Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from OYFP

I LOVE Halloween. Who doesn't love the idea of being able to wear whatever you want and eat all the candy you can! I was curious about how the holiday had it's beginnings and found out that the holiday goes back to a tradition 2000 years ago!

Apparently the Celts believed that this day marked the end of harvest season and the start of the cold winter. The Celts, of course, didn't have the Garment District to pick out their costumes, so they typically wore what was around them, animal skins and heads. They would tell each others’ fortunes while in costume as well. When the celebration was over, the Celts lit their fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to protect them during the coming months.

The holiday has certainly changed a lot in 2000 years but I for one am glad that we get the opportunities to dress up in silly costumes or even better dress up our dogs! :)

So if you are all dressed up with no where to go here are some suggestions for tonight.

ICA Masked Halloween Party- from 9-1 pm. It's a great benefit but if you can't afford the high prices there are always other options!

Jacque's Cabaret Halloween Costume Contest- Jacque's is always a good time and who can beat the $10.00 entry fee.

THE ALL-NIGHT HORROR MOVIE MARATHON!!- They are tagging it as "a night to dismember".

Anyway you shake it we here at On Your Feet Project would like to wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

Related Posts: helpin' the little guy, Be a Rock Star: Charity Rock Band Event with Costumes!, Charitable Giving in 2008 - What's the outlook?, Let's get Crafty

Food Drive in Boston on Election Day

Calling one, calling all, next Tuesday, Nov. 4 is your opportunity to help those in need! Yes, you do this by voting for whichever candidate you feel will help the poor and middle class more.... but when you vote, bring in canned food donations or monetary donations for the mayor's Food and Fuel drive.

As I'm sure you've heard, people are struggling this year. A lot. Working families sometimes have to choose between putting food on the table, or keeping their homes warm. If you even have an extra $5 with which to buy some non-perishable items to bring with you when you vote, please do. Please. And if you have an extra $5 but no time to go shopping, there will be volunteers on site handing out envelopes you can use to mail in monetary donations.

If your employer was kind enough to give you the day off on voting day, perhaps you'd like to help the mayor coordinate the food drive at each of the hundreds of poll places. They need people from 7:00 to 9:00 am, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Contact Allison Rogers at 617.635.3251 or email her at by close of business today (October 31) if you'd like to sign up. Simply tell her where you live, your phone number, your email, and your shift preference.

You really can make a difference with your one vote.

Imagine if you had enough canned food to make this sculpture?

Related Posts: Casting About: Your Massachusetts State Ballot; Presidential Election and Free Speech; 2008 Vote: Whys and Hows of the Electoral College; Are you making your decision based on looks?; Passive Electioneering; Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Ballot Questions; Absentee Voting; Google wants you to vote
Photo of food on shelf courtesy of Ruminatrix. Photo of the bowl of soup made out of soup cans courtesy of Eric_Liu76.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Casting About: Your MA State Ballot

So, in case you hadn't hear all the buzz, next Tuesday we head to the polls and cast a vote in what many are calling, "arguably the most important election in a generation."

Of course, each successive election is arguably the most important as it fundamentally changes the face of our nation and course of our state. Just like walking into a stranger's Halloween party, wearing a questionable costume--it never hurts to know a little bit more ahead of what you're getting yourself into this election, as there are some key ballot questions on the Massachusetts statewide this year. Ballot measures may be placed before voters by citizen petition, and while we elect our representatives to enact laws--many of the questions this year would never have seen light had they come through Beacon Hill.

Studies indicate that most people tend to vote on gut instinct when they step behind the curtain and struggle to decipher obscure legislative wording or complicated forms--so it all comes down to first reactions--taxes bad, dogs good, and pot, well that is anyone's guess. Not that there is anything wrong with instinct, as it akin to ideology; but to help you vote informed, here is a rundown on the 3 significant ballot measures you'll be seeing November 4th--and if fair and balanced wasn't already copyrighted, I'd like to think this is.

Ballot Question 1: Abolish State Income Tax

A YES VOTE would reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65 percent for the tax year beginning in 2009, and would eliminate the tax for all tax years after 2010.

A NO VOTE would make no change in state income tax laws.

This proposed law would halve the personal income tax rate and then eliminate it all together. At stake is $12.5 billion in annual revenues, or about 40 percent of the $28 billion state budget. Proponents claim the measure would provide an average savings of $3,700 to each taxpayer, reduce government wasteful spending, and boost the economy. Opponents say it would reduce the capabilities of government to provide services, harm the economy, and result in increases in other forms of taxes.

