Tag Archives: Activism

VOD: Malala Yousafzai Interview on The Daily Show

She risked her life to stand up for girl’s education in Pakistan. She survived a gun-shot to the head for those beliefs. She is a best-selling author. And now, at only 16 years old, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The incredibly courageous teenager gave an exclusive interview to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show on Tuesday night where she talked about her homeland, the rise of the Taliban and why she thinks that education is too important to stop fighting for. Stewart himself even asks if he can adopt her when Malala explains her thought process after finding out the Taliban were threatening her. This is a must watch interview for anyone that has been following Malala, believes in equal education rights, or just needs a few pointers on how to be a better human being. This girl has a lot to teach all of us.


You can watch the extended interview on The Daily Show website.

Are you inspired by Malala’s story and interview? Or do you have a video you’d like us to share in our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below! 

Girls Inc.: Changing the World Through Girl Power!

Go Inspire Go is proud to present this month’s Social Good Spotlight to raise awareness of organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. For more information and to read past Social Good Spotlights, click here.

Compiled by Toan Lam and Koshi Sandrasagra

What is Girls Incorporated (Girls Inc.)?

Girls Incorporated is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire all girls to be strong (through healthy living), smart (through education) and bold (through independence). Founded in 1958, Girls Inc. offers academic enrichment activities, skill-building programs and counseling services to girls and their families.

girls+powGirls Inc. of Alameda County provides year-round academic achievement and skills-building programs, as well as counseling services to more than 7,500 girls and families.

Girls Inc. believes that generations are transformed when girls are equipped with knowledge, information and confidence. Girls ages 5-18 are engaged in a continuum of award-winning programs, developing the essential skills and tools they need for college, career and life success.

How does it work?

The process: Girls Inc. begins with teaching the foundations of literacy and they support girls developmentally with each milestone along the way. This includes focus on academic achievement, positive risk taking, health and fitness, advocacy, leadership and more. The organization is unique in that they focus on serving the whole girl and her family as well, by providing on-site mental health counseling among all of the other programs offered. Their nationally-developed programs are the result of studies conducted by the Girls Incorporated National Resource Center – the largest and most comprehensive research center on girls in the country.

Spotlight on Major Accomplishments (to name just a few!):

  • 100 percent of Girls Inc. seniors graduate from high school (compared to less than 60 percent of their peers) and in the last five years, 98.2 percent of seniors have enrolled in college (most of whom are the first in their families to do so).
  • More than 1,500 girls across the country have participated in technology and literacy curricula initially developed by Girls Inc. of Alameda County.
  • Named by the Clinton Global Initiative as one of the 13 programs that “will improve the lives of girls and women around the world.”
  • Received the United Nation’s East Bay’s 6th Annual Global Citizen Award

Personal Victories:

  • In Spring 2012, Arooj Haq, who was an active participant in Girls Inc. programs from early elementary school though high school graduation, was inducted into Alameda County’s Women’s Hall of Fame for her work in public health and advocating for human rights. In Girls Inc. Arooj, at 17, promoted nutrition, smart choices and healthy relationships to her high school peers, and helped run her school’s annual blood drive. The daughter of two Pakistani immigrants, Arooj has long aspired to be a nurse. A recent trip to the Middle East caused her to expand her aspirations, however. Her goal now is to one day open a charity helping women in her parents’ native country. As a young Muslim woman, Arooj has had some negative experiences due to others’ ignorance and stereotyping. The experiences only bolster her determination to be a positive role model and to redefine cultural assumptions. She now attends U.C. Santa Barbara!
  • Two Eureka! Teen Achievement Program high school participants were invited to the 2012 White House Science Fair based on their solar bus design and met President Barack Obama.

The New Girls Inc. Simpson Center for Girls

Girls Inc. of Alameda County has unveiled new headquarters to become the region’s first and only resource center for girls. The new center is located at 510 16th St in Downtown Oakland, and will effectively allow Girls Inc. to respond to the increasing demand for their critical programs.

The genius of the design for the center is not just that it revitalizes a historic building, but that it began with Girls Inc. participants!

Girls from the Eureka! Teen Achievement Program met with Berkeley-based Anne Phillips Architecture and spearheaded the project – getting regular project updates, providing design input and ideas to create a green, sustainable facility and making key decisions on efficient fixtures and design.

