Another year, another #GivingTuesday…

Josh's hand

Every year, for #GivingTuesday, I put up another photograph of hands. This one belongs to Josh, before we were married. It is one of the most generous hands I know.

Ok so we’re back here again, living through the week where every day has a #Name that is supposed to inspire us to spend spend spend for the holidays. For the most part, I tend to plug my ears and pretend it’s not happening until maybe halfway through Hanukkah when I panic because we haven’t started to deal with getting gifts out to the Jewish half of the family in a timely manner. (Maybe this year will be different?)

But one hashtag I wholeheartedly support is #GivingTuesday, which shines a light on giving to the non-profit organizations that do so much of the heavy lifting in our communities– especially now, as government funding is being cut right and left. I feel like so much attention lately has been placed on political campaigns (at least in my inbox)… It’s important to turn our attention to other areas, all of which are in dire need of support as well.

Here are some of the orgs my family is thinking about giving to this season:

Chef José Andrés founded the World Central Kitchen in the wake of the 2010 hurricane that devastated Haiti, because he believed that food can be an agent for change. The WCK has expanded to serve underfed communities all over the world (including the US!) with a network of Chefs all working “to empower people to be part of the solution, with a focus on health, education, jobs, and social enterprise.”

The 24 Hour Plays bring together marquee artists to create time limited theater around the world. And by “time limited,” I mean write, cast, compose, and produce entire pieces of theater in 24 hours. They also mentor a young diverse group of theater artists (24 Hour Nationals) and raise money to benefit The Lilly Foundation, which uplifts women in theater. Storytelling is a crucial way that we as humans make sense of our surroundings, and the group experience of watching a live performance fosters the type of community that is so important, particularly during these turbulent times. Oh and also, I’m on the board, so this crew is especially near and dear to my heart!

The Studio Museum in Harlem showcases and supports the work of artists of African descent and celebrates black culture and its influences on both art and society. It is more than a museum, it is a cultural nexus, a central gathering place for learning, exchanging ideas and for celebration by and of the African diaspora in all of its incarnations. Art + Community = Better everything. Just saying.

Next we have two organizations devoted to our oceans, which, by the way, cover the vast majority of the Earth’s surface. Surfrider Foundation is all about protecting the oceans, waves and beaches for the use and enjoyment of all earthlings. Oceana focuses specifically on the world’s oceans and works to protect and restore them to their former richness and diversity. It is the largest preservation and advocacy organization focused entirely on the undersea world.

Earth Justice may have the best tag line of all of these groups. Quite simply, we should all support Earth Justice “because the world needs a good lawyer.” Tell me about it.

Girls Who Code is all about eliminating the gender disparity in the tech world by teaching girls how to code. Many of these girls just happen to be people of color and come from disadvantaged neighborhoods, which is also a profound change from the predominately white male tech universe we see today. Sort of like the incoming freshman congresspeople, but I digress.

And last, but definitely not least, the good people over at Refinery29 have put together this list of ways that you can help victims of the devastating fires in California. Thousands of Americans have lost everything and are now homeless for the forseable future. FEMA, it seems, is overwhelmed and not super effective. Even a small bit of cash or in kind donations will go a long way.

Oh and if you want more ideas, click here and here for two past #GivingTuesday posts…

America

This is David Bowie’s heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s love song to America. He sang this at The Concert for New York City, right after the World Trade Center was destroyed on 9/11. In case we need to remember what the hell it is we are all fighting for.

Monday, Monday… the Election Day edition

vote

I found this beautiful artwork on Instagram and it’s by @eejart

Ok so we are finally here. Election Day 2018. The mid-terms. The day when we are able to really make our voices heard about how we feel things have been going these past two years. As I’m sure you’ve heard about a thousand times, this is the most important election in most of our lifetimes. So don’t let rain or a fuzziness on the issues hold you back. Here are a few links to help you out as you make your way to the polls…

First off, you can watch this video that explains why it is SO IMPORTANT that you vote.

Avoid surprises! VoteSaveAmerica has a great voter guide where you type in your address and they give you a preview of our ballot so you know what you’re getting into today.

WNYC and the New York Times and Curbed also have good voter guides that are worth checking out.

For all you NYC voters, I found this great explanation of the 3 ballot questions on a friend’s private Instagram feed, so I reposted it for any and all to see. Don’t forget to flip the ballot!!

Time to get your vote on!

