Category Archives: activism

lasagna love.

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The Nonprofit Spreading Kindness One Lasagna at a Time: “We Have the Power to Shift Communities” 

Food is more than a simple snack or meal: It symbolizes comfort, connection, and care, and we’ve been using it to nurture social relationships since at least the Bronze Age. So when Rhiannon Menn found herself yearning to make an impact as the COVID-19 pandemic caused layoffs, school closures, and illnesses, she started cooking.

“I just thought, well, what do I love to do? And what do I know how to do? And for me, that’s cooking; it’s my happy place,” the mother of three told Nice News. In March of 2020, Menn began making extra pans of lasagna, then got on Facebook, found a few “mom groups” in the San Diego area, and offered to drop them off to anyone in need. She delivered seven meals her first week and quickly began getting messages from other people inspired to help. “All of a sudden I found myself managing this network of amazing volunteers who all wanted to feed people in their community,” Menn said.

Just over two years later, Lasagna Love has become a registered nonprofit with over 35,000 volunteers — or “Lasagna Chefs” as they are called — in all 50 states, as well as Canada and Australia. Altogether, they’ve delivered more than 250,000 lasagnas, feeding over one million people in total. The organization has been featured on Good Morning America and The Kelly Clarkson Show. And Menn believes it’s all a testament to how many people are looking for an outlet to show kindness and help others.

Lasagna chefs are matched with families based on distance and dietary restrictions. Once a match is made, all communication occurs directly between those two people. “We do feed families, and that’s important, but really what we’re doing is spreading kindness and strengthening communities, and it’s through those one-on-one bonds that it moves the needle on connectedness,” said Menn.

And there are no eligibility requirements to request a meal or nominate a family. One of the nonprofit’s core values is zero judgment. “We can’t say what needing help looks like,” Menn said, “only you, as a recipient, know what it means to need help”

Virginia resident Jan Delucien, who experienced a traumatic brain injury that left her unable to work, requested a lasagna after hearing about the organization in a support group. For the 64-year-old, the smiling volunteer handing her a home-cooked dish at her door meant much more than just a free meal. “It really was a gift of love,” Delucien told the AP through tears.

According to Menn, when asked if they felt inspired to pay the act of kindness forward, 97% of Lasagna Love meal recipients said they did, and a quarter responded that they already had. “I deliver a lasagna to you, and then you’re inspired to go donate a bag of clothes, or maybe share the meal with somebody, or maybe volunteer at the local animal shelter. So, all of a sudden, those million people that were fed — how many acts does that actually result in? And that’s where we have the power to really shift communities,” she said.

The founder hopes that one day the world won’t need Lasagna Love anymore and that people will help each other entirely organically. But until then, Menn and her team will keep spreading kindness one lasagna at a time.

“no matter what you’re going through in life, eat first.”

-wordporn

 

credit: rebecca brandes

on maple street.

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one of my personal idols

brilliant writer and social activist, rod serling

wrote this story in 1960, as a prescient warning

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy; and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone. – Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone episode: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street-1960

“photography is telling stories.” – jim spillane

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attending the annual ann arbor art fair

i had great luck and the honor of meeting

photographer/human rights advocate, jim spillane.

i happened by his stall

drawn in by the beauty and subjects of his photographs

especially taken with his pictures of children

after much thought

finally decided on one

a young tibetan child

tiny hands held together in hello.

i asked jim his story

how he had come to take these stunning pictures all over the world.

once a criminal defense attorney in the gerald ford white house

representing vietnam war draft resisters seeking amnesty

he got sick, had a horrible experience

 changed his life

trained with an ansel adams associate

began traveling the world

taking photographs of people

his subject is the human condition and the connections and responsibilities we have for each other.

using his pictures as a way to create interest, open discussion, communicate, call attention to a cause

he has worked taking photographs of workers at a nepalese brick factory for many years

created a photo book of the workers

to speak out and to tell their stories with his photographs

still seeking to help those in need and to be an effective advocate for them.

he is a natural artist, storyteller, teacher, advocate, and man.

“in recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”

-thurgood marshall, former justice of supreme court of the united states

link to his website: jimspillane.com

link to his book, ‘the face of bricks’: https://www.blurb.com/b/9897011-the-face-of-bricks

finding dabls in detroit.

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i recently went with a group of colleagues/friends

to find the artist, dabls

working on his block in detroit

where we learned so much from him

an experience i’ll never forget

dabls’ installation-‘iron teaching rocks how to rust’ 

artist/storyteller dabls

uses materials as metaphors

to pass on his stories

of african and european art/cultures

open to everyone

he can be found working and sharing stories

on this abandoned block

that he has reclaimed

as his own and the community’s

most every day

dalbas mbad african bead museum

where each of his beads tells a story

dabls’ art has brought this house to life

 “Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named.

And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art;

to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos.”

-Madeleine L’Engle

The Kresge Foundation elected Dabls as “2022 Eminent Artist”

to recognize his accomplishments in the arts as well as his lifelong impact on Detroit’s culture.

to read his full story go to:

http://www.mbad.org/best-friends

or just stop by to see him.

peace by chocolate on valentine’s day and every day.

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This is a true and incredible human story, of a refugee family losing everything, leaving their home, and finding a new home and new life in an unexpected place and in unexpected ways. I’ve been following their story since their arrival in Canada and they are a wonderful example of will, grit, tenacity, family, compassion, overcoming odds, and a sheer refusal to give up. They are paying it forward by giving back to the people in their new community and beyond. Supporting those who welcomed them and may need the help that they so generously received when they were in desperate need. Plus, their chocolate in incredible.

So exciting!

We are so happy to announce that the movie based on our story, Peace by Chocolate – The Film is coming to theatres, exclusively at Cineplex across Canada on May 6th and the official trailer of the movie was finally released. This movie is a platform to share hope with Canadians and the world -something we all need more than anything these days. See you all at the theatres this spring. (no date yet for u.s. or international openings)

“generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do,

but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.”

-khalil gibran

today’s the day.

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my spirit animal
Last year, five animal candidates vied for the much sought-after title of Mayor of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. This important election decided the Zoo’s first Mayor, the highest-ranking animal official who showcased the important role of animal ambassadors. One of the five candidates, (and my favorite), who made it past the primary rounds to the general election was:

Peaches the Nigerian dwarf goat. Peaches is the mother of two sets of triplets and a set of twins. She has raised all the kids on her own, demonstrating her can-do spirit. She’s quiet and friendly unless she needs to assert herself and is rarely in a baaaaad mood.

P.S. Wiggles the Chinchilla got the most votes and won by a hair. 

“not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.”

-keith ellison

 

 credit: lisa clair, hamlet hub

art house.

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the kinder created a new house for the fairies

after their old house broke apart

and they had nowhere to live.

after learning about detroit artist, tyree guyton,

they created the house in his artistic style

and placed it in the garden

where beautiful flowers were just beginning to bloom.

“life itself is an art form”

-tyree guyton (creator of the heidelberg project)

https://www.tyreeguyton.com/about

open society.

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 powerful messages found everywhere

 

“in an open society, no idea can be above scrutiny, just as no people should be beneath dignity.”

-maajid nawaz

 

grand trunk pub, detroit, michigan, usa -2020