Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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The Red X

Curious about the red X you see everyone on social media today? Today, February 25th, is the day thousands of us all over the world will “Shine A Light on Slavery.”

Yes, slavery still exists. And yes, so do modern-day abolitionists!

Here are a few facts from Not For Sale:

  • What is it? Modern-day slavery is the acquisition of people using force, deception or coercion with the intent to exploit. Slavery is wrapped up in almost every industry’s supply chain, tainting the food we eat, the clothes we buy and the electronics we use. After the international drug trade, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.
  • How many people are currently enslaved? There are 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any point in history.
  • What kinds of slavery exist today? Labor trafficking and debt bondage are the most common forms of slavery today. Using coercion, violence and deception, labor traffickers force victims to work against their will in industries that range from small mom-and-pop shops to enormous mineral extraction camps.

    Sex trafficking is also extremely widespread, generating $99 billion in illegal profits annually. Victims of sex trafficking are predominantly women and girls who are forced to work in the commercial sex trade against their will. Physical and emotional violence is an intrinsic part of this industry, which preys on those in conditions of physical, economic and psychological vulnerability.

  • Why does slavery occur? Trafficking exists because there is skyrocketing demand for cheap products, labor and services. For traffickers, there is also abundant money to be made and little risk of discovery because the crime is so difficult to identify.
  • Where does slavery occur? Slavery and human trafficking occur in virtually every corner of the world, with hundreds of thousands of victims in the United States alone. Victims of trafficking have been found in all 50 states and in cities, rural areas and suburbs.
  • Men, women, and children are sold into a $150 billion annual market for sex and labor. After the international drug trade, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second- largest criminal industry in the world.
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (C.S.E.C.) is the sexual abuse of a minor for economic gain. The majority of child victims come from environments of extreme instability, and most have suffered sexual abuse prior to their commercial exploitation. Homeless and street youth, or those facing food and shelter insecurities are also easy targets.
  • There are an estimated 2 million children exploited in the commercial sex industry worldwide. And 12 to 14 is the age in which a girl is sexually exploited in the commercial sex industry in the US.

 

“Shine a Light on Slavery Day” was instituted by the END IT MOVEMENT as a way to unify the cause so many of us fight year round and in our own spaces.

So, this is it. This is our day to let the world know that SLAVERY STILL EXISTS and we won’t stand for it! We want to own the conversation on February 25th. Join us and raise your voice for the men, women and children trapped in slavery around the world today. Draw a RED X on your hand, snap a selfie and post it using #enditmovement. Awareness isn’t everything, but without it, slavery will never end.

About the END IT MOVEMENT:

END IT is a coalition of the leading organizations in the world in the fight for FREEDOM. Each of their amazing 16 coalition partners are doing the work, on the ground, everyday, to bring AWARENESS, PREVENTION, RESCUE, and RESTORATION.

 

If you see something you need report, or if you need help, please call 911 or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text “BeFree” to 233733, or submit a tip online at PolarisProject.org.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela


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I’m going to India! Would you be willing to help?

ThinkstockPhotos-470167860

Darjeeling, India

I’m so excited to be heading to India for the first time this July with two friends to learn and explore. My friend who is leading the team is the founder of an organization that assists at-risk girls in India to pursue their education through university level with “life scholarships,” which provide housing, tuition, clothing, medical care, life training, tutoring, service opportunities, stability and care while in school. The funding is mostly accomplished through her tea shop in Downtown Atlanta, which is how I met her.

Unfortunately, some women and girls in India are still persecuted for being female, especially in rural areas like Darjeeling. And for some of these girls in the program, good alternatives would be hard to find. They have already faced incomprehensible challenges in their young lives such as: families who couldn’t provide for them, being orphaned for being a girl, and the threat of being trafficked or forced into prostitution, among others. So, I’m excited to meet the scholars in this program who are excelling in their education, and have promising futures that might not otherwise be available to them. They will create a better India. In a country of 1.2 billion people, the education disparity between girls and boys, especially after age 14, is still far too high. Programs like this one are helping to fill the void. For more information on girls’ education in India, please see the “women’s education” section on this page.

Additionally, many of you are aware of my passion for abolishing modern-day slavery. According to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, India has more slaves than any other country in the world, around 14 million. Therefore, I am very interested to see the climate which fosters this reality, and hopefully meet other organizations who are on the front lines of fighting this atrocity in its various forms.

And, of course, there will be many bright spots in this trip. India is a unique and beautiful country with a long and interesting history. I’m really excited to see the culture and vibrancy of these remarkable people.

It’s going to be an incredible trip, and I’d love to have you partner with me.

Here are some of the things we’ll be doing:

  • Staying with the 11 scholars at their center and spending time with them, helping however we can and learning their individual stories.
  • Exploring the cities of Kolkata and Darjeeling, and possibly Mumbai.
  • Visiting the tea plantation in Darjeeling where my friend sources her tea.
  • Connecting with other local orgs that are fighting various forms human and labor trafficking.
  • Having a ton of fun along the way!

