Watch a great clip from Maya Shea Penn‘s Ted Women Talk in 2013 in San Francisco.
Watch a great clip from Maya Shea Penn‘s Ted Women Talk in 2013 in San Francisco.
Watch a great clip from Maya Shea Penn‘s Ted Women Talk in 2013 in San Francisco.
This 13-year-old entrepreneur is out to change the world: A Q&A with Maya Penn
Maya Penn is a tiny, vibrant force of nature. She’s an entrepreneur, philanthropist, fashion designer, animator, blogger, writer and illustrator. She runs a budding eco-friendly fashion business and a nonprofit for environmental awareness, and her mind churns constantly with new creative projects. And we should probably mention — Maya is only 13.
Maya’s story began with a humble piece of fabric she found lying around the house. She transformed that little scrap into a zebra-print headband embellished with a butterfly. She called it “Zebra Fly.” That experiment led to more handcrafted accessories, and soon, she was getting stopped on the street by admirers who wanted to know where she bought them. That was when she knew she had stumbled onto something big.
Laura Lavigne’s project, the Happiness Sprinkling Project, has really gone viral! Check out this coverage at NBC Los Angeles:
“If you’ve ever sat at a stoplight — and let’s assume that you have, at least once or twice, if you’re in possession of a driver’s license — and seen a furry, balloon-holding mascot promoting a local business or a group of kids waving “Car Wash Fundraiser” signs, you’ve likely done something people are not wont to do in traffic.
Now take that cheery moment and add dozens of students waving signs that say “Live Your Dream” and “You Rock!” and “Why Not?” Would you smile? Yes. Would you immediately search the internet upon arriving at the office to find out what the heck that was? Definitely.”
Elle Morgan, founder of the Elements of New Life Scripts, was just featured in her local paper in State College PA. Elle also won a 2013 Impact Grant from the Pollination Project due to her outstanding use of her first seed grant.
“Sometimes, a little bit goes a long way.
For State College resident Elle Morgan, it only took a $1,000 grant from The Pollination Project to help make a dream come true.
The grant enabled Morgan, an instructor at the South Hills School of Business & Technology, to set up a 36-acre nature camp called Half Moon Hollow on land she acquired in Clearfield County. The camp’s mission is to help troubled teens turn their lives around. Morgan uses the power of nature and nurture to help and heal wounded souls.
“One person can make a difference, and these projects are happening around the world,” Morgan said. “You can see projects in Kenya and South Africa and all the way to the United States. Little projects that can impact people in such great ways just makes the world a better place.”
The Pollination Project is an organization that provides startup money to eligible people who work to make the world a better place. Morgan said the organization started about a year ago, which is when she initially applied for the grant.”
Grantees, Stephanie Salisbury & Andie Kingsbury and their project, Green Olive Ministries, just received local news coverage in South Bend, Indiana.
“A group of women in Elkhart is trying to help new moms save money. Green Olive Ministries plans to teach moms struggling to make ends meet to make their own cloth diapers.
Organizers Andie Kingsbury and Stephanie Salisbury have received a $1000 grant from The Pollination Project and are running a fundraising effort through Indie GoGo.
By the end of March, they hope to start their first three month training session, where they’ll teach ten women to make their own set of cloth diapers.”
Dallas-based developer and philanthropist Ari Nessel gave away $365,000 in 2013, a thousand dollars at a time as part of the Pollination Project. The grants were given to start-up non-profit organizations and individuals who are bringing new ideas to the challenges of environmental sustainability, social justice, and community health and wellness.
KRLD’s Emily Trube spoke with Nessel and some of the people in North Texas who were recipients of the Pollination Project grants.
Undeterred by unemployment and poverty, a Kakamega County youth group has ventured into the extraction of juice from yellow potatoes.
By Alissa Hauser, Executive Director
This past year, it seems like #Giving Tuesday all of a sudden became a “thing”. I was intrigued by the sheer volume of social media posts I saw either asking for money or just passing along some inspired words about giving. #GivingTuesday organizers reported an impressive 100% rise in giving from the same day in 2012.
