Posts by Leah Koenig
by Leah Koenig | May 22, 2013 | 0 comments
Summer is almost here, and what better way to celebrate the year’s most outdoorsy season than with digging into a do-it-yourself eco-friendly project or activity? Whether you’re gaga for gardening, tempted by travel, bonkers for books, or just feeling adventurous, here are seven ways to get your hands dirty while making a sustainable impact:
- Build a garden. Got a backyard, a patio, a sunny window, or a kitchen counter with a little extra space? Flex your green thumb by building a garden and enjoy fresh, organically-grown herbs or vegetables all summer.
- Learn to can (finally). You know you’ve thought about it before – learning to preserve summer’s seasonal produce that is. Whether it’s making your own sauerkraut, canning tomatoes, or simmering down freshly picked fruit for jam (best smell ever!), now’s the time! Learn how to can fresh food safely, and get to preserving.
- Read green. When the summer gets too hot too handle, cool down by picking out and leafing through a stack of books at an eco-friendly library.
- Road trip sustainably. Got summer road trip plans, but want to stay as green as possible along the way? Check out Ethical Ocean’s tips to avoid leaving a large carbon footprint along the way. Bonus points: offset the carbon footprint for the miles you drive, and contact non-profit organizations in a couple of cities you plan to visit, and offer to come in for a day (or week) to volunteer en route.
- Knit a green hat for winter. Love to knit, or learning how? Make sure the yarn you use is made from organic or recycled fibers and natural dyes.
- Clean grean. This summer, wipe your cabinets clean of all those bottles of unsustainable cleansers, soaps, and bleaches. Restock with homemade, environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
- Ditch plastic in your kitchen. Stock up on reusable produce and grain bags to bring with you to the market or grocery store. Can’t seem to remember to bring them? Stuff them inside larger tote bags and and hang them on your door knob, so they’re the last thing you see on the way out the door.
How are you DIY greening your summer plans? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.
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by Leah Koenig | May 21, 2013 | 3 comments
Yesterday, a deadly tornado ripped through suburbs of Oklahoma City. Dozens of people have already been declared dead (rescue workers are still looking for survivors), and the damage to the area has been extensive with schools, homes, businesses and roads destroyed. Interested in helping the victims of the Oklahoma Tornado? Here’s a quick list of how to help. (NOTE: We’ll update this list as more relief efforts are posted.)
- Safe and Well Register yourself on the safe and well website, where you can check in or search for loved ones after a disaster.
- The Red Cross Make a donation to the Red Cross, which provides immediate relief for families impacted by the storm, and is part of the rescue and recovery efforts.
- United Way of Central Oklahoma Donate to the United Way, which is helping families on-the-ground in Oklahoma.
- Restore Photos. GOOD put a call out for Photoshop professionals (and enthusiastic amateurs) to help restore important family photos damaged in the tornado.
- Dine out for Oklahoma A variety of restaurants in Oklahoma and nationwide will be donating a portion of their sales to recovery efforts. Find out if there’s a location near you.
- Local shelters If you have friends and family in the area, pass along this list of local and temporary shelters that are springing up in the area to house people who lost their homes in the storm.
Know of opportunities to help out Oklahoma tornado victims? Tweet using #Oklahoma #tornado @repairtheworld
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by Leah Koenig | May 21, 2013 | 0 comments
It’s official: spring is in the air. That means: it’s time to plan some picnics, finalize summer plans and – SPRING CLEAN! Whether you
live love to clean, or can’t stand the thought of picking up a mop or dustpan, there is something about the arrival of spring that brings out everyone’s inner clean freak.
But spring cleaning doesn’t only refer to tidying up your physical space. It also means finding ways to de-clutter your life emotionally, and renew your commitment to helping others. Get a jump start on spring cleaning this year by finding ways to shed the clutter while doing some good:
- Closet purge. You know you’ve been meaning to organize your closet. Go through your clothes, then organize a clothing swap with friends. Donate any clothes that don’t get swapped to charity.
- Recycle your phone. Got an unloved cell phone (or several) lying around? Recycle it! Check out the EPA’s list of stores and facilities that accept old cell phones here.
- Park (or beach) cleanup. Organize a park, beach or other public space cleanup in your neighborhood. Many cities, like Seattle and New York, also provide opportunities for people to plug into official clean up events.
