do good, Link-Up

Link-Up

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


A Special ‘Giving Tuesday’ Link-Up

LOOK
At natural beauty, grandeur, protection. NRDC — Natural Resources Defense Council. Donations matched up to $100K.

LISTEN
Birdsongs. Audubon Society. Challenge: Raise $75K & $75K will be matched.

LAUGH
Family&Friendship. Team Sierra Fundraiser with The Sierra Club.

CREATE
Teamwork. You Can Play Project — LGBTQ Athletes, allies, teaming up for respect. Donations matched up to $20K by the Lawrence Family Foundation.

READ
Changes Lives.
K.I.N.D. Kids in need of desks. From Lawrence O’Donnell & UNICEF.
Daring Books for Dedicated Teens. A Donor’s Choose effort, h/t Kelly Jensen.

RESTORE
Forests & Grasslands. National Forest Foundation. Donations matched up to $5K.

CRAVE
Conservation. National Parks Conservation Association. Donations matched up to $25K.


THANK YOU

Personal Stuff

Business But Not Business As Usual

I don’t know where to begin, but I’m starting here.

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I’m currently on the road and visiting family. This past Sunday, my uncle arrived for dinner and with flourish presented my grandmother and I with the gift of vibrating toothbrushes. He saw a multipack at the wholesale store of his choice, was intrigued, and on a whim got them for us. It was silly and a bit ridiculous, but we were excited about them — why not be? — and agreed the next time he came for dinner we would compare notes about if we liked them and how they worked.

The next time he came to dinner was Wednesday, and DJT was our President Elect.

We didn’t talk about the toothbrushes that night.

Like most of us, I’ve been trying to grapple with this new reality, and mostly with limited success. I’ve read a lot, and written very little, and poured my anxieties out doing the small things I can do right now. It’s the best I have, at the moment. I’m also working to keep it together–to keep my honest terror at the possible future we’re facing internalized–because I’m visiting family and you know how that goes.

So then last night. I’m standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth with the ridiculous new toothbrush and idle thoughts came to me. Hunh this does work better. Who knew. It’s nice. I think I like it.

When my active brain caught up with my passive musings, I broke down. The crying I’d held in so long started and boy did those floodgates open. No obvious reason for that being the spark, but something along the lines of: Here I was using this unnecessary improvement on an everyday item that’s still a luxury for so many, abstractly musing over it having more efficacy than my not-powered toothbrush. I felt so far away from everything, from all the struggles and fear and anger out there, from being able to do anything about it, from my own privilege to stand there with this dumb toothbrush having a moment of normalcy.

It’s quite the thing, standing over the bathroom sink ugly crying. Unstoppable gasping ugly crying, with toothpaste froth bubbling and going everywhere, the toothbrush still buzzing against my teeth and filling my cranium like the angry static I haven’t been without since the news broke, and in the background the TV volume set to 80-billion for my hard of hearing grandmother blaring a Christmas carol from the movie we were watching.

It took me a while to cry it all out. Then I had a quick shower, because toothpaste everywhere, and afterward I sat ignoring the movie thinking what can I do, what am I going to do? on a refrain.

I’m not sure. That’s the answer I arrived at–I’m just not sure.

But I do know that 1) I’m going to keep writing and being a writer and 2) I’m going to fight like Hell in the years to come. That leads me to the rest of what’s on my mind: how being a writer and fighting like Hell don’t always mesh (while conversely they can be so profoundly interdependent).

The thing is, I don’t begrudge people who had to go to the office today and write professional emails, take professional conference calls, and wade through normal life even though life has gone off its axis for so many. I don’t think it’s terrible a shop owner flipped her sign to OPEN and made sales in order to keep her business viable. I wouldn’t sneer at anyone who has to go out there and be ‘real people’ in the world despite the turmoil and uncertainty they face.

