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Posts tagged ‘USA’

32 Recipes for Joy

51jMFwLXU2LFinding Joy Around the World by Kari Joys MS.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Join the author, and people from around the world, as they describe what joy means to them, and how they came to find it. Kari Joys, “While happiness is often defined as the experience of well-being, satisfaction or pleasure in your life, joy includes those characteristics, but it also brings with it the qualities of spirituality, higher consciousness and true delight.”

Most all of those in Finding Joy Around the World have dealt with some kind of loss, trauma, or difficult situation in their lives (death, poverty, abuse, loss, etc.), and all of them share their story. Whatever they have lived through, or had happen, did not prevent them from still finding joy in their lives. In fact, many felt that their hardships are what helped them search for joy, and try to find some kind of meaning in life. Here is what some of the thirty-two people interviewed had to say:

Santosh Sagara (Nepal) – “Joy means mindfulness and peace within.”
Gede Prama (Indonesia) – Read and meditated to find joy.
Deb Scott (USA) – Experiences joy through prayer and volunteering.
Barasa Mayari (Kenya) – “Trust in God has been the anchor.”
Sylvester Anderson (USA) – “Never give up on yourself.”
Jayne Spenceley (England) – “Feeling expansive from the inside out.”
Hanneke van den Berg (Netherlands) – “Connections with myself and others.”
Sakatar Singh (India) – “Read good books and make friends.”
Ashleigh Burnet (Canada) – Believes meditation is instrumental.
Gimba A. (Nigeria) – Gets joy when he can “care for my children.”
Eugenie Areve (France) – “Love ourselves unconditionally.”
Bill Zhang (China) – “A state of feeling ‘good enough'”.
Marcia Conduru (Brazil) – “We are more than our ego.”

Ms. Joys noticed some common threads which ran through the responses from all those she contacted (or who contacted her). They are provided in a list of ten traits at the end. Some of the conclusions are that joy is experienced in the present moment; gratitude is a big component; it grows out of compassion for others; when noticing beauty of nature; and there is often a connection to the “divine”, or something greater than ourselves.

Many of the responses in this work remind me of my book Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call, which is a compilation of interviews I did with fifteen people who had someone die, and then decided to help others in some way as a result. Some are well known, and others not so. This was written before the internet, so I did all the interviews in person across the USA and Israel.

Finding Joy Around the World is an inspiring mix of tales and observations, from a variety of people around the globe. Ms. Joys asks all the right questions, and lets the kind people who responded answer in their own words. Each person’s story begins with a quote from a famous writer, or person, which corresponds perfectly. Thus, Joseph Campbell is quoted before one of the participants shares their understanding and experience of joy. “Find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.”

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The Truth of Fiction

If you read the story, Loving Annalise, without any knowledge of where the characters or events came from, it would appear to be an intriguing and loving romance that was complete fiction. In fact, it is taken from real life experiences of a friend from Austria, who married two brothers (not at the same time).

The old adage that truth is stranger than fiction, is so often true, that it is no longer a cliche. Anything one can think of happening in someone’s life, probably has, is, or will take place. When they all come together, with some perspective and distance, these experiences can also make a great story.

When I first heard a few of the details from my friend’s life, about growing up on a farm in Austria, going to nursing school in Vienna, falling for an abusive man, then later realizing she was in love with his brother, it sounded like a movie. When I asked if she would sit with me for a few afternoons and tell me the entire story, and she said yes, I was surprised and delighted.

The result of her sharing her life resulted in Loving Annalise. It is more than a simple, or even complicated romance, and includes childhood mishaps, coming-of-age, family drama, first loves, big city expectations, erotic encounters, suspense, blackmail, and redemption. The majority of the story takes place in Austria, and Western Europe, with the climax coming home to The States.

If there was ever an example of a life that reads as fiction, Loving Annalise fits the bill, and goes straight to the heart.

