Posts Tagged ‘500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference’


SO this is my 100th posting since I started the blog.

I love that the timing ended up this way–here is a video that I just got today, promoting the book …

next time…a real microphone


4I spent the afternoon today in a gorgeous Northern Manhattan park called Swindler Cove. The park has been one of many many success stories of the hard work of volunteers and staff of the New York Restoration Project. NYRP is an environmental care organization started by Bette Midler when she came to New York and was put out by how much trash there was and in what a sorry state the parks and community gardens were. She and friends in 1995 started taking it upon themselves to clean up green spaces in the city.

The organization now has projects with parks, gardens, and trash cleanup in many many sections of New York. Over 875 tons of garbage has been removed from parkland by NYRP teams of volunteers and staff.

Swindler Cove is the “jewel in the crown” for NYRP. It is 5 acres on the Harlem River up at the northern tip of Manhattan. Where once locals pulled over at the side of a busy road and pushed their trash bags, shopping carts, decrepit cars, and who can guess what else over the edge…is now a relaxing respite from the city. There’s a children’s garden, groomed paths through forested sections, a waterfall, art installation birdhouses, benches in the shade, and a floating boathouse where neighborhood kids and adults come to learn rowing and kayaking on the river. Birdsong and the rustle of leaves is the soundscape of what was once a de facto dump. swindler4


I was there with the US Publicist for my book, 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, so we could shoot some on-the-fly video of a volunteer program in the city for promotion. Bette wasn’t there (though she is in New York on hiatus from her Vegas show), but I got to interview the wonderful Angela Michie, NYRP’s Community Outreach and Volunteer Manager. Incredible work is being done in this oasis of calm as well as other parks and gardens around the boroughs. Look them up and give them an afternoon’s worth of sweat.

It makes an enormous difference–as Bette Midler believes, we all have a right to a green city, and should take on being an active partner in the “Conservancy of Forgotten Places.” swindler1

Self Promotion

Below is a brief piece from a summer issue of Marie Claire Magazine in their “World Reports” section, about volunteer travel, with a brief quote (all that’s left from a longer interview–but I know too well, from the other side of the equation, how that goes and interviews get cut down to bites) from me and mention of my book, at the end. It is the first time (to my knowledge) that the book has been mentioned in editorial content in print…so I’m kinda jazzed.

A direct link is (here).


How To Be a “Voluntourist”

By Sarah Robbins


angelina jolie in tanzaniaAngelina Jolie helps build a hut for Congolese refugees in Tanzania.

Photo Credit: N. Behring-Chrisholm/Getty Images

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You tumble out of your bunk at 5 a.m., take an ice-cold shower, and schlep banana-tree trunks across the rainforest to build a bridge. That’s called summer vacation for volunteers with the Malaysia-based Great Orangutan Project, which works to protect the dwindling population of red-haired apes. And it’s one of hundreds of do-goodery options for people itching to heed President Obama’s call to service, asking not what your time off can do for you (tan lines, hookups, tiki bars), but what you can do with your time off.

A slew of “voluntourism” books are hitting shelves this summer, starting with Volunteer Vacations Across America and National Geographic’s The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life. The guides describe how to do everything from building a mobile karaoke studio in Cambodia to restoring a monastery in Tibet.

A little too selfless for you? Consider this: “In today’s economy, it can be crass to talk about how you spent two weeks at a resort,” says Andrew Mersmann, author of Frommer’s 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, in stores this fall. “But if you spent your days saving endangered black rhinos, that’s cocktail conversation.”