I need to do the same. And allow myself the same. Writing is a passion but it’s also my business. I gotta write more, and sell more, to keep writing more. It’s my job, same as that shopkeep or lawyer or cable technician. So I’m going to keep talking about writing, promoting my books, promoting others’ books, doing my fun weekly features, tweeting & retweeting, enjoying my author facebook group. Being a writer, if you will.

But with what has happened, and who & what all is now made so vulnerable by it, I cannot be only a writer. I cannot only post fun weekly features, plug my books, and sit on my hands hoping no one will notice I’m decidedly absent from important conversations because at the same time I’m trying not to alienate potential new readers.

Given the choice, the choice is obvious. I’ll take alienate potential new readers for 2000, Alex. I don’t know what the balance is, and I expect to be 80% Author, but who can say. Given the past week, I’ll wager no one.

I’m also never going to sneer at another author who is busy promoting their work. I’ll never say “Gosh, don’t you care about what’s happening? How can you just sit there blogging and retweeting!” Please don’t anyone else do this, either. It’s not fair, it’s such an undue burden, and remember–promoting, blogging, tweeting, writing–it’s their job.

I must write to tell good stories, necessary stories. I want to give happy endings to everyone out there thinking their chance at happy endings might be rapidly disappearing before their eyes. I want to be part of the energy of creative conversation that doesn’t let whoever is in charge get away with claiming no such things exist, no such things are decent or allowed, no such things can be dreamed of or wished for or achieved.

I am and will be an ally–but I am only an ally. I know this as well. Writing gay romance doesn’t magically put me on front lines of activism. But it does make me a part of the community, and one that I will protect. As I will protect other minority, disenfranchised, and at risk communities. So I’m going to listen, and learn, and get with my own people when they need talking to, instead of leaving it at the feet of those more vulnerable.

In the initial wake of the election news, my heartsick self didn’t know what to write anymore. If I could write anymore. What difference would it make? who cares? on and on. But in the eloquent, truthful words of my dear Damon Suede: Romance is the literature of hope.

So let’s get out there and kindle some. Let’s make stuff. Yell stuff. Share what we’ve made and share our voices. Reach out with both. Oppressors want silence. Those who Create–art, science, education, journalism, books, music, movies, guerilla graffiti–should get as loud as they possibly can. Big, small, whatever you can do, do it. We’re gonna need it.

No, a teaspoon can’t empty the ocean, but it does move water.


Small Steps

  • How should you react if you see racist/sexist abuse? Wear a safety pin, if that’s your thing (but be ready to do so much more). Use the privilege you have to protect those without the same privileges.
  • Donate to places & causes that need your help right now. Pick one or two causes important to you and focus on those. Don’t let all your effort and energy get lost in just trying to keep up.
  • Recycle, even if it’s inconvenient. Eat less meat. As you can, use less water, less electricity, less stuff.
  • Reach out to loved ones and tell them you care, you’re here, and support one another.
  • Stay informed–beyond of the cycle of the 24/7 entertanewsment channels.
  • Don’t read the comments.
  • Remember this anger and fear but don’t let it poison you–use them to drive forward & sustain your fight 4+ years.
  • Self care. Cliche? Maybe, but needful and important. If you’re not taking care you can’t take care of anyone else.
  • Boost minority/diverse voices. Support minority/diverse businesses & makers. Boycott harmful ones.
  • Be kind–to yourself & those needing kindness–but not to your or their expense.
do good

Do Good November.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. November is when we start thinking about the holidays, and planning for the good times soon upon us. Some people who look to these holidays feel more than happy anticipation–there’s the stress of wondering where their next meal is going to come from, never mind their Thanksgiving feast. Family-to-Family provides many ways to help these families have better holidays, and better lives every day.

Ways to give: Turkey Drive || Stuff a Shirt for the Homeless at Thanksgiving || Donate

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Mission Statement:

Family-to-Family (F-to-F) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3), non-profit national hunger and poverty relief organization dedicated to connecting, one-to-one, families with enough to share to impoverished American families with profoundly less. Our program creates a bridge between communities with “more” and some of our country’s poorest areas.