Save the date pins for downtown for democracy

Save The Date pins created by artist Marlene McCarty for Downtown For Democracy are helping to keep these two election dates front and center in our minds.

Ok so it’s been a minute, but hey– there’s been so much going on. And speaking of things going on, the midterms are less than 2 weeks away and hopefully everyone reading this is thinking about writing some postcards or making some calls or knocking on some doors to get our fellow Americans out to exercise the right that so many have died for: VOTE.

And while we’re out there talking to people and engaging our fellow citizens, we’ll probably be wearing lots of GOTV (Get Out The Vote) gear. Just in case you aren’t already kitted out, here are a few suggestions to get you going.

See you out in the streets!

downton for democracy t shirt

Straight and to the point, this Save the Date T-shirt was created by artist Marlene McCarty for Downtown for Democracy, a progressive political action committee founded by creative people to transform cultural influence into political power. There are also buttons (see above), if you’re leaning in that direction.

bird cap

It can get chilly, going door to door in late October and early November, so it’s important to dress warmly. This bright orange cashmere beanie from Bird will keep you toasty and highly visible. Plus 50% of all proceeds go to Everytown for Gun Safety, a cause we can all get behind.

womens march vote tote

While we’re on the practical side, you’re going to need a bag to hold your water, snacks and extra GOTV materials (not to mention your lip balm and phone chargers!) This VOTE tote from Women’s March is the perfect solution.

blue wave postcards

If you’re taking the time to hand write postcards to voters, why not go the extra mile and send beautiful ones? These Turn the Tide Vote Blue postcard sets were created by the Pen and Ink Brigade (a group of fierce female illustrators) to benefit VoteRiders, an org working against voter suppression by making sure folks have the info, ID’s and tools they need to vote.

i am a voter pin

Studies say that people are more motivated by the desire to be a part of a community than by a direct call to action. Which means motivating people to be voters or to join a group of voters is more effective than just telling them to vote. This enamel I Am A Voter pin (they also have hats, T’s and sweatshirts) does just that. And the money goes to helping folks get the info they need to be the voters we all want them to be.

vote barrette

There’s a little shop in San Fransisco called Heartfelt that managed to dig up some great vintage GOTV gear– these tiny VOTE barrettes will keep the hair out of your face whilst also reminding folks what to do on Nov 6.

lingua franca sweater

Lingua Franca elevates the whole message-on-clothes thing by hand embroidering words of inspiration onto luxurious cashmere sweaters. Sustainably sourced, locally made (in NYC), and women owned, the proceeds from all sales go to a bevy of great causes. The sweaters are all made to order, but if you’re pressed for time, a line of hand stitched We The People sweatshirts are available RIGHT NOW at The Whitney Museum store. So run don’t walk. They’re going fast.

What I’m reading now

here we are

Sometimes the greatest books can pop up when you least expect them…

I saw this sitting on the shelf at the public library and picked it up because it looked interesting, for obvious reaosns. The various chapters are comprised of 44 essays, speeches and drawings called things like “Starting the Journey,” “Gender, Sex and Sexuality,” “Relationships” and “Go Your Own Way,” and they address the incredibly diverse and ever changing world that makes up what we call feminism today. It’s a great introduction to this complex “ism” that so many people have invested so much energy into squelching for various reasons. You get playlists of feminist songs to sing along to by Kody Keplinger, graphic stories about the princess within by Wendy XU, and all sorts of essays about body positivity, intersectionality, gender identity, the history of feminist theory and more, by a wide array of thoughtful women and men who eat, sleep, and breathe these issues all the time.

It’s crucial to keep up with current events but it is also so important to step back and try to understand the broader picture of where we are coming from. And to read beautifully written, thoughtful and inspirational words written by badasses like these is as essential as sleep and water.

Click this link to buy or look for it at your local library: Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Help them to help themselves

It has been a rough year. I don’t think I know a single person who isn’t exhausted, mentally, physically, spiritually, economically– you name it. So I hereby dedicate this first installment of my annual holiday gift guide to gifts that will help your loved ones take care of themselves. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, and we lose the strength to persevere, all will be lost. For reals.

Goldie's mood mist no 9

photo courtesy of Goldie’s


Nothing says “Everything’s gonna be all right” like a cloud of beautifully balanced essential oil scented mist that is grounding and energizing, detoxifying and hydrating all in one. Goldie’s Mood Mist No 9 ($26) is going to improve the tone of your skin or the room you’re in, and everybody who gets near you will feel better. Which is actually a holiday gift for your entire community.