- Sort and file. Are you an organizing whiz? Volunteer to organize the files of your favorite non-profit – chances are, they would greatly appreciate the help.
- Join a CSA. Now is the time to sign up for a season’s worth of fresh vegetables and fruit from a local farm. (Find out more about CSAs here.) After you sign up, scrub out your fridge’s vegetable drawers in preparation for all that tasty produce.
How are you adding service to your spring cleaning? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.
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by Leah Koenig | May 20, 2013 | 0 comments
All around the country, graduating high school and college seniors are beginning to don their caps and gowns, walk down the aisle, shake some hands, get their diplomas, smile for the camera and sit patiently while someone of some import delivers a commencement speech meant to inspire them to greatness The thing is, you don’t have to be the president, or a rockstar or billionaire to inspire others. Anyone can share memorable commencement wisdom – including you!
Got something to say to this year’s grads? Repair the World wants you to share your wisdom – in 140 characters or less – for our second annual “Dear Class Of…” crowdsourced commencement speech!
Tweet your thoughts and wishes to this year’s grads at #RepairGrads13. Most ReTweeted wishes are eligible to win amazing prizes from Repair the World!
Need some inspiration? Before twitter and viral videos, the 1997 Kurt Vonnegut commencement speech went viral. (Ok, it may be an urban myth that it was at MIT. And, yes, we know that many of you weren’t yet out of middle school – but it’s a great read). Two years ago, Stephen Colbert rocked it out at Northwestern University, while the late Steve Jobs percolated some new ideas at Stanford in 2005.
Send us your bits of wisdom by tweeting us at @repairtheworld, #RepairGrads13. Most ReTweeted wishes are eligible to win awesome prizes from Repair the World!
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by Leah Koenig | May 14, 2013 | 0 comments
Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that starts on Tuesday night, is a holiday of bellyaches. For a group of people known for our, ahem, “issues with lactose,” it seems almost cruel that one of the Jewish calendar’s major holidays would come along with the tradition of eating cheesecake, cheese-filled blintzes, gooey lasagna and other dairy-licious foods. (Bring on the Lactaid!)
But Shavuot is fortunately about other things too. It commemorates the day that God gave the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, which is arguably the single most important day in Jewish history. Receiving the Torah marked the beginning of an entirely new and exciting chapter for the Israelites – one that opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Shavuot is also connected to the ancient grain harvest in Israel, specifically the end of barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. During the festival, people would bring the bikkurim (“first fruits”) from their fields to the Temple in Jerusalem as thanks. Harvests mark the culmination of a season’s worth of toil, and the final bounty that comes after weeks of patience and preparation. But with every ending comes – you guessed it! A new beginning, and a new opportunity to envision the future we want to live in.
As we enter Shavuot, how can we make the most of this season of new beginnings, of newness and possibility? One way is to begin to plant seeds – both literal and metaphorical – that, with time, can bring the change we hope to see in the world. On a personal level, try making a list of three goals, hopes, or dreams you have for the coming months (or years). Ask yourself: what steps can I take now, at the beginning, to get on a path towards something great?
On a global level, support people who are following their own dreams. Here are several awesome micro-lending organizations and other orgs that let you support small farmers and business people who are making the world a better place:
- KIVA – Support artisans, farmers, and small businesses with loans that they repay (so you can lend again and again!)
- Slow Money – Help farmers support and finance sustainable agriculture across the country.
- Women Advancing Microfinance – Support women in reaching their education, career and leadership goals.
How will you celebrate Shavuot’s season of new beginnings? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #shavuot.
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by Leah Koenig | May 13, 2013 | 0 comments
As far as months go, May has a whole lot going for it. The winter is gone, the flowers are blooming – and it’s Jewish American Heritage Month! Less familiar with that last one? Since 2006, May has been officially designated as a month to honor Jewish American’s achievements, and the positive impact Jews have had on the country.
There are a lot of awesome people to celebrate over the course of the month – from Einstein to Morrie Yohai, who invented the Cheez Doodle. Here at Repair the World, we tip our hats to the Jewish heroes who fought to make the world a better place. And so we’re asking you: past or present who is your Jewish American hero?
Maybe you love Betty Friedan, whose writing shaped the feminist movement. Or perhaps you have a soft spot for Harvey Milk, the politician and gay rights activist. Maybe you’re inspired by the way Michael Pollan has revolutionized the way we think about food, or think that AJWS’s Ruth Messinger is just about the coolest woman on earth. (We would have to agree with you there.)
