Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

White House Conference on Bullying Prevention

Today there is a summit at the nation’s capital, with President Obama and Michelle Obama, who have gathered leaders of education, students, parents, educators, policy makers, leaders of youth-focused non-profit groups, and family experts to look at the serious, often critical, sometimes lethal issue of bullying. The epidemic of cruelty among youth is much more serious than when I was young. It is easy for us to forget the trouble of youth, and easier to assume it is no worse than when we were there–“Kids tease, sometimes fight…we did, what’s the big deal?” It is a huge deal, with constant communication via text and cell phone and facebook and Twitter, rumors and cruelty pass from person to person like wildfire, and a victim is defenseless against the barrage. Children are killing themselves because it is so hopeless. When a child makes a thoughtful and considered decision to reach for a rope or gun or pills, trying to get through day-to-day before that…we know we are broken as a society that stands for our young people.

The White House Conference on Bullying Prevention is going on today, and is accessible via those same means that spread the hate among some kids: facebook and the Internet. Use electronica for healing, listen in to the conversation, participate remotely, and be involved in making youth a nurturing time. Being unique and different is a wonderful asset to society–we have to make sure kids know that being different is something to be wished for, never punished.

Cesar Chavez Day

I hadn’t realized that today, March 31, is Cesar Chavez Day. It was his birthday (born 1927, died 1993), and today, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation making March 31 Cesar Chavez Day. Chavez’ tireless advocacy on behalf of migrant farmworkers was familiar to me growing up in California’s Central Valley. Farmworkers’ rights were talked about around our dinner table, rallies attended, and crops boycotted all through my growing up.

This day is an official holiday in 11 states with a movement to make it a national holiday. The vision of the Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday organization is:

Cesar Chavez gave our nation and each of us a unique example to live our lives by.  His selfless dedication for farm worker and worker rights, economic justice, civil rights, environmental justice, peace, nonviolence, empowerment of the poor and disenfranchised, is a monumental legacy that will inspire all and the generations to come. The winning of national recognition for Cesar Chavez with holidays, service, learning and community action events, is a fitting tribute and significant way to share his life’s work as the founder and leader of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).

What is most important is that remembering and honoring Cesar Chavez inspires more people to become involved in the causes that continue Cesar Chavez’s extraordinary legacy.

At this link, from the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, there is a nice list of actions to undertake in the spirit of Chavez, from peaceful advocacy and building a cause to community involvement and “Day of Service” activities to inspire you anew to involve yourself in the lives of others.

Here is a link to the page for the United Farm Workers and ways to get involved with them.

Orphan Dinners and World AIDS Marathon

Richard Brodsky is a pretty tenacious guy, as committed to raising awareness and reaching out to others as he is committed to his own well-being. A brain cancer survivor and man living with HIV, Brodsky formed his own foundation (Richard Brodsky Foundation) and each year travels to Kenya to helm the World AIDS Marathon in Kisumu, Kenya. The foot race not only brings attention and is a terrific fund-raising activity for those in Kenya living with HIV/AIDS, but Brodsky and his wife, with their Kenyan partners, have expanded the events to include wonderful dinner/dances with hundreds of orphans in the area, filling hungry bellies that aren’t often full. The foundation also purchases and ships a large amount of seeds and seedlings so the orphans and their caretakers can plant and grow their own vegetables to bring better possibilities for nutrition throughout the year.

Last year’s marathon got some extra attention because the race was officially started when Mama Sarah (pictured above in blue), Barack Obama’s Kenyan grandmother, waved a flag. The marathon takes place each year on December 1, World AIDS Day, and the orphan dinners (for 600 orphans) are on November 29 and 30. It may be a bit late to book yur own travel to Kenya, but as you’re thinkig of all the things for which you are grateful this holiday, and giving thanks, think about giving support to this grassroots foundation and their tireless work on behalf of others.

– mail a check to Richard M. Brodsky Foundation, 1247 Mara Court, Atlantic Beach, NY 11509 or
– visit the Foundation website and click on the PayPal link or
– alternately you can make your donation by visiting World AIDS Marathon and click on the Donate link.

Clinton Global Initiative


Last night, Tuesday, was the opening plenary session and welcome for the Clinton Global Initiative fifth annual meeting. There were a thousand members of the press wedged into the basement of the New York Sheraton hotel, and a thousand special guests upstairs in the Metropolitan Ballroom…and at least a thousand more security and secret service.

After metal detectors and security wands and pat downs, I was finally admitted to the bowels of the building. The technology is impressive with several Wi-Fi channels and the conference even has it’s own closed messaging system, so Barbra Streisand can tell Brad Pitt his haircut looks great and it’ll stay between them.

The CGI is an annual gathering of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and charitable orgs, business leaders, and world leaders (the rooms are lousy with presidents and prime ministers) who gather to make specific commitments to projects to better the world. This was the birthplace, in past years, of projects like Matt Damon’s water program (, expanding this year to Haiti), the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative, and so many more. In the five years since beginning there have been 1,400 commitments made (participants are required to make commitments to existing projects or commit to creating new projects), valued at $46 billion dollars, and impacting the lives of 200 million people in 150 countries. This year’s meeting will give birth to 30 more of these programs.

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