Be Part of the Energy Solution: Focus the Nation

focusthenationlogoMany Americans have come to realize that we need clean, sustainable, just energy solutions. On Saturday, April 18, across the U.S., students, business leaders and engaged citizens will connect with their elected officials in town hall meetings focused on determining local and national energy solutions that also promote jobs, cooperation and respect for the planet. Focus the Nation is the organization sponsoring this “Nationwide Town Hall on a Just and Clean Energy Future.” Find out more about events in your area, or if you want to organize your own event, download the organizing guide.


Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming MOGO-esque Portland Area Events

I finally had a chance to update our Events page with some upcoming Portland area events. New ones include:

A World of Warfare: Dynamics of Conflict in the 21st Century
April 6-8
Lewis & Clark College Templeton Student Center, Council Chamber (615 SW Palatine Hill Rd) Portland
For the 47th annual International Affairs Symposium, learn about issues that surround warfare in the 21st century, from using private firms in war, to preparing for tomorrow’s conflicts to debating international law.
Free and open to the public.

Human Trafficking Information Session
Tuesday, April 7, 9:30 am – noon OR
Tuesday, April 21, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Franciscan Spiritual Center (6902 SE Lake Road, Suite 300) Milwaukie, OR
“Join us for a fact-filled session conducted by the Oregon Coalition to Combat Trafficking in Persons. We will discuss the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, victim identification, victim needs, immigration relief for international victims and much more.”

Gluten-free Baking Class

Thursday, April 16 @ 7 pm
Sunnyside United Methodist Church (3250 SE Yamhill St.) Portland
Vegan baker and Try Vegan PDX member Chelsea Lincoln will be leading a class on gluten-free baking, from learning about different flours to learning to bake pancakes, biscuits and cupcakes. $10 fee for supplies.
Find out more.

Witness for Peace Northwest Speaker Tour: NAFTA Turns 15 Free Trade, Food Security and Migration in Mexico
Thursday, April 16th @ 7 pm
Multnomah Friends Meeting House (4312 SE Stark) Portland
A discussion with Baldemar Mendoza Jiménez, Agro-ecologist with the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez, Oaxaca. Take a deeper look at the effects of NAFTA, including resistance to genetically modified (GMO) corn, the impact of migration on sending communities, and the struggle for food security in Oaxaca ’s indigenous communities.
This event is open to the public. Professional translation (English-Spanish) provided.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz Cooking Demo

Sunday, April 26 @ 2 pm
Hollywood Library (4040 NE Tillamook) Portland
Renowned vegan chef and Post Punk Kitchen founder Isa will be demoing delicious dishes.
Free tickets for seating will be given out 30 minutes prior to the program.

Let Live Activism series: Effective Tabling and Leafleting

Sunday, April 26 @ 2 pm
NW IDA Office (1732 NE Alberta St.) Portland
Vegan Outreach volunteer leafleters will be offering a training on effective leafleting. Topics covered will include:

  • Overcoming shyness
  • Choosing appropriate leafleting venues
  • Understanding your target demographic
  • Preparation of supplementary leafleting materials
  • First Amendment rights and other legal issues
  • Formulating effective responses to common questions

Check out the Events page to find more. Email us if you know of good MOGO-esque events happening in the area.

Earth Hour: A Vote for the Planet (But Not a Very Big One)

On Saturday, March 28, families, businesses and organizations around the world will be turning out the lights in order to turn on support for the planet. Earth Hour is a campaign, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, encouraging people to turn off their lights for an hour, from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm in their timezone, in order to bring awareness to the importance of our energy (and other environmental) choices and of the crisis issue of climate change. This year, turning off the lights is also being considered a “vote” for the earth (not turning them out is being considered a “vote” for global warming). So far the campaign has more than 2,700 cities and towns in 83 countries participating.  The goal is to get 1 billion people to “vote” by switching off their lights for that hour.

On the one hand, I think that it’s really terrific that so many people are participating in a collective action. I know the folks organizing this are completely serious about it being a major tool for positive change, and I applaud their efforts. Hopefully this worldwide event will inspire families, businesses and policy makers to commit to making significant choices that will help curb climate change and protect the planet.

But, really, the action people are taking is turning off a few lights (and using social media to encourage other people to do so). I worry that the message this sends is that all we have to do to help create a sustainable, just world is a few simple actions, like using less electricity or switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. And, while small steps are an important beginning, it’s important that people become aware that it’s going to take significant positive changes, both in our personal lives, and in society’s systems, in order to have a humane world.