The Commonwealth could of course tighten its belt, and skip seeing the next Bond movie, though it would require cuts in spending and raising sales to make up some revenue. According to a "best-case" assessment by the non-partisan Beacon Hill Institute, budget cuts for state and local governments may only be of a magnitude of - 12%, job creation would occur, and the resulting average increase in household income (after increases in sales taxes) might be closer to $1,500 per taxpayer. The study assumed a healthy economy and identified spending reductions including funding for fire protection, housing and community development, public welfare, and sewer services.

Another study prepared by the Massachusetts's Taxpayers Foundation and funded by local business associations, calculated the average return by income brackets. While the average savings would likely be $3,700, taxpayers earning under $50k would save $1,300 returned, those earning under $75k would receive $2,500, and those earning over $100k would see a minimum of $12,500.

The study argues that the effect of the measure would be to switch taxation from a progressive income based system, to a regressive sales tax system. The majority of business associations, faith-based organizations, community organizations, institutions, and other service providing or receiving groups in Mass oppose this ballot question, on grounds that it would decimate the ability of government to provide basic services and enable social and financial mobility. This question isn't about your wallet, it is about your instinct for the role of public goods in society.

A poll released Thursday by Suffolk University found 59% of voters oppose the elimination of the state income tax, while 26% support it, and 16% were undecided. In 2002, a similar ballot measure went before voters and failed with 48.2% voting no, and 39.9% voting yes.

Ballot Question 2: Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

A YES VOTE would replace criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties.

A NO VOTE would make no change in state criminal laws concerning possession of marijuana.

This proposed law would change existing criminal penalties to civil penalties, for possession of relatively small quantities of marijuana. New enforcement would include issuing citations, would exclude information from the state's criminal record information system, and would impose civil penalties of $100 and require drug awareness programs.All other marijuana-related illegal activity, such as Intent to Distribute or Driving Under the Influence charges will remain criminal.

Advocates for the measure regard it as sensible drug policy and point to benefits of cost reductions for law enforcement and the judicial system. Additionally, proponents cite permanent criminal records for possession as an unfair barrier to future employment.

Decriminalization for possession is opposed by law enforcement, as opponents suggest that civil penalties condone substance abuse and criminal activity--citing correlations that nearly 40% of criminal arrestees test positive for marijuana. Under current law, criminal penalties for possession include up to six months in jail,a $500 fine, and a permanent criminal record is filed. Opponents also suggest ounce is potentially more than 100 individually rolled joints, though in states and provinces where decriminalization has occurred that is a standard quantity for civil infractions.

So, even if Clinton did in fact inhale, international evidence suggest marijuana use doesn't lead to the kind of activity seen on those entertaining US public service anti-drug commercials. And of course alcohol use is legal and arguably more dangerous, so ask yourself what is right or wrong, and how much is too much?

A Suffolk University poll released October 23rd indicated found 51 percent in support of civil penalties, while 32 percent oppose, and 16 percent were undecided.

Ballot Question 3: Ban Greyhound Racing

A YES VOTE would prohibit dog racing where any form of betting n the speed or ability of dogs occurs, effective 2010.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing dog racing.

Dog racing has taken place in Massachusetts for over 70 years, though now only takes place in one track in Revere and one in Raynham. For whatever reasons, people seem to enjoy horses more, maybe it is the mint juleps and big hats. From 2000 to 2007, these tracks paid over $40 million to the Commonwealth in taxes and fees related to racing activities. The volume of gambling on greyhounds has declined significantly since the 1990s and the value of betting over the last five years is down at least 37% at Raynham and 65% at Revere. Racing is legal and active in 15 states, while 34 states have explicit bans against dog racing. In Massachusetts, a similiar measure was defeated in 2000, with 48.6% voting against a ban.

Advocates of the measure consider dog racing to be inhumane and point to statistics showing that in Massachusetts more than 700 racing greyhounds have been injured since 2002, including dogs who suffered broken legs, paralysis and several fatalities.

Opponents argue that similar to horse racing, the greyhounds are not owned by tracks and both parties must follow heavily regulated animal welfare provisions. Greyhounds have become a rallying point for many organizations recently, and while PETA spokes models aren't posing naked with dogs yet, this is as much about the people who are more likely to gamble and who are affected by legalized gambling, as it is about the welfare of animals.

A Suffolk University poll released October 23rd indicated that 44% of those polled were in favor of a ban, while 43% were opposed; another 13% were undecided.