The end result is a flexible design concept that will support expanded programs and services, including:
  • Learning and education – Expanded space for high school girls to build skills in leadership, advocacy and peer education.
  • Physical and mental health – a vibrant health and wellness center and teaching kitchen, with a focus on cooking, nutrition, a yoga center and the Pathways Center for counseling.
  • Academic Achievement and Enrichment – Early learning, tutoring, college prep and career guidance, a library, study areas and Internet café.

Take Action:

In the media era where young women are bombarded with conflicting messages and values (think The Notorious B.I.G. singing about “Nasty Girl” and reality TV stars and pop idols making sex tapes to get famous) – there is a very real need to give young women a sense of pride, self-worth and purpose. Girls Inc. is providing a very real service in communities that need it; giving young girls the building blocks to create their futures, rather than having a future thrust upon them through poverty and a lack of education or opportunity.

Get involved by joining the Girls Inc. strong, smart & bold campaign and help them change the world: one girl, one family, one community at a time.

Become a volunteer, join our Girls Inc. Friends & Family and donate, become a Women of Impact member or partner with Girls Inc.!

There are so many opportunities to help us change the world, one girl at a time. Get involved!

Happy Malala Day! Honoring the Young Activist the Taliban Couldn’t Kill

Malala-Yousafzai-05Last fall, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman who apprehended her on a school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She was 15 years old.

Miraculously, Malala survived the attack, and today, she turns 16. The United Nations has named July 12 “Malala Day” in honor of the young activist’s astounding courage in the face of violent forces that would try to silence her. What, you might ask, is the teenager’s cause and why would the Taliban feel threatened enough to prey on one so young?

Malala is not your typical high schooler. She has inspired the Taliban’s rage by publicly advocating girls’ education and generating a mass petition calling for fully-funded, compulsory education for all children in her country and around the world. Because of her efforts, Malala was included in Time magazine’s list of the most influential people in 2013, and today she gave a speech at the UN reaffirming her cause.

Watch Malala’s inspiring speech here:

Are you inspired by Malala’s words? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Rizwan Khatik

The 8 Best Outfits From New York City’s Pride Parade

The Supreme Court announced their ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act just in time for two of the biggest Pride events in the country – San Francisco and New York City – both of which took place this past weekend. The NYC event was joined by Edith Windsor, the woman whose lawsuit brought DOMA under the Supreme Court’s gaze and ultimately won the rights of same-sex couples around the country to be officially recognized by the federal government. Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the fun, as well, amidst rainbows, balloons, painted bodies, and colorful signs.

The month of June has been recognized as LGBT Pride Month since the late 1960s, particularly gaining traction in response to the Stonewall riots. These days Pride festivals take place around the world, both to commemorate the LGBT community’s long and ongoing struggle for equal rights and to celebrate the joy that comes from living in accord with our true, uninhibited selves. Politics aside, Pride parades are also perfect opportunities to see some of the most impressive costumes and decorations you’ll ever come across. Thanks to photographer Victor Jeffreys II, we discovered these eight phenomenal Pride outfits – and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more elaborate!

The winners are:

Did you participate in any Pride events this year? Can you top these outfits?

 

All photos by Victor Jeffreys II

Watch Occupy Gezi Protesters Sing Multilingual Rendition of the “Les Miserables” Rebel Song

Demonstrators in Istanbul’s Gezi Park have been gathered for three weeks protesting the Turkish government’s decision to demolish the park, as well as the aggressive response to the original sit-in. What began as somewhat of an eco-activist picnic spiraled into chaos and violence as police descended with tear gas, guns, and barricades – and soon sobering reports emerged of protester injuries and even casualties. The #occupygezi community born on social media outlets out of this movement has gained support in countries around the world, making this initially local concern an issue of worldwide importance.

It is fitting, then, that in true international spirit protesters orchestrated a stirring multilingual rendition of “Do You Hear the People Sing” from the popular Broadway musical, Les Miserables. Multi-faith, international, and nature-and-community-oriented, Occupy Gezi may encapsulate the activist spirit of this generation, so abjectly alienated from the massive and aggressive powers that be.