As a veteran fundraiser, I love seeing an inspiring and coordinated effort to encourage people to give. But I fear that nothing short of a global shift in human consciousness will actually make social change financially viable. Recently, philanthropic advisor and trend spotter, Tracy Gary, shared that despite the S&P 500 being up about 28% in 2013, philanthropic giving in the US (which typically tracks the stock market) is tragically lagging, expected to increase around 3-4% in 2013. Why, when all signs point to the end of the US economic crisis, have we spiraled into a generosity crisis?
When The Pollination Project began in July, 2012, I had considered myself a pretty financially generous person. When you bust your butt on a daily basis to raise money, you learn quickly the importance of giving it away. I’ve always given what I could, when I could. But I didn’t think I could give enough to really make a difference, or that my giving strategy was good enough to actually change anything. I wrote checks to groups I liked, or groups that my friends and family asked me to support, and hoped for the best. Back then, I thought giving was mostly a simple financial transaction with some feel-good benefits.
Now with our work at the Pollination Project, I am inundated with goodness every day. I have seen firsthand that the more attention I put on seeding the good in the world, the more gets created. Goodness magnifies when we feed it.
Just a two months ago, I started my own daily generosity practice, allocating $2 of my own personal money to be part of the $1000 that we give every day. Having a financial stake in each of the grantees has meant that they are now more to me than cool people who I get to give money to as part of my job. They are people whose work I am now tied to through this sacred bond of “green energy”.
I have finally learned that changing the world isn’t just about the money (although money helps for sure). It is about connection, relationship and—yes—it is about love. Being in a direct connection to where my donated money is going has led to me nearly doubling my own giving this year. “Being generous” has taken on a much bigger meaning to me, and my daily life is far richer because of it.
Just this week, my family started a practice of saving $1 a day in bank that was made from a used water bottle and painted by children living in the slums of Ahmedabad India. My four year old son leaps with excitement every day when it is time to put money in the colorful bottle bank- knowing that at some point we will give the money to someone who needs it. Every dollar we’ve put in that bank is filled with purpose and care. It is our daily reminder that we have enough, and that our lives are intertwined with the fate of humanity worldwide. This simple exercise is now teaching us that money can be a currency for a global conversation about connection and love.
So here’s an idea: What if, in 2014, every day in your life could be #GivingTuesday? Could you commit to a practice that makes generosity your first instinct, every day? How would you use your money to connect to the goodness in the world, and support the lives and work of others?
If you are ready to find out, email us at email@example.com and we will send you a colorful handmade bottle bank just like mine to get you started. All we ask in exchange is that you commit to your own daily generosity practice in 2014, and that you give the money to someone or something that needs it. (To learn more about the bottles and why we are doing this, click here).
Will a simple act of #dailygiving completely obliterate the American generosity crisis in 2014? Probably not. But will it change your life? You bet.
Ari Nessel, Pollination Project founder and President, makes his living as a real estate redeveloper. Check out this article in Green Source DFW about his eco-friendly and mindful approach to his “day job.”
As a devoted yoga practitioner, Ariel Nessel understands the importance of balance. As a green developer, the Dallas-real estate mogul has found a way to apply that balance to his professional life as well.
His journey began after after he became involved in the multi-family sector in 1997. When he worked on expanding a mobile home park, the need to tear down trees and impact the environment fostered a belief that his work needed to become congruent with his values. That belief led him to the practices, which now drive Nessel Development.
In the final days of 2013, we will be sharing our year-end impact grants. These additional grants were given to current grantees who have already made enormous impact with just $1,000. Each of these grantees will receive $500-$1000 in additional funding to further expand their work.
And a big thank you to ALL of our grantees for Seeding the Change in 2013.
We love you!