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Amazing Activists

Amazing Activists

Amnesty activists are amazing. And to prove it, we wanted to send you an update on three victories your activism helped us win:

victory-925-3Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience Nasrin Sotoudeh released from prison in Iran! Nasrin, a human rights lawyer, was arrested 3 years ago and sentenced to prison for defending political activists and juveniles facing the death penalty. Amnesty activists took on her case and never gave up on her. Last week she was released and reunited with her family. Welcome home, Nasrin!

victory-925-120-year victory: USA signs historic treaty to end irresponsible arms sales around the world — In April, when the Arms Trade Treaty was adopted at the UN, we pledged that we would demand that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress sign and ratify this landmark treaty to end the unscrupulous trade in deadly weapons used by dictators, war lords and criminal gangs to commit atrocities. Today, we are one step closer: Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty this morning. This is the result of decades of dedicated activism from Amnesty members — your work paid off!

victory-925-2Amnesty welcomes a new leader — It’s Steven W Hawkins’ first day as Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director. Steven brings a deep commitment to social justice and grassroots organizing. He chose to come to Amnesty because of you — a vibrant movement of individuals committed to creating a world in which everyone can enjoy all of their human rights. Follow Steven on Twitter @StevenWHawkins!

Thanks for your continued dedication to making the world a better place.

In solidarity,

Cammie Croft
Chief Digital and Communications Officer
Amnesty International USA

Keep The Light Burning

Dear Gabriel,

ye2012_generic_rcWhen Amnesty founder Peter Benenson published his “Appeal for Amnesty” in 1961, little did he know he lit the fuse of a human rights revolution.

It was as if people were waiting for this signal.

Fast-forward to today and it is hard to believe the scale of the transformations that followed. Women’s rights, children’s rights, indigenous rights, workers’ rights, the rights of disabled persons – all of these have been strengthened by international standards and in the public consciousness.

Each of these human rights achievements sprang from the ideals and efforts of a movement powered by people like you.

When you support Amnesty International USA, you are a part of this heroic history. If you give right now, your gift will unlock matching funds – but only until Dec. 31.

When Peter lit the first Amnesty candle, he was reminded of the words of a 16th-century man who faced persecution with these words (paraphrasing), “We have today lit such a candle as shall never be put out.”

We free the unjustly imprisoned.
1966, 1,000 prisoners of conscience released since founding

We are recognized for our groundbreaking work.
1977, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for work to secure freedom and justice

We break the chains of oppression.
1986, Members write to 10,000 people of influence around the world urging them to pressure the South African government to end human rights abuses under apartheid

We elevate human rights.
1993, After intense lobbying, United Nations establishes UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

We turn torturers into outlaws.
2002, International Criminal Court treaty enters into force after years of lobbying

We defend the defenders.
2010, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is finally set free after spending some 15 years under house arrest
For 50 years, supporters like you never let Peter’s light fade. Today we are three million members strong and growing with each human rights success.

I am so proud of what Amnesty has become, and so hopeful for what it can be.

To unleash the extraordinary achievements of tomorrow, we need your investment in this movement today. I urge you to take advantage of our matching gift challenge before it ends on Dec. 31.

LIGHT THE WAY: Donate to Amnesty today.

Together we can deliver hope for humanity.

Frank Jannuzi
CHIEF ADVOCACY OFFICER
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Arctic Death March

Gabriel-

Instead of seeing warning signs, big oil and the government are seeing dollar signs in the melting Arctic.

There’s still time to stop the drilling, but we need 1,635 supporters from California to raise $100,000 by our December 31 deadline to make it happen.

Can you chip in to help save polar bear cubs from starvation?

A polar bear cub struggles to keep up with its mom. She’s searching for sea ice to hunt for food, but the swim is too far. The cub doesn’t make it. It was a common story this year in the Arctic.

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Soon there might be nowhere left to swim. This year Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level in recorded history and if current trends continue there could be no summer sea ice at all in the next decade.

But instead of seeing warning signs in the melting ice, big oil and the government are seeing dollar signs. Shell has been given permits to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic. If we burn the oil under the Arctic, it will spell the end for the polar bear.

Please make a year-end gift right now and help us raise $100,000 by midnight December 31 to save polar bear cubs from a melting Arctic. We need just 1,635 donors from California to make this happen.

We have to stop the drilling before it’s too late.

Shell’s plans have already been put on hold until next year thanks to Mother Nature, the company’s own incompetence and the success of our global campaign. Now is our opportunity to make sure they don’t get the chance to go back.

In the last week alone we’ve flooded the White House with over 50,000 messages asking President Obama to suspend Shell’s drilling permits and call a ‘timeout’ on Arctic drilling. Now we need your financial support to ramp up our campaign around the world calling for the creation of a global sanctuary in the high Arctic.