Last thoughts. Bearing in mind that none of this year's questions are binding constitutional amendments; they are legally-binding initiatives that amend current state statues and cannot readily be altered by the Legislature. It all comes down to voting your instinct, though with any luck now you may just have a little more to go on. It isn't too late to become involved, visit the campaigns' websites to learn, contribute, and vote!

Related Posts: Food Drive on Voting Day; Presidential Election and Free Speech; 2008 Vote: Whys and Hows of the Electoral College; Are you making your decision based on looks?; Passive Electioneering; Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Ballot Questions; Absentee Voting; Google wants you to vote

helpin' the little guy

Realizing I was one of the few people of color involved in OYFP, I thought about posting a nice and sassy entry on race/ethnicity and politics in light of recent comments and controversies both local (Diane Wilkerson) and national (John Mccain). But I decided I, myself, needed a little respite from the heated, intense discussions surrounding this issue.

So, here's some good news:

Not only do you get to "fall back" and sleep on extra hour this weekend (thank you, Daylight Savings, and sorry, Indiana, for this thorn in your side.), you also give your little ticker an edge. Swedish researchers have analyzed data from the past twenty years and found that the number of heart attacks dropped on the Monday following Daylight Savings (Interestingly enough, the number of heart attacks rose the week after clocks were moved forward an hour in spring!).

I'm happy to hear that. 'Cause Lord knows, after Tuesday's election, my chance of having a heart attack just might increase, and that little guy will need all the help he can get (my heart, that is)!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election 2008: A new way to learn about the candidates

We here at OYFP are all about talking politics. Some of you, however, may not be as enthusiastic as us about reading up on the candidates. Take a look/listen at this song to learn a bit about the presidential candidates:

Related Posts: Presidential Election and Free Speech; 2008 Vote: Whys and Hows of the Electoral College; Are you making your decision based on looks?; Passive Electioneering; Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Ballot Questions; Absentee Voting; Google wants you to vote

Tapas for Toys at Tapeo

Starting Friday, November 28th and lasting until December 21st, Tapeo will have their 1st Annual Tapas for Toys Benefit.

Restaurant guests who donate an unwrapped toy, article of clothing or school supply will receive one free tapas dish with their meal. Only one free tapa per person, per visit. All donations will be given to Cradles to Crayons in Quincy, Massachusetts.

“The holidays are a time for sharing, so like sharing tapas, we want to share our good fortune with the less fortunate,” explains Fernando León, owner of Tapeo Restaurant.

“We’re excited to partner with Tapeo Restaurant and Tapas Bar this holiday season!” says Lindsay Jensen, Manager of Volunteer Relations at Cradles to Crayons. “Tapas for Toys is an innovative program and we are delighted to be this year’s recipient. “This is a great opportunity for people in the community to participate in the season of giving.”

Tapeo is located at 266 Newbury St, Boston. For reservations, contact the restaurant directly at (617) 267-4799.

Head over to Tapeo between November 28th and December 21st, bring a toy, gets some delicious tapas and make the day of a needy, deserving child.

Picture from

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everyone Wants You to Vote - Even Google

My day job is as a Client Services Manager at a Search Engine Marketing firm (the best one, if I do say so myself). We spend all day long thinking about Google, Yahoo!, MSN, how people search, more about Google, why people search, what they click on, more about Google, etc.

Imagine my surprise when I logged into Google's advertising interface and saw this "alert":

Google wants me, a lowly Google Adwords user, to vote! Wow! This must be serious if Google's in on it.

Ok, so I'm being a little sarcastic, but this is serious. There's a lot at stake this election, so I suppose I appreciate Google's little prompt, along with the helpful links to where I can find more information.

Everyone's getting on the "Get out the Vote" bandwagon. What group or which person is the strangest you've seen urging people to vote on November 4? Has Richard Simmons joined the "vote now" crowd yet?

Related Posts: 2008 Vote: Whys and Hows of the Electoral College; Are you making your decision based on looks?; Presidential Election and Free Speech; Passive Electioneering; Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Ballot Questions; Absentee Voting

Monday, October 27, 2008

2008 Vote: Why and How the Electoral College is in there

Everyone's always telling us: "Vote!" "Exercise your right to choose." "Rock the vote!" "Get out the vote." Etc.

But when we vote, where exactly does that little slip of paper, butterfly punched ballot, or click of the computer go, and what does it count for?

Most of us know we have an electoral college somehow involved in the presidential election. It comes between our vote, and the person who ends up being president. Lots of people call for the end of the electoral college, but it's still around.

