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Entries in Social (4)

Sunday
Mar062011

An Evening with Yann Arthus-Bertrand

As part of the first San Francisco Green Film Festival, I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening with one of the most inspiring activists and artists of his generation: Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

En route to France via San Francisco, he was in California for another TED Talk in Monterey and I had the pleasure of watching him present his recent film, HOME, followed by a Q&A discussion, time with attendees, and a gala reception downtown.

The film highlights the dangers human activities create to planet earth. Produced by Luc Besson and financed by the PPR Group (a French multinational company), it was Yann Arthus-Bertrand's intention to show the state of our planet and the challenges humanity faces, using aerial photography to document images of nature in a captivating narrative.

Following the show, he spoke with an enthusiastic energy about the importance of raising awareness of the impact/relationship between people and the planet. With a characteristically French charm and thick accent, he confessed, "I am only a film-maker" in admitting that he does not have all the answers to the questions raised by the film.

However, his artistic perspective shined when he suggested that the world is in need of a "spiritual revolution" in contrast to political or market-based solutions. Politicians and corporations, in his view, are often too narrow in focus and objectives to think about the future. He cited the culture of corruption and consumption as contributing factors to an imbalance of wealth and power that, unchecked, cannot be expected to effectively respond to the planetary crisis on our hands.

Instead, he used the film and its powerful images in tandem with statistics, science, and an evolutionary story-telling narrative to evoke some of the most basic messages about humanity and nature.

It was an absolute honor to meet him!

Planetary Philanthropy

Yann Arthus-Bertrand is much more than an artist and activist. A man with many facets, he’s also a planetary philanthropist, as his work is widely available, shared freely, and with no commercial sponsorship. Today, HOME is available on DVDs and free, via streaming on the internet (Arthus-Bertrand gave up his author's rights).

In my view, his work is an inspiration in the ways that it contributes to an exchange of ideas. Free of cost and wide in distribution, his work has a sense of accessibility that inspires action.

He explains in a statement from the Home Project s YouTube Channel:

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. HOME has been made for you: share it! And act for the planet.

-Yann Arthus-Bertrand, GoodPlanet Fundation President

2011 Year of the Forest

For one of his most recent projects at the GoodPlanet Foundation, the United Nations appointed Yann Arthus-Bertrand to produce an official film for the launch of the International Year of Forests, 2011. Of Forests and Men is a 7-minute short film on forests filled with aerial images from Home and the Earth from Above television series.

The film was shown during the plenary session of the Ninth Session of United Nations Forum on Forests (24 January - 4 February 2011) in New York. It s currently available to the public, at no charge, for worldwide distribution.

The images are absolutely stunning and make me miss the mountain forests where I grew-up in Montana. If you've got 7.5 minutes, watch it here:

Of Forests and Men from GoodPlanet on Vimeo

You can download the film for free - I even uploaded it to my iPhone for regular viewing. Much like his personal sites, the GoodPlanet Foundation s other websites are loaded with information, all of which is freely available:

J’adore son site Internet!

Finally, in researching his accomplished career, I am seriously impressed with the content of his personal websites. It features thousands of photos, including free wallpaper images, along with enough reading and digital images to make a geek like me happy for so small amount of time!

Check it out and you’ll see the work of a living luminary.

Saturday
Dec182010

Serving Science and Society - Under One Living Roof!

California Academy of Sciences

Claude, the Academy's lovable albino alligator.

Although this site reflects my research interests – and by no means represents my employer – I am delighted to feature the California Academy of Sciences, where I recently began working in the development division.

Inside and out, this place is amazing.

The Academy has the deepest coral reef exhibit in the world, a 4-story tropical rainforest, a towering T-Rex skeleton, a colony of African penguins, a fully-immersive digital planetarium, and an albino alligator named Claude, along with 40,000 living animals!

