Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Wishes for Peace, Health and Happiness

2010 started with a bang and opened many doors to new relationships.I worked on multiple media projects throughout the year and have had the good fortune to collaborate with passionate allies along the way.  Let's continue to join together to advocate for a better society with greater equity for all people. Thank you for taking part in my journey to tell visual stories of hope and inspiration.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boutique Owner Grows Small Business by Using Social Media and Cause Marketing

Carla Gizzi knows her business. She's had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn't disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business. 

Real Stories. Real People. Webisode by Lori H. Ersolmaz

Friday, November 05, 2010


Find out where the Reentry Film Series was screened or on TV.


Ojore Lutalo | Art of Struggle Exhibit and Lecture

Voices of Hope Productions sponsored an art exhibit and lecture with activist Bonnie Kerness and ex-political prisoner Ojore Lutalo. Both kept the audience in "shock and awe" with stories of Ojore's experiences while held in solitary confinement for over 22 years in New Jersey State Prison. Bonnie explained that when Ojore first contacted her she had no concept of the conditions of, or how many people were tortured in control (isolation) units. Bonnie went on to say that while people in the US and the rest of "the world were shocked by what happened in Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo Bay, 2.5 million prisoners, families, lawyers, and activists understood this was business as usual." 


Look for scenes of Ojore's Art Exhibit and Lecture in an upcoming segment on NJN's Due Process starting November 21, 2010.

Ojore said that he experienced some of the same tactics and torture that terrorists or prisoners of war experience due to his personal and ideological belief system. He was placed in prison to break his mind and spirit, and to neutralize his radical and anarchist ideas. For instance he believes that "people have the capacity to govern themselves through the process of consensus." A good-looking and mild mannered man, when asked if he felt any sense of freedom, Ojore simply remarked, "I've never experienced freedom in America, and I don't think anyone who is black has either." 

Ojore will be featured in an upcoming episode of New Jersey Network's Due Process that will air on November 21 at 9:30 AM and 6:30 PM, and again on November 23 at 11:30 PM. During that week, the episode will also stream on
their website at Click here for channel listings for the various cable and satellite providers. 

An incredible list of companies that hire people who were formerly incarcerated.

A word about Healing Justice: Transformed Lives
"Wow how awesome!!!!! There is hope. My brother-in-law was incarcerated for over 21 for a crime that he didn't commit. He has been home with us for nearly 4 years. He has friends that are now coming home and they have no family and no where to go. Some friends got together to purchase a building to house them in while the get on their feet. I believe that people can change if the are willing to do the hard work. Healing Justice: Transformed Lives really drove this home for me. Great job! I will pass this one."

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Do You Know About Clean Water?

Did you know that nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes a litany of struggles, diseases and even death?

Here are some of the FACTS:

African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.

Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.

In July, to address the water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right over. But we are far from implementing solutions to secure basic access to safe drinking water.

The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.

What are the SOLUTIONS?

Building Wells: Organizations like and charity: water are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world.

Conservation Starts at Home: The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. Find out how much you use and challenge your readers to do that same.

Keeping Rivers Clean: We can all take small steps to help keep pollution out of our rivers and streams, like correctly disposing of household wastes.

Drop the Bottle: Communities around the world are taking steps to reduce water bottle waste by eliminating bottled water.
Consider contributing directly to clean water projects abroad. Our partners charity: water and are both working to bring clean water to communities around the world. A donation of as little as $25 to can give one person clean water for life.

Let's work together to make sure every human being on the planet has access to clean water.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

TODAY | The Art of Struggle

TODAY | Saturday,
October 9th, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Art Exhibit and Lecture
The Art of Struggle
Sponsored by Voices of Hope Productions

United States Political Prisoner, Ojore Luttalo’s Art reflects the subterfuge of solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit for 22 years. Bonnie Kerness is a humanitarian on the front line as coordinator of the Prison Watch Project, on behalf of political prisoners for over 30 years. Luttalo’s art is a collection of ideas enhanced by gripping images that brings light to an unforgiving prison system that uses isolation and torture to maim and destroy political prisoners.

Ojore was interned in this unit in an effort to break his mind and neutralize his radical political beliefs stemming from the Black Liberation Movements of the 1970’s. Ojore is a political anarchist believing that people have the capacity to govern themselves through the process of consensus. Ojore, and other political radicals in US prisons have evidence of ongoing government surveillance.

