria on September 22, 2010 |
This is turning out to be such a fun week. I’m lovin’ being a Slacktivist and thanks to a friend, I now have a new word to add to my vocabulary: Slacktivity! (Thanks, Joe. I think I’ll submit it to Merriam-Webster).
This trying really hard to do as little as possible and have an Impact is turning out to be quite … well … dare I say … productive!
Aside from getting more coffee, I haven’t moved my backside from my office desk, and along with getting work done, here’s what this Slacktivist has done so far:
- Sent a letter (link to sample pdf) to Ellen Degeneres (who I absolutely adore and always will) asking her to please give up her promotion of bottled water. (please mention 52weeksofimpact.org — of course only if you write a polite letter ).
- Sent another letter (link to sample pdf) to the United Nations, this time directly to firstname.lastname@example.org, asking them to condemn stoning and to not allow Ahmadinejad to address the General Assembly.
- Sent a letter through ONE to President Obama to commit to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
- Voiced my opinion (strongly) in an online Frankenfish debate. (my next step is to find an avenue to let the FDA know how I feel).
- Joined The Extraordinaries (a micro-volunteering group “where people use their professional skills to solve nonprofits’ challenges in 10 minutes, or less.”). I brainstormed some ideas to help promote in2Books, an eMentoring program for elementary school students. The Extraordinaries is a very cool place to micro-volunteer.
We’ve already gotten a handful of great Slacktivist Slacktivity submitted for our Slacktivist Impact Challenge (say that five times fast). Thanks to those who have already started Slacking off. To those who haven’t yet gotten around to sitting on their lazy backsides, send your submissions. Your charity of choice could win a small donation.
I think Nils and I’ll have a competition to see who can be lazier at the weekend. Imagine how much Impact we could have!
My ex-husband was (and likely still is) a very talented fellow. My oldest friend still reminds me that he could make
milk Doritos come out of his nose. (Added Sept 11, 2010: Sorry, I’ve been corrected by my friend, it was Doritos, not milk)
But, (fortunately) he’s just one of many talented people I know. I’d like to share a few more …
- Several women I know have talents in crafts making magnificent wearable art from yarn, thread and fabrics, and greeting cards from recycled cards and paper. I’ve had the joy to wear, receive and send several of their creations.
- A close friend with an eye for all things beautiful, has designed and produced miniature books, created cards with rare and unusual papers, designed handbags from wood, silk cording and beads, is now learning to make jewelry. Recently she began delighting in and delighting others with her talent for writing — and doing a bit of it to benefit charities.
- Debbie E. has so many talents, if I didn’t adore her so much, I’d hate her. Amongst other things, she possesses a creativity that she makes tangible through her skills as a seamstress. The last time I saw her, she was completing an original “rag” doll for a physical therapist friend. The therapist planned to use the doll to illustrate physical therapy exercises for mothers of infants.
- Then there’s the buddy I played with in high school concert band who has toured through the U.S. and Europe with a sax quartet and now entertains audiences as part of several groups playing jazz, swing, blues, rock and classical.
- Vicky, a primary school friend, born with a paintbrush in hand, recently designed and created a cow scene mural on a shuttle bus in the community of Crested Butte, Colorado. Imagine seeing that bus pass in the morning — impossible to be in a bad mood. I’m tempted to go to Colorado just for the pleasure of riding it. She’s now using her talents on a project painting scenery for a musical production.
Having little talent in crafts or visual, musical or dramatic arts myself, I am in awe of those who do. The joy I imagine they get in creating and the Impact they have is so very obvious to me.
Others I know have different types of talents.
- Take my friend, Laurie, for example. She’s a natural organizer and networker and is currently using some of her talents in leading an international women’s organization in Vienna. She enjoys using her “skills and talents for the good of my community. And having fun (if not all of the time, often enough to make it, on balance, fun).”
- A fellow writer friend is not only a talented writer, but to me she’s a “guru” in many things internet and social media. But the real reason I enjoy following her is that she’s also a fellow animal lover. I’ll always think of her as the gal who trained to take in and raise orphaned squirrels (there is, indeed, a defined way of doing it so they can then be safely released back into the wild). She has recently combined her talents and love and is working as a web comm and social media manager with an animal welfare organization.
- And last, but never least, there’s my sister who I normally associate with intellectual and literary pursuits. She is “cultivating” a talent in her own suburban vegetable garden. She’s not only providing healthier and tastier produce for her family, but is lowering her negative impact on our environment by working toward sustainable gardening and, of course, there’s no transport or warehousing involved in getting her veggies to her table.