Our members give in a variety of ways. Some welcome the concrete responsibility of shopping, packing, and sending a monthly carton of non-perishable groceries that will provide 7 dinner-type meals to the family they “sponsor”. Some shop for and send only the “monthly drive items” – non-food basic necessities – while contributing a monthly donation to F-to-F, which we use to purchase groceries locally for “their” family.

F-to-F purchases groceries at discounted rates from a constellation of large chain supermarkets and Feeding America food banks to provide food for the families we serve. Each receiving family picks up or has delivered, the box packed especially for them from a community partner in their area, each of whom is affiliated with a local food pantry, outreach organization, school or church.

In an effort to create “possibilities”, F-to-F encourages donors and recipients to connect and communicate when possible and comfortable. We suggest donors reach out to the family we have linked them to with a letter…and often sponsored families write back. We hope that by creating a bond of friendship between families who would otherwise never have had the opportunity to connect, lives will be changed for the better, even if ever so slightly. Currently, F-to-F provides over 12,000 meals per month to over 1,800 struggling moms, dads and kids in 12 states across the U.S.A.

In addition to our core family sponsorship program,   F-to-F has created a constellation of additional giving opportunities, all designed to provide kids, families and adults with meaningful, hands-on giving experiences.

ftf

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good, monterey bay aquarium, national seafood month, seafood watch

Do Good October.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. October is National Seafood Month, making choosing what I wanted to feature from my list for October 2015 easy — Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Treating our environment with care and respect is an important issue for me, but it’s also vital for the health of our Earth. This is an easy way to get involved, make better choices, and less of an impact on our oceans.

Donate || Get the App to have latest recommendations for seafood and sushi, learn more about the seafood you eat, and locate or share businesses that serve sustainable seafood.

seafood watch

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to empower consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life and habitats, now and for future generations. Our recommendations indicate which seafood items are “Best Choices” or “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.”

We raise public awareness about sustainable seafood issues through our consumer guides, website, mobile apps and outreach efforts. Since 1999, we’ve distributed over 45 million consumer guides and our smartphone app has been downloaded over a million times. We also encourage restaurants, distributors and seafood purveyors to purchase from sustainable sources. We have over 200 partners across North America, including two of the largest food service companies in the U.S.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans.

seafood watch 2

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good

Do Good July.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For July 2015 I chose Underwearness. We all know the thrill of receiving something brand new, something given just to us that is just for us. Imagine if that thrill came from something as simple as a brand new pair of underwear.

Ways to help: Get Involved || Donate

underwearness

Mission Statement:

One night at dinner my brother-in-law told a story that grabbed my heart and would not let go. This is what he told me:

“You thought getting toys with only three wheels was bad, we were so poor that we would be excited to find barely used underwear in the bags of clothes donated by the church.”

“Barely used, you did not get new underwear?” I asked. I was shocked to hear that something as basic as new underwear was not provided in a town much like mine, to kids much like me. The only difference was that they were in circumstances that made them less fortunate. I left that evening feeling sad to know that children grew up with used underwear or no underwear at all.

I carried the vision of these children with me to work the next morning and shared the story with my co-workers.  Everyone’s heartstrings were tugged at the same time, and before we knew it we were formulating a plan to make a difference in children’s lives, one pair of underwear at a time!  We may not be saving the world, but we can provide children the basic human kindness of being able to open up a new package of underwear that is theirs, and theirs alone. In an astonishingly short period of time, UNDERWEARNESS, Inc. was born.

We have come a long way from that first brainstorming session. We have a Mission, a Strategy, a Board of Directors, a grass roots marketing model, and partners stepping forward to help us make this dream a reality.  Each time we tell our story we hear even more stories of all the children and organizations that we can serve.  Many hearts have been captured by the simple act of providing new underwear to children. Our fun and creative name adds a light-hearted touch to our efforts so that no child will ever suffer the humiliation of pulling a pair of used underwear out of a bag of donated clothes.

underwearness

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good

Do Good June.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For June 2015 I chose Hailey’s Harvest. “For a few dollars, Hailey’s Harvest can easily change lives by sheltering and feeding the homeless.” It often doesn’t take a lot to make a huge difference, as Hailey’s ongoing–and inspiring–mission proves.