His release from this documented torture was ordered in 2009 via a court order. Ojore’s freedom was interrupted last January 26 when he was “disappeared” from an Amtrak train, arrested and charged with “endangering public transportation”. All of those charges were dropped. His story is the story of how the US uses psychological and physical torture for political reasons.

Ojore’s story is embedded in a report submitted to the United Nations Universal Periodic R
eview Working Committee which is due to review US political repression and the existence of US political prisoners this November.

Bonnie Kerness, Human Rights Activist
Bonnie Kerness has been an anti-racist activist since she was 14, working at the University Settlement House as a volunteer on issues of housing, neighborhood and gangs. In 1961, at the age of 19, she moved to Tennessee to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. In Memphis she was trained as a community organizer by the NAACP. She continued her work and training at Highlander Training School in Knoxville, where organizers from throughout the Civil Rights movement met for training and brainstorming. Bonnie moved back North in 1970 and became active with welfare rights, tenants rights and anti-war issues.

Bonnie gained her Masters in Social Work and has served as a human rights advocate on behalf of prisoners since 1975, working as coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s re-entry services project for over 15 years. She currently serves as coordinator of AFSC’s Prison Watch Project, which has had the use of isolation and devices of torture in US prisons as a primary focus. She has served as Associate Director and Acting Director of the AFSC Criminal Justice Program in Newark and the National Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons.

She has helped publish, “Our Children’s House”; “Torture in US
Prisons – Evidence of US Human Rights Violations;" and “The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons and Devices of Torture”, the "Survivor’s Manual" and ”Inalienable Rights”. Bonnie speaks widely on behalf of men, women and children in prison about US human rights violations of the UN Convention Against Torture. She has been quoted in articles, books and other publications on prison related subjects.

Come meet the artist, Ojore Luttalo and hear from human rights activist extraordinaire, Bonnie Kerness about how torture and isolation continues to be used in New Jersey and throughout the United States.

The Art Exhibit and Lecture will be held from 3pm - 5pm
at Frank Talk Art, Bistro and Books, 163 Shrewsbury Avenue,
Red Bank, NJ.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Voices of Hope UPDATE: Busy, Busy, Busy!

The past month has been quite busy with a host of Reentry Film Series broadcasts and distribution:

September 28, 2010 | Frank Talk with Host Gilda Rogers
Second run on Comcast and Verizon Cable- Monmouth County

September 14, 2010 | WGLS-FM Radio 89.7
Interview on Dr. Candace Kelley's League of the Extraordinary
Listen to the Podcast

September 10, 2010 | Faces and Voices of Recovery
Reentry Film Series mentioned as a resource in their bimonthly e-Newsletter. Several people contacted me nationally to use the films to engage people in their states.

September 7, 2010 | Frank Talk with Host Gilda Rogers - 26 minutes
First run on Comcast and Verizon Cable- Monmouth County

August 26, 2010 | Greater Camden County Renaissance Group

There are several public access stations across the state who plan to run the series, and I will keep you updated about where they will run. Princeton Community TV has committed to showing all three films and can be viewed on cable channel 30 throughout Princeton Township and Princeton Borough on the Comcast cable system and on channel 45 of Verizon’s FiOS system.


October 2, 2010 | NCADD-NJ screened Healing Justice: Transformed Lives for the new class of Advocacy Leaders.

The Reentry Series Screening Guide and Advocacy Toolkit are now ready! To host a film screening in your community Simply go online now and apply for your free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Please provide a link to the films on your website, facebook, twitter, or linked-in pages. I'll be happy to help facilitate the link exchange so that more people can be educated about the issues of reentry.

Art Exhibit and Lecture
The Art of Struggle
Sponsored by Voices of Hope Productions
Saturday, October 9th
3:00 - 5:00

United States Political Prisoner, Ojore Luttalo’s art reflects the subterfuge of solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit for 22 years. Bonnie Kerness is a humanitarian on the front line as coordinator of the Prison Watch Project, when it comes to working on behalf of political prisoners.

Luttalo’s art is a collection of ideas enhanced by gripping images that brings light to an unforgiving prison system that aims to maim and destroy political prisoners.