Amazing talents, amazing people. All who are making an Impact. And this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the talents I know, have seen, and experienced. (apologies to all the many other people I know who are not included here for lack of space)
This week’s Impact effort
Each of us has talents, gifts and abilities that are uniquely ours. Do you know what yours are? Do you find opportunities to share your talents to make an Impact on others? If so, please share them with us. Don’t be shy.
This week Nils and I will be seeking ways to create Impact by using our personal talents. We’ll report in later in the week.
Posted in Animal Conservation & Welfare, Blood Donation, Children, Disaster Relief, Education, volunteering, tagged Blood Donation, dog rescue, Donors Choose, fake plastic fish, Lab Rescue of the LRCP, Pepsi Refresh Challenge, Plastic Bag Ban, red cross, st bernard project on September 4, 2010 | 4 Comments »
After several glorious vacation weeks back in the States, having lots of fun with family and friends, I’ve been feeling … well … weird. I’ve chalked up my lack of motivation and moodiness (Nils will attest to the latter) in part to jet-lag, in part to the usual dolefulness that follows a great holiday. I’ve been singin’ the “boo hoo, poor me, so many of my friends are elsewhere, all my family members are afar blues.”
A series of events this past week, however, prevents me from any further melancholy. It’s as though someone, somewhere’s conspiring to pull me out of this funk.
So many reasons for celebration
St. Bernard wins $250,000
Wesley finds a home
In week 29, in July, while visiting the Washington DC area, I had the luck to work with a friend on a home visit and a rescue transport for Lab Rescue of the LRCP. I got to see first hand and participate in how this 100% volunteer organization works to “rescue, foster and place homeless, abused or abandoned Labradors” (and Golden Retriever – Lab mixes). Nils and I have been happy to continue to support Lab Rescue by voting for them and encouraging friends to do the same in a NOVADog magazine competition for dog food. Result: Lab Rescue won! And, in the generous spirit that they represent, they shared the winnings with all the other finalists. Yay!
But, I couldn’t get Lab Rescue out of my mind. You see, during transport of Daphne (see above), I had crossed paths with a 9-year-old graying fellow named Wesley (I’ve always been attracted to older men). He had just come from a very long transport in the back of a van and when we met, he was exhausted and trembling with fear. Crouched on my knees on the parking lot asphalt, I slowly offered the back of my hand in friendship. Wesley stretched forward tentatively, gave me the customary sniff and, to my delight, approached for more lovin’. That was it. My heart melted. But since July, I hadn’t heard news on Wesley. As an “older guy” with possible leg and joint problems, I worried that others might not see his gentle nature and affectionate way. But, day before yesterday, I got word from my friend that Wesley has been adopted. I’m over the moon!
$1.3 million for California school projects
Back in week 14, I took a very hesitant Nils to his first blood donation at the Red Cross. Though a bit of a “trypanophobic” (one with a fear of needles), he was a real trooper and took to the Impact effort with aplomb — so much so that early this week, he announced that he and several of his office mates are in discussion on when (not if) they will all go together and donate blood. Yesssss!
I have suggested to him that if he would NOT refer to the procedure as “bloodletting”, he might succeed in getting even more participation.
A start toward bans on plastic
Nils and I have been users for some time. Cloth carry bag users, that is. Nils pretty much grew up with cloth bags; in my case, I had to change my habit. But, the changeover from plastic to cloth has required minuscule effort. And, by participating in fakeplasticfish’s plastic challenge week, we became that much more aware of the negative impact our plastics have on our planet. So, when we read about California’s proposal to ban plastic bags, removing carryout plastic bags from supermarkets, drug stores and convenience shops, we gave California a big Huzzah! and figured it a shoo-in to pass. When the bill failed last Tuesday, we were shocked. Boo! on the 20 California senators who voted nay! (how much did the chemical companies pay you?)
There is, however, good news on this front. Just last week, putting California lawmakers to shame, American Samoa passed a ban making it illegal for stores to provide plastic bags to customers as of February 23, 2011. Gov. Togiola Tulafono said the measure would help preserve the environment for future generations. ”I believe this bill … is a step in the right direction toward protecting the natural beauty of our islands and our native land and sea creatures.” Thumbs UP to American Samoans! An example to follow!
And, these are just a few examples why I’m having a difficult time maintaining my woebegone state. There are so many reasons for celebration and so many more projects to work on.
