Weekly e-Newsletter 2/22/2022

Art of the Week

billboard 2
Social Studies 101: Resist Covid/Take 6

Digital Billboard by Carrie Mae Weems for the Social Studies 101 Resist Covid/Take 6 Billboard Project. Please check out the project’s other powerful billboards. They highlight how African American communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, while also honoring frontline workers.

The title is inspired by the recommendation of six feet of separation for social distance. These photographs and billboards were displayed across Syracuse, NY. 

Carrie Mae Weems is a prolific, contemporary African American artist most known for her photography – specifically The Kitchen Table Series. She is an Artist in Residence at Syracuse University and resides in NY. 

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Sustainability Fact: Health benefits of practicing kindness

Credit: Random Act of Kindness Foundation

Altruism has been proven to stimulate the reward centers of the brain, often coined as the “helper’s high.” Studies also show routinely practicing kindness can reduce the risk for cognitive impairment. 

Sandee LaMotte, shares that kindness can specifically help lower blood pressure, reduce physical pain and increase one’s overall happiness. 

To read more about the health benefits of practicing kindness, visit here.

Sustainability Tip: Reusable Straws

Credit: Saveur for The Best Reusable Straws

Friday, February 25th is National Skip a Straw Day. Plastic straws are not biodegradable or compostable and often end up in the ocean due to their size.

Ariel Scotti, a food blogger with Food52, ranks eco-friendly straws from best to worst. Here is her list: 

  1. Silicone 
  2. Metal
  3. Glass
  4. Sugarcane
  5. Bamboo
  6. Paper

Read here to see the reasoning behind Scotti’s rankings.

Self-Reflection

Here are two questions we invite you to explore:

What have you learned or been particularly impacted by from Black History Month? How are you committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion in your everyday life?

Please share any of your thoughts or responses by emailing info@afors.org. We would love to continue these conversations with you and possibly share with others.

Weekly e-Newsletter

February 22, 2022
Editors: Rae’Jean Alford & Terry Gips

At the Alliance

This week wraps up Black History Month. We hope that everything from our education on “stimmys” to our sharing of Black American art and focus on issues of concern has broadened people’s understanding of diversity within sustainability. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for how we can continue to expand our inclusivity. 

It’s hard to believe but Earth Day is just two months away. Please let us know if your business, school or organization might be interested in the Alliance doing a virtual or in-person SHE Kindness (Sustainability, Health, Equity and Kindness) presentation for Earth Month.

We are also looking for 20 schools, 10 from under-served communities, that are interested in participating in our SHE Kindness School Program. If you are an educator and interested in collaborating with us, please send us an email at info@afors.org.

Don’t forget to continue participating with the Alliance team in the month-long Plastic-Free Challenge sponsored by Hennepin County. The challenge ends this Monday, February 28th!

We welcome your newsletter submissions and donations toward our SHE Kindness Campaign for sustainability, health, equity and kindness.

Inspiration: Death Done Differently

Credit: September Dawn Bottoms for TIME

Have you ever heard of a death doula? They are caregivers that provide support to individuals during the end-of-life transition. Since Covid-19, the use of death doulas has dramatically risen. The National-End-Of-Life Alliance has reported that enrollment has tripled during the pandemic. 

This TIME article shares that “They can help write farewell letters or stockpile memos to surviving loved ones for milestones they’ll miss, such as weddings, birthdays and graduations. They can listen to someone’s life story for hours on end or hear out their proudest moments and worst mistakes. ‘I hear stories that maybe they’ve never told anyone before,’ Web says. ‘I hear stories that may never be heard again.’ Upon request, death doulas can make sure Whitney Houston is playing in the background, fill the house with scents of Christmas cookies at the moment of death or find new homes for pets that will be left behind.”

There are rich African American, Jewish and other cultural traditions where community members usher loved ones through the transition from life to death. However, death has now become incredibly commercialized. Ironically, hospice care has become one of the best aspects of health care and death doulas are playing a key role.

During this pandemic, we have found ourselves faced with death more than we ever have. Many have ignored or avoided the topic of death in fear of it being too morbid. Utilizing support, such as death doulas, encourages us to embrace the beauty of transition surrounded by loved ones. 

Take Action: Continue the Expanded Child Tax Credit

Credit: Action Network

A year ago, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act which expanded the child tax credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child (and $3,600 per child under the age of six). The expanded child tax credit provided much needed assistance to millions of American families, reaching 61 million American children last December alone, which helped to keep an astonishing 3.7 million children out of poverty. Overall, the expanded child tax credit cut childhood poverty by an estimated 30%.  However, the expanded child tax credits expired on January first, and the childhood poverty rate is estimated to increase from 12.1 percent to 17.1 percent in the next few months.

The expanded child tax credit suffered a setback with the defeat of the Build Back Better Act, but the Alliance, along with many other like-minded organizations, is determined to push for a permanent form of the expanded child tax credit. Doing so would help keep millions of kids out of poverty, paving the way for a more equitable and just future. Moreover, research by Columbia University shows that taxpayers would earn back 84 cents for every dollar invested. 

Join the Alliance in supporting MoveOn’s urging Congress and President Biden to make the Expanded Child Tax Credit Permanent.

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