Entries in Events (11)


Factivists: Factivate!

Today I particiapted in the March for Science - San Francisco as a demonstration of my commitment to protect and promote one of my highest civic values: science.

The event celebrates public discovery, understanding, and distribution of scientific knowledge as crucial to the freedom, success, health, and safety of life on this planet.  The organization is a nonpartisan group, marching in support of the following goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Diversity.

Please join me in standing up for science.

 And please be aware that we can do more than march, we can: 

  • Vote to elect representatives who will advance scientific investments, fund scientific education and research, and promote science-based policies at all levels of government.
  • Support scientific institutions and organizations financially.
  • Volunteer as a naturalist, citizen scientist, or environmental steward.
  • Advocate for scientific research in the fight against HIV/AIDS!
  • Continue to march to give voice to this important civic value. 

Together, we can build a healthier, safer, and smarter nation and society.

Here are the highlights of today's programming:


Science Saves Lives

Tomorrow, I will be taking part in the March for Science San Francisco. I support this movement as a demonstration of my commitment to protect and promote one of my highest civic values: science.

It's no coincidence that this movement is taking place on Earth Day, and most years I appreciate and applaud the awareness that the day brings to our collective conscience, as nothing unites humanity more than our planetary dependence and existence. We all depend on nature's bounty and live within her boundaries.

However, this year is different. I am serving in a new role at the National AIDS Memorial Grove and on a daily basis, I'm exposed to the importance of our health care system, the innovative scientific solutions developed to our most pressing public health concerns, and the critical need to invest in scientific knowledge for public health, safety, and national security. AIDS and other infectious diseases will only disappear if we can bridge the scientific and societal solutions that emerge from our pursuit of new knowledge. We must advance!

This year is also different for me because of the political disreagrd, devalued role, and diminished investment in science. I will not call it a "war" on science, because I feel as though there are already too many casualties literally for this "war on science" metaphor to be sensitive. It is a life-and-death matter, not a tired metaphor.  But I will say this:

Science saves lives. If we are to find a cure for AIDS; if we are to alleviate the unbearable pain and suffering of the sick; and if we are to overcome the deadly viciousness of the virus: we need science and we must speak up for scientific research. Our destiny is in our hands.

In addition to marching, here's what I pledge to do:

  • I will vote to elect representatives who will advance scientific investments, fund scientific education and research, and promote science-based policies at all levels of government.
  • I will support scientific institutions and organizations financially.
  • I will continue to volunteer as a naturalist and citizen scientist.
  • I will advocate for scientific research in the fight against HIV/AIDS!
  • I will continue to march to give voice to this important civic value.

Together, we can build a healthier, safer, and smarter nation and society.


Alcatraz Occupation Honored at Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering

Photo credit: Alison Taggart-Barone/National Park Service

The annual Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering at Alcatraz Island was held today to commemorate the 1969-1971 occupation of Alcatraz.

There are typically two such services each year on Indigenous People's Day (a reclaimation of Columbus Day) and Thanksgiving. However, this year the first observance was cancelled due to the federal government shutdown, which closed the island to all visitors. Unfortunately, it was the first time that this event was cancelled in nearly 30 years. 

Held annually since 1975, the Alcatraz ceremony honors the protest events of 1969-1971 when the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement (ARPM) occupied the island. Currently, the annual ceremony is organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts.

I've attended this ceremony every year since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004. Each year, I choose to celebrate thankful giving and refute thankless taking. While many American Indians outright protest the holiday, I prefer to take the time to focus on my own perspecitve of gratitude and giving values that are fundamentally inherent in my personal and professional work in philanthropy.

Checkout this slideshow of images from this morning that I took on my iPhone and happy holidays to all!


2012: Year of the American Indian Summer

In most years, an “Indian Summer” describes a heat wave that occurs in the autumn that occurs in the Northern Hemisphere between late September and mid-November. In 2012, however, it could be argued that “Indian Summer” now means something more similar to the “Arab Spring” uprisings that arose independently and spread across the Arab world in 2011.

