Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘neighbors’

Why Shop Indie?

logoFrom Indie Bound

Why shop Indie?

When you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

The Economy

Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.

Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.

More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.

The Environment

Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.

Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.

Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.

More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

Now is the time to stand up and join your fellow individuals in the IndieBound mission supporting local businesses and celebrating independents.

Neighborhood Nectar

Neighborhood Nectar
by Gabriel Constans

Ah, nectarines! What a treat. Not only do they taste fabulous, but they are also rich in potassium, sodium, and calcium. Nectarines help clean out the toxic crud that accumulates in your pores, thus aiding your complexion. Try sharing this smoothie with your neighbors – they’ll love it!

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Yield: 5 cups

6 tablespoons plain yogurt (soy, almond or dairy)
6 fresh nectarines, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1/3 cup wheat germ
1 cup seedless grapes
3 cups filtered water

Place ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 45 seconds.
Pour into tall glasses and serve at your next block or neighborhood party.

15 Years of Hard Work

Dear Gabriel,

In rural central Uganda, a lone woman makes her way though an expanse of prickly green leaves, below a hazy blue sky. Guided by instinct and experience, she spots what she is looking for – a perfectly ripe pineapple.

To you and me, a pineapple is something purchased in stores or from fruit stands, to be diced into a sweet snack or blended into a beverage to enjoy with friends.

For Madina Namanda, this pineapple represents 15 years of hard work; nearly 50 FINCA loan cycles; and a drive to do better for herself and her four children.

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Beginning with a US $40 loan, Madina has worked her way up the agricultural ladder. She currently runs a 12-acre pineapple plantation, a 3-acre coffee plantation, and a poultry farm, and she is installing a clean water distribution site on her property, for her neighbors to use. With so much work, Madina shrugs off the loss of some of her pineapples to marauding monkeys, who bite off big chunks of golden sweetness from some of the fruit on the edges of her farm.

Working with FINCA clients has given me the opportunity to see how clients like Madina can take a small loan, and turn it into a new life for themselves and a boon for their communities. With access to credit, Madina has been able to boost her family’s income and personal savings – they now own their own land and home, and have sent two children to university. At 45 years of age, Madina can even consider retirement, a rarity in cash-strapped Uganda.

The perseverance, business acumen, and entrepreneurial spirit of women like Madina are among the chief reasons why I come to work every morning. FINCA clients are individuals who merit our support, and who are not afraid of hard work to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Help us support entrepreneurial women and men like Madina; donate to FINCA today.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President FINCA

In Your Own Backyard

The Five Stages of Garden-Talk
by Meredith Greene
March 13, 2013

Read this and other stories at GardenGreene.

A surprising number of folks in my nearer social circles do not know much about gardening. Certainly, they can browse the colorful annuals on display at the large home store and likewise can stick them in the sunny spots twice a year whilst waving at passing neighbors. Most can even pull a weed or two as well as set a mean schedule on the automated sprinklers but, somehow, the simplest aspects of organic vegetable and herb gardening elude them.

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In calling on neighbors, and speaking with extended family members over the years, I’ve come to predict the various expressions that ensue when the conversation invariably shifts to growing food. These facial indications rather line up like the five stages of grief, but instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance I see Surprised, Confused, Mildly Interested, Incredulous and Overwhelmed. Getting food out of your own backyard is considered by many to be just too darn complicated.

One of my children usually let the ‘cat’ out of the bag in playing with the smaller versions of the other adults in the room. Some time during the course of the visit a child runs over, their faces alight and eyes shining, tugging at the arm/dress/leg of their owner and say something akin to:

“They grow strawberries in their backyard! And tomatoes! They get to pick them and eat them! Can we grow those, too?”

“From the mouths of babes,” I murmur, watching as the parent’s face slides into the first stage.

“How can you possibly find the time to garden?” Surprised then asks of me.

Now, when I was younger–upon being asked this question–I used to launch into a succinct and factual spiel outlining the amount of time that the average American spends in front of television set every day. I would then point out that it was a better use of time to turn over compost and chase after hordes of insidious snails with pale clouds of ditomacheous earth. Oddly, this set of facts seemed to inspire little but denial, anger and depression. Now, I simply focus my argument on Money.