It goes like this: You vote, indicating your choice of candidate, but really you're voting for an electoral college person, who then votes for a presidential candidate. Each state gets as many electoral votes as it has representatives in the House, plus its number of senators (which is the same for every state).

Typically the electoral college vote will match that of the popular vote. However, in a few notable cases, it has not - 2000 being the most recent example.

Why not just stick with the popular vote? Here's the trick (there's no short way about it): The number of electoral votes is decided based on the number of Representatives each state has. The number of Representatives is based on population. So the more populous your state, the more electoral college votes it gets, which is why states like California and Pennsylvania are targeted by the candidates.

So what's tricky about that? Well... Most people don't vote - just 54% of people voted in the 2004 presidential election. The demographic least likely to vote is those aged 18 to 24. However, this crowd still counts towards the number of electoral votes the state receives. So even if fewer actual people vote in a large state, they will receive more electoral votes than a smaller state that had a larger turnout. The people who do show up to vote have an unfair advantage - their votes essentially "count more." This works to each parties' advantage in different states.

The other factor at play is the history of the electoral college. Back when it was created, African Americans counted as 3/5s of a person (so ridiculous), and this counted towards the total number of electoral college votes a state received... even though black people did not vote. This method clearly favored those states that had a larger African American population, which was generally the South. The South did not want to give this up.

But why do we still have the electoral college? Most states are "winner take all." This means even if the electoral college votes are close, the candidate who wins (even if by a small margin) gets all the votes. Because each party has certain states it knows it has a majority but obviously not 100% of the electoral votes, they don't want to give up the system and potentially give up winning an entire state versus just part of it. They get to keep all the votes even though they didn't actually win all of them.

Get all that? No? Read it again, and then check out the government's FAQ on the electoral college. If you have a little more time, listen to this Back Story radio program on the electoral college that explained it all to me.

And then tell us - what do you think? Should we put the vote directly in the common woman or man's hands?

Related Posts:
Are you making your decision based on looks?; Presidential Election and Free Speech; Passive Electioneering; Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Ballot Questions; Absentee Voting; A biased opinion?
Photo courtesy of bradley_newman.

Friday, October 24, 2008

There's nothing like a warm cup of coffee

With it starting to get really cold here in Boston, I thought a little heart warming post was all we need.

A study recently conducted by Yale University showed those who were physically warmer were more likely to be warm or generous to other people. Researchers rode the elevator up with their recruited volunteers and asked the recruit to help out by holding their cup of coffee while they wrote down the name of the recruit on their clipboard. Sometimes it would be a hot cup of coffee, sometimes it would be an iced cup of coffee.

These recruits were then asked to rate personality traits of a fictitious person. Those who had the warm cup of coffee rated the person with more generous personality traits than those that held the iced cup of coffee. They conducted other studies as well but all came up with the same result that your physical warmth was related to your psychological "warmth".

So does that explain the unfriendliness from many of the people in the Northeast? Everyone is physically cold, especially this time of year, which tends to make people more psychologically cold. I can understand that, who wants to take time to go outside and chat with neighbors/strangers, when that wind is biting at your face.

It is true I have met most of my new neighbors by doing outside activities (i.e. walking the dog, painting the porch), while it has been warm out. People were out and about enjoying the warm weather. When it is cold out everyone retreats inside to stay warm and creates less of a chance of interacting with the community.

So how does one do more good for the community and affect those around you when it is cold out? Can be as simple as buying a neighbor/stranger a cup of coffee? What are your thoughts?

Related Posts: An Economic Recovery Plan, in a cup., Random Acts of Conversation, My Knights in Shining Denim, Who is Happier?, How to be Happier

Picture Courtesy of:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Voting 2008 - Are you making your decision based on looks?

We are drawn to good looking people, which is sort of common sense, right? A 2007 study by Florida State University showed that good-looking people capture our attention nearly instantaneously and render us temporarily helpless to turn our eyes away from them.

Interestingly: “If we’re interested in finding a mate, our attention gets quickly and automatically stuck on attractive members of the opposite sex,” said Jon Maner, an assistant professor of psychology at FSU, “If we’re jealous and worried about our partner cheating on us, attention gets quickly and automatically stuck on attractive people of our own sex because they are our competitors.”

So what does that mean for the presidential election?

Well, for the first time in a long time, we've had people of both genders seriously vying for the top (or 2nd to top) positions. Some of us are staring at the candidates because we're jealous, others of us are staring because we're attracted, but we're all staring because these candidates are under a microscope right now.

There has been a lot of attention paid to the candidates' looks, especially the female contenders, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. I swear, if I hear one more thing about Mrs. Clinton's pant suits and "cankles," I'll scream.