The “American Indian Summer” wasn’t similar to the “Arab Spring” in that it involved expressions of violence within revolutionary conflicts, but it was similar in its effective use of new media technologies in a variety of coordinated social movements.

2012: the year the American Indian Movement effectively used digital, mobile, and social media technologies.

It’s about time.

Researchers have noted the “digital divide” – inequalities in access to information and communication technologies, as well as inequalities in the knowledge and skills needed to effectively use the information gained from connecting. No doubt, there are geographic and generational barriers to connectivity in American Indian communities, complicating social fragmentation and other disparities.

However, recent events suggest that the American Indian Movement is dramatically different in the 21st Century: it’s no longer institutional, protected by trademarks, or governed by a Grand Council.

Now, it's that and it's digital, mobile, and social. It's open source and open to all!

Take, for example, the creative mobilizing efforts of the “Save Pe’sla” movement. Artists, celebrities, tribes, and people from many other social spheres, came together to purchase the sacred site by using various digital media projects, such as this video, spread via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, most of which centered around the "Last Real Indians" website by Chase Iron Eyes.   

Or, how artist Aaron Huey raised awareness of the Lakota fight to claim the Black Hills in South Dakota, demanding that the government start Honoring the Treaties. He did so though a book, documentary filmTed Talk, mural project, and website, to name a few of his strategies.

Or even more recently, the #IdleNoMore movement in Canada has rallied behind a collection of digital, mobile, and social strategies that include a tweeted hashtag meme, flash mobs, and website – all mixed with traditional protest methods of road blocks, marches, and even a very real, human hunger strike – inspired by assertion that if "Aboriginal people did not speak out it would mean they "comply with [their] silence" on the most important issues to indigenous communities. The movement has grown to broaden the conversation, calling for treaty recognition, tribal self-determination, and policy reformation, among other important areas.

I see these movements as the product of very real contributing factors, including:

  • Policy: The 2009 passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama early in his administration.  A portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designated approximately $7.2 billion in investments to expand broadband access nationwide, improve high-speed connectivity in rural areas and public computer centers, and increase Internet capacity in schools, libraries, public safety offices, and other public buildings.
  • Philanthropy:  people today - particularly social entrepreneurs and innovators - see that the commons can be more creative and nimble than political change via government policies, or developing solutions based on markets and profit margins. The Save Pe’ Sla movement was ultimately a fundraiser, for example.
  • Technology: hardware and software have dramatically improved as our phones have become smarter, increasingly light and mobile, and easier to use. The above referenced examples provide evidence to suggest that websites and widgets are dramatically improving creative connectivity through devices that are increasingly common and relatively affordable.  For example, I learned about Aaron Huey’s Documentary Video and TedTalk from a friend at a barbecue, later watched both on YouTube on my iPad and then promptly downloaded the digital illustration he used on his mural as my new desktop wallpaper.
  • Society: it’s clear that people now see the adoption of digital, mobile, and social media technologies as standard tools in our mobilization kit. People can and do use a mix of basic mobile devices, such as Androids and iPhones, basic social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to produce basic  digital with content such as images and videos, all delivered through basic digital media platforms such as YouTube and  Flickr. We consider the insights of bloggers and “posters” of all kinds, from status updates to manifestos. You can follow the hunger strike in your news feed.

Welcome to 2013 – join me in watching what will come in the year ahead for the new American Indian Movement and the digitization, mobilization, socialization of media from indigenous communities across the globe.

I'm reminded that these recent events all began after the Return of Pté San Wi, the White Buffalo Calf Woman in July. Could these events be the dawning of the Age of Illumination, the age when mankind walks upright and once again remembers his true relationship with Creator? In the words of Black Elk, "...the yellow for the south, whencer come the summer and the power to grow.