So, tell us: Who is your Jewish hero this Jewish American Heritage Month? Let us know who it is and, in 140 characters or less, why, by tweeting @repairtheworld #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth.
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by Leah Koenig | May 10, 2013 | 0 comments
How would you describe your mom? Brilliant, beautiful, funny, caring and maybe – just maybe – a little bit “Jewish mother-y?” (The Jewish Daily Forward recently asked people to describe Jewish moms in 6 words, with hilarious results.) No matter how you describe your mom, she deserves to be celebrated!
Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so now’s the time to let your mom know how much you appreciate everything she does – whether you’re near or far away. But while traditional gifts are lovely and thoughtful, show mom you care by giving gifts that give back:
- Volunteer together. Spend the day working together at a local soup kitchen or women and children’s shelter, or sharing another volunteer activity. You’ll have a chance to bond, while making your community stronger.
- Volunteer in her honor. Book mom a day at the spa and volunteer in her honor instead!
- Make a donation to cause she loves. Does your mom have a favorite organization or charity? Or an issue she’s passionate about? Let her know you care by making a donation in her name. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, for example, is hosting a Mother’s Day campaign in honor of their 25th anniversary. Donate and save lives.
- Give her the chance to donate. Give mom a GlobalGiving gift card, and let her personally pick the projects she wants to support.
- Care for Mother Earth. Make a shared green commitment together, volunteer at a local park, plant a tree or your garden – show mom love by showing Mother Earth some love.
- Give her something beautiful and sustainable. Buy your mom beautiful, handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and other gifts made sustainably and ethically by artisans around the globe.
How are you planning to celebrate your mom this Sunday? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld #mothersday.
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by Leah Koenig | May 9, 2013 | 0 comments
Take a deep breath in – what do you smell? Hopefully the warm spring air, the budding trees and the scent of springtime barbecues.
But for too many people across the country and world, breathing comes with a fair amount of baggage – specifically the air pollution from idling cars and busses, smokestacks, factories, and the harsh chemicals we use to clean our buildings. Believe it or not, nearly 4 out of 10 people live in a place where pollution levels are often too dangerous to safely breathe!
May is Clean Air Month – the perfect time to take action to ensure that we all get to breathe free and easy. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Check out the State of the Air. The American Lung Association’s interactive website lets you type in your zipcode to see how clean your air is, learn the health risks that come with polluted air, and discover opportunities to take action.
Divest from Fossil Fuels. The folks at FossilFree.org are leading the charge in getting people and institutions (like college campuses) to divest their financial support of fossil fuels, which both pollute the air and impact the climate. Find out how you can be a part of the movement.
Walk in biodegradable style. Walking or riding a bike instead of driving is a great way to help keep polluting car fumes out of the air. But there’s no need to sacrifice your style – check out these rad biodegradable walking shoes!
Clean the air – indoors. Indoor air pollution can be as harmful as the stuff we breathe outside, and can lead to headaches, asthma, and fatigue. These 5 ideas – from adding plants to your home, to switching cleaning products – will keep the air in your apartment or office clean and fresh.
How are you celebrating Clean Air Month? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #cleanairmonth.
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by Leah Koenig | May 8, 2013 | 0 comments
Biking is the new driving – almost! Did you know that bike commuting has grown by 47 percent since 2000? That means more and more people are swapping four wheels for two, trading in gasoline power for pedal power, and getting out into the fresh air. And now, they are getting together all across the country to celebrate National Bike Month – a month dedicated to all things cycling!
Repair the World loves National Bike Month (we even have a few dedicated cyclers on staff). So as the country kicks off National Bike Month, here are some interesting events, opportunities, and news happening in the biking world right now:
- Join a bike share program. Don’t own your own bike, or need a bike to get around a new city. Check out the sweet bike-sharing map, which charts bike-share programs around the globe. So cool! You can also check out Spinlister to find real live people nearby who want to rent their bike to you for the day.
- BYOB (bike lane, that is) File this under genius: several new companies are piloting bike lights that project the image bright red lanes all around a biker when it’s dark out. The lanes help cars see the bikes on the road, and get a sense of how close they are!
