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Ask EcoGirl

A syndicated eco-advice column
Written by Patricia Dines

"Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone!"

"Making it easy to be green!"

This Month's Column:

Holiday Donations:
Your Magic Wand for Planetary Change!

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Holiday Donations: Your Magic Wand for Planetary Change! 

Published in the West County Gazette
December, 2007
(c) Patricia Dines, 2007. All rights reserved.

Dear EcoGirl: I want to include green organizations in my holiday giving (and maybe get a year-end tax break too). What groups should I contribute to? Signed, Generous in Guerneville

Dear Generous: What a smart question you ask! Yes, an essential way to help stop the ecological harm happening right now is by joining with others in taking constructive community-level action.

We're lucky that many groups near and far offer ways for us to collectively take on issues such as global warming, green energy, environmental health, sustainable economics, wise land use, and more. To support this work, group members read reports, attend meetings, uncover vital truths, hash out strategies, and identify effective actions. All this is usually done with shoestring budgets and donated skills. Yet how much worse would the world be without their efforts?

Giving even a small contribution to these groups (of money or time) can make a huge difference in their ability to take actions on the community's behalf. In return, you'll likely receive unexpected rewards, including camaraderie, a chance to use your talents, and a feeling of hope at seeing positive change in the world.

So, where do you start?

(1) Identify your passionate issue(s). What world problems do you most want to impact? What crises weigh on you, breaking your heart? In what arenas would you most delight at positive change? What solutions excite you?

If you haven't found your priority topic(s) yet, look at your current life passions, talk to others about theirs', and see what ideas emerge.

(2) Find group(s) taking constructive action on those issues. Look for possibilities online, at events, and by talking with friends and experts.

(3) Explore ways you can contribute to your chosen group(s). Do they offer memberships, request donations, publish a periodical, or sell products? Do they invite volunteers or have projects you'd like to support? Consider making a New Year's resolution to give a certain amount of money or time each month to the community groups you want to see succeed. Remember, action is the best cure for despair about our planet's woes!

Note: Donations to some groups are tax-deductible, but not all. Ask each group for their designation.

A few of my local favorites

Many groups are doing great work; here are some local ones that I especially value.

Action for the earth overall. Sonoma County Conservation Action (www.conservationaction.org 571-8566), the county's largest environmental group, goes door-to-door to engage with people about key local issues. The Sierra Club (www.redwood.sierraclub.org/sonoma, 544-7651) works for the environment both locally and nationally. Membership brings you their magazine, local newsletter, outings, and more. They also sell beautiful calendars. The Sonoma County Conservation Council (www.envirocentersoco.org, 578-0595) gathers together information and groups at their Environmental Center. Greenbelt Alliance (www.greenbelt.org, 823-2665) is a powerful advocate for the Bay Area's vibrant open spaces. For inspiration, check out Daily Acts (www.daily-acts.org, 789-9664) and their Ripples Journal and Sustainability Tours.

Action on specific eco-topics. The nationally-recognized Climate Protection Campaign (www.climate protectioncampaign.org, 823-2665) is encouraging bold action to reduce Sonoma County's impact on the climate. Both the Russian Riverkeeper (www.russianriverkeeper.org, 433-1958) and Coastwalk (www.coastwalk.org, 829-6689) educate and act to protect our local waters. The Sonoma Land Trust (www.sonomalandtrust.org, 526-6930) conserves land far into the future. Even athletes can come together for the earth through OrganicAthlete (www.organicathlete.org, 360-8511).

Sustainable food and agriculture. To support small farms offering local fresh food, consider donating to the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (www.caff.org, 824-1465). Also, the Sonoma County Herb Association (www.sonomaherbs.org, 522-8500), and its Herb Exchange, encourage natural healing and sustainable herb farming, which is an ecological and economically-competitive alternative to wine monocropping.

Want more group leads? Search by category at the Bay Area Progressive Directory www.bapd.org. You can also contact the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County (www.volunteernow.org, 573-3399) for help finding volunteer opportunities that match your interests and skills.

