Monday, June 30, 2008

Wine in Boston - It's all about the sports..?

Sometime towards the end of college as I helped grade Neuroscience exams, I became a fan of cheap Pinot Grigio. You might even say Pinot Grigio was my "gateway wine." Though I'm far from an formal connoisseur now, I certainly enjoy me a glass of wine on the weekends or during receptions at the numerous weddings I'll be attending this summer.

I'm always on the lookout for a new wine to try, and there's certainly no shortage of gimmicks. The latest one, however, will please both your palette and your heart.

You may have seen the wines with famous sports figures on them at your local packie (for our non-New England readers, that's New Englandish for a beer/wine/alcohol purveyor). These wines are more than just distilled spirits, however. A dollar or so of every purchase of the sports-themed wines goes to a charity of the affiliated celebrity.

So. Next time you're not sure what to take to the host of a party, consider one of these charity wines. You'll please sports fans, bleeding hearts, and wine enthusiasts... doing a little good whilst enjoying a fine beverage. And, stay tuned for OYFP's wine tasting on July 24!

Related Posts: Cheap wine can taste better if you don't know the price; Put your money where your mouth is; Help the Burmese by Eating
Photo taken from

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Biased Opinion?

When I watch or read the news in the morning I expect from the reporter or journalist factual based information. I find myself implicitly trusting the reporter's research, and because I am only half awake in the morning, I am not critically thinking about every statement being made.

Since this is an election year, I like many other people turn to these same reporters for the updates on the candidates' views and policies in which I will then make an informed decision on whom to vote for in November.

So let's say one morning I hear a reporter doing a a report on a candidate and is talking about the latest scandal facing that candidate. I think, gasp, how dare this person think like this!Afterwards I might log into my Facebook account because online networking is cool, fun, and sometimes useful, and find that a friend is a friend of one of the other candidates' campaign, and that a different journalist is saying something else.

Naturally I then question this reporters "report" on the scandal earlier heard this morning.

So what is the solution? Are reporters not allowed to have an opinion? Am I going to have to research a reporter everytime they report on something to see what is a biased opinion and what might be factually based?
Barbara Ciara, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, has one way to look at it: “For us to be able to say we’re vetting every candidate with the same energy, we can’t endorse anyone and claim to be objective.”

That's true but how can you not care about the future of our country and still remain objective?

Another point to ponder is hat we here at On Your Feet Project, because of being a non-profit, can not endorse one candidate over the other. We can endorse people to get out and vote, but that is it. We can tell people our views on the environment, but not politics. We can write about how celebrities should do more for various causes, but not if those celebrities are politicians.

I think if you knew where everyone's (especially journalists') opinions lay, more people would be able to critically think about all the information they receive from the news and not just absorb it in a mindless state. I am for a more open dialogue about how one's subjectivity can effect the news today and how we report it.

So what do you think oh avid reader? Should reporters or journalist be allowed to clearly state what our opinion is?

Related posts: Super Tuesday Preview: Who's the Decider? You Are. , "Champions" of a cause

Photo Courtesy of:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fruit Ripens When, Exactly...? MA Harvest Calendar

In my pursuit of all foods local and green, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any of the "pick your own" fruit seasons. However, I didn't even know the right words to put into Google to get the results that I was looking for!

Turns out "harvest calendar" is the magic term, but I got what I was looking for even without that phrase. The fruit ripening calendar for Massachusetts is as follows:

Mid-June: Strawberries, Cherries

July: Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries

August: Blueberries, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Raspberries

Mid-August: Apples start

September: Apples, Cranberries, Grapes, Raspberries

October: Apples, Cranberries

For a more complete harvest calendar, check out the website. This could be the summer where you reduce your carbon footprint... and support local businesses while you're at it.

Related Posts: Jamming, the local way; CSAs Rock; Food Prices are Rising; Increasing Food Costs: A New Model
Photo courtesy of Tougas Farm in Northboro, MA.

Jamming, the local way

All this talk about food and being green and CSAs has really gotten me excited. But it's not just organic food (though I certainly have enjoyed the organic produce we've gotten at work from Boston Organics), it's local food. There's something to be said for actually seeing where your food is produced, whether it's meat or veggies or fruit.

This past weekend on the way home from camping, my boyfriend and I stopped off in West Boxford at Ingaldsby Farm for a little strawberry picking. This was no simple strawberry picking, however. This was picking with a purpose: I was going to make jam.

The whole local food thing has inspired me to produce more of the food I eat. Sure, I cook. But it's with mangos from Nicaragua, rice from the Midwest, and pork from.. well, I don't know where my meat comes from, actually. I was going to produce something that would have a shelf life, and that has an ingredient that I picked with my own hands.

Yes, I'm romanticizing the whole process. But let me tell you, it was satisfying. Two of my girl friends came over, we washed and hulled the berries, sterilized the jars, and mixed together all the ingredients while we discussed our jobs, relationships, and other stereotypical "girl" things.