Red Flower 10000 Facial

photo courtesy Red Flower


If I had all the money in the world, I might just dump all of my other skin care products and exclusively use this 10,000 Self Care Beauty Practice set from Red Flower. You can get it all for $498 (it’s on sale!) and I promise you it is worth every penny. These creams and oils and soaps are unparalleled. But if I had to “settle” for their Hinoki mint mineral bath soak ($52) I would do so happily. And still feel like a queen. Or a king, for that matter.

Southampton Soap Co foot scrub

Photo courtesy of Southampton Soap Co


Sometimes there is no bathtub available. In these instances, however, a large pot will do nicely. Rubbing down feet with some Southampton soap cucumber mint healing foot scrub (from $25) and then soaking them in a pot full of warm water is like an instant vacation without having to deal with the long lines at airport security.

reflexology chart

While we’re on the topic of feet, reflexology is the science of massaging along specific energy meridians of the foot to help heal all sorts of physical ailments. Give a gift certificate for a 60 minute session at Perry St Reflexology ($125)… because we have all been marching since January 21 and our feet (and bodies) have had just about enough.

palo santo insence

Palo Santo incense ($20), or Holy Wood, wards off evil spirits and creates positive energy. And Lord knows we could all use some more positive energy these days.

Photo courtesy of Puerh

Photo courtesy of Puerh Brooklyn


A good cup of tea can make just about anything better. The turmeric/ginger blend (from $8) at Puehr Brooklyn Teashop might just be my all time favorite herbal tea. The anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric mixed with the anti-oxident superpower of ginger make it powerful medicine. And a lovely teapot ($33) in which to brew these concoctions only sweetens the deal.

mndfl studio

Photo by Julia Robbs for Homepolish.com.

Meditation is probably the one thing that is most consistently recommended by doctors, therapists, yoga teachers and hippies alike for helping to relieve the stresses of this crazy world we find ourselves in. I have never, EVER, heard anyone say it is anything but beneficial. But it can be hard to start a consistent practice, which is where MNDFL Meditation Studios comes in. They provide the space and the teachers, so all you have to do is show up. Easy peasy. Think of a gift certificate from MNDFL like a gym membership for your mind.

Happy Giving Tuesday!

SX-70 hands

This is just one pair of the hundreds of hands I photographed for a Polaroid project a ways back…

I’m not much for these manufactured “Days of Spending” that are thrust upon us while we’re still recovering from Thanksgiving, but I do stand behind the concept of Giving Tuesday, because I think it is always important to support the folks who are doing good work and trying to make our world a better place. And the more conscious you are about giving back, the further your gifts will go. Building this muscle is crucial if we want to actually keep this planet going.

This year, my family is sitting down together (yep, all 3 of us) to decide where our year end donations will go in 2017. Transparency and agency are both so important in any relationship, and when your kids reach a certain age, it’s important to actively help them understand the role that money plays in this complicated world, as well as to instill in them a sense of generosity. (More on this to come!) Each one of us will come to the table with a list of places we’d like to support, and then we’ll decide how to divide our resources so that our donations can be most effective.

Here are three organizations that I have come across recently that I’ll be adding to my list this year. Check them out, be inspired, donate, make your own lists and lets get this holiday season started with the spirit of giving!

The Alliance for Quality Education

The People's March for Education back in March 2017 organized by The Alliance for Quality Education. Photo courtesy Garn Press.

The People’s March for Education back in March 2017 organized by The Alliance for Quality Education. Photo courtesy Garn Press.

The AQE works to mobilize communities across New York State to advocate for a universally high quality public education for every single student in all schools. Advocating for great teachers, strong early childhood education programs, equity of funding, positive school environments, less testing and more engaged learning as well as more parent and family involvement, AQE uses its policy and organizing expertise to uplift strategies leading to student success and, in their words, “to create a powerful public demand for a high quality education.”

I first heard about AQE through their extraordinary Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari, while singing with the Resistance Revival Chorus, and she constantly inspires me not only with her singing voice, but with her words. I asked this mother of 8 (!!) why she does what she does and her answer was profound: “Over the last 17 years of educational justice work I’ve learned that it is not enough to show that our children are in need of resources if the people that can make the change don’t think they are worthy of those very resources. We have to organize the parents, community, and young people to demand that our elected officials do right by our children– and that includes equitable funding for a high quality public school education.”