Luttalo’s work is a captivating collage exhibit that reminds us that the freedom of expression, otherwise known as art, is limitless. Come meet the artist, Ojore and hear from activist extraordinaire, Bonnie Kerness about how torture is used in New Jersey and throughout the United States. Art exhibit and lecture will be held at Frank Talk Art, Bistro and Books, 163 Shrewsbury Avenue, Red Bank, NJ.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Say YES To Clean Energy

This short video was developed to emphasize the need for clean and renewable energy and was produced by Voices of Hope Productions for Clean Ocean Action. New Jersey residents, nonprofit organizations including the Alaska Wilderness League, Edison Wetlands Association, Environment New Jersey, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and elected officials joined together to create the largest global gathering against offshore drilling as part of an international "Hands Across the Sand" day of action. However, as Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson stated "This event has to be more than a one day event, it has to be about each and every one of us going home to our lives and making a proactive change in our energy use and how we affect the environment. We are all at fault for the great destruction of the Gulf and we must be part of the solution."

Monday, September 06, 2010

VOICES OF HOPE Reentry Film Series Interview to Run on Public Access TV

On Tuesday, September 7th a 26 minute segment about the recently launched Reentry Films Series will run at 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. on Channel 21 on Comcast Cable and Channel 46 on Verizon FIOS in Monmouth County.

I was interviewed last month by Gilda Rogers of Frank Talk and had an opportunity to discuss the challenges and possibilities facing formerly incarcerated people. The segment includes excerpts from the film series, and we also spoke in detail about the historic reentry legislation that passed early this year, as well as public policy issues that still need to be addressed.

American Friends Service Committee and Voices of Hope Productions launched the Re-Entry Film Series last month in Newark at the Paul Robeson Center where over 90 people came together to see the films and discussed how to spark discussion in communities throughout New Jersey.
The Reentry Film Series is also available online and a comprehensive Film Series Guide and Advocacy Toolkit is near completion. The Toolkit will also include reentry links and resources which are already available online.

Continue to check back for updated information on the Voices of Hope and American Friends Service Committee website.

To host a film screening in your community contact Voices of Hope Productions ( for a free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Voices of Hope Productions, LLC is a woman-owned multi-media production company dedicated to creative and community-based communications and documentary filmmaking as a means to educate, engage, empower and entertain while fostering leadership, citizenship and inspiration in adults and youth to make a difference in our society.

Supporting Organizations

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The July 26 reentry film screening brought over 90 people to the Paul Robeson Center at Rutgers Newark to see two new reentry films, Nowhere to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. It was great to see so many people come out to support the films. After the screening the audience discussed using the films as part of a communications strategy to engage others in understanding the issues of reentry, and through dialogue helping to solve the problems in communities throughout New Jersey.

Elizabeth Enloe, American Friends Service Committee Regional Director and I spoke with the group about the associated screening guide and advocacy toolkit and asked for feedback on ways that people could use the films in their communities.

Rafiq Saleem, who came to the screening after having been released from prison just that day said, "I appreciate programs such as this and really encourage the outside world to get more involved. I believe these films should be given to every house in the 'hood' so that the young gang members, the pregnant women—no fathers, no mother figures—they should see these films because this is a form of encouragement."

After viewing the films a survey was conducted and two thirds of the audience participated. 92% responded that the films "clearly explained the issues", and more than three quarters said the film educated them on the issues and provided them with ways to get involved.

Participants were encouraged to use the films in multiple ways. The screening guide and advocacy toolkit provide a road map for holding screenings and engaging varied audiences in grassroots solutions to reentry problems throughout the state.

The films can be used in suburban and rural areas to educate the public and help them understand how they are impacted by the costs and public safety issues associated with the revolving door of incarceration. Arthur Townes, Alumni Director from Community Education Centers (CEC) stood up after the screening and said, "I think these films create a message of hope. They can be used to inspire others and to expose a light on the issues around reentry in communities that don't necessarily see this as a problem."

Youth and adults in the prison system are a good audience for Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. Michael Jackson, Founder of Prison Nation Radio ( who was interviewed for the film stated, "Personally the thing that made me believe I could do it was when I saw someone else who had done it. Films like this about people who have been successful need to go to the people inside [prison] because once people see others saying that it can be done--that's when people can do it on their own—so that they can start their healing."

Additionally, one third of the people who participated in the survey said they were interested in hosting a screening in their community and a third said they would contact their elected officials.