If any additional money is raised beyond my needs or goal, I plan to give it as a donation to this incredible organization. And if you’d like to make a donation to them directly, I’m happy to connect you.

**Unfortunately, donations made for this trip are not tax-deductible. I realize that may impact your ability to give, and I still deeply appreciate any consideration. Also, please know that Indiegogo Life, where my campaign is housed, charges no fees for its service, therefore all donations will go directly to me outside of your standard credit card fees which are typically around 3%.**


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I’m Buying HOPE, JOY and PEACE This Holiday Season

This is a repost of a blog I did last year about this time because it’s a message that still resonates strongly with me, and I hope it will with you too. May your holiday shopping be full of hope and happiness for all.

 


 

136159002

A few months ago I read Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma. I wasn’t expecting the book that it turned out to be, but it was still very good. It sort of turned out to be a Bible study on justice. I would definitely recommend it, and not just for those passionate about the issue like me, but even for the mildly curious. I learned a lot and will be marinating on it for a long time to come.

There were a few things mentioned in the book that stuck with me, but none more than what I wanted to share with you now. Did you know that it costs approximately $21 billion to get clean, safe drinking water to everyone in the world? If you weren’t aware, almost 1 in 7 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to this most basic need. $21 billion. I know, right, it sounds like a lot—like a whole lot! It sounds like scratching our heads and calling summits and raising money and finally reconciling ourselves to the fact that $21 billion is impossible to find in a world drowning in debt. Sometimes it sounds like giving up.

And then I found out…

The National Retail Federation estimates that over $600 BILLION will be spent in November and December this year. I’m sorry, what? That’s just this season. When I think about it, that makes me sick. In fact, the contrast in those two numbers has literally haunted me since I’ve read the book.

I think about people I know that rush around trying to buy gifts, any kind of gifts, for the people on their Christmas list. Mostly those are close family and friends, but usually there’s at least one obligatory gift on there as well. I think of gifts that aren’t bought out of need, but out of courtesy. I think of the stress so many people feel when it comes to the holidays. It seems to be more about putting anything under the tree that caring about what it is, as long as you’ve checked that box.

Something. Has. To. Change.

I love the holidays. I love the chill in the air, and the warm drinks. I love watching Christmas movies. I love decorating my apartment. I love seeing twinkle lights go up everywhere. And I love buying gifts. Gift giving is one of my love languages. It makes me happy to see the look on people’s face when I give them a gift. In fact, the anticipation of seeing their faces when I give them the gift makes me happy! I have always tried very hard, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, to find the perfect gift that will make the recipient smile. It’s a challenge that I relish.

And, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty good at it. But the last few years, ever since pursing justice myself and learning more about supply chain and slave labor, I’ve tried to challenge myself in a new way. I try very hard to find not only gifts of meaning, but gifts that do good or do not perpetuate slave labor. I’m also an environmentalist, so I try to cut down on packaging and reuse when possible. So, really, I thought I could pat myself on the back from up on my high horse—until I read those statistics.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to do more. I can’t completely give up gift-giving, because I love it so much, but there is more I can do. For one thing, I can help educate you. What if we all started buying differently? What if we started contributing more and consuming less? What if we took a hard look at the real difference between shopping and giving? What if the presents had real meaning, not just for the recipient you know, but those who created it or will benefit from the purchase? What if?

Here is an awesome video by Advent Conspiracy to help illustrate. In fact, they have a lot of great personal and church resources to help you explore this idea. I’m looking forward to reading their book this season.

As I said, I don’t have this all figured out, but I’m trying. I want to contribute, not just consume. I want buy better and think better and live better. And even more, I want that for everyone else. I want it for you, and those you know, and those around the world who don’t have clean water or adequate shelter or who live in fear. We all share this world.

The holidays are a season of hope. Hope, joy, peace—we see those words written on everything this time of year from cards to commercials. What if they weren’t just platitudes? What if we added those to our Christmas list? What if, when we started buying gifts, we kept those three words in mind? Will the things we buy this season promote hope or joy or peace? If not, then let’s not buy them. Find a better alternative. I bet there’s one out there.

Here are a few places to help you get started:

Purchasing on Amazon? Use Amazon Smile

Purchase with Purpose

Free2Work

Not For Sale Store

Better World Shopper

Greater Good

Free to Shop

World Vision Gift Catalog

Fair Trade USA

Ten Thousand Villages

Charity Water

Kiva

Living Water International

International Justice Mission Gift Catalog

Notes From a Thoughtful Life

The Good Shopping Guide

Ethical Consumer

 

There are so many more, though, so keep looking! And if you need to go the department store route, you could even institute your own TOMS-esque one for one model. For example, if you give someone a shirt, donate one as well. Challenge each other to be better, think creatively and give more.

