Scenic Route No. 5: Giving Back
Jun 22, 2018 • Alex Matisse
5 actions to take, 5 organizations to support, and 5 gifts you can buy that benefit something greater.
The holiday season is a true embodiment of multiplicity: on one hand we're always up for a chance to celebrate friends and family and get all festive and snuggly with our loved ones, on the other we want to run far, far away from the bubbling consumerist hell-scape of America that erupts in the final weeks of each year, serving also as a mirror to our privilege. Stressed about your dinner party, whether you've bought enough gifts for your partner, or what to do on New Year's Eve? All things considered, those are pretty chill sources of stress.
Rather than thinking about this week as last-minute gift shopping panic-zone, we're committing to make space for ourselves to gently snap out of the trance of materialism we've been conditioned to enter this time of year. Of course our own small worlds deserves all the love we can give them, but this week is a perfect-as-any opportunity to step away and dedicate some time, energy, funds, or resources to people and organizations in need in our greater communities. Below, 5 actions to take, 5 organizations to support, and 5 gifts you can buy that benefit something greater.
Three essential items available to purchase for refugees in the Choose Love store: a child's coat, cooking supplies, and emergency blankets.
- Last Thursday, The FCC voted to repeal net neutrality. Congress can stop the FCC order through The Congressional Review Act, which only requires a simple majority vote in the house and senate to pass - now is the time to call your representatives. Text "BATTLE" to 384-387 or visit Battle for the Net to make your voice heard, and if you haven't already, download the 5 Calls App, which makes contacting your representatives and voicing your concerns virtually effortless.
- Engage your inner hacktivist by downloading Bail Bloc, a program that uses your computer's spare power to mine for a popular yet secure, private, and untraceable cryptocurrency called Monero. The cryptocurrency mined by computers with Bail Bloc installed is exchanged at the end of each month for US dollars to be donated to the Bronx Freedom Fund. Bail Bloc is run by Dark Inquiry, a sister-satellite project-driven initiative of The New Inquiry, an online journal of literary and cultural criticism whose work focused on policing and mass incarceration can be read here.
- Volunteer with active organizations in your community. In Asheville, we deeply admire the work of the Haywood Street Congregation, whose Downtown Welcome Table and Haywood Street Respite projects are largely sustained by volunteers.
- The Tranzmission Prison Project is another awesome Asheville project sustained by volunteers - they meet every Wednesday evening at 5:30 to read mail from prisoners and to assemble and mail book packages to LGBTQI prisoners. Don't have time to volunteer? The Prison Project also accepts donations of paperback books.
- In many larger towns and cities you can find active Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapters that organize white community members around issues concerning racial injustices in their communities. The Asheville chapter can be accessed here.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1575.0"] Local community members and digital stewards with the Detroit Community Technology Project installing high-speed internet on the roof of the tallest building on the block, which will then beam gigabit connections from an antenna to surrounding homes overlooked by mainstream internet service providers. [/caption]
- Woke Vote is a collaborative of grassroots organizers in the South that works to identify and support political candidates focused on ending mass incarceration, voter suppression, and gun violence in order to reclaim power in marginalized communities. Woke Vote worked to organize voters in Alabama to elect Doug Jones in the recent special election for senate.
- Did you know that 40% of Detroit residents don't have access to internet? The Detroit Community Technology Project trains community members to build and steward their own internet - installing routers and pulling fibers to literally create wireless communications infrastructures in neighborhoods that have been overlooked by Big Internet.
- The Thomas Fire, one of many devastating wildfires burning in Southern California this month, has now burned 269,000 acres of land in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. You can donate to the Ventura County Disaster Relief Fund here.
- Buy a gift for a refugee in the Choose Love store, a concept holiday shop that sells real, useful products for refugees like children's boots, cooking pans, waterproof tents, and emergency blankets. Every purchase you make provides an item for a refugee, and this week every purchase is being matched by the Vodafone Foundation. Choose Love is a project of Help Refugees, a UK-based humanitarian aid organization that works directly with migrants and Refugees in Europe and elsewhere.
- My Daddy Taught Me That is a program for young men growing up in underserved communities in Asheville and Buncombe County that provides them with resources, training, counseling, opportunities, and mentorship.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1500.0"] Power shirt from Sexy Beast . [/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="359.0"] Letterpress print from Darling Clementine. [/caption]
GIVE GIFTS THAT GIVE AGAIN
- Charlotte Stone shoes, maker of the party shoes of our dreams, organized an online raffle in support of relief efforts for the Thomas Fire. Buying a raffle "ticket" not only means you're contributing to an urgent cause, but it puts you in the running to win sweet stuff from independent makers who care like Ajaie Alaie, Dusen Dusen, and Helen Levi. It's just like regular donating, only with the chance you might win a fun prize, too.
- Half of proceeds made from this letterpress print of an excerpt from Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" will be donated to the ACLU.
- Sexy Beast, started by a group of influencers from the LA arts community, raises money for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. Their current offering is a run of three limited edition t-shirts designed collaboratively by artist Jenny Holzer and designer Virgil Abloh.
- In an age when Indigenous crafts and spiritualities are being widely commodified yet still sorely misunderstood, Incausa mediates sustainable opportunities for fair trade and market placement between larger vendors and Indigenous artisans in Nepal and throughout South America.
- Proceeds from these very cute cherry earrings by illustrator Andrea Smith go to Planned Parenthood.
- A real good cup: Brandywine Coffee gives $1 from every bag purchased to the Fund for Women, and Rebel Pine plants a tree for each bag sold.