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You will still find fresh and new content every week to inspire you to change the world, with the little things you do, every day. See you over there!

Guerilla Art

For the next four weeks we will be looking at how guerilla art can solicit change and make the unnoticed, noticed.

Guerilla Art = Street art, specifically visual art, developed in public spaces — that is, “in the streets” — though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. The term can include traditional graffiti artwork, sculpture, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheat pasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerilla art, and street installations. Typically, the term street art or the more specific post-graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art. (Thank you Wikipedia).

I like to look at it as using art to reshape how you we look and things. It is about transforming our space. Here are a few examples:

There are ways to practice this form of art without being destructive, but rather adding something to your community. The next four weeks we will look at some easy ways you can participate!

Week 28: Head-up a donation drive!

As we look at the little things we can do everyday to make a difference it is also important to look at the bigger picture, too!

Random acts of kindness usually just affect one person. You leave a positive note on someone’s car or a little present for someone inside the library. All powerful and positive ways to make a different in someone’s day, but what if your one act of kindness could reach more people?

Have you ever tried running a donations drive? By you, starting the one random act of kindness to get the drive started, you are able to affect many people. This drive could be for food, clothes, shoes, blankets, anything really! Start it at work or at school. Put out boxes. Tape up flyers announcing how long the drive will be running. Send emails to those working in our office or that go to your school. Let your local neighborhood or city know you have this drive set-up for those in your area to participate.  Send out reminders and watch the donations pour in! With a donation bigger than you could have done alone, not only are you able to help more people, but you have also given others the opportunity to make a difference, too!

Happy donation drive running!

Week 27: Take two steps out of your comfort zone

Random acts of kindness can reach all groups of people. You are able to affect those closest to you, friends and family, people you may never meet or see affected by this, or even people who may never be able to return the favor. In week 27, we are going to focus on helping those with kindness who are not able to help you.

The homeless are often those who are overlooked and could really benefit from your random acts of kindness. Really step out of your comfort zone and interact with them. This interaction could be as simple as a “Good morning” as you walk by them on your way to work, or if you are standing with them at a bus stop, ask them how they are doing. Something as simple as a conversion says you know they are not invisible. You might be surprised by the stories they share!

I tend not to give money to those in need that ask for money on the street corner. You never know what that money could be used for and it might not be helping them at all. There are some people who are not as truthful about their situation as it appears. A friend of mine sat down and had a long conversation with one of her local homeless resident and it turned out he wasn’t homeless at all, but takes the role of it and people give him money. It’s ironic because people give the homeless money to feel good about themselves, never questioning what giving them money will really do. If you are going to give money, find your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen to donate to. In my opinion, the people who frequent these places are attempting to turn their lives around and the organizations need your help to help others who really need help.

Personally, if there is someone outside of a grocery store and I am heading in, I’ll come out with an extra sandwich for them. Then at least I know they won’t be hungry and I have done what I can, knowing my money has gone to a good and positive resource. I once talked to someone who gives out chocolate bars instead of cash. She has her car stocked. I love this idea.

Don’t feel like you can help? Are you getting coffee this morning? Then you have the ability to get a coffee or a sandwich for the person standing outside who doesn’t have the means to buy their own.

Help someone who may never be able to return the favor to you, but know what goes around, comes around in some way or another.

Week 26: Manners

In this week we are looking at how we can initiate random acts of kindness just by refocusing on our everyday manners. It’s time to take what your mama taught you and put it into action!

Here are 5 ways to make a difference in someone’s day just from your good manners:

  1. Hold the door open for someone. There is nothing more frustrating than having the door slammed in your face and your spirits are always uplifted when someone thinks of you, too, and gives you an easy entrance.
  2. Smile! They’re contagious!
  3. Give someone your seat on the bus. See someone with their kid or kids? An older person with tired legs? Or just someone who needs a break in their day? Offer your seat to them to help them out.
  4. Let someone in line in front of you. Do you have a lot of groceries and the person behind you only has two? Let them go first and help them get on their way.
  5. Say hello. Let the people you run into know that their existence matters with a simple hello.