World AIDS Day 2012

Today, as co-chair of the World AIDS Day observance, I welcomed over 800 guests, national dignitaries, and media, to honor Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi with the National Leadership Award. Through her leadership in Congress, she helped create the National AIDS Memorial and is a long-time supporter and volunteer.

"We come together today to pay tribute to all those we have lost, and all that we have held on to - our hope, our optimism, our steadfastness and our determination to continue to fight against this disease and to support those affected by it," Leader Pelosi said. "It is humbling to be honored by the National AIDS Memorial. In this beautiful city, we turned heartache into hope by establishing the Grove as a healing sanctuary, by immortalizing the fight against AIDS, and by treasuring the memories of those we have lost and of those who continue to fight." (See Nancy Pelosi's full statement here.)

Gina Gatta, a 12-year board member and longtime advocate of HIV/AIDS programs and services, received the Local Unsung Hero Award. We also awarded scholarships to college-bound students as part of our Youth Development Scholarship Program, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare.

In addition, we launched a month-long text-to-donate campaign, “A Time For Hope; A Time for Healing” with AT&T, making it possible for any mobile subscriber regardless of carrier to simply text the word “HEAL” to “501501” to make a $10.00 charitable donation to the National AIDS Memorial.

All donations to the text-to-heal campaign will support the National AIDS Memorial year-round mission to honor and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS; continue to create and maintain a permanent memorial grove located in San Francisco as a place for healing; and expand youth awareness and scholarship programs to inspire the next generation of leaders to help find a cure for the pandemic, now in its 30th year.

Please, text and donate today!

Also, checkout this video featuring today's events. You may recognize one of the speakers.


Giving Tuesday

I first heard about Giving Tuesday from Rob Reich, one of my former colleagues from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and an advisor to the group that is trying to start this philanthropic movement.

The premise is simple: Giving Tuesday is meant to sit in contrast to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and to emphasize the spirit of gratitude and generosity that are much more a part of the holiday season than is consumerism.

On Tuesday November 27, 2012 charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

I am excited to see what can come of this idea, particularly because economic gains can be directly measured from Black Friday and Cyber Monday efforts. My hope is that this day will clearly demonstrate charitable gains to the nonprofit organizations working to improve the quality of life for people and planet.

My only criticism of the effort (I know - how can you criticize giving and generousity???) is that it seems focused primarily on financial gifts. As any good philanthropist knows, generous people can give time, talent, and (or?) treasure. There doesn't seem to be a strong service component, but I imagine the counter-consumer focus is meant to be felt relative to our bank accounts, as well as our hearts.

The site is filled with ideas, ways to get involved, and resouces. Check it out - AND GIVE!


Indians Welcome

Each year on Thanksgiving, the International Indian Treaty Council presents the Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gatheringm, giving thanks to the Creator for our survival and spirit of resistance. The group is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific working for the Sovereignty and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands.

And while Thanksgiving brings to mind stories of interconnected American heritage traditions, on Alcatraz Island, I remember the American Indian Movement and its occupation of the island.

Beginning on November 20, 1969, a group of Native Americans called United Indians of All Tribes, mostly college students from San Francisco, occupied the island to protest federal policies related to American Indians.

The occupiers, who stayed on the island for nearly two years, demanded the island's facilities be adapted and new structures built for an Indian education center, ecology center and cultural center. The American Indians claimed the island by provisions of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the U.S. and the Sioux; they said the treaty promised to return all retired, abandoned or out-of-use federal lands to the Native peoples from whom it was acquired.

Occupiers then claimed Alcatraz Island by the "Right of Discovery", as indigenous peoples knew it thousands of years before any Europeans had come to North America. Begun by urban Indians of San Francisco, the occupation attracted other American Indians from across the country, including American Indian Movement (AIM) urban activists from Minneapolis.

During the occupation, which lasted the 19 months and 9 days, President Richard Nixon rescinded the Indian termination policy, designed by earlier administrations to end federal recognition of tribes and their special relationship with the US government. He established a new policy of self-determination, in part as a result of the publicity and awareness created by the occupation. The occupation ended on June 11, 1971.