Hm, but you know, I can’t help but look at these a little as personal successes — projects, people and animals that have become a part of us … a part of me. Maybe it is, indeed, a little about ME?
Dark clouds, spitting rain and an uncomfortable chill were our companions for morning coffee on Saturday. It was pretty dispiriting. Did we really have to go outside and get things done?
By the time we finished our morning ablutions and discussions on the day’s plan, the clouds had cleared a bit — in the sky, in our heads and in our moods — and we gathered up our materials and mettle and mobilized for a day of personal errands and Impact efforts.
Open Bookshelf and Contributing to the Literacy of a Small One
First stop was Open Bookshelf, a freestanding “shelf” that’s bolted to the sidewalk a few blocks from our apartment. It’s a free “serve yourself” exchange where anyone can bring or take a book or books. For months, Nils and I have talked about participating. This weekend, we went with a dozen or so mostly English books, and just before we headed out, Nils added a German language book of Hagar the Horrible comic strips.
As we were finishing shelving our books, a woman approached with her granddaughter of about four years old.
“She’s fascinated by books,” the woman explained as the little girl looked on with wide-eyed curiosity.
“Ooh, I have just the thing,” Nils said. He reached back into the shelf with his own child-like enthusiasm.
“She doesn’t read yet …” the woman said doubtingly.
Nils pulled out his Hagar the Horrible like a magician would a rabbit, and squatted down next to the little one. “Look here, you can look at the pictures and have someone read the words with you.” She followed along mesmerized.
Nils offered this prize over to her and she accepted it with a shy smile of gratitude. We watched as she toddled off happily with grandma to the bus stop.
Impact, Yes. Satisfaction, big time! That little girl’s smile yielded at least 100+ satisfaction points! Perhaps some of our other books will find equally worthy new homes.
A darn good start to the day!
Clothing and Toiletries for the Homeless
Back in January, we featured die Gruft, Vienna’s well-known homeless facility. Since then, we’ve gone back a couple of times, but it’s been several months. A quick morning dig through the closet produced a few tops, a sweater and a pair of (too small) nearly-new trousers. They were added to a bag of hotel shampoos and shower gels we’ve been collecting, along with overnight toiletry kits from Nils’ business class flights.
Though still overcast, temperatures were warming, so there were fewer homeless in the shelter this time compared to our first visit in the dead of winter. Nevertheless, our small bag of donations were gladly accepted.
To friends in Vienna: die Gruft’s currently in need of a variety of items including men’s clothing, office, kitchen and first-aid supplies, and eating utensils.
Supporting the Campaign Against Stoning
100 Cities Around the World Against Stoning is an initiative that arrived in my inbox early Friday morning, further proof that Impact opportunities present themselves when you keep your eyes open.
The terrifying threat of death by stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is known worldwide. Saturday, August 28th was the day where people around the world gathered to demand the abolition of this inhuman and barbaric act.
In Vienna, there was no demonstration per se, but there was an information table in front of the Opera House. Nils and I, along with many others, signed a petition in protest against stoning and signed and mailed a postcard imploring the United Nations General Secretary, Ban-Ki Moon, to not accept Ahmadinejad at the General Assembly session in September 2010. (Click here for a letter version in pdf)
Overall, not a bad day at all, especially since we also got grocery shopping done, checked out a couple of kitchen supply shops for needed equipment, and had a nice lunch and conversation along the way.
After having walked (an effort not to add to our carbon footprint) approximately 5 miles/8 km through the city on Saturday, Sunday was a “spud day.” We did, however, manage to do a few Impact efforts from the comfort of our sofa. These included click-to-donates
throughs which we highlighted back in Week 7: Effortless Impact. While we do click-to donate through donations occasionally, frankly, it’s no longer a habit. We’ve pledged to each other to make a more concerted effort to click through more regularly.
We also answered to a call by the Defenders of Wildlife and sent a letter to the U.S. federal Wildlife Services agency in a campaign to Save America’s Wolves. I was shocked to learn that this branch of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture plans to initiate shooting of entire packs from the air, surgical sterilization of alpha pairs and gassing of pups. URGENT: Deadline for sending letters is August 31st, 2010.
And, last but not least, in the spirit of Week 22: Pollinating Happiness, we both signed into butterbeehappy.com and updated our Happiness Journals. Amongst other things, we’re pretty dang happy about our Spontaneous Impact Weekend.