Caroline’s project, Shelter to Shelter, was designed to creatively bring voice and healing to survivors of domestic violence. Caroline and her partner spent the summer of 2013 conducting workshops at 11 different shelters for women who have endured domestic violence. Caroline writes:
From California to Wyoming, Kansas, Illinois, West Virginia, and Texas and beyond, my partner and I drove hundreds of miles each day, stayed in motels and campgrounds and then hosted workshops at 11 shelters in eleven states. Our hope was to reach women who are often isolated and who would be willing to share their stories of resiliency after recovering from years of abuse. Each safe house we visited provided housing, counseling, legal advocacy and education to their clients, many of whom are younger than 30. We interviewed every director and were happy to tour the facilities and learn as much as we could about their ongoing program needs.
Our healing arts workshop, Traveling Postcards, was an opportunity for every woman we met, to share her collective wisdom while also creating an intimate hand- made piece of art that became a portrait of her authentic self. The cards are beautiful and the creative process allowed for much needed healing as well as a connection to a global community of women who care about ending violence against women.
Each card created became a gift of compassion and solidarity that will be sent to another woman who lives in a shelter and will know that she is not alone. I watched over and over again as women opened their hearts and saw that their voices had value and meaning. Each woman shared her struggle and her resiliency through the creative process and was proud to finally place her finished Traveling Postcard in the symbolic suitcase that would carry her voice to the next survivor.”
With additional funds, Caroline will create and pilot a Traveling Heart “hospital bag” to survivors of sexual assault. After an attack, a woman must go through a hospital procedure or “rape kit” in order to help prosecute her attacker. This is a battery of tests and information collecting that is necessary but invasive. At the end of her procedure, a woman is often ( not always) given a Hospital Bag; a plastic bag to take home with gently used clothing, new underwear, basic toiletries. The “traveling heart” bag will be made thoughtfully without plastic, and will contain not only information about local services for sexual assault survivors, but also a traveling postcard from another survivor.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 31, 2013
Solidarity Uganda is active in Northern Uganda, primarily in Amuru District, which has fallen victim to a 100,000 acre land grab, affecting thousands of agrarian families. Through community building, non violent resistance training and providing local residents with the tools they need to resist government intimidation, Solidarity Uganda has helped to build a true citizen movement. In 2013, the technology they purchased with their Pollination Project grant helped mobilize a whole village against police intimidation. Read their story firsthand- it is truly remarkable!
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 30, 2013
Dana Mahon has a passion to support children and families through yoga and mindfulness. It is through this purpose and passion that Child’s Pose Yoga was born. Dana began building a yoga and meditation program for kids across Quadra Island to help them calm their minds, strengthen their bodies, practice wellness, play and find peace. She visited schools and launched a summer camp that was a huge success. As a result of her work, the local school is developing a “calm” room for the kids during the day, and schools in Vancouver, Canada are now requesting that Dana and Child’s Pose Yoga work with their teachers to bring yoga and mindfulness practices into their classrooms. Dana not only used Pollination Project funds to outfit her students with yoga and meditation props and supplies, but also built this wonderful new website which has helped her work expand.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 29, 2013
She explains, “Compassionate Classrooms” was a project that I from STRAW India (Stray Relief and Animal Welfare) embarked upon, on receiving a grant of $1000 from The Pollination Project.”
Vasanthi began with the Educational Board of State of Karnataka, which is an important state in the south of India. ”The outcome of this project would mean reaching out to tens of thousands of students in the whole of Karnataka and planting in them the seeds of compassion to all living things and respect for the environment.The Educational Board is an umbrella body to which thousands of Government schools are affiliated to, in the state of Karnataka and hundreds of children are a part of each of these many schools. So when a lesson in let’s say compassion towards animal get included into a text book, it means that hundreds of students would be exposed to that lesson and in turn would learn to be kind and caring to animals. And the best part is that this is would continue year after year.
“ I am the co-founder of STRAW, a small animal welfare organization based in New Delhi, the capital city of India, that focuses on outreach for animals and awareness building through humane education, an area for which donations and grants come by very rarely. The grant from the Pollination Project was therefore a big boon. If not for this grant of US$1000 from TPP, it would have been very difficult to bring “Compassionate Classrooms” into thousands of schools. In other words, US$1000.00 from The Pollination Project has made it possible for me to spread the message of compassion towards animals to thousands of students today and to millions of them, in the years to come.