Week 25: Start the chain

These next four weeks may just be my favorite four weeks of the whole year to write about. That’s because for the next four weeks we will be having a theme of RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS! There is nothing better than that feeling when you do something nice for someone who can’t repay you. It’s like being a secret happiness agent. This theme incorporates all of my hopes and dreams for this 52 Weeks of Good campaign. Looking at the little things we can do every day to make a difference and random acts of kindness are pieces we can easily incorporate into our lives everyday!

“If we all do one random act of kindness daily we just might set the world in the right direction.”

For week 25 we will explore the idea of starting a random acts of kindness chain effect, starting with you! This is where you can take public opportunities to do something nice for someone and hope that they start the trend.

Here are 5 great ideas to get you started!

  1. Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. If no one is there, give the barista $5 to pay for the person after you.
  2. Talk with a homeless person. So many people walk past them and don’t even give them the time of day. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, just a simple hi, a smile and how is your day going? If you have a snack, share it with them. You will make their day better and hopefully inspire those who pass by to do the same.
  3. Give a stranger a compliment. It is always so unexpected and makes them feel great. With their brightened mood they will be sure to pass on their new found happiness.
  4. Leave a note on someone’s car (looking like a ticket under their wind shield wiper), but write a really positive comment on the paper. Wish them a good day and encouraging them to pass it along to spread the joy.
  5. Leave $20 with the cashier (at a grocery store, or a second hand clothing or furniture store) and ask them to use it on whomever they think could use the extra help. This gives the store clerk a chance to be part of the good. You might not only be making the receiver of the money’s day, but could be helping them with their months worth of groceries or new clothes for their kids.

I will leave you with this little video on a different perspective of security cameras:

What are your ideas for starting the kindness chain effect?

Guest post: When You Come To a Fork in the Road, Take It.

Today we have a guest post from a friend of mine who recently won the OPHA essay contest! The topic was health and the environment and her essay really helps you to take your health into perspective and find the little ways you can make a positive difference for yourself! Thank you Vera for all of the great ideas and information. Enjoy!

When You Come To a Fork in the Road, Take It.
By Vera Vos

The Queen Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly lives in a small strip of coastal rainforest in Papua New Guinea. Its entire range is about 100 square miles. With a wing span just over 1 foot, the female Birdwing is the largest butterfly in the world. Their niche within the jungle ecosystem is very specific. Eggs are laid on the leaves of the pipevine plant which the caterpillars consume vigorously for about 1 month until they enter the pupa stage. Pipevine is poisonous and by eating the leaves the caterpillar incorporates poisons into its body making it, as well as the adult butterfly, toxic to most predators – a handy adaptation. Adult butterflies live at the top of the tree canopy seeking nectar from specific flowers that are large enough to hold their weight and breadth.

Unfortunately, three specific things have happened which has placed the Birdwing on the endangered species list. In 1950 nearby Mount Lamington erupted changing a large portion of their former range to a more diverse rainforest with fewer pipevines and fewer high canopy plant species bearing large flowers. Birdwings were not adaptable to these changed conditions. In the last several decades, many acres of their current range were converted to palm plantations, further depleting their habitat. Thirdly, because of its large size and rarity, the species is prized by collectors, adding a unique and very resourceful predator to the mix.

Coyotes are a very different kind of species than Birdwings. Despite habitat destruction and intense hunting pressure by humans, or maybe because of it, coyotes have expanded their range from mainly the southwest to almost the entire North American continent. They are predators with excellent hunting skills and the ability to learn new tricks to capture prey. But they also do fine eating spoiled meat left by other predators, plants, nuts or whatever their particular area has to offer. If their current habitat changes and no longer meets their needs, they move on. Where the Birdwing sees certain death outside their specific niche, the coyote sees opportunity. They are very adaptable.

As a species, humans are like coyotes, adaptable. We thrive on every continent in the world except Antarctica. If our current habitat no longer meets our needs for whatever reason – politics, religion, depleted soil, boredom, weather – we seek new lands to explore and inhabit. We also have an ability, unique to our species, to change our habitat to fit our needs. For example, early Americans burned the prairies to stimulate growth of young, nutritious grasses which increases game species. All over the world humans have converted a myriad of ecosystems into farmland to grow crops. Our ability to harness the environment to our benefit has led us from living in nomadic tribal communities to permanent villages, towns and cities. Read More…