With the NSA revelations unfolding in the United States simultaneously, it might make you wonder about how distant individuals really are from the all-powerful governments and organizations meant to represent them. Your average person seems virtually powerless when it comes to affecting policy, maintaining privacy, and securing rights. But as communities, our voices have a much farther reach.

What do you think about role of demonstrations in affecting change? What would your protest song be? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Occupy Gezi: Turkish Police Turn Violent on Peaceful Interfaith Protest (Inspiring Photos!)

v0sKEzcLast week, an interfaith, multicultural group in Istanbul, Turkey convened to protest Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to demolish Gezi Park and convert it into a shopping mall. What began as a festive summer sit-in quickly turned violent when police forces arrived with guns, tear gas, and barricades. According to The New Yorker, at least twelve people have been hospitalized with head injuries, and according to one participant’s account, two people were killed in the scuffle.

The events in Gezi Park are startling and unnerving, especially given that this was a non-political, non-violent demonstration. Since when do police start handing out head injuries at picnics? Sure, this “picnic” had a specific purpose that went against what government authorities had in mind, but as one blogger wrote: “People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees.” The #occupygezi and #occupyturkey hashtags that have sprung up on social media in last few days describe police setting fire to demonstrators’ tents and arresting hundreds of peaceful protesters. This conjures memories of violent confrontations during the US’s own Occupy demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, all of which speaks to the fundamental frailty of civil rights in these places.

Our spirits are with Occupy Gezi demonstrators around the world as they stand strong for civil and community rights:

 

Images sourced imgur.com and Occupy Gezi’s Facebook page.

Why Complaining May Be Keeping You From Living Life to the Fullest

Stop complainingBy Pamela Johnston

Humans are literally born complaining. The very first thing we do upon being dragged unceremoniously out of a nice, warm, dark, cozy place into the loud, bright, cold, and uncertain world is to register a noisy complaint. It makes perfect sense; the newborn has no other way to change the state of its life. We communicate our fear, hunger, pain, or discomfort with the hope that someone can and will do something about it, and we have narcissism to blame.

Social media has in some ways accelerated our human instinct to complain. Remember “he who can rain on a parade in the desert?” He was the guy at the club complaining because all the strippers have implants. And he has a twitter account now.

Twitter is a veritable hotbed of bitching, from the classic #humblebrag,“I hate that I can’t walk into a bar and just have a quiet drink with friends because there is always some guy hitting on me.” To the nigglingly Seinfeld-esque, “How can you date someone who names their dog Newt?

At times, we all register a noisy complaint hoping that someone somewhere will fix “it.” If your complaint is bigger than you, a fundamental wrong in the world, then complaints carry evolution and can actually be productive. If you organize your complaint into a protest, then putting your complaint out in the world can be net positive; it is a form of alchemy in which you turn your impotent words into a formidable action. But this example is the exception not the rule; most of our complaints are more akin to the narcissistic cries of the infant than the exhortations of Gandhi.

Everyone has that friend – Facebook or otherwise – who just can’t seem to turn it off. Among them are the “So do something about it, girl/dude,” – the ones with the same complaint, day after day, year after year about something eminently solvable. Stop going to the restaurant where you hate the fact that the waitress introduces herself to you every time. It’s annoying, yes, but after a while, so are you.

Then there are the “I’m so clever,” complainers, your standard eye-rollers who complain to impress, because really, who ever sounded funny, ironic, wry, and sexily jaded saying something nice? So let’s clarify here: All the various reality shows you said heralded the coming of the apocalypse did, and it’s not funny anymore. Watch or don’t watch but let the rest of us enjoy our Teen Moms and Honey Boo Boos in peace.

And of course there is the “first world” perspective. Yes, it would be nice if the barista didn’t screw up your order and give you a latte when you clearly asked for a cappuccino, or perhaps you can’t believe the sommelier doesn’t know the difference between a 1969 and a 1972 Pinot. Oh go take a bath in it.

It’s clear that far more often than not, we are complaining not out of oppression but out of entitlement. Rarely, if ever, do we stop to consider whether it is productive to voice our complaint much less ask if it is reasonable to want what we wanted.