Our ultimate goal is to take our “Compassionate Classrooms” to all the 35 states of India. Though India is country where vegetarianism is not uncommon and animals are literally worshipped on many occasions, one could see the rampant prevalence of cruelty towards animals. And this situation is mainly because of unawareness of treating animal more compassionately. If only people were aware that an animal feels pain just as much as we humans do, animals in India would be a happier lot.”
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 28, 2013
Elle Morgan spent her Pollination Project grant to turn a “wild and wooly” piece of land in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania (yes, in the photo, she is standing beside a composting toilet!) into a magical place where adjudicated teenage girls could come on retreat and “rewrite” the stories of their lives. In 2014, Elle will use her impact grant to expand the property to include a yoga platform and much more. Read Elle’s story in her own words.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 27, 2013
The Hummingbird Project was inspired by the belief that a coalition of individuals, each working for positive change, can have a great impact on the world. Founded by Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy, they focus on cultivating a living soil, growing healthy food and capturing renewable energy. In 2013, they spent Pollination Project funds training and supporting 900 rural farmers in India. Read their story.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 26, 2013
Raghu Makwan and the volunteers of the Tyaag Nu Tiffin project spent the last year bringing joy, food, companionship and love to a group of elders in the slums of Ahmedabad, India. His team wrote this wonderful story about Raghu and their collective practice to support the people of their community in a beautifully interconnected way.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 25, 2013
Geoporter received their first Pollination Project grant in March, 2013. Here is their inspiring year end impact report:
“Humpback whales from northern and southern migrations in the Pacific Ocean travel every winter to the breeding grounds near the equator. These humpback whales now have a breeding environment off the coast of Costa Rica that is less polluted than it was a year ago, before The Pollination Project seeded Bahia Ballena.
Bahia Ballena is a small coastal community with 3,000+ residents that has transitioned from a rural fishing village to one that brings in more than 20,000 tourists annually to see these magnificent creatures in their natural breeding grounds. Over the past year, residents of Bahia Ballena have been using GPS units and computers with GIS (computer mapping and analysis software), that were purchased with support from The Pollination Project, to improve the environment of their community and the habitat of the whales that call the ocean waters home for about four months every year.
This geospatial travel lab of four GPS units, rechargeable batteries and two computers has enabled Geoporter to train and educate community members to use these technologies to investigate their community. Over five months residents, including youth, categorized and mapped trash along the streets and beaches in town. After the 6 am Friday morning trash classification activities, key residents and leaders gathered to review the trash maps, created by residents, to examine concentrations of trash and identify new locations to place trash and recycling containers. By going door to door, residents collected enough money from ten companies and organizations in town to build and construct eight new trash and recycling centers with roofs to protect from the daily rains.
Residents know that placing these trash cans is not the final solution to eliminating trash in the streets and beaches and protecting the marine habitat, but rather there needs to be a behavioral shift in the people. With this in mind, residents and the resident Geoporter in town shared the GPS and GIS technologies with students in the local elementary school. Students learned how to use the technologies while also understanding their role in creating and eliminating trash in the streets. Using the trash map created from data collected by the students, the director of the school was recently informed that the school earned its first Blue Flag as part of the Bandera Azul program. Bandera Azul is a national program designed to recognize schools, communities, organizations that develop and implement environmentally friendly practices by balancing conservation, development and protection of natural resources.
With the new trash and recycling centers placed in the ground at the end of October, residents are now preparing for another high season of tourists and mapping the streets and beaches again to see if the new trash centers have made an impact in the amount of debris in the streets. With over 128 cm (50 in) of annual rainfall, it doesn’t take long for the trash in the streets to make the 2 km journey to the ocean and the winter breading grounds of humpback whales in Marino Ballena National Park. But trash isn’t the only thing residents are concerned about. They also want to know when the whales are arriving, where they can be spotted in the ocean and the departure dates so they can help protect the whales and their habitat. Guides and captains from different Tour Companies are using these technologies to map the daily humpback whale sightings during the different migration seasons which will help them understand the whale patterns today as well to see changes in whale numbers, location, and arrival and departure dates in the future.