If we are truly a nation that is Of the People, By the People and For the People, we need to Empower the People. And our kids most of all, because they are the key to our future. Check out the great work that the Alliance for Quality Education is doing, spread the word, and donate* to help build a better future for our kids.

Zappos For Good

soles 4 souls to haiti

This year alone, Zappos for Good helped Souls 4 Soles deliver thousands of pairs of shoes to people in need in Haiti. Photo courtesy Zappos.com.

If you’re anything like me, the hardest part about donating clothes is actually getting them to the charity or organization of your choice. Enter Zappos for Good, the philanthropic arm of the massive online retailer. They take their superpower- shipping and distribution- and use it to help make this step as easy as possible.

Here’s how it works:

1) Gather up to 50 lbs of lightly used shoes and clothes and put them into a box.

2) Download a free shipping label from Zappos

3) Tape up the box, put on the label and take the postage pre-paid box to any UPS store.

4) Walk away, happy in the knowledge that Zappos is delivering your stuff to people in need via Soles 4 Souls, a great organization dedicated to getting clothes and shoes to kids and grownups in need. They will also make repairs, so if you’re missing a button or need a new heel, no worries!

5) If you happen to be shopping for clothes in Williamsburg, you can just drop off your shoes in the Zappos For Good box at Bird (203 Grand Street) through the holidays.

6) Oh and Zappos has also partnered with several orgs that give school supplies and books to kids, so if you want to buy notebooks and backpacks for kids instead, they’ll take care of that delivery as well!

The Edible Schoolyard Project

Last but far from least, there is nothing in this world that should be more important to us all than the food we choose to put into our bodies. Learning how to cultivate it, how it links all aspects of our lives via community, politics, science, math… these are the building blocks of an edible education. The Edible Schoolyard Project is dedicated to spreading the gospel of Whole Food and getting edible curricula into every K – 12 school program in this country.

Just watch the video, get really excited about what they’re doing, and then head directly to their website and click on the donate button. Also, if there is an Edible Schoolyard project near you, it is well worth checking out. I have visited the mothership in Berkeley, CA and it blew my mind.

Monday, Monday… or more links about Election Day (which is tomorrow, by the way)

go vote

Getting the message across however I can these days… Voting is more important than ever. Please go exercise your right!

Election Day is TOMORROW here in New York, so today’s links are all about how to get yourself informed quickly. This way, when you go to the polls, which I KNOW you’re planning on doing, you can vote with confidence. Remember– all of these “smaller” elections add up to big things. Every vote counts. For reals.

First off, there is the official NYC Board of Elections Voter Guide, which I find a bit confusing, but it has all the official information you need to get yourself to the polls.

WhosOnTheBallot.org is a great resource for previewing what you are actually going to see on your own local ballot, with links to candidate’s websites, social media, etc. Plus it’s a great place to go to see if you’re registered (and to register if you haven’t already), find out exactly where your polling place is, etc… they will even set a calendar reminder for you.

My go-to, in general, is the WNYC voters guide, from our local NPR radio station. They have all of the candidates for each position, links to their websites and (this is what I love) links to a number of articles about each race, so you can go a bit deeper than just the candidate’s home pages.

The New York Times, of course, has a piece aptly titled Just Tuning In To New York’s Elections Now?, which is full of links and information to help you sort it all out before you head to the polls.

If you want the crib notes on who the reliably progressive folks are on the ballot, check out who the Working Families Party has endorsed. At the very least, if you just blindly follow their lead, you’re not going to be accidentally pulling the lever for a pro-assault weapon, anti-immigration style candidate.

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

native union flat charger

Sometimes the secret to a good marriage is as simple as being able to share your phone charger…

In a way, this is the perfect post to come right after the one about me trying to get rid of things. Because the more stuff I usher out the door, the more stuff I discover and then subsequently desire urgently.

Like this sleek phone charger, for example. The little white cube style Apple chargers are tastefully neutral. The neon colored plugs and cords you can now find by the check out at every bog box drug store are fun. But this double USB port, charcoal grey charger is chic. Which means that maybe, just maybe, you’ll like it a tiny bit more than the white ones you are always losing. And because of that, you’ll hold on to it longer. Plus, when you are on that trip with your husband, who is constantly forgetting/losing/throwing overboard his own chargers, and his phone dies, you can both charge up your batteries at the same time.

Oh what a beautiful world.