Imagine if 1 billion people signed up to turn off the TV,  computer or radio and volunteer in their communities. Or to take an hour and clean up their streets. Or to take an hour and feed some hungry folks. Or, if 1 billion people agreed to stop eating animal products for 1 day. Or to shop locally. Or to write letters to their lawmakers in support of the 350 policy, or in support of an end to slavery, or any other significant topic.

I’ll be participating in Earth Hour, because I want to be supportive. But, I’ll continue to seek significant MOGO choices that can have a larger positive impact on the planet.

~ Marsha

Help Stop Worldwide Water Woes

Skim through the news, and the message about the future of water seems pretty grim: climate change, a growing population, and a thirst for foods, fuels and other products and services that require an increasing amount of water mean major shortages worldwide. In fact, the United Nations recently released a report that warned that by 2030, nearly half the world’s population “will be living in areas of acute water shortage.” There are already more than a billion people worldwide who don’t have access to clean water.

March 22 is World Water Day, a campaign sponsored by the United Nations to bring attention to the importance of clean, fresh water for all, and for the need of sustainable management of freshwater resources. Organizations around the world have planned activities throughout next week to bring attention to water issues.

This focus on water is a great opportunity to explore water issues with your children, students, friends or co-workers. Here are a few ideas:

For children and students:

  • Brainstorm a list of what needs water to survive (people, animals, plants).
  • Have kids/students list everything they can think of that contains or uses water (soda, nuclear power plants, agriculture, canned food, etc.). Which of these uses are vital to our sustainability and survival and which are not?
  • Have kids/students list all the ways they use water every day, calculating how much water they use each day, and then comparing their use with how much water people in other countries use.
  • Have kids/students carry around a gallon jug full of water and seeing how long it takes them to use it all up (drinking, hand washing, teeth brushing, etc.). Then repeat the exercise, seeing if they can reduce the amount they use (while still maintaining proper hygiene).
  • Brainstorm all the ways that people can conserve water.
  • Learn about people taking positive action to help those who need clean water, such as Ryan Hreljac, who learned about the water crisis and, at age seven, raised money so that a well could be build in a Ugandan village. Now Ryan’s Well Foundation works in 14 countries around the world.

For friends, family and co-workers:

  • Talk to them about water issues. Share news stories, links and articles with them. Post links on your social media sites.
  • Host a screening of a great documentary focused on water, such as Flow.
  • Challenge them to a water conservation contest. Have them notice how much water they use throughout each day, and then challenge them to see how much less they can use.
  • Give them information about the impact of bottled water, and inspire them to switch to a reusable water container.

For yourself:

  • Learn more about water issues.
  • Work to reduce your own water usage.
  • Get involved with water projects in your community or worldwide.

Here are just a couple websites focused on water issues. Water for the Ages also lists a bunch of suggested books and movies, so be sure to check out those resources, too.

Water Aid (UK)

Water for the Ages

Water Partners International

Water Wise (UK)

And, if you’re a Portlander, check out the planned events for World Water Day here.

~ Marsha

MOGO Workshop Changes Lives, Changes the World

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a proud employee of the Institute for Humane Education, but I also volunteered to organize a MOGO Workshop for IHE here in Portland. It was held last weekend, and it was truly an amazing and transforming experience.

If you don’t know, MOGO stands for “Most Good” which refers to doing the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet. The MOGO Workshop was based around the 7 keys that IHE President and author  Zoe Weil writes about in her book Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life. The 7 keys are:

  1. Live Your Epitaph
  2. Pursue Joy Through Service
  3. Make Connections and Self-Reflect
  4. Model Your Message and Work for Change
  5. Find and Create Community
  6. Take Responsibility
  7. Strive for Balance
Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Throughout the day, Zoe used these 7 keys as the basis for helping participants explore, question, reflect, think critically and define their values, the impact of their personal choices and the power of systemic change. Zoe used a variety of interactive strategies during the workshop. She started almost immediately by having people think about and list all the challenges of the world, the ones about which they’re most passionate, and what skills they have for helping solve those challenges. It was a very revealing exercise.  Some of the other activities included having people write their epitaphs, share experiences of joy through service and write out their MOGO Action Plan, as well as exploring the impact of our product choices on ourselves, other people, animals and the earth and learning about the ways other concerned citizens are creating positive change in the world.

As the local organizer, I was able to invite several of my friends and colleagues, and there were also several people there who didn’t know anything about the MOGO principle but were curious about the concept. Sweetpea Baking Company generously donated some yummy vegan donuts, which were quickly consumed (I jealously snagged a few extra for myself – not very MOGO, I know). And, Papa G’s catered an awesome vegan, organic, mostly-local lunch of enchilada pie, salad, corn, beans and rice, cornbread, and the best pear cobbler I’ve ever had (even better than my husband’s!). We were also fortunate that it was a beautiful, sunny day!