I hope this sampling of the wonderful groups taking action inspires you to support your favorites in creating a better world for us all!

Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guide, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter.

Email your questions about going green to <EcoGirl [at] AskEcoGirl.info> for possible inclusion in future columns. View past columns at www.AskEcoGirl.info. Also contact EcoGirl for information about carrying this syndicated column in your periodical. "EcoGirl believes that everyone can be a superhero for the planet. Then she shows you how!"

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2007. All rights reserved.

Sidebar: Turn Your Trash Into Another's Treasure

This holiday season be sure to pass along what you no longer need to those who can use it. For instance, for every dollar earned at The Salvation Army store (575-7320), 83¢ "goes directly to restoring lives" in their Adult Rehabilitation Center. You can donate clothes, furniture, appliances, bikes, household goods, toys, and cars. For other places to donate items for reuse, look at the Yellow Pages under Thrift Shops and Recycling, and see www.recyclenow.org. The latter two resources also give information about discarding waste responsibly, including those now supplanted techno-toys.

- Patricia Dines


>> For web readers only, here are some more groups that you might want to consider supporting, both locally and beyond.

Overall community action. If you want to act for peace and social justice, considering supporting the Sonoma County Peace & Justice Center (www.peaceandjusticesonomaco.org, 575-8902), which educates and empowers through a newsletter, public information center, and speakers. If you want to support multiple groups at once, consider the Community Foundation Sonoma County (www.sonomacf.org, 579-4073) which pools individual contributions then gives grants to local groups. Download their annual report for more details.

Expanding our circle beyond Sonoma County, I have to mention one of my favorite organizations, Bioneers, which brings together people in many categories who care about and act for the earth, intelligently and powerfully catalyzing our ability to know what's being done and see how we can bring our power together for constructive change. www.bioneers.org

Reducing pesticide exposure. Unlike most cancer groups, Breast Cancer Action (San Francisco, www.bcaction.org, (877) 2 STOPBC) understands that true prevention is stopping toxic pollution at its source. They're independent of industrial sponsors and truly advocate for everyone's health. Pesticide Action Network (San Francisco, www.panna.org, (415) 981-1771) works worldwide to educate and stop exposure to the toxic pesticides that are tearing apart the web of life. Also Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (Oregon, www.pesticide.org, (541) 344-5044) offers valuable information and action.

News sources. You can educate yourself about eco-issues while supporting quality information sources. "E" magazine (www.emagazine.com) offers a great overview of key environmental issues and emerging solutions. Rachel's Democracy & Health News (www.rachel.org/bulletin) provides a free weekly e-letter on deeper topics not as often discussed in other periodicals.


>> After we went to press, I found these additional resources:

* Pacific Whale Foundation. For $35 you can adopt a whale or dolphin (for yourself or perhaps an ocean-loving friend), complete with an adoption certificate, ID, and creature's life history. You'll be kept informed - and help the work of the foundation in protecting the oceans and those who live within it.

* Charity takes lots of clarity www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-charity2dec02,0,7440086.story?coll=la-home-business
Give some thought to these tips on how to find the right cause and the most effective way to help. By Kathy M. Kristof, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer. December 2, 2007

> This article has links to sites for finding charities that match your interest, and getting more information about them. It suggests that you ask your employer if it will match your charitable donation, even perhaps contributing to organizations for which you volunteer your time. One interesting resource they mention is Changing the Present (www.changingthepresent.org) "a website that offers clever and colorful "gift ideas" from dozens of national and international charities in a wide range of categories, including disaster relief, public broadcasting and help for young people."

* Gifts for good: How to instill generosity and joy in your children this season, By Elisa Bosley, Delicious Living, Dec. 2007



You might also be interested in this related Ask EcoGirl column:

Greening Your Gifting

For more information on related eco-topics, see my other Ask EcoGirl columns.

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Page last updated 12/04/12