Oh, and yes the sugar was from Florida, and the pectin (from apples) produced elsewhere... but the main ingredient was local, and that counts for something, right? Baby steps, as my mom would say.

So. If you're looking for a way to take advantage of that local, in season produce, consider making jam. Or jelly. Or preserves. You'll have yourself a tasty treat, and a nice gift, all while staying a little greener and getting in touch with our dear Mother Earth.

Related Posts: CSAs Rock; Food Prices are Rising; Quilting for a Cause
Photo of my very own jam courtesy of me. Thanks to Danielle and Kate for your help making the jam! Those mason jar lids are tricky.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

1922 Dudley Square Time Capsule Opened

A time capsule buried in 1922 at the former site of a furniture store was opened today in Dudley Square, Roxbury, by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Representative Byron Rushing, and State Senator Dianne Wilkerson.

The capsule was discovered by construction workers in the former Ferdinand Furniture Store, known for years as the "Blue Store," because of its blue façade. The Dudley Square store opened in 1899 and was a main part of Roxbury's shopping district.

Inside the small copper box were two old newspapers (The Boston Evening Transcript and The Boston Post), a furniture advertisement, and a copy of a speech given when the capsule was buried 86 years ago by former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley.

If you prepared a time capsule and you could only put 3 things in, what would they be?

Related Posts: Bikes Not Bombs; Green Line Crash Statistics; Boston's Run to Remember

Photos courtesy of the Boston Globe's article.

Cocktails for a Cause in Boston June 27

Bostonians never need an excuse to raise a glass, but this one is particularly good: Boston Scholars, a non-profit that provides financial aid, mentoring, and tutoring to at-risk Boston high school students, is celebrating the fact that 100% of their first class of students (who entered the program five years ago) have been accepted to college!

Being accepted to college is something most students, parents, and well wishers would celebrate. In this case, these students have overcome some daunting odds.

So. Prepare to celebrate, have a little fun, and perhaps network this Friday evening at The Place. (Where, you say? THE place. Duh!) Get your ticket online for $20, or at the door for $25.

When: Friday, June 27 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Where: The Place
Why: It's college time, baby!
Cost: $20 to $25
Buy your tix online:
More Info: Boston Scholars' DoGood Webpage or email Frankie Cruz at

Sip a little of this delicious beverage or any other cocktail of your choice. Hey, it's a celebration!

Related Posts: Who wants to go to Prom?; Food Tasting: Taste of Allston; Help the Burmese by Eating

Photo of Julia Francesska holding her acceptance to the Boston Scholars program courtesy of Photo of the glass of wine courtesy of TackSoon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flooded Midwesterners Still Need Your Help.

The Midwest was hammered with copious amounts of rain recently, which has led to many of the rivers flooded and has killed 22 individuals. Throughout most of the Midwest there are scenes of houses that were completely flooded and roads that were incapable of being traveled. Disaster areas have been declared throughout parts of Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Pretty serious stuff. As a Midwesterner myself, this certainly hits home with me, quite literally. Although the rivers are now receding the people from the Midwest still need our help.

The Red Cross shows how a little money can go a long way:

  • $25 provides five blankets at an emergency shelter.
  • $75 can cover a doctor's visit for an individual injured in a disaster.
  • $350 will provide emergency food and shelter for 25 disaster victims for one day.
  • $2,500 deploys one Emergency Response Vehicle and drivers (including housing and meals for drivers) to a disaster relief operation.
  • $3,200 is the average yearly maintenance and fuel for one Emergency

Through the American Red Cross Site you can also find opportunities to volunteer your time for those communities affected.

You can also donate to the United Way 2008 Midwest Flood Recovery Fund to help provide housing and bring back the community even better than before.

Related Posts: Quilting for a Cause - Midwestern Tornadoes, Tornadoes, Cyclones, and Disaster Relief, Oh My!, If I Had a Million Dollars

Photos courtesy of

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who wants to go to Prom?

Next Friday, June 27, 2008 Yelp is holding an event at Whiskey Park called Old Skool Prom.

Yelp is “an online city guide made up of real reviews from real people. The definitive local guide in big cities from San Francisco to Chicago, New York and Boston. But really, Yelp is everywhere. From Austin to Madison and everywhere in between, reviewers are chiming in from all over the country!"

So, join fellow OYFP’ers and the Yelp Crew and “bust out your ruffled shirts, puffy sleeved dresses, crimpers and all other rad 80s/90s gear- because we're having a PAR-TAY! Plan on an evening of dancing to throwback jams and sipping on amazing concoctions from Pearl Vodka.

"So go pick up a sweet outfit from the era, getcha nails and hair did, swoop up a corsage/ boo-tun-ears (no one ever knew how to spell that word), and come down to get silly!”