A comprehensive screening guide and advocacy toolkit are in development and when complete the package will include:

• Potential Audiences/Partners
• Invitation Poster/Flyer
• Sign-in Sheets
• Event Press Release Template and Video Clip Photos
• HANDOUT: Become Involved Action Sheet
• HANDOUT: Fact Sheet/Resources
• Letter to Editor Template
• Legislative Action Sheet
• Petition
• Youtube Video
• Audience Surveys

Please share the videos widely, embed them in your websites and blogs, and create a social media buzz. Updated information will be available on the Voices of Hope website and on AFSC's website as well. To host a screening in your community email for a free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.

Thank you for your attention to this very important issue!

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Supporting Organizations

No Where to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives were made with generous funding from the New Jersey Department of State/Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Voices of Hope Productions and American Friends Service Committee with Integrity House, New Jersey Institute For Social Justice and Women Who Never Give Up, Inc.

Invite you to a

WHEN: Monday, July 26th, 2010, 4:00 to 6:00 PM

WHERE: Paul Robeson Campus Center, Rutgers University, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Newark, NJ-07102 Directions

This event will interest stakeholders committed to overcoming the challenges to reentry for formerly incarcerated persons.

Please RSVP by email: or phone 212-598-0950.

No Where to Go highlights the need for and barriers to safe, stable housing. Through testimonies of impassioned advocates and previously incarcerated individuals, this video presents the options of housing including streets, shelters, transitional living facilities, family homes, and permanent supportive housing. As formally incarcerated people are often challenged by issues of addiction, mental health, and violence, the type of housing available to a person drastically impacts their ability to successfully re-enter society and realize their full potential. No Where To Go provides urgent and critical insight into how we can provide the best supportive structure possible to ensure their success.

Healing Justice: Transformed Lives gives voice to a remarkable group of formerly incarcerated men and women who have overcome extreme adversity and successfully turned their lives around upon release from prison. Many of the individuals interviewed wrestled with drug addiction, homelessness, and recidivism. Now they are advocates and role models, helping others make the difficult transition from prison to the outside world. Their stories provide a road map to others struggling to reintegrate, and as a guide to their friends, families, and allies wishing to provide critical assistance. As dire as life after prison can be, the women and men in Healing Justice: Transformed Lives offer hope and a glimpse of a better future for all those making this journey.

Copies of the videos will be distributed for individual and organizational use.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Copies of the videos will be distributed for individual and organizational use.

“Bottom line--if you don’t do something to ease up all these barriers and restrictions on people who are trying to do the right thing, that keeps kicking them back down, then public safety is going to suffer and people are going to suffer.” Michael B. Jackson, Founder/President – Prison Nation Radio


"We’re just advocating for those who want to make a change in their life, who want an opportunity." Harvey George, President/Founder – Friends of the Lifer’s Youth Corp, Inc.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

ASBURY PARK: Citizens Join Hands Against Offshore Drilling

Yesterday, Saturday June 26th, NJ residents joined together to create the largest global gathering against offshore drilling. Citizens met at the Asbury Park Boardwalk and joined hands along the shoreline as part of an international Hands Across the Sand day of action.

"Today we join in unity and solidarity with the community of the Gulf of Mexico to express outrage against the perils and horror caused by our addiction to oil and to resolve to clean up our act. Hands Across the Sand is an unprecedented global call to action. The power is within our hands: we must convince President Obama to rescind his expansion of oil drilling. We must also declare a personal war against oil—conserve energy, drive less, swear off of single-uses renewable plastics, and rally others to do the same," stated Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.

"This event has to be more than a one day event, joining hands on the beach to protect the environment. It has to be about each and every one of us going home to our lives and making a proactive change in our energy use and how we affect the environment. We are all at fault for the great destruction of the Gulf and we must be part of the solution," said Ed Johnson, Mayor of Asbury Park.

"The Gulf disaster is proof-positive that what happens in the Gulf can happen here except the destruction would be infinitely worse because the survival of our entire Atlantic coast is tied to the health of our coastal waters. Economics and environment go hand in hand, and the disaster would dwarf any minimal economic benefits gained by these short-sided wells. Today, thousands of Americans are offering a helping hand not only to our oceans, but to Americans long-term economic security," said Edison Wetlands Association Executive Director Robert Spiegel.