Everyone seemed to have a terrific experience (the evaluations were all very positive), and I think people left with a stronger sense of community and purpose, and the feeling that we all indeed can make a powerful positive difference in our lives and in the world.

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

I’m looking forward to connecting more with the participants and spreading the MOGO principle all over Portland…and the world!

~ Marsha

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Portland Area MOGO-esque Events

Be sure to schedule these into your iPhone, Blackberry, calendar, piece of scratch paper, or whatever you use to keep track of can’t-miss events:

The most essential ones (in my opinion — but, of course, that’s ’cause I’m helping organize them) are Zoe Weil’s appearance at Powell’s on February 4, and the MOGO Workshop on Saturday, February 7. Here are some details:

Author and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil, is appearing at Powell’s – Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd. ) at 7:30 pm to talk about her new book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful LifeMost Good, Least Harm shows that choosing to do the most good and the least harm is personally enriching and helps to bring about a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world for all. If you care about social change issues at all (you know, like world peace, human rights, animal protection, environmental preservation — those kinds of things), be sure to attend.

Zoe is also leading an all-day MOGO (Most Good) Workshop on Saturday, February 7 here in Portland.  Creating a humane and sustainable world is not easy.  But when you live a life that deeply embodies your principles, not only do you help improve the world, you also cultivate your own inner peace and joy.  Tap into your deepest values and make choices that do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet with this terrific workshop. The regular registration fee is $110; the registration fee for students is $75; but, what’s that when this workshop could change your life and change the world?! Find out more.

Here are some other upcoming events to be sure to attend:

Internet Activism with Glenn Gaetz
Sunday, January 25, from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, at PSU (Smith Memorial Union, Room 238 )
This workshop, sponsored by the Let Live Foundation, features Glenn Gaetz from Liberation B.C., who’ll be talking about topics like  “making a website, using social networking sites, e-newsletters, and other relevant online tools.” Let Live will be hosting a different topic each month, so be sure to check them out.

Why Farm Animals Matter
Tuesday, February 3, at 7:00 pm, at PSU (Smith Memorial Union, Room 101)
NW VEG, Vegans for Animal Advocacy and the Let Live Foundation are sponsoring this talk by Erin Williams, communications director for HSUS and author of the book Why Animals Matter. Erin will be talking about “the importance of making humane, sustainable food choices” and will share some of the exciting recent advancements for farmed animals in the United States.

NW VEG has some other great upcoming events, such as their new Happy Hour on Friday, January 30, their book club on Tuesday, February 10, and  their first annual Vegan Valentine’s Bake-off on Sunday, February 15. Find out more about NW VEG Events.

Also in the same vegan vein are the events sponsored by the MeetUp group Viva La Vegan. You have to be a member to enjoy all the benefits (about $6/year), but great upcoming events include the Garden Planning Primer on Saturday, January 31, and the free Ice Cream Social on Saturday, February 14Find out more and consider joining.

Know of more terrific MOGO-esque events in the Portland area? Let us know.

Get Smart About Biking in Portland

Portland has become one of the biking meccas of the U.S., and as the economy continues to plunge its way to the bottom, and as more people choose to take positive action regarding their impact on the planet, even more people are getting into biking. But, if you’re a biking newbie (like I am), then placing yourself on a little bike frame amidst tons of fast-moving metal can seem like an invitation for death or dismemberment. Veteran bikers know that biking can be extremely safe, fun, healthy and planet-friendly, which is why the two cyclists who founded BikeSmart Portland here in the Rose City have started offering classes. According to founders Jim Anderson and Russell Cree, their goal is for riders to “have the confidence, skills and knowledge to head out on the road. Our mission is to help people learn to ride bicycles safely and develop skills to ride with confidence and strength using logical classroom presentation and practical skill instruction.”

Their first class, Road Cycling 101, is an intro class that covers all the basics, from equipment, etiquette and performance, to safe biking, riding in groups, and avoiding common mistakes. Road Cycling 201 and Mountain Biking 101classes are in the works.

According to BikeSmart’s website, classes take place at Therapeutic Associates, Inc., 4829 Martin Luther King Blvd., Suite 101 (between NE Alberta and NE Wygant on NE MLK Boulevard). Pre-registration is required and the 90 minute classes cost $15.00.

Find out more.

~ Marsha

Thanks, Treehugger, for the tip.

Image courtesy of BikeSmart.