-Where: Whiskey Park @ The Park Plaza
-When: Friday, June 27th from 9-11pm
-Why: Cuz slow dancing to Forever Young is what we need.
-Who: Soul Clap will be DJing! And, I’ll be there. Nuff said.

RSVP now if you're in! To:

Title Town?

If you were like most of Boston yesterday you took to the streets to celebrate the Celtics' tremendous win over the Lakers. Thousands of people lined up on the parade route, climbing upon whatever they saw so that they had a chance to see their beloved Celtics players.

I work right downtown on Tremont Street and it is always fun to see the crowds. The excitement from the crowd is amazing and can be heard on every floor of my building. Sometimes the crowd even waves back at me which kind of makes me feel like a celebrity. Okay not really, but it's fun to join in the enthusiasm.

There seemed to be a message of goodwill throughout the crowd. Strangers high-fiving each other, everyone proud of their basketball team for claiming THE title.

So with all this jubilation going on I was surprised to learn from one of the homeless men near my work named "Mark" that he doesn't get any more money from panhandling on days like today versus any other typical day, even though there are thousands more people in Boston.

Over the years I have worked at my current job I have taken time to get to know some of the homeless people that inhabit the downtown area of Boston, such as Mark.

Mark is a great guy who happened upon some unfortunate circumstances which put him in the position he currently is in. However he is always nice to everyone who walks by him, talks to me about whats going on and makes me smile early in the morning as I head into my work, not an easy task to do, I might add.

I know I am not the only one who talks to Mark, sometimes I hear coworkers talk about stories they hear from Mark. He obviously has touched the lives of many people and we all try to do our part to help him out in his current situation.

So on behalf of Mark and every other homeless person I ask next time you really want to spread the love when there IS another championship, remember to help those less fortunate around you. Give your spare change to those who could use it. We truly can be a town which every other town should be modeled after if in our moment of glory we help out.

Photo was taken out of the window at my work when the parade got started at the Boston Garden.

Related Posts: "champions" of a cause

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Boston Non-Profit Networking

Somewhat out of the blue, I was asked to sit on a panel of individuals talking about marketing non-profits, specifically on social media. I suppose OYFP is a good example of the successful use of social media to advance our cause, as we participate in every social network under the sun, but mainly our website, blog, Yelp, Facebook,, and MySpace.

The role I will be playing today is the "influential blogger." The moniker make me laugh, because it's not how I usually think of myself, or this blog. As I said at our recent OYFP meeting, "Yeah, influential to my sister... maybe."

Of course I was joking - we hope that this blog is reaching Bostonites, and inspiring them to make small changes in their lives, or at the very least think about people (and places) other than themselves.

There's a small contingent from OYFP attending the event along with myself, including Krystle, John R, and our dear intern Danielle. We'll post our thoughts on the event afterwards... as long as we make it there through the throngs of ecstatic Celtics fans! And stay tuned for OYFP's own networking and personal branding event later this summer.

That's right, consider yourself INFLUENCED!

Related Posts: Non-Profit Joins the 21st Century; Volunteer Boston in BostonNOW; Wikipedia and Google's Knol; Potluck Resources

Screenshot from WestGlen PR.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Get Konnected! - Free Networking Event

'Get Konnected!' at a free networking event, hosted by Kaleidoscope, on Tuesday, June 24th from 6:30pm to 9:30pm at 28 Degrees, located at One Appleton Street in the South End.

The event will feature complimentary hors d'ouevres, a live performance by Bongo Love and a cash bar.

Bongo Love is a pop band straight from Zimbabwe, Africa featuring four young talented musicians that have taken Africa and the world by storm, captivating their audience with their afrocoustics that fuse Zimbabwean beats with music from around the world. Bongo Love performed as guest artists at three SOLD OUT shows in 2007 at Madison Square Garden.”

“The mission of 'Get Konnected!' is to provide an ongoing opportunity for cross-cultural and cross-generational networking around professional and personal interests. Get Konnected will achieve its mission by organizing formal and informal, creative programs, forums and activities.”

RSVP by calling 617-357-5777 or email konnected@kscopecity।com. This event is free and open to all.

Related Posts: Non-Profit Networking Aug 13;
Boston Non-profit Networking and Blogging; Good2Gether; Creating your own online community; Social Networking: Is it here to stay?; Get Konnected

CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) Rock

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a great way to get fresh fruits and veggies while minimizing your impact on our dear Mother Earth. CSAs are basically local farm clubs that you pay to belong to (and support), and then receive a weekly allotment of produce until the harvest runs out. You're essentially paying up front for fruits and veggies all summer long.

I joined the Farm School CSA with a friend at work, and we received our second delivery yesterday. The strawberries looked a little funny, but once washed, they perked up. Biting into one took me right back to my strawberry pickin' days as a kid - this was a COMPLETELY different fruit than the chewy, rough, tasteless berries you pick up at the grocery store. These were soft, juicy, and sweet - I felt like I could still taste the sunshine in them.