"Instead of just being mad as hell, we have to channel our energy to protect our oceans and our beaches," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We need to stop the drilling off our coasts and instead build a green energy economy."

The Hands Across the Sand events are aimed at steering America's energy policy away from its dependence on fossil fuels and towards clean energy. The goal is to convince leaders like President Obama to abandon offshore oil drilling and adopt policies that encourage clean energy instead.

Friday, June 25, 2010


On June 26, New Jersey residents will join the largest nationwide gathering against offshore drilling ever held.

Hands Across the Sand is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations. This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry. Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting all of the above from the devastating effects of oil drilling.

"On June 26th we will link hands for the future of America, for the environment and the economy," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We can continue failed policies of the past that have risk our coasts and our economy, or we can protect our coasts, tourism, and our economic future."

“As summer rolls into the Shore, we can’t forget that oil companies – even in light of the disaster in the Gulf – are still angling to drill off the Atlantic Coast,” said Doug O’Malley, field director for Environment New Jersey. “Across the state, the public is going to tell the President hands off our beaches and urge him to ban new off-shore drilling.”

Now is the time for America and our leaders to join hands and steer our country’s energy policy away from our dependence on fossil fuels and into the light of clean energy and renewables.

Join hands tomorrow, Saturday, June 26th at 12:00 and draw a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling.

Asbury Park, Asbury Park Boardwalk
Meg Gardner

Please meet for this location on the Asbury Park Boardwalk across the street from the Stone Pony (913 Ocean Ave). Take the Garden State Parkway South to Exit 102. Bear right off the exit ramp onto Asbury Ave and continue heading east all the way to the ocean, following the signs to Asbury Park. *When you reach the ocean, bear left onto Ocean Ave. The Stone Pony will be on your left, two blocks up at the corner of Second and Ocean; walk across the street to the boardwalk. Garden State Parkway north to Exit 100A. Bear east on Route 66 and continue heading east all the way to the ocean, following the signs to Asbury Park.
For more information go to Facebook

RSVP on Facebook:

Seaside Heights
For more information go to Facebook

What You'll Do:

Go to the beach at 11 AM in your time zone for one hour, rain or shine.

Join hands for 15 minutes at 12:00 forming lines in the sand against oil drilling in our coastal waters.

Leave only your footprints.

Hands Across The Sand was founded by Floridian Dave Rauschkolb in October of 2009. Hands Across The Sand is endorsed by national environmental organizations including Sierra Club, Audubon, Clean Ocean Action, Environment New Jersey, Surfrider, Oceana, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, Alaska Wilderness League, Ocean Conservancy, Friends of the Earth, Environment America, 350,, Center for Biological Diversity and

Thursday, June 03, 2010


BP ran ads in New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Washington Post according to Their tagline, "We will get it done. We will make this right" hardly provides a warm and fuzzy feeling about the worst U.S. environmental disaster in history. Everyone knows oil is still spewing from their pipeline and after over a month they have been unsuccessful at capping what seems like a never ending crude oil flow. Placing the new ad with the 2004 versions I posted last month add to the irony of their meaninglessness.

BP will most likely never recover from this catastrophe, which should have been prevented to begin with. Now it seems obvious that there aren't other oil companies that have a contingency plan for the problem either. If they did, they would come forward as a PR hero to fix the problem. It's quite discouraging that the public was told that oil rigs were safe because nothing had ever happened before. Beyond that, not having a plan for how to deal with a huge environmental blow like this is unconscionable. The best we have is a "unified command established to manage response operations" at Deepwater Horizon Response. Stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Live feeds from various remote vehicles (BP site)


US Coast Guard Photos

Sunday, May 23, 2010


In light of the catastrophe with British Petroleum's off shore drilling rig, and the terrible environmental issues that have been caused because of it I decided to search for an old campaign that BP ran in 2004. What stuck in my mind the most about those ads is how much BP professed to be so environmentally responsible. The print ad campaign was created by NY ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. It's just too ironic, and certainly worth remembering. I hope beyond darkness that there's light—responsibility too.

Here's the text from the "Beyond Oil" commercial:

Beyond darkness there is light.
Beyond a thorn there is a rose.
Beyond practice there is perfection.
Beyond fear; courage.
Beyond 10 seconds; nine.
Beyond danger; a thrill.
Beyond power; responsibility.
Beyond patience; Fulfillment.
Beyond crisis; a solution.
Disease; a cure.
Beyond pain; joy.
Effort; reward.
Beyond winter; summer.
Beyond darkness there is light.
Beyond petroleum; BP.

