Friday, January 22, 2010

Oxfam Action Corps recruiting for 2010-2011

On behalf of Oxfam Action Corps, the activist arm of Oxfam America, I am posting the following volunteer opportunity message. Oxfam is one of the leading non-profit organizations in the world and is a key player right now in Haiti as well.
Volunteer opportunity: Oxfam Action Corps organizer
Apply by February 15, 2010

Stand up to poverty and climate change – Join the Oxfam Action Corps!

Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, invites you to join the Oxfam Action Corps, an exciting effort to cultivate grassroots leaders working to enact solutions to poverty and climate change!

The Oxfam Action Corps is a group of dedicated volunteer organizers in more than a dozen US cities who campaign with Oxfam in their towns, engage their elected officials, and reach out to community members at events and concerts. Anyone can join, but those willing to make a time commitment of one-year become eligible for a free Oxfam training in advocacy and organizing in Washington DC.

This year, Oxfam Action Corps organizers will mobilize around one of the greatest challenges of our time: climate change and its impact on the world’s poorest communities.

Apply online at:
The deadline to apply is Monday, February 15, 2010.

Oxfam Action Corps teams will be formed in the following cities:

• Albuquerque, NM
• Austin, TX
• Boston, MA
• Burlington, VT
• Chicago, IL
• Columbus, OH
• Des Moines, IA
• Indianapolis, IN
• Kansas City, MO
• Madison, WI
• Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
• New York City, NY
• Philadelphia, PA
• San Francisco, CA
• Seattle, WA

As an Oxfam Action Corps organizer you will help convene activities and inspire action—from house parties and film screenings to visits with elected officials—all with ongoing training and coaching from dedicated Oxfam staff. You and your local team will gain practical skills and leadership experience. Corps organizers commit to one year of volunteer service, giving approximately 5-8 hours/week.

Oxfam Action Corps organizers are eligible for selection to attend a 4-day training and day of lobbying in Washington, DC from Saturday, April 18 to Tuesday, April 21 (spaces limited). Travel and accommodation are provided.

Here is what previous Oxfam Action Corps organizers said:

“As an activist, I had done fundraising. But the Oxfam Action Corps was about public education and raising awareness, and I found people really appreciated my work.” Khadija, Mechanical Engineer, Pennsylvania.

“My work with the Oxfam Action Corps has helped immensely in building organizing and mobilization skills. It was a great way for me to start reaching out and getting to know the people in the community.” Julie, Assistant Human Resources/Office Manager, Colorado.

To sign up go to:

The deadline to apply is Monday, February 15, 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's On Your Plate? on the Discovery Planet Green Channel

If you've read any of my earlier posts about "What's On Your Plate" you know how important a film it is. Fortunately, the film will be shown soon on Discovery's Planet Green Channel. I received a message from WOYP staff asking me to post some information about how to view it. So here it is!

Catch What's on Your Plate?, the documentary about kids and food politics, on national TV this February 7th, 2010!

Join families across the country for a Family Cook-In! on Sunday, February 7th and spend an afternoon learning with your kids about food - what it's made of, where it come from and how to enjoy every bite.

First, download our Screening Toolkit. It has all the stuff you need to have a fun and delicious Family Cook-In!
Second, watch What's on Your Plate? at 2:00 p.m. on Discovery's Planet Green. (Go to to find your local channel).
Third, check out the games and activities in our Screening Toolkit.
Fourth, cook and eat together! Get everyone in the kitchen chopping, stirring, pouring and baking. Then sit down together for some fresh and yummy home-cooked food.

Think food justice is too tricky for kids? Think again.

What's On Your Plate? proves that not only can kids understand the issues, they can actually teach other kids about how they are what they eat.

The film follows two eleven-year-old multi-racial city kids as they explore their place in the food chain. Sadie and Safiyah take a close look at food systems in New York City and its surrounding areas. With the camera as their companion, the girl guides talk to each other, food activists, farmers, new friends, storekeepers, their families, and the viewer, in their quest to understand what’s on all of our plates.

According to Michael Pollan: ""What's On Your Plate?" is exactly the film we need now."

And Alice Waters says: "It was an amazing experience to hear kids talking about these issues. This movie can have a real impact on the way we think about what we’re eating."

Don't miss this chance to see this witty and provocative film on national television!
Join in the conversation on how we can change what we eat, and in the process, change our world.

Visit our website for more information on the film and how you can get involved.