The Academy was founded in 1853 (wow!) and today it supports 46 world-class scientists and hundreds of researchers in 11 fields of study. With over a million visitors annually, each year the Academy's accredited teachers, highly-trained docents and scientists share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural sciences with tens of thousands of children, teens, and life-long learners. 

The world's greenest museum.It’s new, living and breathing building in Golden Gate Park opened in 2008 and earned the platinum rating (highest rating possible) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and is the largest public building with this rating in the world. This commitment to sustainability extends to all facets of the facility - with a 2 ½ acre living roof, an expansive solar canopy, an extensive water reclamation system, and walls insulated with recycled blue jeans. The building also houses the Academy science labs and administrative offices (shout out to my colleagues in the development division!), including an extensive library and scientific archive consisting of more than 26 million specimens.

The Academy holds a variety of educational events, such as lectures, in addition to many other public programs. For example, the ’Tis the Season for Science events include indoor snow flurries, an igloo presentation dome, special events and daily presentations. Young visitors can also meet “Santa Claude,” the Academy’s lovable alligator.

Each Thursday, the Academy holds an event called Nightlife, where 21+ adults can enjoy music, science, entertainment and cocktails, while experiencing the Academy’s world-class exhibits and having fun with friends. Each weekly installment features something new and different. For example, last week featured chocolate tastings from around the world!

The Academy also has a useful iPhone application: Golden Gate Park Field Guide. I’ve downloaded it regularly use it to navigate my way through the 1,000+ acres of the park. The app highlights the park’s common wildlife, popular attractions, and hidden gems. As an interactive tool, it invites users to engage with the park and by recording and sharing their experiences.

As a donor and nonprofit professional, I can’t think of a better place to serve or a better mission to support. On my first day of orientation, I was thrilled to see that the very first item on the slideshow was a simple and clear mission: to explore, explain and protect the natural world. 

However, as I learn more about the collections, I also understand that the Academy also provides profound insights into human nature. My experiences in the Academy are a reminder that all forms of life are connected, biodiversity is our greatest strength, and that science and society are fundamentally linked.

Friends, I encourage you to visit the California Academy of Sciences to see it with your own eyes. I also encourage you to become a member, to support this unique cultural and scientific institution, volunteer, and spread the word!

Saturday
Dec112010

Membership Models Support Bozeman's Best

My recent vacation to my hometown of Bozeman, Montana was filled with many highlights, including visits to two nonprofit organizations that have dramatically shaped my evolving interests.

These organizations reflect two different models of membership, with different forms of impact in the direct community and beyond. It's safe to say that I've always considered a nonprofit career in large part due to their influence in my life and their contribution to my hometown community.

Museum of the Rockies

When I was probably 12-years-old, I asked my mother for one birthday present: a gift membership to the Museum of the Rockies. I would often visit alone, as it was only a short ride on my bicycle to visit the collections. From an early age, I have been fascinated with the sociology of science, how knowledge evolves, and the relationship between people, the planet, and the cosmos. 

The museum’s mission is to “inspire visitors to explore the rich natural and cultural history of America’s Northern Rocky Mountains.” The museum's collections feature the physical and cultural history of the Rocky Mountains and the people and animals that have lived there, dating back more than 500 million years. The museum houses the largest collection of dinosaur remains in the United States and possesses the largest Tyrannosaurus skull ever discovered.

Cool!

Its permanent exhibits include: Enduring Peoples, which chronicles the life of American Indians on the Northern Plains and near the Rocky Mountains; History of the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, whose inhabitants included Native Americans, fur traders, gold seekers, and settlers from frontier days through World War II; Living History Farm, which includes the Tinsley House where costumed interpreters demonstrate life in a turn-of-the-century home; and the Taylor Planetarium, a 40 ft (12 m), 104-seat domed theater.

Of course, philanthropy makes institutions like this possible, historically and presently. In 1957 the Museum of the Rockies was born as Dr. Caroline McGill’s remarkable gift to the people of Montana. Today, a wide range of philanthropists support the museum in a collaborative public partnership. The museum is both a college-level division of Montana State University and an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution. It's also a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and a federal repository for fossils.