Interestingly, however, it has recently come to light that the Republican National Committee spent about $150,000 on clothing, hair styling, makeup and other "campaign accessories" in September for the McCain campaign after Palin joined the ticket. They are planning on donating all clothing after the campaign is over, but does that make it ok in the eyes of the law?

Perhaps the RNC was trying to capitalize on Palin's famous good looks (named America's Hottest Governor by Alaska Magazine) - afterall, if we're drawn to [at least look at] attractive people, it couldn't hurt, right?

What are your thoughts? Should candidates spend $400 on haircuts? Is it (or should it be) legal for campaign committees to spend funds on their candidates' clothing?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Presidential Election and Free Speech

I spent a relaxing few days in the country this past weekend. Well, relaxing until politics, free speech, and morality came into play.

Sunday night, my mom's friend came into the house huffing and puffing and carrying a sign that she pulled up and threw into her car when she spotted it by a rotary on a drive to get some groceries. This wasn't just an ordinary political sign that said "Vote for McCain" or "Obama for Change."

The sign proclaimed, "Al Qaeda for Obama."

It's common to see signs proclaiming one group's or another's support of political candidates. Examples include "Catholics for McCain/Palin," "Arab Americans for McCain," "Veterans for Obama/Biden," or "Teachers for Obama."

My mom's friend was so shocked by what she saw on this sign, however, that she just grabbed the sign and ran. Would the sign be ok in her eyes if it were actually put up by a member/supporter of Al Qaeda, instead of who it likely was, which is someone who doesn't support Obama and is just trying to associate the candidate with a terrorist group?

Or either way, does that person have the right to put up any sign they please, the truth sign's contents put aside?

My personal optinion: Politics is a dirty business, but we shouldn't have to resort to tactics like associating one candidate with a terrorist group. Law-wise, though, we do have a thing called "free speech."

What do you think?

All signs are not controversial! Take a look at this non-partisan sign
encouraging people to get out and vote.

Related Posts: Are you making your decision based on looks?; Passive Electioneering; Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Ballot Questions; Absentee Voting; A biased opinion?; Handgun Bans and Dogs; How to be Happier; Who is Happier?
Photo courtesy of robbmitchell.

Friday, October 17, 2008

TGIF from OYFP: Talking to Animals

Though this has nothing to do with volunteering, or community, or making the world a better place, it's Friday. And that's reason enough:

Related Posts: TGIF from OYFP: Cats on a treadmill; Moose Plays Dead;Recycling Dog; Sock monkeys for charity; Don't forget about your pet

Let's get Crafty

What are you doing next Saturday, Oct 25? Nothing? GREAT!

Come join us at On Your Feet Project to celebrate Halloween with the kids from the Italian Home for Children. The Italian Home for Children is a residential and day treatment facility for emotionally disturbed children of all races, nationalities and religions. For whatever reason these children were brought to the facility, we here at OYFP can help them out by giving them some fun filled craft opportunities to celebrate the spook-tacular holiday.

Spaces are limited and on a first come, first serve- so sign up today! No crafting experience necessary, we provide all the supplies and directions. Just be ready to have fun!

The Details:
Date: Saturday, October 25th
Time: 10:30 am - 12 noon
Location: Italian Home for Children, 1125 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
To volunteer: Write to with your name, phone number, and if you either: (1) need a ride or (2) can give a ride.

Related Posts: Hearts and Crafts, move your bloomin'... *ahem* true ladies don't swear., Benefits of Volunteering
Photo from previous OYFP Craft Event.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fuel Assistance and Utilities Workshops

Economic instability and the rising costs of basic needs have the greatest impact on the most disadvantaged members of a community. Families, right next door, are struggling with the increased costs of food, heat and housing. Nobody is more directly affected than the working poor.

I want you to know that there is help out there, for everyone.

Learn how to save energy and avoid being left out in the cold at a free Utilities Workshop offered by the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership. These workshops are sponsored by the Brookline Home Heating Task Force.

At a seminar you will learn how to:
-Apply for weatherization and fuel assistance
-Get discounted rates from your utility companies
-Find options for paying overdue bills
-Learn your rights and responsibilities as a consumer

The next meeting, in an ongoing series, will be held Friday, November 7th, from 10:00am—11:30am at the Brookline Senior Center, 93 Winchester Street, Brookline, MA.

Check the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership website for updates.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Memo to CEOs: People care about causes

New research out from the Cone and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business shows that people will pay more attention to your advertisements if some sort of "cause" is associated with them.