“Do you go to the gym?” I ask. Confused nods in the affirmative, an answer more often than not a complete fabrication. “Did you know,” I continue, “that a couple of hours of vigorous gardening is comparable to spending the same amount of time at the gym?” No, they didn’t know that, but it sounds pretty good. Confused is quickly replaced with Mildly Interested as I go on to list just how much money my family saves over a given winter season by not having to buy my fresh herbs at the store. ($300-$400)

“That is a big savings,” Incredulous returns. “But it ‘s such a lot of work. How do I even get started?”

Here it gets a little tricky. Too much pushing and the average consumer will balk and return to safer subjects, such as waxing poetic on how their favorite washed-up celebrity weathered Trump’s Board room the previous night. Too much information up front and they’ll leap to the Overwhelmed stage too quickly. Too many dire predictions about rising food costs and the Environment and they’ll tune you out AND lump you in with some odd group they heard about on the news that anoint themselves with carrots and say they can raise goats that defecate copper bullion.

Nostalgia has proven to be the most powerful argument of all. Most folks harbor—way back in the warm recesses of their memory—lingering scents, sights and tastes of fresh produce partaken of as a child. It might be the ripe, red raspberries they picked in a grandmother’s arbor. It may be that luscious purple plum that they bit into one hot summer day. It may be a cool clump of sweet, green grapes that can be recalled, even now, with frank fondness. That same wide-eyed wonder, that propelled their offspring to run over and inquire of our garden, still lives on in them even if they are currently unaware of it. It is a useful tool to help lever the conversation away from the precarious Edge of Unconcern and back into the Realm of Feasibility, and is relatively easy to make contact with.

I show them pictures. (see blog header)

“These are some of the tomatoes we harvested last year,” I say, sliding one full-color image after another over the screen.

“Omigawd! Those look delicious!”

“We get about two-hundred pounds every season, all without pesticides.”

“Are those artichokes?!”

“Yep. They were especially good picked young, pared and sauteed with garlic and olive oil.”

“And you still have time to write books?” This question is best answered with a small shrug and a half-smile.

“My kids help me out a lot, but I like the exercise. These are the strawberries…”

“Wow… look at those! I bet that’s nice to have just out your back door.”

“Not as nice as this basil,” I tell them, going to the next picture.

From there the questions tend to get more sincere. Once folks realize that you can actually raise food on a city lot without having to spent a fortune–or work on it 24/7–they find that other hobbies don’t really cut it. Most parents already wonder how they can encourage their kids to get outside a bit more and move around, and when my oldest daughter walks over and launches into a short monolog on the how one can induce thriving vermiculture with an old plastic tub and leftover coffee grounds, they’re sold.

“Families have been growing food together for millenniums,” I conclude. “It’s a proven method of keeping active, and–as my grandfather used to tell us–’if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” My grandfather had a rock garden in the high desert–and a cement patio for a back yard–but some information can be safely omitted.

Read entire story and more at GardenGreene.

Meredith Greene is an author, book reviewer and freelance writer.

Women Not Intimidated

Dear Gabriel,

How easily do you scare? We all have a sense of the lines we won’t let bullies cross, and rightly so. For poor women in Guatemala, fighting for their dignity can be a daily struggle. But fight they do.

Poor women in Central America have often been refused service at “traditional” banks and even been manhandled out the door for having the audacity to enter the premises and apply for small loans.

Treating poor women this way is designed to humiliate and intimidate. It reinforces a poverty trap and reminds Central America’s most excluded women of “their place” at the bottom of a hierarchical society.

But, today, these women refuse to be intimidated; they will not accept second class status. And they take their business elsewhere. They come to FINCA.

Growing numbers of mothers and sisters and neighbors are finding FINCA’s doors open. We want their business, trust their financial management and believe in supporting small enterprises, morally and as reliable sustainable micro-businesses.

Ironically, we know that the average repayment rates for microfinance loans are better than those for “regular loans” in Guatemala, the US and most everywhere else.