Without the support of The Pollination Project, Geoporter would have been without the geospatial travel lab to take to different locations to train and educate community members to apply the technologies and carry out projects themselves. The application of these technologies has earned national news recognition with two articles being published in La Nación, one of the national newspapers in Costa Rica, about residents using GPS and GIS in to map trash and monitor whales. Residents of Bahia Ballena along with Geoporter are grateful for this support and have had the opportunity to take this travel lab to other nearby communities to share ideas and help support other communities to start learning how to use GPS and GIS. With these seed funds, Geoporter applied for and recently received its 501(c)3 status in the U.S. to continue educating communities around the world to learn to use these technologies for themselves to investigate their community and make the change they wish to see in the world.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 24, 2013
Banga Sadrack is an environmental and animal rights activist in Cameroon who has taken on the mass killing of elephants in the Bouba Njida Park in Cameroon. His story of how he spent Pollination Project funds is really a testament to what one person with a lot of passion and a lot of heart can do to change a dire situation. Read it in his words!
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 23, 2013
Vincent Atitwa’s project is to end chronic malnutrition in Western Kenya. In the past year, Atitwa has trained 25 families, providing them with potatoes vines, amaranth grain seeds, cassava cuttings and sorghum and teaching them how to grow and propagate the crops. Some of these families are now paying it forward and providing seeds to the next group of families who will be trained in farming these nutrient rich grains.
Read more of Vincent’s story of Impact in his own words.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 22, 2013
Jamila Banks founded the Youth Earth Club in Los Angeles, CA.
To date, she’s offered 20 weeks of dynamic, creative and hands-on environmental training to 60 “at risk” elementary school students- and has done it all for free! She will launch her next 20 week program in the spring, 2014.
Read about it in Jamila’s own words. (Trust us: It’s way more powerful coming from her)
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 21, 2013
Todd Lehman is an environmentalist who wanted to create a central location for science writing and environmental literacy resources. Earlier in 2013, he founded EnviroHub, an all-volunteer effort to curate materials and create an online learning space for environmental science. The team has partnered with several other Environmental websites. They also received over 170 scientific articles from the Environmental Literacy Council and as a result, EnviroHub is already one of the most comprehensive online collections of environmental science research. The Pollination Project grant will be used to expand the online platform.
“[We are working towards] a society that assesses the science behind important issues like climate change, resource use, and population dynamics and implements sustainability into it’s everyday actions,” Todd explains, “EnviroHub is a key puzzle piece in the global puzzle of sustainability.”
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 20, 2013
Evolve For Animals’ specific outreach focus targets college students and the 18-25 age niche by means of leafleting, tabling, feed-ins, film screenings, speaking engagements, and the development of original multi-media content. They host tabling events at least 8 times a year in large public settings like Times Square, Grand Central Station, and college campuses. Pollination Project funding will be used to expand their reach further in 2014.
“As an activist and school teacher, I firmly believe in the power of clear and comprehensive education to change hearts and minds, as I have seen it work time and time again,” explains Neal, “I believe everyone has the power to change themselves and the world around them.”
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 19, 2013
Madeline L’Engle once said, “If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, I will write it in a book for children.” Trista has taken that advice to heart. A mother of two, she drastically transformed her life to reduce non-essentials and live in a more simple, environmentally friendly way. She also became a children’s book author. The Mother Earth Book will be her second book.
Trista says, “I decided to write this book because I wanted to make a radical difference in the collective consciousness of our planet. We must drastically change the world on so many levels: war, poverty, global warming, rape, violence against women, sexual and other forms of slavery. The best place to start is at the beginning, where humans are the most open.”