For BP, I think it's certainly time for them to think outside the barrel—and hurry it up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


On Tuesday morning, an AT&T-funded front group, Americans for Prosperity, announced a $1.4 million advertising blitz to try to convince Americans that the FCC is plotting to "take over the Internet." Last week, the FCC simply proposed to “reclassify” aspects of broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act to better advance its goals of bridging the digital divide and safeguarding the free and open Internet. But AFP is spinning this into, laughably and somewhat ironically, a “government takeover.” During yesterday’s press conference, AFP trotted out Grover Norquist, the right-wing hit man perhaps best known for threatening to “drown the government in a bathtub,” to put his stamp on their cause.

Read Full Story

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010


What were they thinking? There's plenty of data that supports the fact that diet plays a significant role in preventing cancer. So how did the fundraising team at Susan G. Komen decide that a partnership with KFC was a good fit? A KFC press release states, "KFC is joining the fight against breast cancer with a national “Buckets for the Cure™” campaign aimed at educating more women about breast health, generating support for the cause and attempting to make the single largest donation in the history of Susan G. Komen for the Cure." According to, KFC is contributing 50 cents for each "PINK" bucket sold and their goal is $8.5 million. To date they have raised over $3 million, but only have until May 9th to reach their goal.

Susan G. Komen has long been a recognized and respected brand, but they have led the organization into an ethics quagmire. Unfortunately, by adding KFC to their "Million Dollar Council Elite" the message to women is that funding is more important than women's health.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Last week was National Volunteer Week, but as far as I'm concerned volunteerism is a year-long effort. With that in mind, I found that Shirley Sagawa's offers a compelling argument about the responsibilities that nonprofit and political leaders need to take in working with individual volunteers in changing the nation's most pressing social problems. Her approach offers a refreshing nonpartisan point of view.

"Our nation faces crises in nearly every important aspect of American life—struggling students, poor health, climate change, and limited economic opportunity to name a few. Many people look to government to solve these problems. But while government has an important role, none of these problems can be solved by government alone. In fact, none can be solved without the committed efforts of the American people, taking action on their own or in concert with others.

Service is the American way to change America. Unfortunately, service—by volunteers and national service participants—is often left out of the public problem solving tool box. It is time to get serious about solving the problems that are holding us back as a nation by making it possible for ordinary citizens to play a part."

~The American Way to Change- How National Service and Volunteers Are Transforming America~

Shirley Sagawa's book, us through the stages of "powering life" transitions and describes how, through service and political activism citizens can help transform the United States. Sagawa also addresses that nonprofit organizations do not often employ strategic measures to effectively engage volunteers for compelling "citizen engagement outcomes". Sagawa goes on to explain, "Lack of civic discourse leaves citizens vulnerable to negative campaigns, and partisan polarization leaves policy progress stalled."

Ordinary citizens must be encouraged to come forward and serve. Sagawa is correct in stating that philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and political leaders need to promote and encourage community service. It's not appropriate for citizens to constantly blame government, corporations and nonprofit organizations for the nation's inequities without stepping forward to be part of the solution. Armchair activism and charitable donations are fine, but they are not the be-all-end-all for a vibrant democracy.

But, Sagawa believes that nonprofit leaders should think of volunteers as "important partners in achieving their mission". They also need to recognize and address each person's strengths, interests and motivations for serving, and respect and support them in attaining their goals. Political and nonprofit leaders should truly empower ordinary citizens to take part in problem solving and change. By promoting volunteerism and providing an outlet for intelligent and skilled individuals to take part in the nation's societal solutions human capital and public dollars can be utilized effectively as well as furthering the real characteristics of a democratic society.

Listen to an interview with Shirley Sagawa

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The subculture of Las Vegas bares all in this documentary from filmmaker David Palmer that follows avant-garde photographer Greg Friedler as he compiles the fourth and final book in his critically acclaimed “Naked” series.

In August of 2007, with no confirmed subjects nor a location at which to shoot, Friedler and Palmer embarked on a highly emotional 30 day roller coaster ride that would eventually bring together 173 naked human beings of every shape, size and walk of life. Entering a single white room with a red curtain, the participants of “Naked Las Vegas” open themselves up, baring not only their bodies, but also their souls.