Give gifts that tell stories, and write yourself a new one in the process.

______________________________________

And here’s a great article from the TODAY Show about families who try to put more meaning into gifts and the holidays.

Here is another from LearnVest, a money budgeting site if you’re looking for a more frugal point-of-view.

One more from journalist/activist, Nick Kristoff, whom I greatly admire.

 

DID I MISS YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCE? PLEASE ADD IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION! I’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT.

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)


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February Atlanta Events

459993477Ah, amore! It’s may be cold outside, but hearts remain warm inside. However, whether you’re flying solo or part of a duo, there are plenty of things to keep you busy in February.

Stay cozy out there!


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Shopping vs. Giving

136159002A few months ago I read Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma. I wasn’t expecting the book that it turned out to be, but it was still very good. It sort of turned out to be a Bible study on justice. I would definitely recommend it, and not just for those passionate about the issue like me, but even for the mildly curious. I learned a lot and will be marinating on it for a long time to come.

There were a few things mentioned in the book that stuck with me, but none more than what I wanted to share with you now. Did you know that it costs approximately $21 billion to get clean, safe drinking water to everyone in the world? If you weren’t aware, almost 1 in 7 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to this most basic need. $21 billion. I know, right, it sounds like a lot—like a whole lot! It sounds like scratching our heads and calling summits and raising money and finally reconciling ourselves to the fact that $21 billion is impossible to find in a world drowning in debt. Sometimes it sounds like giving up.

And then I found out…

The National Retail Federation estimates that over $600 BILLION will be spent in November and December this year. I’m sorry, what? That’s just this season. When I think about it, that makes me sick. In fact, the contrast in those two numbers has literally haunted me since I’ve read the book.

I think about people I know that rush around trying to buy gifts, any kind of gifts, for the people on their Christmas list. Mostly those are close family and friends, but usually there’s at least one obligatory gift on there as well. I think of gifts that aren’t bought out of need, but out of courtesy. I think of the stress so many people feel when it comes to the holidays. It seems to be more about putting anything under the tree that caring about what it is, as long as you’ve checked that box.

Something. Has. To. Change.

I love the holidays. I love the chill in the air, and the warm drinks. I love watching Christmas movies. I love decorating my apartment. I love seeing twinkle lights go up everywhere. And I love buying gifts. Gift giving is one of my love languages. It makes me happy to see the look on people’s face when I give them a gift. In fact, the anticipation of seeing their faces when I give them the gift makes me happy! I have always tried very hard, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, to find the perfect gift that will make the recipient smile. It’s a challenge that I relish.

And, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty good at it. But the last few years, ever since pursing justice myself and learning more about supply chain and slave labor, I’ve tried to challenge myself in a new way. I try very hard to find not only gifts of meaning, but gifts that do good or do not perpetuate slave labor. I’m also an environmentalist, so I try to cut down on packaging and reuse when possible. So, really, I thought I could pat myself on the back from up on my high horse—until I read those statistics.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to do more. I can’t completely give up gift-giving, because I love it so much, but there is more I can do. For one thing, I can help educate you. What if we all started buying differently? What if we started contributing more and consuming less? What if we took a hard look at the real difference between shopping and giving? What if the presents had real meaning, not just for the recipient you know, but those who created it or will benefit from the purchase? What if?

Here is an awesome video by Advent Conspiracy to help illustrate. In fact, they have a lot of great personal and church resources to help you explore this idea. I’m looking forward to reading their book this season.

As I said, I don’t have this all figured out, but I’m trying. I want to contribute, not just consume. I want buy better and think better and live better. And even more, I want that for everyone else. I want it for you, and those you know, and those around the world who don’t have clean water or adequate shelter or who live in fear. We all share this world.

The holidays are a season of hope. Hope, joy, peace—we see those words written on everything this time of year from cards to commercials. What if they weren’t just platitudes? What if we added those to our Christmas list? What if, when we started buying gifts, we kept those three words in mind? Will the things we buy this season promote hope or joy or peace? If not, then let’s not buy them. Find a better alternative. I bet there’s one out there.

Here are a few places to help you get started:

Purchase with Purpose

Free2Work

Not For Sale Store

Better World Shopper

Greater Good

Free to Shop

World Vision Gift Catalog

Fair Trade USA

Ten Thousand Villages

Charity Water

Kiva

Living Water International

International Justice Mission Gift Catalog

There are so many more, though, so keep looking! And if you need to go the department store route, you could even institute your own TOMS-esque one for one model. For example, if you give someone a shirt, donate one as well. Challenge each other to be better, think creatively and give more.

Give gifts that tell stories, and write yourself a new one in the process.

______________________________________

And here’s a great article from the TODAY Show about families who try to put more meaning into gifts and the holidays.

Here is another from LearnVest, a money budgeting site if you’re looking for a more frugal point-of-view.

One more from journalist/activist, Nick Kristoff, whom I greatly admire.