When complaining becomes wholly destructive is when you can’t or won’t take action but refuse to accept powerlessness. Every small disappointment, every expectation unmet, attaches itself to the last as the snowball rolls down hill and your positive energy leaks out into the ether and is lost. The irony is that in accepting that you are powerless you can actually restore your sense of control and move on in a healthy way. After all, that acceptance is a conscious act, a decision you are making to clear that clogged and bitter real estate in your mind and rebuild there with something better.

Seriously, because after a while, if you don’t come up with a way to make peace with the gnats and nits of the world, you are really going to have something to complain about: loneliness. Think about it. You used to have that friend, that non-stop complainer. It’s a type.

To determine the difference between healthy expression and leaking negativity when you open your mouth, consider your motivation. Most complaining is essentially a byproduct of lack of control. Something goes wrong and we can’t immediately fix it, or change it, so we do the one thing we can do: We talk about it. In doing so we are able to experience, for a moment at least, the illusion of action and of being back in control. In some subconscious way we believe that by complaining we are actually doing something – that we can set the mechanics of karma in motion and make it right.

But of course, karma doesn’t work that way. Karmically, when you complain in most cases you are merely throwing an ultimately porous and futile roadblock in front of what is, rather than letting it flow around you and accepting its place in your path.

The point is, you may well slowly be becoming one of these types and forgetting that each and every one of them are someone you no longer spend time with because frankly, who has the time to listen to all that complaining?

So stop.

From our earliest moments, we know that this is a cold and scary world in which we are all too often anxious and tired…but you were born, and here you are. For goodness sake, suffer the minor annoyances in silence and enjoy the rest of life while you can.

* * *

Pamela Johnston is an image and reputation expert, media expert, entrepreneur, and author who routinely takes on and triumphs over herculean challenges. Her landmark work in image management and market strategy spans numerous sectors where she has been ‘of record’ for governments, blue chip companies, consulting firms, technology entrants and incumbents, personal branding and image agencies, dating services and astrologers. She has precipitated great moments of business innovation and is a sought after speaker on innovation, authenticity and problem solving. It is her lifetime quest to help people and organizations realize their potential and navigate change.

How Many Slaves Are Working for You?

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 3.45.12 PMYou may be surprised to hear this, but slavery did not end with the abolition movement. Abraham Lincoln and countless other freedom fighters around the world make huge strides for the cause of emancipation, but even today human trafficking and involuntary servitude are massive and often unknown global issues. According to TraffickFree.org, there are actually more slaves today than ever before (roughly 27 million globally.) How can this be? How can it be that 17,500 slaves are brought into the US every year or that over 3,000 people are sold into slavery every day, many of them children and many of them for sexual exploitation? These are harrowing numbers, and it seems almost too heinous to be true.

According to many anti-slavery websites, though, human trafficking is involved in the production of many of the materials we use every day. Cotton, cocoa, sugar, rice, electronics, not to mention the multi-billion dollar pornography industry… All of these and more can include the labor of slaves, and it’s often nearly impossible to know exactly how and from where these products make it into our hands. Click here for a great interactive map illustrating all the many products of slavery.

What can we do with this knowledge? To start, SlaveryFootprint.org created a poignant and heartbreaking dramatization of human trafficking, which you can watch below. Next, visit their website to calculate your own “slavery footprint,” just to get some perspective on the ways you may be unknowingly participating in this horrifying economy. From there, we can open a dialogue on our dependence to the items that keep others enslaved and build a movement to demand ethically sourced products. We the people make the world go round, and we can send the message out there that we have no appetite for slavery, nor any of its byproducts.

What’s your slavery footprint? Do you have any concerns about discussing “slavery” outside the specific context of pre-abolition America?

Give It Up For Beautiful Mother’s Day Cards Representing LGBT and Alternative Families!

Screen-Shot-2013-05-06-at-12.29.35-PM

Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, and you may be scrambling to get cards, gifts, and plan get togethers with those special moms in your life. But for many families in the United States, this holiday is more problematic. After all, does Mother’s Day representation in media and on greeting cards pay equal tribute to single moms, young moms, queer moms, incarcerated moms, or minority moms? And what about families headed up by two dads – should they just wait until Father’s Day and leave it at that?