We’re running a worldwide campaign to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole off limits to industrialization. And this spring we’ll be leading an expedition to the North Pole and planting a ‘Flag for the Future’ there. The flag will send a message of peace, hope and global community and will be designed by the world’s youth as part of an international competition. A stark contrast to the flags planted by nation states fighting over the exploitation of resources.

We’ll also be taking a time capsule to the North Pole containing the names of the over two million people who added their name to our Arctic Scroll. Once there, we will lower it four kilometers beneath the ice and plant it on the seabed as a symbol for all humanity.

None of this is possible without your support. Please make a year-end gift today to help save polar bears cubs once and for all, protect the environment and ensure that we reach our goal of $100,000 by December 31.

Greenpeace is completely independent. We don’t take a dime from corporations or governments. That means we can do whatever is needed to protect the environment. It also means we completely rely on donors like you making a gift today to support all of our campaigns.

Thanks for all you do,

Philip Radford
Greenpeace USA Executive Director

Community Solar Power

From TriplePundit
by Andrew Burger
7 August 2012

Community-Owned Solar Power on the Rise in the U.S.

Conditions are right for growth in community-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. With more than 1-MW of community-owned solar garden projects in development and a pipeline of an expected 5-MW more this year, Martifer Solar USA and the Clean Energy Collective intend to capitalize on the improving situation.

The two partners are leveraging their respective strengths in the U.S. solar power sector to bring an increasing amount of local, community-owned solar power capacity online – Los Angeles-based multinational Martifer Solar USA in PV manufacturing and systems installation and Clean Energy Collective in community-based renewable power project development.

“With demonstrated success in Colorado and net metering legislation on the table in California, now is the time for community owned solar,” Martifer CEO Raffi Agopian stated in a press release.

Unique partnership model

A pioneer in the field, Clean Energy Collective (CEC) has developed an innovative business model and technology for developing community-based clean, renewable power generation. Partnering with solar PV manufacturing and installation companies such as Martifer Solar USA, it develops large-scale solar and renewable power facilities that are “collectively owned by participating power utility customers.”

A core aspect of such efforts is CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeter system, which “automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems, enabling all utility customers to easily have clean, renewable power credited directly on their monthly utility bills without modifying their home or office,” CEC explains.

Colorado a hotspot for community-owned solar power
Colorado’s been a hotspot for CEC and Martifer Solar USA’s solar gardens. The two worked together in 2011 to build the 858-kW Garfield County Airport Solar Array – the largest PV installation of its kind in the U.S. when it was completed. The project also garnered national recognition when it won the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) “2012 Photovoltaic Project of Distinction Award.”

Despite their optimistic outlook, CEC and Martifer Solar USA recognize the challenges related to developing community-owned solar PV installations in the US. That’s where their partnership really yields dividends, Spencer explained.

“We invested heavily in the development of the solar garden concept, but someone has to execute. Martifer Solar USA has done so in the past and achieved the results we wanted; we are pleased to enter into new contracts with them this year, and see many more on the horizon.”

Read complete article at TriplePundit.

Chen Guangcheng and China

Dear Gabriel,

Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, escaped house arrest in Shandong province last week — but his future remains uncertain.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is underway in Beijing now. Urge leaders to respect Chen’s human rights and allow him to choose his own future.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was imprisoned and then subjected to violence and house arrest for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in China, made a daring, Houdini-like escape to the U.S. embassy. Following delicate negotiations with the United States, Chinese officials pledged to allow Chen to live a “normal life” with his family, and he initially agreed to return home.

Does this sound “normal” to you?

“I don’t know what’s happened to my mother. There are guards inside the yard, in all the rooms, even on the roof. They’ve set up lots of cameras in my home and are preparing electric fences. They told my family they’d take wooden sticks and beat my family to death, so it’s very unsafe.”

-Chen Guangcheng, in an interview with NPRi
In recent hours, Chen has expressed a desire to leave China, fearing that he and his family can never enjoy freedom under the current system.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is representing the United States in China today. Her presence can provide the pressure we need to ensure Chen’s safety. The world is watching. Let Chen choose his own future.

Sincerely,

Frank Jannuzi
Director, Washington Office
Amnesty International USA

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