The study was conducted on 182 individual who viewed either a cause-related or generic corporate advertisement for one of four brands, and then entered a mock convenience store where they could actually buy products.

The result? There was a 74% increase in actual purchases for a shampoo brand when it was associated with a cause, and there was a 28% increase in a toothpaste brand purchases when the product was associated with a cause in the earlier advertisement.

The lesson here? People care, or at least they want their brands to care. Or maybe it's just that the ads stuck out in their head because the message wasn't just the same old corporate jargon they're exposed to constantly.

Capitalists to the core would say "duh," this is how capitalism should work. Corporations are rewarded with $$$ by helping out a "cause." It pays to care, people.

So who needs non-profits, or governmental organizations? Riiiight.... well, maybe someday everyone will have all that they need...

What do you think? Have you ever made a purchase because of a cause-related ad that you saw?

Related Posts: Bringing Sexy Back~; A gift to remember; DesignGive - Creativity is a Gift
Above see two of the products that immediately came to mind when it came to "cause marketing" - GAP's participation in the RED product line, and Cheerios' heart disease donations.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Presidential Election, Registering to Vote, and the Questions

The presidential election is just three weeks away. If you're a Massachusetts resident, you have until Wednesday, October 15 to register to vote.

The three ways to register:
While the presidential question (McCain/Palin vs. Obama/Biden) looms large, there is more at stake this election than just who will be the leader of the free world. You should have received a voting information brochure in the mail a few weeks ago. The questions on the MA ballot are as follows:

Question 1: Whether or not the state of MA should reduce its state income tax to 2.65%. A "yes" would support this change, a "no" would indicate you do not support the change.

Question 2: A reduction in the legal penalties for persons holding 1 oz or less of marijuana. (Details are on this website.) A "yes" indicates that you would support this new systems of penalization, a "no" vote would make no change to the current laws.

Question 3: This question is in regards to dog racing (typically greyhounds). A "yes" vote would support a ban on dog racing in which betting occurs, effective Jan. 1, 2010. A "no" vote would make no changes to the current system of dog racing in Massachusetts.

If you're one of those kids (who is 18+) who likes to be uber-prepared, fill out this vote checklist before you leave the house. It will make your time in the voting cubicle that much shorter.

If you'd like a more comprehensive outline of the ballot questions in Massachusetts, read Evan's post - Your MA State Ballot.

So now you have no excuses. You're educated on the issues on the ballot, you know how to register to vote, all you have to do now is set your alarm 15 minutes earlier so you can get down to your local polling location. Don't forget to bring some food donations, and I'll see you there!

Related Posts: Presidential Election and Free Speech; 2008 Vote: Whys and Hows of the Electoral College; Are you making your decision based on looks?; Passive Electioneering; Absentee Voting; Handgun Bans and Dogs
Photo courtesy of Oberazzi.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Passive Electioneering?

Recently there has been a lot of press around Pennsylvania where both Democrats and Republicans are doing battle in court regarding whether or not you can wear a t-shirt supporting your choice for candidate. So, if you come to your respective voting location in Pennsylvania wearing a shirt that says "Yes we can" or "Maverick" you will be asked to turn your shirt inside out in order to vote.

Apparently there is an old law which bans people from wearing shirts that display their personal choice for candidate. The case to keep the polling places slogan free, is said best by Robert Gleason, chairman of the state Republican party, "We strongly believe Pennsylvanians should be able to look to the polling place as a safe harbor, free of any type of electioneering, without any outside influences".

Seriously? Would you honestly feel your vote is being affected by what another person is wearing? What if I wore a shirt that said my views on which Coffee place I like best. Would someone feel that my personal opinion on coffee effected theirs while voting?

I think most people have made up their minds by the time they are in the polling places and are certainly not going to change their opinion because of someone next to them is wearing a shirt stating what their choice of candidate is.

If people no longer have a choice of what clothes to wear while voting then maybe we should not have people demonstrate outside of polling places. Perhaps seeing a neighbor holding a sign for a particular candidate might persuade my anonymous vote and I won't vote because my polling place is not a "safe harbor".

Is the issue here that people don't feel they can vote securely, anonymously? If that is the case then we need to take a serious look into how we elect officials and make it secure for people to vote for who their candidate of choice is. Perhaps they should put it to a vote to the masses whether or not you are allowed to wear politically motivate t-shirts while voting.

My opinion is that as long as they are wearing clothes, I don't care what clothes they are wearing while voting (sorry naked people). What's your opinion?