More importantly, FINCA’s work is not just about financial services, it’s about empowering women to shatter the poverty trap and beat the bullies who would happily see them permanently excluded from access to financial services. We are proving, woman by woman, loan by loan. that people can fight their way out of poverty.

We believe in the poorest women from Central America and we’re asking you to believe in them too. Many of these women face poverty, the backdrop of a particularly violent society and gender-based exclusion day and daily. And they face it down, again and again. Please stand with them today.

Your support is more than symbolic. Your donation will help find and fund another microfinance client, potentially a women who’s been mistreated, but who will not accept exclusion.

Don’t accept second class citizenship. Take a stand. Support FINCA’s One In A Million campaign to find client one million and help her prove what women can achieve with access to small loans.

Please give generously,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President,
New Business Development
FINCA

Foreclose On Bank Not Homeowners

Gabriel –

It was no ordinary morning. Police arrived at 4am and broke down the door to Alejandra Cruz’s (photo on right) family home with a battering ram. PNC Bank was trying to take her family’s Minneapolis home after a bank error, and their friends and neighbors were in the home to defend it. The police forced everyone to leave — but now Alejandra is fighting back to save her family’s home.

Alejandra’s family made every online payment on their home for seven years. But one month, PNC Bank didn’t withdraw it. Instead of admitting their error, they demanded two months’ payment as penalty.

Alejandra says there was no way her family could have come up with so much money on such short notice. So PNC put them into foreclosure and forced them to leave the house in 48 hours.

But now, Alejandra is fighting back. She’s started a petition asking PNC to sit down and negotiate — and this Thursday, she’s traveling to the the bank’s headquarters to deliver her message. It could decide the fate of her family’s home — and if thousands of people join her before then, she knows the bank won’t be able to ignore her message.

Click here to stand with Alejandra — ask PNC Bank to admit their mistake and negotiate a loan modification with her family.

Alejandra says her family has worked incredibly hard to meet their mortgage payments. Her father worked two jobs, and she and her brother worked part time through school to help. The foreclosure has already forced them to move out of their home, and when friends and neighbors tried to stop the bank from taking the home, police arrested them.

But Alejandra knows there is hope. Just last week, another Minneapolis resident named Nick Espinosa started a Change.org petition to save his mom’s home. Thousands of people signed in a matter of days, and the bank was forced to back down and let Nick’s mom keep her home with a reduced mortgage.

Local media are already taking interest in her family’s battle, and if PNC Bank hears from thousands across the country right now, Alejandra is convinced they’ll decide to negotiate rather than face a public relations nightmare.

Click here to help Alejandra save her family home, and tell PNC Bank not to penalize the Cruzes for a mistake of its own doing.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

Tim and the Change.org team

Healing Loan For Three-Year-Old

From FINCA Newsletter.

When Her Daughter Became Ill, FINCA Made a Difference.

Wendy Yesenia Molina de Recinos and her husband thought life couldn’t be going any better. They had a beautiful, three-year-old little girl. Wendy was in her third year at university in Santa Ana, El Salvador, and her husband’s income was enough to keep the family in good stead.

But then their beautiful daughter fell terribly ill with a kidney disorder. Even as the doctors treated her, her condition worsened, and it was soon discovered that she had an intestinal tumor. Wendy knew she had to withdraw from university and give all of her attention to caring for her little girl.

It wasn’t long before the expenses for medicine were overwhelming, and Wendy knew she needed to help with the family income. A neighbor told her about Grupo Comunal Argentina and the loans that she could receive from FINCA. Her neighbors rallied around her, and she was quickly accepted as a new member of the group and received her first loan. Wendy invested the money she received in shoes to sell in the market, and it didn’t take long before she was able to add to her husband’s income, and help pay for the food, medicines and transportation that their daughter needed.

Wendy says she is grateful to FINCA and to the women of Grupo Comunal Argentina who have accepted her so easily into their group. She continues to work hard every day to do everything she can to help her daughter’s recovery.

Wendy’s most recent loan was funded through FINCA Lend A Hand. To learn more about how you can give a little and change a lot, go to www.LendAHand.FINCA.org

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