Greg Friedler says he is "completely mesmorized by people, by raw humanity. What do people do for a living? How does this in some way define a person? Where does a person fit into Society? What do people dream of doing or being? What class is someone? Can we arrive at a person’s essence based solely on their raiment?"

Sunday, March 28, 2010


The March 25th edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights an effective use of new technologies like SMS mobile marketing and building projections to create a mediated environment. Nonprofit organization, Pathways to Housing in NYC uses video projection as an awareness and fundraising effort to effect change in the homeless population. Although many people just walk past homeless people on the streets of Manhattan, this projection installation forces citizens to see that there is a way they can get involved without directly interacting with homeless people on the street.

Pedestrians are asked to make a small donation via their cell phone that would be added to their mobile phone bill in a similar fashion to what was recently used to provide financial support in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. When a donation is made by a donor-pedestrian the video projection reacts to show the person who was seen sleeping at the bottom of the building get up and walk through a doorway of an apartment. The projection was set up at nine locations over a three-day period.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Marin Institute launched its second annual, nationwide anti-alcohol-advertising contest, FREE the BOWL. This year’s theme is “Free the Bowl from Big Al” (a.k.a. Big Alcohol). The contest for youth and young adults ages 10 to 25 seeks original ads 30 to 60 seconds long to counter excessive alcohol advertising. The alcohol industry watchdog launched the contest at and is using YouTube to showcase entries.

1st Place Winners

“Day after day, year after year, youth and young adults are bombarded and harmed by Big Alcohol,” stated Michael Scippa, Marin Institute advocacy director. “This year’s contest asks for help identifying “Big Al’s” many faces, especially those that encourage underage drinking. We’re challenging young filmmakers to show us what Big Al looks like, where they see Big Al, and how Big Al harms them, their friends, and families.”

Research estimates 85,000 American deaths are caused by alcohol consumption annually while economic costs exceed $220 billion. More than 10 million underage youth drink alcohol annually, while 7 million binge drink. As a result, 5,000 youth under age 21 die, while hundreds of thousands more suffer alcohol-fueled sexual assaults and other injuries.

3rd Place Winner- from New Jersey

Between 2001 and 2007, Big Alcohol (global beer, wine, and spirits companies) placed more than 2 million alcohol ads on TV. This year, foreign-based alcohol corporations will spend half a billion dollars advertising during TV sports programs alone. These programs have the largest youth ad viewing audience of any type of programming with alcohol ads. It’s no secret Big Alcohol experiences its largest overall sales increase during the two-week period surrounding the Super Bowl.

“Big Al’s ads create an environment that promotes unhealthy consumption among youth and adults,” said Scippa. “That’s why Marin Institute is excited to host as a fun channel to protest oppressive alcohol ads.”

Big Alcohol’s Influence Peddling(Federal Figures):

• Anheuser-Busch spent $3.46 million on lobbying expenditures on 13

different lobbying firms in 2008

• MillerCoors and its two parent companies (SABMiller and Molson Coors

Brewing Company) spent a combined $2.5 million on lobbying expenditures in 2008.

• From 2004-2008, Molson Coors, Miller Brewing Company, and Coors

Brewing Company contributed nearly $1.08 million in political donations

Get the facts about the big brewers

Go to Free the Bowl

The Marin Institute is an alcohol industry watchdog.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The great promise of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education was that children would grow up in integrated schools. The latest issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine shows that's just not what has happened.

Unmaking Brown
America's schools are more segregated now than they were in the late 1960s, and statistics show that the problem is getting worse. To reverse the trend, we need to radically rethink the meaning of "school choice."

The Only One
When you're the only person of color in your class, school can become a struggle between two worlds. Students in that situation are often expected to represent and explain their ethnic or racial group, and this can create a lot of stress.

Toward a More Civil Discourse
There is a pressing need to change the tenor of public debate from shouts and slurs to something more reasoned and effective. But it is difficult for teachers already burdened with standardized tests and administrative duties to find the time to craft lessons to teach civil discourse in their classrooms. To support teachers working to change the terms of our national debate, Teaching Tolerance offers a new curriculum entitled “Civil Discourse in the Classroom and Beyond.”