Can't make the Family Cook-In! broadcast? No problem.
The film will be showing throughout the week, with additional broadcasts on:
Saturday February 6th, 2010 at 10 pm
Thursday February 11th at 11 pm
Friday February 12th at 7 am
Friday February 12th at 3 pm

Friday, January 8, 2010

Re-evaluating Obesity

I saw an open heart surgery a few weeks ago. And I never want to see another one in my life.

What the food industry has done to us is very disturbing. It's messed with people's minds and mouths. It's made our country and much of the world obese. And we can't stand for it any more.

CBS gets this message: they aired Where Americans Stand on Obesity yesterday and pointed out that the American Dietetic Association is sponsored by companies such as Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and Mars.

But luckily, the Hunger & Environmental Nutrition (HEN) Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association also gets this message. We have an ADA Corporate Relations Sponsors Review Task Force and are developing a survey that will go out to HEN members (and other registered dietitians eventually) to obtain data we can present to ADA so that this organization can start to change its practices.

This is one of the things that has to happen if we are ever to solve the obesity crisis in this country. Another thing we have to do is reexamine our practices, see if they're aligned with our morals, and most importantly rethink the questions we're asking so that we can learn from our mistakes (as Jim Wallis argues in his new book Rediscovering Values on Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street: A Moral Compass for the New Economy). And don't ever forget, everything's related: the rise in obesity and chronic disease is related to the economy - it has drastically increased the amount of money being spent in our sickcare system...billions of dollars are being spent treating chronic diseases. What did centenarians do centuries ago?? Not spend billions of dollars on a sickcare system, that's for sure.

Let's start with a few new questions, then. First off: What guidelines should we be using to determine the food we put into our bodies? In Michael Pollan's new book Food Rules, he lays out 64 simply put guidelines for what foods to eat, such as "don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food," "avoid foods you see advertised on television," and "don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk." For the reader who wants a bit more detail, check out Marion Nestle's book What to Eat.

Here's another question: What's the root cause of the obesity epidemic? My answer: agricultural policy. Corn and soy subsidies and a Farm Bill limitation on growing fruits and vegetables, supported by no other than the specialty crop growers who don't want the prices of fruits and vegetables to go down because then they will lose money. That's why I wrote an independent study paper for Marion Nestle last semester on the corn and soy subsidies. (Which, by the way, I'm going to revise and revise until it's good enough to be taken seriously by people with power. So if you want to contribute to the conversation, by all means share your thoughts with me.)

Let's do this. Growing our own food is so much better than open heart surgeries.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

some thoughts on Avatar

It's funny I saw Avatar right in the middle of my VA Spinal Cord Injury rotation (since the main character is a veteran with a spinal cord injury). It must be Eywa (the Na'vi version of Mother Earth/God).

I'm glad James Cameron made this movie. It's got a lot of really important messages, none the least ranging from the dangers of conquest, harming the planet, and not understanding the spiritual connections between a people and their ecosystem. The Na'vi tell the story of an indigenous people who are completely in touch with their land, the animals, and their ancestors. They realize there is a spiritual connection between them all and do everything they can to try and preserve it. And then Man comes in and destroys much of it.

Then back to Earth and reality. This movie represents much of what is happening to our home, on this planet. The wars, disrupting the natural balance of the ecosystem, the failure to connect with God who keeps everything in balance. I really hope this movie moves mountains and gets people to change. Change has to come from within, but just maybe it takes films like this to nudge self-awareness along. The movie makes something that is inherent to spiritual people - an interconnectedness between all things living and nonliving on Earth - and makes it tangible, so everyone can understand it. The way the Na'vi literally form a bond with the animals they guide, with the Tree of Souls, the entire "bio-botanical neural network"... if applied to humans on Earth, that is something very abstract to most people, something they cannot easily relate to.

I hope people realize the depth of meaning in Avatar, in Lord of the Rings, in the Matrix. If not, there's another movie that is equally as powerful and makes the issues crystal clear, and you don't even need to go to the movies to see it. It's called Home and is available on youtube for free. I encourage everyone to watch Home.

It's sad that it takes multi-million dollar movies (or billion dollar ones such as Avatar) to get a point across, when you can learn the same story from watching Pocahontas.

Anyway, there's already a lot of people who care about the Earth and who know we need to take charge of the precious life God has given us. Maybe we just need the political will. And as Al Gore said on Saturday Night Live (when promoting his book "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis"), if the politicians don't start listening, we may have to start planting trees in front of their houses with toy guns hanging from the branches so it looks like the trees have come to get their revenge.