This book contains gorgeous illustrations by Elisabeth Slettnes as well as inspiring quotes from Vandana Shiva, Alice Walker, Winona LaDuke, Jane Goodall, Raffi Cavoukian, Arundhati Roy and many more. This book is a loving tribute to Mother Earth and a call to action for children, their parents and grandparents. It will be printed soon and Pollination Project funds will be used to help bring down some of the costs of printing and make the book more financially accessible to more people. To learn more and to order a copy of the book when it is ready, visit Trista’s website.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 18, 2013
Julia Metzger-Traber and her artistic partner Davide De Lillis will be hosting a three-week intensive dance creation workshop to facilitate the youth residents of the Hanoi Vietnam Village of Friendship, a temporary home for veterans and their families all of whom are disabled or made severely ill by Agent Orange. Julia became interested in this community after translating the subtitles of the film, “Lighter Than Orange”, a documentary featuring this special village that aims to bring awareness to the effects of effects of Agent Orange.
With their promotion of human beings’ inextricable relationship to the natural world, Julia and Davide, focus on the process of learning to listen to, move in and facilitate the love for these residents unique bodies, regardless of normative shape or abilities. This process “will undoubtedly be spiritually fulfilling for the participants, as well as for the artists” says Julia, “The honest communication to the viewers, through their bodies, in the performances and video will be an eye-opening gift to the public.”
With the village excited and ready to participate, and production partnerships lined up with The University of Fine Arts, Hanoi, and the Berlin Technical College of Design, The Pollination Project is thrilled to help support this teams travel costs to get to the village.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 17, 2013
Monica Mueller and Bryn Merrell are a power duo who are passionate cinematographers, artists, social entrepreneurs, and storytellers. They are the founders of Artful Venture, an online store that empowers artisans in Ecuador and connects them to an international audience. The artisans are able to support their livelihoods while creating a personal connection between the consumer and the creator of the unique craft they purchased. A percentage of each sale will support Arte del Mundo, a non-profit in Baños, Ecuador that promotes literacy and creative expression to youth.
Monica and Bryn believe in the power of art, and through extensive research and have seen creativity and artistic expression uplift lives. Since landing in Ecuador, they have been involved in volunteering with local arts groups, and have built many important communication bridges with various media groups to spread the news of their project.
“We want to continue to uplift Ecuadorian youth through creative expression through our partnership with Arte del Mundo,” Monica explains, “to promote socially responsible consuming by creating a personal connection from the artisan’s story to the consumer.” The Pollination Project is proud to help get their retail site fully stocked and functional.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 15, 2013
As a Certified Earth Science Teacher and Geospatial Technology Expert, Alex Chaucer has seen the need to expand the traditional framework of skill sets for problem-solving by focusing on the development of foundational geographical knowledge and technology skills. To facilitate the communication of these resource skills, Alex has developed Geocreds, an innovative digital badge-based geography and GIS education site. Digital Badges is a system based on the Mozilla Open Badges initiative and provides a common platform for participants to communicate their skill level, mastery of knowledge, or having an experience in the field.
With climate change and increased environmental disasters, Alex believes we need to be fostering the next generation of critical thinkers and training them with the tools they need. “We live in a changing world and students are not getting the education they need,” Alex shares, ”I see a great need for leadership in getting our youth and professionals the right access to geography and GIS education.”
With his resume-2.0-meets-real-world-learning platform; communication and learning are inherently tied together and sculpted by his passion for the long-term success of a global community. The funds from The Pollination Project will be used for website and project development, as well as outreach.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 14, 2013
Kazu Haga is a nonviolence trainer and founder of the East Point Peace Academy in Oakland, California. East Point Peace Academy envisions a world where historic conflicts are fully reconciled and where new conflict arises solely as an opportunity for deeper growth. Where the depth of human relations are so high that it allows each individual to attain their fullest human potential. Kazu works in prisons, jails, schools and communities to build a powerful, nonviolent movement of peace warriors.
Kazu’s strength comes from his commitment to peace work since the age of 17, when he embarked on a 1.5-year journey across the US and South Asia, studying nonviolence while living in temples with a Buddhist order committed to peace and justice. He reflects “I believe that those working for peace need to have the same levels of commitment, training, strategy and discipline that the military invests into war. The military trains its leaders at WestPoint. EastPoint will serve as a counter to that.”
The funds from The Pollination Project will be used for the website and outreach. In addition to setting up programs and pen-pal systems, they hope the website can become an additional portal for communication and connection.
GRANT AWARD DATE: DECEMBER 13, 2013