In 2011, a permanent multimedia exhibit opened on Alcatraz examining the 19-month occupation. Located in the former band practice room in a cellblock in the basement, the space serves as the cultural center the American Indian occupiers requested upon their occupation. The exhibit, "We Are Still Here," features photos, videos and sound recordings. Curators of the exhibit interviewed descendants of occupation and others who participated.

As we share and enjoy the harvest on Thanksgiving, it's imporant to pay respect and think about the broader context of our blessings by paying attention to the trials and injustices of many that continue today.  These stories definitely give us food for thought, with or without the gravy.


The Return of Pté San Wi

Douglas Healey for The New York TimesThe story of the White Buffalo Calf woman is one that I have known to be one of the most poetic and prophetic in Lakota culture. I've heard and read various tellings of it, all of them describing the return of Pté San Wi, the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

Imagine my surprise learning in the New York Times that a white buffalo has been born again - an event "so rare that each birth is viewed as akin to a historic event." I'll be watching closely to see how it grows and survives, particularly since the last time this occured one year ago in Texas, the calf was "slaughtered in what some believed could be an anti-Indian hate crime."

Curious again about the story, I was able to find a number of great types of digital media versions that are freely available online.  I trust the Wikipedia entry on the story, as an open-source version of telling the story through consensus.  I also found a version from Wolf Lodge Cultural Foundation to be particularly wonderful, as the author writes that it is "As my Nakota Grandmother told us one winter solstice night in the Sweat Lodge."

In her telling of the story:

"It is told that this sign will begin with the returning of the Buffalo to the grasses of the Earth, and that at the dawning of the Fifth World, the White Buffalo Calf will return to the herds in physical form, heralding the Age of Illumination, the age when mankind walks upright and once again remembers his true relationship with Creator. It is told that we will awaken, as if from a dream, and the Earth will be reborn."

Wow. You've got to read the whole story. This telling below, from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, makes me deeply thankful for YouTube.

Update August 2012: the calf was named Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy.


Prepare To Be Moved!

Don’t miss Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet, a major new exhibit and planetarium show at the California Academy of Sciences. Take a kinetic journey toward understanding these super seismic phenomena and how they fit into the larger story of our ever-changing Earth.

Visitors enter through an oversized crack into a 25-foot-diameter model of the Earth to find touchable geology specimens and interactive stations explaining the basics of plate tectonics. The exhibit highlights how the same earth processes that cause destructive earthquakes in the human timescale can also provide constructive conditions for life in the geological timescale. Live ostriches, ancient fossils, plants, and mounted marsupials (mammals with pouches) illustrate the shared legacy of India, Antarctica, Australia, South America, and Africa, which were once joined together.

The exhibit features an earthquake simulator resembling an old Victorian home in San Francisco transports you back to 5:04 pm on October 17, 1989 – the date and time of the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake. A sudden sustained tremor, followed by a brief aftershock, will give visitors a sense of what this ground-jolting event felt like.

Finally, hands-on activities address what you should do before, during, and after an earthquake.

You might be asking, "What do baby ostriches have to do with earthquakes?" Well, as flightless birds found on multiple continents that were formerly connected, they demonstrate how techtonic shifts have separated them across vast oceans. Plus, they engage the public in learning more about science because they're so darn cute!

The exhibit is now open!  Brace Yourself!


Giving with Game

My friends over at the One Percent Foundation are constantly coming up with good ideas. This time, they’ve found a way to mix good + games + grants.

Grant Madness 2012

Join us for FREE beer, basketball, and music on Sunday, March 11 from 1-4 PM at WIX Lounge in San Francisco.

Donors that sign up for Grant Madness (in advance or at the event) are entered into a raffle to win fun prizes courtesy of WIX Lounge, ScoutMob, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Fundly!