About the Author

“The Power of Giving” – Book Review

When many people think back to the best times in our life, often a part of this memory is the experience of giving to another. One of my fondest memories was when I participated in a volunteer trip two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated many parts of New Orleans, LA. Our volunteer group participated in the clean up of both a day care center and a school library. By the end of the week, many of the trip members (including myself) felt this experience to be so profound that it changed our lives forever. In fact, it was so profound for me that it had some weight in my decision to go back to graduate school and pursue my Masters degree in Social Work. So, when I started reading The Power of Giving by Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon, memories of experiences in my life where I had given something came back to me, and I was reminded of how impactful the feeling of generosity can be.

Book Review: The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin

Teaching Youth How to Give Back to the World

Stewardship is “the spirit that influences” giving, receiving, and generosity (as Wayne Clark defines it in his book, Beyond Fundraising). As adults, while many of us give our time, money, or energy to worthy causes, one must recall where that desire came from. Think back to your life as a child; did you help others as you were growing up? In what capacities were you able to help? Who taught you how important it is to give back to the community? Wayne Clark writes, “People are not born with the giving gene,” so we must teach individuals to be successful stewards. If a culture of giving is created at a young age, becoming a successful steward as an adult is a likely reality.

The Giving Book, which is geared towards children ages 6-11, is a 64-page activity book written to stimulate a child’s creativity and thoughts around the ideas of giving, donating, and saving. Some of the activities in this book include:

  1. creating a list of people who have been giving to you or have shown you acts of charity, making a list of what you are thankful for,
  2. compiling a list of special skills and talents you can share with others, and
  3. creating a giving bag in which you save up your money and then give to your charity of choice


Furry Vengeance – Film Review

Recently, I was approached by an individual from the company Different Drummer, a Fan-mobilization agency, about attending a premiere of the movie Furry Vengeance. I took this opportunity and ran with it as I was interested to see how big a role the theme of sustainability and respect for the environment would play in it. Additionally, I was intrigued by the fact that there was a campaign running simultaneously with the release of the film. The campaign, as their website states “will focus on the importance of endangered species and habitat preservation. A customized package including activities and materials, distributed to elementary students nationwide, will engage and educate future environmentalists. It will offer tools and opportunities for students to explore the natural areas of their communities and develop skills and deeper knowledge of habitat and animal protection issues.”


‘Til the River Runs Clear – Film Review

             The Hudson River is considered the largest Superfund site in the United States, with over 200 miles of water scheduled for cleanup after the river was contaminated with PCBs from General Electric and various other industrial manufacturing companies over many years of dumping in the river. In the 1960’s, when there were virtually no environmental laws yet passed to protect our natural resources, an organization named the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. was launched by folk singer Pete Seeger and other advocates.

In the PBS short film (approximately 30 minutes) ‘Til the River Runs Clear, the community organizing effort put together by Pete Seeger & others is chronicled. The film begins by telling the story of how Pete Seeger and other activists got the idea of cleaning up the Hudson River. From there, the decision was made to build a traditional wooden sloop which was a replica of 18th and 19th century sailing vessels. The hope in building this particular type of ship was to encourage people to preserve the rivers beauty. Once the ship was launched in 1969, people began to take notice of just how powerful environmental advocacy could be. Today, Clearwater focuses on education and advocacy, bringing people on board to sail and experience the beauty of the river. The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. is one of the pioneering organizations that drew attention to this river that was once dying.

While so many activist movements have great intentions and promote something that I believe in, I was particularly moved by this documentary for a few reasons. The first reason is because it is close to my heart; I grew up in New Jersey, very close to Manhattan, and remember going for walks with my family down by the rivers edge. I remember thinking that such a grand, beautiful place should be able to be enjoyed by its citizens, instead of simply saddening them. Also, as a famous folk singer, Pete Seeger was (and still is) in the public eye for his popular music. I do think that there is something to be said for an individual that is a potential role model to millions of individuals to be part of such an important, environmental project.

In addition to the Hudson River Sloop educating and advocating for environmental awareness and change, each year the organization holds the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. This year, the River Revival takes place on June 19 & 20. While the lineup of performers has yet to be announced for 2010, past years have brought some famous names to the stage. A few of these artists have been Arlo Guthrie, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, Tom Paxton and Toshi Reagon. For more information about this year’s lineup, check out their website.

“The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales” – A Book Review

barefootbookFor a child to understand their own connections to the Earth as well as the commonalities between themselves and other children around the world is a priceless gift. This can help children to understand the importance of Earth, its care, and can have a lasting effect on any child. The tradition of oral storytelling, which has been practiced for thousands of years, can act as a connection between children all around the world and their Earth. The tradition continues to grow and change and the book, The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales written by Dawn Casey and Anne Wilson, commits these traditional oral stories to print. Each story is connected in some way and all celebrate the beauty of nature and remind us of the importance of Earth.

There are also some unique characteristics to this book that make it special. Prior to each folk tale, there is a brief history of where the story originated from, and how it has sustained its popularity. Additionally, after each folk tale there is an activity that has some sort of connection to the story or the history of the region from which the story came from. Some examples of activities are how to build a willow den, how to make a pinecone birdfeeder, how to make a song-line painting, and how to make a cornhusk doll. Directions for all activities are simple, materials are inexpensive, and all can be completed in less than an hour.