- Brake and refuel. Thirsty bikers in Zurich can roll up to a new crop of “drive-in” cafes designed just for them. The table top design lets riders drink their cappuccino and read the paper without ever leaving the saddle.
- Biking can help you concentrate! Believe it or not, one effect of biking to work or school is better concentration – for up to four hours!
- Join the fun on Bike to Work Day. Need a little extra inspiration to get on the saddle? Join thousands of cyclists across the country on Friday, May 17 for Bike to Work Day! There is nothing more thrilling than riding with a pack of other cyclists and feeling like you’ve taken over the road. Get the rush on May 17. You can make a pledge to bike to work with Transportation Alternatives.
- Sign up for Hazon’s Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. Spend Labor Day cycling with hundreds of other riders on this fully supported and fully inspirational bike trip. Spend a relaxing Shabbat in the Connecticut Berkshires, ride into New York City, make great new friends and raise money for the Jewish environmental movement – what could be better?
- Guns for bikes program. In Uruguay, the government has launched a new program where people can turn in unregistered weapons in exchange for a new bike or a low-end computer. This win-win approach will get illegal weapons off the streets, while adding to the city’s alternative transportation options.
Someone in the Repair NYC office is an avid biker…
How are you celebrating National Bike Month? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #bikemonth.
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by Leah Koenig | April 22, 2013 | 0 comments
Welcome to our annual series of interviews featuring a handful of the nearly 10,000 inspiring teens who are involved with J-Serve – the International Day of Jewish Youth Service coming up on April 28, 2013. These teens are going above and beyond to make their communities great, and bring together their love of service and their Jewish identities through J-Serve. This week: Jenna Shaw, a high school student from Chicago, Illinois shares her story.
What’s your background with service and volunteering?
I’ve been volunteering for as long as I can remember, and the combination of service and Judaism has laid the foundation for almost everything I’ve done. I’ve always gravitated towards fostering tolerance as a priority, and one of my favorite projects has been working with a Jewish school for kids with developmental disabilities. Before joining BBYO I also worked with the special olympics. They have a baseball league where they match you up with a buddy. You work with the same person every week, so you end up growing very close. Aside from service my other passion is the Chicago Cubs, so that was a great fit.
How did you become involved with J-Serve?
Two summers ago I went to Poland with my family for March of the Living and it completely changed my life. I was already passionate about learning about the Holocaust, but didn’t know how to take my vision and turn it into action. When I got home I had the idea of creating a mini March of the Living in Chicago for people who couldn’t go to the actual thing. It turned into this whole big thing that was way larger than I could’ve imagined.
Meanwhile, I was elected to be a shaliach at BBYO, which means I was in charge of bringing Jewish life to our chapter. BBYO was in the midst of planning for last year’s J-Serve, and it all kind of just came together into this huge thing. We decided to wait an extra week so that our J-Serve event coincided with Chicago’s Israel Solidarity Day, and turn our project into this mock March of the Living. The day included Holocaust speakers, and a 2 mile walk from the Holocaust museum to the JCC. There were 500 teens, but also families and survivors. It was incredible.
What are your plans for this year?
Israel Solidarity Day happens to be on the same day as J-Serve this year, and the theme is education in the Middle East. So we thought we’d take things a step further and make our J-Serve project a walk for educational tolerance. We’ve partnered with them, and have a big day planned for teens to get engaged in hands-on service. They’ll be recording audio books and creating other educational tools for kids in Israel who need them. Our event will start out in the morning as teens-only, and then we’ll come together with the community for the walk and festival. Matisyahu is performing which is super exciting!
What role do you play in J-Serve these days?
I ran again for regional shaliach. But this year I am also on the J-Serve international committee. That means I help to coordinate and encourage J-Serve events around the country and internationally. It’s a lot of spreadsheets and emails, but we are also working to reach out to organizers around the world and say, “hey, how can we help you make your J-Serve great?” It gives the organizers a personal connection to other J-Serve groups, which is especially important for the groups in other countries.
How do you connect your Jewish identity and service?
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For me, the idea of tikkun olam and helping others being Jewish values is so important. Above my bed I have written the Jewish idea, “Justice, justice thou shall pursue,” and I feel so passionately about it. During the Holocaust, 6 million voices were silenced. I really feel that it’s our duty to serve as their voices – that’s why I’ve become so passionate about service. We are uniting to make a difference.