Based on that (and the delicious arugula), I'm going to join a CSA each and every summer... not to mention the good that I'm doing for the environment.

Each ingredient in our meals travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to our plate.* My food goes further than I do... by far. Clearly our food gets around, and all that movement takes a lot of fossil fuels. Not to mention the environmental impact of eating meat, dairy, and eggs, which take an enormous amount of grain (typically corn or soybeans) to produce. Much of the nutrients the animals eat goes to form its bones or organs, which we can't eat.

I'm not advocating a spartan diet of dandelion greens picked from the parking lot behind your house. I am advocating trying to eat more fruits and veggies from your local farmers. There's a wealth of nutritious and delicious options out there - just be a little adventurous. Some of the veggies look a little funny, like the "cat tongue lettuce" we got this week, and the kohlrabi we've gotten two weeks in a row.

Some resources to help you along in your local vegetable quest:

Community Supported Agriculture Programs in the Boston Area
Most of the CSAs have pick-up points throughout the area, but do not deliver to your door.
Farm School - Delivers to Watertown and Belmont
Parker Farm - Delivers to Davis Square, Central Square, and Porter Square
Picadilly Farm - Delivers to Arlington
Farmer Dave's - Delivers to Somerville
Silverbrook Farms - Delivers to Cambridge, Chatham, Dartmouth, Provincetown, Somerville, Watertown, and more using bicycle couriers

Boston Area Farmers' Markets
Union Square, Somerville (Saturdays)
Davis Square, Somerville (Wednesdays)
Central Square, Cambridge (Mondays)
Charles Square, Cambridge (Fridays & Sundays)
Copley Square, Boston (Tuesdays & Fridays)
City Hall Plaza, Boston (Mondays & Wednesdays)
In Season Salem (Saturdays)

See this complete list of Boston-area Farmers Markets and check out these tips for buying produce.

Pick Your Own
A complete list of pick your own fruits is available on the website, along with notes and hours. My personal favorite is a local orchard in Harvard (Doe Orchard) that has the most amazing peaches I have ever eaten. Be sure to call before you trek out to any of the orchards, though!

More Information

100 Mile Diet
Local Harvest
Recipes for those CSA veggies
More recipes for the CSA deliveries

"Are you and I going to get along?" Cara asks the kohlrabi

Related Posts: Jamming - The Local Way; Increasing Food Costs - A new model; Food prices are rising, keep your dough

*According to
Photos courtesy of Casey.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quilting for a Cause - Midwestern Tornadoes

OYFP promotes volunteerism by educating all y'all in a very casual way about our partner non-profits, and by holding one day volunteer events. But you still may not be convinced that your actions are going to make a difference, or perhaps you're still iffy on the whole "commitment" thing.

We understand that not everyone wants or is able to volunteer hours after hours a week for the good of others. But let this post serve as a reminder that you don't have to volunteer hours after hours to make a difference in someone else's life.

My cousin Liz learned from her friend Adam when that his 91 year old grandmother, who lives in the Midwest, lost everything she owned in the recent tornadoes and floods. Everything she owned. And she's 91!

Instead of just sending a card, making a donation, or casting about for a disaster relief organization with which to volunteer, Liz emailed everyone she knew who sewed, and asked them to put together some quilt squares. She would then piece together the entire thing and send it to Granny, so at the very least she would have a blanket she could call her own.

Liz took action.

In this case, Liz was close to someone who was impacted by the disaster. Sometimes that personal connection makes it a little more real, and makes a little more likely to act. Earlier this year I blogged about my co-worker Fred, who set a fundraising goal ($500), collected donations, and then cut his hair into a mullet. He sent the money off to the Lupus Foundation of New England, mentioning that he knew someone impacted by the disease.

So. Don't wait, act. Think about something you know how to do - maybe you cook a mean scrambled egg - and then use that skill to help someone else (Meals on Wheels, Culinary Corps, or organize your own fundraising breakfast). Let us know actions you take, and we'll help you promote your cause, and be successful.

"What do you think? Should I make some quilt squares to help a 91 year old Nana?"

Related Posts: Flooded Midwesterners still need your help; How you can help with a Mullet; Boston Cares Corporate Volunteer Day; Chinese Earthquake: How to Help; Volunteering at Lunch: It's reading time!

Photos courtesy of Casey (the overlapping squares are hers), Susan (she made four of the pink squares), and Liz (who made the six calico squares).

Rock Band Charity Night: A Re-cap

This past Sunday, OYFP hosted its first ever Rock Band event at Orleans in Davis Square. Honestly, I didn't know quite what to expect. My boyfriend insisted it was a "really, really fun game," but he also thinks the Discovery show "Ice Road Truckers" is "really, really awesome."

Anyway - Rock Band is really, really fun. The group at Orleans who regularly shows up every other Sunday to play Rock Band was welcoming, and amazingly skilled. They were more than happy to learn about the Italian Home for Children, donate $5+ dollars, and sing along with the group my friends and I put together - "The Easys" (because we were on the easiest level of the game).

The night was almost perfect. A Celtics win would have been the cherry on top, but one can only dream. For photos, check out the Rock Band photos in the OYFP photostream on Flickr:

The three rockin' bears, sans Goldilocks

Related Posts: Be a Rock Star; Boston Globe and OYFP; Videos from OYFP's first charity concert; We ROCKED
Photos courtesy of OYFPers.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Gift to Remember

Years ago my grandmother gave me a rather odd birthday present. Instead of opening a big box and getting a new shirt or even better, money, I got handed a large envelope. Inside was a picture of a water buffalo and several other pages filled with pictures and long descriptions.

Just imagine what was going through my mind.

She explained that she had donated money in my name toward the purchase of a water buffalo for a family far away that needed it badly. I smiled of course, and said thank you, but I had no idea how great that present really was.

Today, I am thankful for that gift. There have been many times that I do not really know what to get someone for their birthday, and the present most likely ends up unused and a waste of money. This was one of the best uses of money I could have asked for. Of course, it can be hard to resist buying someone a new sweater or that DVD that they wanted, but in the long run, this type of present means the most.

My suggestion to you now, is to search around. Look for charities and non-profits which conveniently offer this type of service online, and take advantage of it! My grandmother donated money through an organization called the Heifer Project, and I am sure that there are many other organizations which offer this very same opportunity to make such a big difference.

Related Posts: DesignGive - Creativity is a Gift; 'Tis the Season to Change the Gift; Conscious Giving

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Boston Globe and On Your Feet Project

In case you didn't catch it, OYFP's Rock Band event was covered in the Boston Globe's Sidekick this past Friday, June 13 (click here to see what I'm talking about).

That's right, our fabulous lady of Public Relations Julianne worked her stuff (I think it did help that the event is pretty cool), and we got coverage in the big leagues. Hopefully this will lead to even more funds and awareness being raised for the Italian Home.

See you all Sunday at Orleans!

Related Posts: Be a Rock Star

Friday, June 13, 2008

Our Intern at OYFP Boston

Let me introduce you, Boston, to our intern Danielle. She will be with On Your Feet Project for the summer helping us continue our mission to educate peeps on taking time to give back to the community around you. So... let's get to know our intern a little better.

Krystle: "I am so glad to have you as our intern this summer, but why did you choose to intern with OYFP?"

Danielle: "It seemed like a young interesting group of people who like to have fun and involve other young people with volunteer opportunities."

Krystle: "We certainly do provide many fun opportunities to learn about the community around you. What are you expecting to learn and/or experience at OYFP"?

Danielle: "I want to learn how to network to see what type of non-profits are available in Boston. I am also looking forward to experiencing more volunteer opportunities to take back with me to college in the fall."

Krystle: "I predict by the time you are done with the internship at OYFP you will be a Volunteer Star in the Boston area. Our readers will soon learn of some of your volunteer adventures, but first, why do you think volunteering is so important?"

Danielle: "As a college student, I often see the focus of other students being what am I going to do with my life, how am I going to make money to pay the bills? Volunteering helps you realize that money isn't everything. It feels great to help out others who are less fortunate."

Krystle: "Do a lot of students at your school volunteer?"

Danielle: "Many think they don't have enough time to get involved because they have to study or write a paper, but because I got involved some of my friends started volunteering too. I grew up volunteering with my family and it had a big effect on why I volunteer now. Some of my fellow students may not have grown up with volunteering, so they might not be used to it".

Krystle: "Giving back was always apart of my family as well and I think you're right that it definitely can influence someone's choice to volunteer later on in life. Who inspired you the most to get involved with the community?"

Danielle: "My mom definitely. She's a big reason why I volunteer in college and why I am interning at OYFP. She probably doesn't know it though."

Krystle: "After she reads this post she will. Thanks for taking time to give us your perspective of volunteering and I look forward to reading your posts."

You can catch our intern in action at tomorrow's Volunteer Day with Christopher's Haven. See you there!

Related Posts: Empowerment, Education, and Self Sufficiency in the Sudan; Share your volunteer story; Doubts about volunteering? Read Fred's story

From restaurants to the mouths of the hungry

Food has been on my mind lately. Wait, who am I kidding? Food is always on my mind. I love cooking. I love eating. I sometimes wonder if one day I'll open my own cafe.. The walls would be red with white wainscoting, I'd wear a blue apron, we'd have weekly dishes featuring locally grown produce... and we would donate any leftover food at the end of the day to local food pantries.

That's right - many restaurants wrap up their leftovers at the end of the night and prepare them for pick-up the following day by trucks from local pantries. The food is then served to hungry people. It's like a doggy bag - on a larger scale. I myself love leftovers.. and hopefully those who receive these donations love them too.

How does it work? The local pantries actually do most of the work and foot most of the cost of the food pick-up. At least this is the case with the Greater Boston Food Bank, which gives out leftover containers to all participating restaurants and then sends trucks out daily to pick up the food.

It will be interesting to see what impact the increasing price of gas (and food!) has on these donations. May they'll start sending bike couriers around to pick up the leftovers. Or maybe restaurants will stop having so many leftovers and either start using them in the next day's dishes, or making less food overall.

If you're interested in donating food as a restaurant, check out the GBFB's restaurant donation FAQ. If you're an individual interested in donating to a food pantry, look at this list of Boston pantries.

Related Posts: Food Prices are Rising;
Food for Thought; Increasing Food Costs: A New Model; Help Burma by Eating

Photo of volunteer collecting food courtesy of Photo Mate Kitt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Food Tasting: Taste of Allston June 15

All this talk about food is making me hungry... too bad I'll be on my way home from a wedding on Sunday and not around for the Taste of Allston Village taking place on Sunday, June 15 from 11 AM to 3 PM.
Participating restaurants include Aneka Rasa Malaysian Cuisine, Bagel Rising, Big City, Cafe Belo, Café Mitti’s, Deep Ellum, The Draft, First Bite Café, Fun Food Snackery, Grain & Salt, Grasshopper, International Pizza & Subs, Pizzawings, Rangoli, Reef Café, Seoul Bakery, Sunset Grill & Tap, T. J. Scallywaggle's, Uno's Chicago Grill, Wonder Bar, YoMa (my favorite), and many more!

Proceeds benefit the Allston Village Main Streets (AVMS) organization, which according to their website is "part of the country's first city-wide, multi-district Main Street revitalization program, a non-profit, public-private partnership between the City of Boston, the National Main Street Center and neighborhood stakeholders."

They work to keep Allston clean, safe, and appealing to merchants and consumers. Though Allston has its share of funky shops and cafes, the sheer number of people around mean it still needs a lot of sprucing up.

So - do your part, and enjoy the heck out of the Taste of Allston Village. Tickets are just $20 and can be purchased online ahead of time.

Related Posts: Touring Boston with your Tongue; Put your money where your mouth is; Wine: Cheap can taste better?; Super Hunger Month
Photo courtesy of HistoryGradGuy.

Food prices are rising - Here's how to keep your dough

Food prices are clearly rising, and people all over the world are going hungry. People in Haiti are even eating yellow mud patties just to put something in their stomach.

Want to know something even more depressing? Americans waste 27% of food ready for consumption.* That means almost a third of food that is fit to be eaten is not actually consumed. This included food thrown away in homes, restaurants, and grocery stores - anywhere food ingredients are up for sale.

98% of this discarded food ends up in landfills - the other 2% I suppose is composted or fed to animals.

A 1997 study by the USDA showed that over 96 billion pounds of the 365 billion pounds of edible food in the USA was thrown out.*

So. You want to make a difference? CLEAN YOUR PLATE. Your momma was right - there are starving children in China. And Haiti. And Darfur. And right in your backyard - the good ole U S of A.

Related Posts: Food for Thought; Increasing Food Costs: A New Model; Help Burma by Eating; A Creeping Problem

*According to a recent government story covered in the New York Times.
Photo courtesy of BirdFarm. It is of a market in Managua, Nicaragua.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sudan-Reach UPDATE – Violence Erupts in Once Peaceful Capital City, Khartoum

In March, I interviewed Laura who (at the time) was planning a trip to the Sudan to volunteer with the Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation.

The Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based non-profit organization that, according to their website, helps "Sudanese women and girls realize their highest potential for personal and social growth through self-empowerment, education, and self-sufficiency. Our goal is to promote positive change in women's lives and enhance the communities in which they live."

Laura recently sent me an update about her trip. Here it is:

“Due to the recent outbreak of violence in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, we at the Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation were forced to cancel our two week volunteer trip scheduled to leave last Saturday, May 17th.

"The surprise attack occurred on May 10th and 11th and was launched by the Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). It is estimated that at least 200 people, including civilians, were killed in the attack.

"Although many assume that all of Sudan has been engulfed by the violence in Darfur and Southern Sudan, this attack was the first time in decades the fighting had spread as far as Khartoum, which lies in the Northern region of Sudan. Khartoum has long been considered one of the safest cities in Africa despite the wars that have raged in the outlying Western and Southern regions for many years.

"Loloa Ibrahim (the Director of Sudan-Reach) and I were shocked and saddened to hear the news that Khartoum had been attacked. Loloa grew up in Khartoum and was understandably in disbelief that the peaceful city of her childhood had become yet another battleground for Sudanese conflict. We read every news update we could find about the attack, which received little informative news coverage due to the Sudanese government's severe press restrictions, and waited for updates from Loloa's relatives and friends in Khartoum.

"Most of the fighting occurred in Omdurman, a suburb of Khartoum, where the majority of our volunteer work was to take place. It quickly became clear to us that the situation was still too volatile and unpredictable for ourselves and our volunteers to travel to Khartoum safely. After much deliberation and at the advice of our contacts in Khartoum, we made the difficult decision to postpone the trip.

"Despite this setback, we still plan on taking our group of volunteers to Khartoum at some point in the near future. This will most likely happen in January of 2009, although there is a chance it could happen sooner. We'd like to thank everyone who supported our trip these past few months. Without the support of our local community, the work we do at Sudan-Reach would not be possible.

"Feel free to check our website frequently for updates on the status of the trip as well as local events and programs.”

Thank you for the update Laura, this is unfortunate news.

This outbreak of violence in the once peaceful capital city of Khartoum is a prime example of how volatile the entire county is, as well as a testament to the need and continued support of organizations like the Sudan-Reach Women's Foundation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Be a Rock Star: Charity Rock Band Event with Costumes!

Take out your red pleather pants, gold sequined tops, and neon headbands - it's time for the first (of what we hope will be many) OYFP "Be a Rock Star" Rock Band and costume contest event!!

Join us on Sunday, June 15 at 8:00 PM at Orleans in Davis Square, Somerville, for this event. Come dressed in your finest rock costume - there will be awards for best in show, best performance, and best costume, all as judged by the crowd's applause.

And yes, there will be TVs at the bar with the Celtics playoff game five on them.

Though we're not selling tickets for the event, we are suggesting you donate $5, which will support the Italian Home for Children. The Italian Home houses and educates kids with severe emotional and behavioral issues - a worthy cause if I ever saw one.

Maybe you've read this far and aren't quite sure what we're talking about... so let me explain. Rock Band is a video game, but not at all like those Mario Bros. games of the past. It's more like how you used to play air guitar in your room, sing in the shower, or "jam" with your high school garage band... only you're far better than you once were because you're playing along with the actual music.

Each member of the "band" has a role - guitar, bass, drums, or singing - and you're playing actual instruments.. well sort of. Instruments built to interact with the video game, anyway. It's like karaoke, only more comprehensive. I'm struggling to explain the concept, but trust me, it's awesome.

Review Nick Suttner on Amazon raves, "Rock Band is one of those concepts that's so inherently dynamite, so proliferate with potential, that if it simply delivers on its basic promises, it's more than enough. And it certainly does deliver."

So. Join us on June 15 to experience it for yourself. Song sign-up starts at 8:30 PM. You can sign up as a group, or as a solo arteest (and the moderator will rally other onlookers to fill out your band).

See you there, rockers!

PS. Look for mention of the event in the Boston Globe's Sidekick and in the Phoenix!
PPS. To reinforce this fact - for you sports fans, Orleans has many a TV, some of which will have the Celtics game on it. Nothing like a little multi-tasking. Beat LA...! Beat LA... Beat LA!

OYFPers can certainly rock out harder than these Harmonix dudes!

Photos courtesy of My Lush Life and Unscripted360.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Increasing Food Costs: A new model

News reports about the increasing costs of food are appearing daily. According to the USDA, the main factors behind higher food commodity costs include stronger global demand for food, increased U.S. agricultural exports resulting from stronger demand and a weaker dollar, weather-related production problems in some areas of the world, and increased use of some food commodities, such as corn, for bioenergy uses.

According to that same USDA report, eggs have increased in price by 30.5% compared to last year, bananas are up 20% (though still the cheapest fresh fruit by far IMHO), cereals and bakery products have risen 8.9%. Surprisingly meat prices have remained fairly steady, though the USDA credits that to a strong short term stock.

I'm pretty lucky in that I have a good job and little debt. I can afford the increasing cost of food for the most part. And besides, I like to cook, and the food that's increasing the most in price is prepared food because the producers are passing on the increases in food prices plus a surcharge.

That doesn't mean that all of us can afford the increasing costs. According to Second Harvest, visits to food banks around the US have increased 20% compared to last year. There are more than 1.3 million new registrants for food stamps compared to last year.

There are some new approaches to addressing hunger that I learned about on NPR's Weekend America. A few restaurants around the country are charging just what customers can afford to pay. That's right, you choose what to pay for the food you receive. If you can't afford to pay $5 for the cup of soup, put a dollar in the donation box. Yes, you could game the system. But most people don't.

A few examples are the So All May Eat Cafe in Denver, CO; One World Everybody Eats in Salt Lake City, UT; and Terrra Bite Cafe in Kirkland, WA.

I like the idea. It's not a straight up charity asking for donations to alleviate hunger. There's more of a relationship with the community, attracting people of all income levels. They come back for the tasty food, for the feeling, or just because it's there.

I haven't heard of anything like this around Boston.. though I certainly think there would be a market for it. If you want to volunteer or visit food banks, try the following:
And if you're lucky enough to have food on your plate, be thankful and appreciate it.

