May 2018

Acting locally for a healthier, more peaceful planet

For our 2018-2019 Holiday Giving and Forgiving Initiative, I'm encouraging us to focus locally for impact globally. If you participate, please consider extending at least part of your donation to a local nonprofit. I have chosen The Center for Teaching Peace, which is very small and right in the neighborhood, as this year's featured charitable organization.
This being our 5th year of the Holiday Giving and Forgiving Initiative, I personally wanted to find a way to do something action-based in addition to donating money. Many of us volunteer and already work locally towards global impact. I was looking for something fresh to try that was outside the more familiar territory of donating time and money.
Awareness-raising "challenges" have become popular, a social phenomenon that demonstrates the power of small groups. I've decided to do two during the season, and I encourage you to at least look at the variety of "challenges" out there to get an idea of this new wave in social change. There are week-long and month-long challenges in everything from knitting to mindfulness. I've decided to take the plunge with two of them to see what happens. If you decide to participate in a challenge that interests you, please let us know!
I am not on Facebook, and I'm not formally registering, but I have selected two awareness-building activities to do during the season, and both involve making intensely personal and local efforts to affect global change. In addition to making a donation to
The Center for Teaching Peace, I've decided to take the 10 Day Local Food Challenge, and the One Nature challenge.

Our holiday giving initiative is about raising awareness and doing good works that radiate outward. I look at my grandsons and wonder what kind of a world we are leaving them. How can we become forces for peace and healing in a world where so much is breaking or broken (including the planet itself!)?

What I arrived at will not be easy, and I'm not even sure if I'll succeed, but here is my thought: our every action, however small, is a seed, a vote for the future, an impulse that sends out a wave of… what? This is where we have choice. Locally focused actions may make a world of difference both locally and outward to our wider planetary neighborhood.

To make a donation to
The Center for Teaching Peace:
There's no website, and no one-click easy donation button. To donate to this worthy, tiny, local nonprofit, you will need to write a check. Coleman McCarthy founded it (along with his wife, I believe), and my family and I have taken his Peace Class 2-3 times over the years. When Coleman was asked to teach a writing class for School Without Walls years ago, he responded, "I'd rather teach peace." And then he set out to figure out how to do that.
The class opens your eyes. Coleman teaches it at AU, Georgetown Law, and BCC High School, and others are also teaching his curriculum for peace. If you want to contribute online, you can go to
Amazon and buy one of Coleman's books, such as Strength Through Peace: The Ideas and People of Nonviolence, for which the profits go to the Center for Teaching Peace.
You can send a check to The Center for Teaching Peace, 4501 Van Ness St NW, Washington DC, 20016

To take the
10 Day Local Food Challenge:
For 10 days, eat (almost exclusively) food grown and produced within 100 miles of where you live.
Could you live on only locally-grown foods for 10 days? In many places in the world, and here in the US only a few decades back, this might have sounded like a silly question. What else is there? We know that much of what we typically eat and drink every day has been packaged and shipped and has passed through many hands before it ever gets to our plate. That takes a lot of resources. How can we lighten our negative impact on our environment?
Vicki Robin, activist, visionary and author of the time-honored Your Money or Your Life, came up with this initiative, but Michael Pollan and others have also advocated us becoming locavores in order to create a more sustainable world.
I've done a bit of research, and here in Washington, DC we are very lucky where locally grown and produced food is concerned. New Morning Farm has a market on Saturdays right down the street from my home with a wonderful selection, but still, I can already tell succeeding at this will require a bit of attention! The farm is 110 miles away, and Robin's challenge calls for a 100 mile radius. Should I let that slide? I'll have to do a bit of planning in any case.
Robin is not strict — deprivation is not the point of the exercise—but I may have to let go of some well-loved seasonings or beverages for a few days. Robin allows 10 "exotics," and says that the most common choices are oil, salt, caffeine, lemons and chocolate. This will be an adventure!
Bonus peace initiative: check out Robin's
Conversation Cafe concept!

To take the One Nature challenge:
Spend 30 minutes in nature for 30 days. This one comes from the
David Suzuki Foundation. It's Canadian, but hey, we are thinking globally while acting locally here. Many of you are walkers living car-free in the city, and so you are already outside for 30 minutes a day. I guess it then comes down to have we define "nature." The website says. "time in nature is about getting outside and taking time to notice and connect with the non-human life around you."
The goal is: "to reconnect human beings with nature for the sake of their health and mental well-being."
Now, that, I think, is lovely!