One organization, Strong Families, is tackling this issue head on. This grassroots organization states that their mission is to help all families thrive regardless of race, class, age, sexual orientation, citizenship status, or any other marker of relative enfranchisement and alienation. Strong Families’ line of custom alternative Mother’s Day cards is as  beautiful as it is groundbreaking. Take a look at these amazing cards, and if you feel inspired, go ahead and create on for a special parent in your life:

Click here to make your own Mother’s Day card using one of these beautiful templates from Strong Families.

How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this year?

 

Images from http://strongfamiliesmovement.org

Go Inspire Go: Why YOUth Matter

Zararwadi SmileIf I could choose one quote that defines the ethos of our youth today, it would be, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Simple but sweet words carefully crafted by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.

This is a bold statement, I know, but hear me out.

Before I was invited to develop curriculum at the Academy of Art’s (AAU) Multimedia Department and the University of San Francisco, I too believed that many young folks were apathetic, entitled and not in touch with reality.

Boy, was I wrong. Or as my students would say, “You got moded.”

Reality Check #1: A few years ago, I was given the rare opportunity to build and teach a high school summer bridge program at AAU. I thought that my students would be excited to execute the final I had prepared. “You are going to create a short video on ‘hot spots’ in San Francisco. It could be a cool place to hang out, shop or eat.” I instructed in a sure tone of voice. I thought hands down, students would be stoked.

Instead, hands eagerly went up. The questions they asked changed the trajectory of my stereotypes toward the youth.

One student raised her hand and said, “My mom was so excited that you were teaching us because she follows Go Inspire Go (my nonprofit) on social media.” Another student said, “Yeah my friends follow you on Twitter in Sweden.” A third student said her friends who live in the Midwest follow our stories. Their collective wish: “Can we do our video on a story for GIG and if it’s good enough, would you post it?” My heart skipped a beat. Chills ran from head to my feet.

I was taken aback.

Julian Cohen, a high school junior from Jersey City, N.J., saw an article in his local newspaper about a reverend who wanted to build a high school in Grande Saline, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cohen was sad that there was no high school in Grande Saline and was inspired to make a video to engage action. This led to two youth movements that eventually sent 32 kids to school for one year in Haiti.

This led me to create a GIG program called GIG Spark, Lesson on Compassion. Students think about a problem and how they could be part of the solution. They create a short 90 second video and send it to us to multiply their message.

Reality Check #2: I’m exited to announce that Go Inspire Go partnered up with The Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA, YouTube, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and National Youth Radio to create GIG Sparks with youth at the Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA. They wanted to make videos that inspire compassion, change and a shift in perspective.

If you watch the local media here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’d think that this area is only known for its crime, violence and destitution. I found that there was so much hope for the youth living in this area of the City.

Photo Courtesy: Oscar Nilsson/ Interview with Betty Sells-Asberry, YMCA Teen Services Director

When I spent an afternoon training six of these young YMCA change makers, I was filled with pride. Kier Wilson, Tajae Hill, and Jonkia Davis were amazingly inspiring. They were so proud to call the Bayview Hunter’s Point their home, but were deeply saddened their neighborhood is viewed as “the ghetto.” They wanted to do something to change the negative perception of their community.

Thank you to YouTube and the Mayor’s office for inviting us to share our “GIG Spark” as an innovative, organized and fun way to inspire the YMCA kids to accomplish this mission.

* This video was created by four of my students at AAU — youth — who asked to come along on the shoot. Thanks Oscar Nilsson, Marcus Pettersson, Eva Broman, and Hugo Albrektsson for your great work!

Reality Check #3: At the University of San Francisco, my alma mater, I was asked to design and teach a Blogging for Social Change course. On the first day, I asked students, “What is your passion?”

With optimism and determination, one student said, “I want people to get out of their bubble and do something to help the people in their community.”

‘Nuff said! Amen to that.

As a kid, I felt insignificant. I thought I didn’t matter. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. What would a Chinese immigrant boy, growing up in a rough South Sacramento neighborhood, say of any importance? Why would anyone care?

I wonder how many youth feel like that today. What if adults took a moment to listen to the youngsters in their lives and hear them out. With a little guidance, support and inspiration, we too could be a part of inspiring a new generation of people who teach what they learn and give what they get!

* * *

Take Action:
* Check out “I LOVE Bayview” on Improve SF!
* Share their stories on social media and by word of mouth.
* Volunteer at your local YMCA

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Photo credit: Flickr

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