Adding to the Grid

My former college residence, 320 Hillview, Ithaca, NY, 14850, from 2002-2003, has gone solar! Its completely off the power grid and it actually produces "extra" electricity.

"The Motel," as we affectionately call it has a 100 panel system that provides electricity to 14 apartments at 320 Hillview as well as next door at 514 Aurora Street.

The New York State Electric Gas Corporation (NYSEG) considers this system an independent power provider because after internal consumption extra electricity created is fed back into the towns power supply.

320 Hillview owner, Peter Penniman, said the system of solar panels would not have been a practical option without state and federal aid: a state rebate for 50% of total cost, a federal tax credit and a low-interest loan. After the rebates, the entire system cost Penniman $128,000.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

2009 Calendar Benefiting Indian Women

We're always talking about how you can help save the world, even in small ways. My friend Chelsea went to India with her grad school classmates last year. Her group worked with a group in Madurai province called Kalangarai, which was created shortly after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 to help widowed and abandoned women. To date, Kalangarai has provided over 1,700 micro-credit loans to women so they can start businesses and started self help groups in 100 villages.

Chelsea says, "We worked mostly with widows and abandoned women, who are considered by Indian society as unworthy and are discriminated against on a daily basis. These women are living in conditions that are unimaginable to the likes of us Westerners.

"They are not only struggling with providing for their families but they are faced with brutal physical, verbal and sexual abuse at the hands of people that live alongside them in their villages. They are shunned and made to feel inhuman.

"I was struck with disbelief and grief when I heard of what these women faced every day. Despite all this, they showed so much strength and determination to survive in this hostile environment. I knew I needed to do something to help."

So Chelsea and her peers created a small 2009 desk calendar with photos from their trip and information about Kalangarai, and are selling it for just $10 (see photos of the 2009 calendar below). All proceeds are going to help build a center for the women where they can obtain legal assistance, counseling, job skills, and temporary shelter.

If you'd like to purchase a calendar (or three) from Chelsea, just email her at Chelsea Lettieri at gmail dot com to set up a time to meet and exchange the funds for the calendars. If you don't live in Boston, I'm sure she knows how to use the lovely United States Postal Service. Don't worry, she's trustworthy. I can personally vouch for her, if that means anything. :-)

The 2009 desk calendar!

Related Posts: India: The haves and the have-nots; Giving away $80K; Who is happier?; International volunteering for teens

Photos courtesy of me. I bought three calendars! To see more photos of my own trip to India, visit my India web album.

Charitable Giving in 2008 - What's the outlook?

Banks are failing, foreclosures are abundant, we've officially been in a recession for a few months now, we're still at war spending billions... the outlook is not good, especially for people's pockets.

Does that mean, though, that non-profits are in trouble? If my pocket is empty[ier] than before, chances are that I'll be giving away less. In fact, for a lot of people, that might be where the funds are cut first.

Ug. Not what any of us associated with non-profits would like to hear. Who wants to think about kids with cancer who might not have housing because donations are down, or that the banks of the Charles River become even more trash covered since there are no funds to get supplies for volunteer cleaners?

So maybe you can't afford to donate your hard earned cash. That doesn't mean you can't give. Instead, try the following:
  • Donate clothes that no longer fit (no honey, you're not going to fit into those jeans from college)
  • Donate your pet supplies that your pet treats with disdain or perhaps have outgrown since their adorable baby animal years
  • Volunteer with friends for a few hours at your local soup kitchen, with one of OYFP's partners, or with YAVA this Saturday
  • Take the a UNICEF box around with you to collect change when you go trick-or-treating this Halloween (adults can trick or treat too!)
  • Run a coat drive at your workplace
  • Donate blood! Plus you get some yummy snacks afterward.
There are things you can do to help without spending money. People need your help now more than ever!

Related Posts: Don't forget about your pet; Sock monkeys for charity; Increasing Food Costs; It's the economy, stupid; What is this credit crisis you speak of, and why do I care?; An economic recovery plan, in a cup; The R-Word; Penny Pinchin' Times
Photos courtesy of Nice Diver

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Volunteer on Saturday in Boston

Our volunteer-lovin' peers in the Boston area, the Young Alumni Volunteer Association (YAVA), are going to the playground this Saturday, October 11!

I love playgrounds! But not dirty ones... which is why YAVA will be at the Charlestown Caldwell playground to clean that baby up.

The play starts at 10 AM, and continues to 1 PM after which there will be a social gathering of some sort, seeing as they're the friendly type. And if that's not enough YAVA for ya', check out their fall social at Felt later that night (starting at 8 PM).