Related Posts: Food for Thought; Get on the Seoul Train; Water Water Everywhere; One little drip
Photos courtesy of me (Casey) and meals at my mom's house.

Volunteer Interview featured on

A few weeks ago, John R. interviewed Laura, who volunteers with, an organization that works to empower Sudanese women. The interview was featured in BostonNOW. Remember that daily newspaper that is no more? Anyway. has in turn featured our interview on its website:

Congrats, John! I'm sure appreciates the publicity, and it was certainly interesting to read about Laura's experience working with SudanReach.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Creeping Problem

Water is an important resource, to say the least. The lack of availability to certain countries continues to be one of the leading environmental issues this year. Traditionally the countries that have a lack of water resources are developing countries. These countries typically do not have the infrastructure to support the water needs of the people living within their borders.

But now because of global warming, lack of water is affecting affluent areas such as the southern coast of Spain where the land has now become a creeping desert.

Worldwide, the United Nations estimates that creeping deserts due to global climate changes may eventually drive 135 million people off their land. Imagine almost half of the people in the US losing their lands due to the land becoming unlivable due to desert conditions.

Additionally, land you used to think of as lush with vegetation have now been reduced to crops of olives and figs which require less water and aren't as sensitive to climate changes. If there isn't enough water to grow crops that use a lot of water, such as corn, then the food shortage issue is unlikely to go away.

Casey wrote about how important it is to reduce your water at home, and I couldn't agree more. There are 100's of ways to reduce your intake of water including taking a shorter shower. This small impact can have a global impact if everyone did their small part.

Related posts: Water, Water Everywhere, One Little Drip of Water, Food for Thought

Photo Courtesy of

Thursday, June 5, 2008

the deal of a lifetime [volunteer opportunity]

So budgets are tight and pennies are gettin' pinched, but it doesn't mean you have to put giving on hold... Listen up, kiddos, for a FREE (that's right, F-R-E-E) way to help some families out.

On Saturday, June 14th, OYFP and Christopher's Haven are hosting a Volunteer Work Day from 11AM-4PM. Christopher's Haven provides temporary housing for families who are here in Boston because their children are receiving cancer treatment at Mass General Hospital.

The organization has just acquired a new apartment to open up to another family, but they need help setting it up. Tasks include opening boxes, setting up the new kitchen, assembling IKEA furniture, and maybe even walking around the block to pick up menus from nearby restaurants and shops.

And did I mention that a PIZZA lunch will be provided? How can you beat that? Good times with OYFPers (who have been known to bust out and let loose on several occasions!) AND pizza AND a chance to create a warm, welcoming home for a family in need of some care ALL AT NO COST TO YOU.

So whatcha' waitin' for?! Sign up today by contacting Hannah Kim at

Related posts: Pick our new partner; We Rocked; Salsa one step at a time

All photos are from the website, and are of families staying with Christopher's Haven while their kids get treatment for brain cancer.

Olympics in China - Has anything really changed?

With the recent earthquake in China, the Chinese government has had a respite from criticism around the Tibet issue. Instead, the focus has rightly been on helping those people in immediate need. (And in immediate need they still are.) China has been unusually open in the aftermath of the earthquake, allowing journalists to access many of the regions, and welcoming foreign aid unlike Myanmar.

However, that does not mean that China's overall human rights have improved overnight. There was hope that by giving Beijing the honor of hosting the Olympics, the Olympic committee could have a positive impact on China's human rights. Unlike in past years, though, the details of the contract to host the Olympics have not been made public.

Thus far there doesn't seem to be much actual change. China's relations with Tibet have not improved, and the recently released rules and regulations for all Olympics-bound foreigners (as determined by the Beijing organizing committee) are very strict.

Sure, everyone understands that China doesn't want you to bring opium into the country. But they also prohibit “anything detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture or moral standards, including printed material, film negatives, photos, records, movies, tape recordings, videotapes, optical discs and other items.”

This is the kind of thing Chinese citizens are subject to all the time. Heck, even the internet, which to most people represents ultimate freedom of information, is censored in China (an example of the censorship).

Little reminders like this make me feel lucky to live in the United States, and inspire me to take action to help reform China's regulations.

Some organizations working for freedom of information in China or with resources about the problem:

Related Posts: An Olympic Debate;
Earthquake in China; Global Volunteering; Tornadoes, Cyclones, and Disaster Relief ; Champions of a Cause

Photo courtesy of's series "Back Streets of Beijing."
Thanks to Krystle for the article idea!

The winner of Best Hobby Blog is...

...Volunteer Boston!!! Thank you so much for all your votes. Your dedication made a difference - it showed that volunteering is important, and, um, can be a hobby?.

Now to use this award to lift us to new and amazing heights... I know it has certainly inspired me to keep writing. And volunteering, of course.
We're as happy as this chicky, and we didn't even get an actual ribbon!

Photo courtesy of BandanaMom.