Ancestral Healing Through Our Community

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When we consciously relate to our ancestors, it can be a tremendous source of healing, guidance and companionship. It can help us to relate more positively in our communities. Making it a daily ritual to honor the people who have come and gone before us is so important for any kind of spiritual work. It opens the door to a part of ourselves we haven’t yet healed or acknowledged. Even if you do not know anything about your lineage or blood family, try to find the place inside yourself to honor those who have come before you. Honoring our ancestors includes not only our blood relatives. We can draw upon strength of anyone who has come before us to inspire or influence. Writers, artists, healers, activists, etc.

Now is the time to strengthen our bonds within our communities. When people come together with a common intention or purpose, we can make huge changes and empower one another. There are many forms of community and many ways to come together for a purpose. Find a way of connecting that works for you.

We’re in a time where the news is full of scarcity, violence and corruption. How can we make room for abundance and call in the wisdom of our ancestors? What can we do personally to support and strengthen our own community? How can we stand up for those who are not being heard? For the people who are struggling everyday just to survive and for their basic rights. For those of us who have more choices and have more options, how can we show up even more for those people whose voices aren’t heard?

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Pop-up Park Bench Shelters: Helping The Homeless

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Trying to stop the homeless from taking shelter on the street by placing strategic spikes in the ground might be absurd, but the attitude isn’t unique. (After all, forcing the homeless out of cities before major global sporting events could even be called something of a tradition.) Last year, one advertising agency decided to point out something even more absurd: The fact that people have to sleep on benches in the first place.

In 2013, Canadian firm Spring Advertising approached the RainCity Housing and Support Society, a local shelter and advocacy organization in Vancouver, with an idea for modifying bus stops and park benches. Instead of trying to discourage the homeless from sleeping on them, they’d welcome them to stay.

As a result, the creatives ran a campaign with park benches that folded out like airplane tray tables into miniature shelters. By day, one version of the benches read, “This is a bench.” But at night, the dark revealed a different message: “This is a bedroom.”

Rob Schlyecher, Spring’s co-founder and creative director, explains that the campaign was intended to draw attention to the lack of housing and mental health resources for Vancouver’s homeless population. The city has a particular problem with homelessness because it’s the one of the few areas in Canada that doesn’t freeze in the winter, he notes.

But Schlyecher also has a very realistic sense of where the campaign falls in the spectrum of housing solutions. It’s a small action, he says, part of a program the agency has run since its inception, called “strange acts of kindness.” This year, Spring is forgoing awards ceremonies and donating the money that would have been spent on travel to local charities instead.

“The advertising industry doesn’t really give a lot back to the community, and we felt like we wanted to change that,” Schleyer says. “We’re not doing very much. We’re not Mother Theresa. We just feel that when we’re not using our skills to sell products we’d like to use them to help people.”

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The Street Store: Hang Up and Help Out

The Street Store: Hang Up and Help Out

The world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free “POP-UP clothing store” for the poor, found entirely on the street and curated by you. The Street Store is a unique concept which allows people from all over Cape Town to drop off clothes and shoes that they no longer need. Then, set up in an innovative ‘on-the-street-shop’, these clothes will then be available for the homeless and disadvantaged. A store made just out of posters. It’s where you “hang up” donated clothes and drop shoes into “boxes”, and then the homeless help themselves.

To get involved and implement The Street Store in your own community, find out more at http://www.thestreetstore.org

Cultural Conditioning and the Importance of Critical Thinking

Cultural Conditioning and the Importance of Critical Thinking

A person’s culture is a collective of beliefs, methods, way of life, and social perspective which a person acquires in their mind. We’ve been conditioned since the day we were born by religion, educational systems, government, corporate advertising and media in an attempt of socialization. We make moral judgments all the time and these are largely influenced by cultural conditioning. Hasty moral judgments are deeply ingrained blocks to thinking critically, for the values upon which they are based typically are imparted very early in our lives, well before we can seriously examine them and the belief systems they spawn. Thus, before we’re mature enough to think intelligently about subjects of religion, race, sex, and politics. As a result we tend to acknowledge what supports our acquired moral value systems and to ignore or dismiss what does not. We wall ourselves off from disclosure contrary to our preconceptions, thereby purchasing security at the price of insight and understanding.

The exposure of conditioning and cultural programming in which an individual receives to form their perception then creates the parameters of their thoughts, motivations, and ultimately their behavior; essentially limiting the practice of true free will. A mind that is largely free of cultural conditioning is one which uses methods of analysis, evaluation, validation, and integration on all information being presented. This type of mind does not typically respond to events or information based solely on cultural programs, but yet seeks verification, establishment of context and evaluation of underlying influences. A free mind challenges reason, often in opposition of information at face value.

Cultural conditioning will always be apart of the foundation of an individual’s social architecture. It’s important as a community to begin to promote and instill in our future generations the values of self awareness and critical thinking in attempt to breed optimal leaders to excel and supersede the unimaginable barriers of current society. Encouraging true self assessment into the natural process of thinking is a critical component in development of one’s self. Being capable of relying less on the experts outside our ourselves, and more on the greatness within to promote the establishment of genuine independent thought and self-empowerment.

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Support Schoolyard Farms

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Help transform underutilized schoolyards into farms from now until Dec. 6th by donating to Schoolyard Farms’ Indiegogo campaign. Together we can bring back the basics of how to grow food and cook nutritious meals. In turn, we’ll nourish our kids and our communities. Schoolyard Farms is working to create farms from underused schoolyard space to feed cafeterias and educate students about healthy food-systems. Schoolyard Farms has spent the last two years laying the groundwork to make this vision a reality in Milwaukie, Oregon: They have cultivated their first three-quarter acre farm at Candy Lane Elementary, sold thousands of pounds of produce to our community, designed and taught garden-based curriculum to over 300 students, built their community’s support and a board of directors. Now they need our help to grow from a grassroots, volunteer project to a sustainable organization that can expand to other schools and make a profound impact.

Click here to make a donation before Dec. 6th.

Gettlove: Ending Homelessness in America

Gettlove is a nonprofit organization founded by Aileen Getty in 2005 in response to homelessness in the Hollywood community. Gettlove believes in cultivating an enhanced community that embraces and sustains its most vulnerable residents. Gettlove is committed to providing services through a companionship model, whereby the case manager and client navigate the complex journey out of homelessness together. The relationship that is developed along the way is an essential component of Gettlove’s ability to share in each client’s challenges and joys in continuing to maintain a home.

Gettlove further strives to be both a catalyst and a model within the community implementing and evaluating innovative practices that if effective can be replicated throughout the country. Gettlove hopes to demonstrate the power of relationships, the importance of instilling a sense of belonging in every member of the community, and the effectiveness of permanent housing. Success is not only measured by numbers, but by improvements in quality of life for clients and for the community. The sustainable, long-term well being of the individuals we serve, and the Hollywood community as a whole, is Gettlove’s mission.

Find out more at http://www.gettlove.org

Seattle’s Urban Food Forest

Beacon Food Forest is a 7-acre food forest in development adjacent to Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Washington. By the design of the project, and as the area is on public land, food in the edible forest section of the project will be available freely to those visiting the park.