Membership at the museum not only carries visitation benefits, it also directly supports the preservation and prosperity of the collections. Although large-scale gifts by prominent philanthropists are important, individual and family memberships provide the base of support for this important scientific and cultural institution.

As the year ends, please consider giving to the Museum of the Rockies. Mark my words: its exhibits and programs are life-changing and inspire many to keep learning.

Bozeman Community Food Co-Op

The mission of the Bozeman Community Food Co-Op is “To provide food and goods, promote sustainable practices and follow co-op principles.” As a community of cooperative consumers, it promotes an understanding of nutrition and ecological principles. Based on mutual aid rather than profit, the co-op strives to provide viable options for its members, offering consumer control over resources, supplying basic needs, and supplying those needs at the lowest commercially reasonable prices.

The co-op also nurtures relationships with other cooperatives, farmers, small businesses and local producers, thereby strengthening the alternative food network, the community at large, and the benefits of cooperation.

As a youth, my family worked at the co-op as members. Together, we awoke hours before it opened and, for a few days a week, cleaned the entire store. My mom would play Bob Dylan cassettes on the stereo and we used to sing and play games to make the work fun. I am thankful for the time we spent working beside one another, and also for the discount on food and other household items that helped us in many ways.

Please consider donating to the Bozeman Community Food Co-Op - or better yet, if you live in Bozeman, become a member! This organization exemplifies a community working together for peace and prosperity. It is also a great place to give your time and talents, as the new building reflects members’ collective spirit.

Tuesday
Nov232010

Communities in Common

Out and Equal Workplace Advocates

Out & Equal is proud to announce a new guest writer series, "Communities in Common." This series profiles observations, experiences and events of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of culturally diverse communities.

Adam Bad Wound | November 23, 2010

Adam C. Bad Wound is a sociologist of philanthropy and civil society, as well as a donor to Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. As November is National Native American Heritage Month, Adam shares his experiences and thoughts on LGBT youth in American Indian and rural communities.

I come from Montana’s Big Sky Country, where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. I was raised near three rivers, with crystal clear waters and lush emerald banks, surrounded by ruby willows, under the warm golden sun, sparkling bright in the sapphire sky. My youth was precious, picturesque, and prismatic.

However, many of my hardest memories are of colorless isolation, as I struggled to find my identity in a world that seemed to be black-and-white in so many ways. At times, being a queer American Indian felt like the worst of all possible situations.

According to 2009 Census figures, there were approximately 3.15 million American Indians in the U.S., out of 307 million people – roughly 1% of the population. From 1999 to 2004 (when I was 19-24), American Indian/Alaska Native males in the 15 to 24 year old age group had the highest suicide rate, roughly 28/100,000, compared to 17.5/100,000 for white, 12.8/100,000 for black, and 9/100,000 Asian/Pacific Islander males of the same age. Furthermore, a 2007 study found that LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

Taken together, it’s hard for me to reconcile these figures, but easy to understand them personally. Geographic and social isolation were harsh realities of my youth, at times to the point of desperation. In light of recent cyber-bulling events, I can certainly understand how some youth – from any background – might feel trapped in a dark place.

To youth in American Indian and rural communities, I encourage you to remember that LGBT people come from everywhere. My journey has taken me from the mountains, to the plains, Great Lakes, Atlantic Coast, and Pacific Coast. I’ve come to know firsthand that LGBT people come from the middle of nowhere to the middle of San Francisco.

Finally, although it’s been said many times recently, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Although our community is small, there are plenty of resources for support, online and offline. I’m thankful to have embraced my spirit for its natural way, in part by attending gatherings, researching information, and connecting online. Doing so might not change your immediate situation, but it might add a splash of color to a dark night.

Just remember: somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue.

More resources to support LGBT and American Indian LGBT youth include:

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See the original post and other guest writer contributions: http://www.outandequal.org/communitiesincommon/