‘I Don’t Think I’m Biased’
Multicultural understanding and proficiency have never been more important to teachers than they are right now. Never before have we had so many young children entering schools populated by teachers who reflect neither their race, nor their language tradition, nor the communities from which they come. This growth in culturally diverse classrooms has unfortunately coincided with an “achievement gap” of historical proportions.

Get ideas for Mix it Up Lunch Day
The event is a simple call to action: take a new seat in the cafeteria. By making the move, students can cross the invisible lines of school division, meet new people and make new friends. Mix it Up at Lunch Day helps students become more comfortable interacting with different kinds of people.

Check out Tolerance Magazine's Teaching Kits for all grades (FREE)

Teaching Tolerance
c/o Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104

Friday, January 15, 2010


To Stop the Revolving Door of Recidivism, Strengthen Families and Cut Costs to Taxpayers

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Legislature passed a historic package of bills – with broad bipartisan support – that will stop the revolving door of recidivism, strengthen families and cut costs to taxpayers by preparing incarcerated individuals for work and removing barriers to work after they are released from prison. The bills have been sent to Governor Corzine for his signature into law.

The sponsor of the three bills (A4197/S1347, A4202/S11, and A4201/S502), Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer), partnered with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and its Second Chance Campaign of New Jersey to convene a year-long series of ‘Counting the Costs’ public hearings to create the legislation, which The New York Times called, “a model for the rest of the nation.” The Institute has been the state leader on these issues since 2002, when it convened the New Jersey Reentry Roundtable, which provided policymakers and practitioners with a comprehensive blueprint of reforms designed to enhance public safety and save taxpayer dollars.

“After a certain point, the public can’t sustain throwing money at a problem and failing all the while talking about being tough on crime,” says Cornell William Brooks, Executive Director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “The best way to be tough on crime is to reduce it – this historic legislation is tough on crime because it will do just that: reduce it. We do not have lives or tax dollars to waste. Equipping ex-offenders to become responsible citizens, productive workers, and taxpayers means not only safety but savings.”

“Those who violate our laws will still serve their time – that will not change under these new laws,” says Assembly Majority Leader Watson Coleman. “But the way they serve prison time will change as they will be prepared to reenter society as productive citizens, which will save lives and taxpayer dollars.” Highlights of the bill provisions include:

Strengthening Women and Families Act (A4197/S1347)

• Lifts the ban on food stamps and TANF benefits for individuals with felony drug convictions who have dependent children, which will leverage federal funding, saving state dollars, to support families as well as provide federal dollars to support treatment to keep addicts off drugs, away from crime, and from returning to prison.

• Establishes a commission to strengthen bonds between incarcerated parents and their children.

• Encourages incarcerated individuals to be placed in facilities as close as possible to family.

Education and Rehabilitation Act (A4202/S11)

• Requires the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) to ensure that incarcerated individuals attain the 12th-grade education proficiency level.

• Reviews vocational programs in order to meet demand job skills and standards.

• Places all incarcerated individuals with less than two years before release in community corrections.

Reduction of Recidivism Act (A4201/S502)

• Provides individuals leaving prison with written notification of fines, outstanding warrants, voting rights, and expungement options; a government-issued ID card; birth certificate; a list of prison programs participated in; medical records; Social Security card; medication; a one-day bus or rail pass; and a rap sheet.

• Eliminates the post-release Medicaid enrollment gap.

• Requires the NJDOC to report to the Governor and Legislature on the results of recidivism-reducing measures.

Read News Stories:

By Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau
January 11, 2010, 6:44PM

TRENTON -- Lawmakers approved today three bills aimed at reducing the number of former inmates returning to prison. The legislation (A4202 and A4197) would allow ex-offenders to receive welfare benefits and require most inmates to receive job training and high school educations while behind bars. The third bill (A4201) would ensure inmates receive copies of personal documents like birth certificates upon release.


By Sharon Adarlo/The Star-Ledger
January 10, 2010, 5:05PM

TRENTON -- Arthur Townes robbed people to feed his drug habit and landed in prison as a result. While incarcerated, he received counseling and job training that helped him turn his life around. Now Townes and other ex-inmates are encouraging the state Legislature to approve a package of bills tomorrow that would create and expand similar counseling and job training programs to help others and reduce the recidivism rate. See Arthur Townes in Voices of Hope Productions Video on reentry.