Hailey's Harvest

Mission statement:

We exist to help those in need. Fresh Food: Most of us are fortunate enough to just head to the grocery store or farmer’s market for fresh food. Many people have difficulties affording or finding fresh, healthy food. Meals: Empty stomachs hurt. They break concentration and make the future seem impossible. Giving food is essential to creating health. Shelter: Although these structures are not permanent, it provides a safe, dry, and warm place to sleep and store valuable possessions.

Hailey’s Harvest is committed to helping feed and shelter the homeless in Western Washington as well as providing a personal story of those in need.

Hailey

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good, Uncategorized

Do Good May.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For May 2015 I chose the Lucky Iron Fish™ project. This is a great and mindful way to make direct, positive change in people’s lives. The Lucky Iron Fish™ is a simple and effective health innovation that can provide 75% of daily required iron intake to the 3.5 billion people worldwide suffering from iron deficiency. All it takes is to cook with it.

More information || Ways to give

fish

Mission Statement:

Imagine a world where the billions of people who are constantly tired, struggle to work or focus, and often feel sick are finally able to lead healthier and more productive lives. We’re dedicated to leading the fight against iron deficiency in Cambodia and around the world. And we know that the Lucky Iron Fish™ can and will make a big difference. We’ve made it our mission to put a fish in every pot.

We are striving to realize this vision in a socially and environmentally responsible way. That’s why we’re committed to hiring local staff, using recycled and biodegradable materials, and supporting like-minded businesses and organizations. As a result of this commitment we are now a B-Corp certified company.

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Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good, Uncategorized

Do Good April.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For April 2015 I chose The National Park Service (NPS week is April 18-26 this year!). It’s no secret I love all things NPS– the wilderness and wildlife, outdoor activities, historical places of significance and reverence, and myriad opportunities to learn and discover and go adventuring. The parks represent many wonderful things, including being an invaluable resource for everyone. I’m as happy to support the NPS as I am to get out and explore it. As I say with every park site I’ve visited: “This is just so great!”

Locate parks and sites #FindYourPark || Learn all the Ways To Give

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Mission Statement:

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, we safeguard these more than 400 places and share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. But our work doesn’t stop there.

We are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.

national-parks-map

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good, Uncategorized

Do Good March.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For March 2015 I chose helping good people help dogs. I love dogs so much! I can’t imagine my life (or a lot of my books) without them. But for every dog in a happy home, there are so many more who are still searching for one. Send a cheeseburger Hope For Paws’ direction and start getting great dogs into great forever families!

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Hope For Paws || Hope For Paws Facebook & Twitter || Rescue videos on Youtube

Mission Statement:

Audrey and Eldad Hagar have been fostering hundreds of animals in their home for the past eight years.  They created Hope for Paws to help animals in this country who suffer and die every year because of negligence and abuse.  They also created a huge network of rescuers from all over the world on their Facebook pages.

Our fostered animals are a part of our family and are treated as such.  Too often, people undervalue their furry family members and abandon them in their backyards, on the streets or at the shelters.  These animals die from starvation, abuse, and euthanization because of the overcrowding at the shelters.

Pets are not items that can be thrown away or exchanged for younger models. Animals are sentient beings who feel pain, love, joy, mourning, and loss.  These valuable creatures help us whether it is assisting the blind or finding people under the rubble from an earthquake.  They help us in times of war and during human catastrophes.

We want to help both humans and animals alike live harmonious and fulfilling lives together.

Theo – Before & After:

theo

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

do good, Uncategorized

Do Good February.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For February 2015 I went with three things I love all combined: Dolly Parton, books, and supporting literacy.

dolly

Dolly Parton‘s Imagination Library

Children in need can be registered to receive free books. Donations can be made or merchandise purchased. And reading programs can be set up in your area.

Mission statement:

In 1995, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.

Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!