Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Favorite Charities, Take Two

In May 2007, I wrote a blog entry about my favorite charities, but there were too many of them, so I'm going to try to narrow it down. The origin of the thought was hearing about requests to donate to a charity "in lieu of flowers" in honor of dead people, and trying to figure out what charities I would want people to donate to for me. But it's really about more than that. It's about getting to what values are most important to me, because once I identify that, I can think that about how to live my life in service to those values.

I favor trying to grow the good things rather than trying to tear down the bad things. The values that are most important to me seem to fall into two general categories:
  1. Community. I aspire to be a person who knits people together and spreads harmonious feelings. I like groups/institutions that emphasize integrity, community, egalitarianism, and participatory decision-making. I have experienced this type of community at Haverford and at Clearwater. Other places that probably also have this type of community are Marlboro College, College of the Atlantic, Waldorf schools (Hawthorne Valley School appeals to me), Sudbury schools, and Quaker schools. One thing about these schools and about Clearwater is that people can be a part of the community and then take the values they learned from it out into the rest of the world.

    Folk music can be used to inspire a sense of community. Pete Seeger has a gift for this. I also admire the way his grandson, Tao Rodriguez Seeger, shines a light on other people.

    I like libraries, because they try to give everyone equal access to information.

    People are diverse. It's natural to seek the company of people who share one's culture and values. I don't expect that all people will be comfortable in all groups. But we should respect and grant rights to all people. Morality should not be judged based on theology, wealth, or the number and gender of one's sexual partners. Instead, the measure of morality should have to do with whether we treat other people with respect, compassion, and integrity.

    HomoRadio is a radio show which enlightens people about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.

    Oliver's Naturals is a restuarant which knits people together and spreads harmonious feeling. It also promotes organic, locally grown food, which brings me to my next item:

  2. Sustainability. I like small business, organic foods, farmer's markets, food co-ops, simple living, and solar power. Many times supporting these things also includes supporting community. For example, I connect with local people when I go to the farmer's market or community garden.

Based on the above, my list of favorite charities/institutions includes:

  • Haverford College (especially Quaker Student Scholarship Fund)
  • Clearwater (especially funding for low income people to attend the festival)
  • Your local public library
  • HomoRadio
  • Oliver's Naturals
  • Fedco
  • Capital District Community Gardens
  • Troy Farmer's Market

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