If you're interested in either event, just RSVP for free at EventBrite:

YAVA volunteers this spring, working hard

YAVA volunteers playing hard

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Flashback - Google like it's 2001

I apologize for the lack of posts lately from me. Life's gotten a bit hectic. 17,000 loads of laundry, sock monkeys, and cousin's wedding hectic.

While we here at OYFP gather our thoughts and prepare them for a blog entry, take a look at the world in 2001, courtesy of Google: Google like it's 2001. In honor of their 10th anniversary, Google has made their page index from 2001 available for searches.

It's always good to get a little perspective. YouTube wasn't around in 2001, nor was On Your Feet Project. I was still in college, doe eyed and dewy lipped, and wondering if Biology Boy liked me or not. Thank goodness I at least had the sense to know (and use!) Google.

Where were you in 2001? And did you know what Google was?

Related Posts: Keepin' it Classy; Delayed Gratification; How YOU doin'?; Super Tuesday Preview; Top 5 New Year's Resolutions

Friday, October 3, 2008

Random Acts of Conversation

The other day I was walking with Jamie and the dog after work when a man dressed in a marine suit said something to Jamie and I that I couldn't exactly hear and sounded rude. When we were out of earshot I asked Jamie what he said, and Jamie's response was, "The marine guy said, good evening mam, good evening sir." Oops. I felt bad that I misjudged what the marine was saying.

Additionally it made me me realize that I found it weird for some stranger to show us some politeness on the street. There is something wrong when the idea that someone greets you on the street and your first reaction is to look the other way.

This reminded me when I had a friend come and visit me from out of the state and she was unhappy with her visit to Boston because not one person smiled or said hello to her. She said this place was WAY to unfriendly for her. I laughed and said she was being silly, now I think differently. Seriously, when was the last time you said hello to a stranger?

So I tried my little experiment yesterday by smiling at several strangers. Most ignored me but a few smiled back and even went a step further to wish me well. It made me feel great and perhaps even brightened the day of the stranger who smiled back.

So take some time today, or this weekend to greet the person walking by. Maybe even take it a step further and strike up a conversation. Who knows the good it can do. All I know is people shouldn't find it strange or scary when someone is saying hello.
Photo of happy people at a OYFP Event

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Giving Away $80,000 - by Oct 15

There's $80,000 being given away at

Why are they giving away the money? Well, when the website was founded, they decided to set aside 5% of their profit to give to charities. Cool, right? So no, you don't get the $80K, but you can vote for a deserving non-profit to receive it.

But what exactly is the Squidoo site? I'm still not quite sure, but it looks like you can go on there, create a simple one pager about a cause you care about, and then hope that people donate money. It has a very Wikipedia feel to it. Their premise is that small donations can add up (see this page for more info).

Either way, they're giving away $80,000, and we get to vote on what charities get the money. Every vote gets the charity $2, so everyone has a chance to get moneys! You can only vote once - play by the rules - but you can promote your choice all you want.

And let me tell you, there are quite a few choices. My personal favorite is Long Hopes, the donkey shelter in Colorado. Yes. A donkey shelter. They take in donkeys who have no home any more. "Eeee-haw!" I say.

However, my vote (and $2 from Squidoo) went to the Genocide Intervention Network. There's a summary of links to the non-profits up for election on Squidoo to help you decide. Who are you going to vote for?

Related Posts: Absentee Voting; Non-Profits partnering with OYFP; Moving? Donate some of your items; Microsoft's i'm initiative
Photo from Long Hopes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Global Warming Café is Cookin' Up Something Hot.

Climate Change Action Brookline (CCAB) is a group of Brookline residents who actively address global and local issues that are focused on climate change.

In an effort to promote energy conservation Climate Change Action Brookline is inviting everyone to attend a "Global Warming Café" on Saturday, October 4th at the Brookline Public Library Main Branch from 12-3:30PM. This free community event will feature speaker "Mindy Lubber, Brookline citizen and President of Ceres, as well as a workshop on The Low Carbon Diet, a 30-Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds to help people lower their carbon emissions by 10% or more."

The meeting will feature educational presentations on geothermal and solar technologies. Guests will also hear from other community members about how they reduced their personal household carbon footprints.

If you would like to join on October 4th just show up! No RSVP necessary. The free program will start at 12:00-12:30PM with a light lunch, and then it will be followed by the speakers and presentations from 12:30-3:30PM.

For more information contact: Mary Dewart or Cass Miller, CCAB Campaign Co-Directors, 617-549-4165.

Picture from: