Goodbye 12for2012; Hello 12for13

It’s been a fantastic year, as resolutions go. Just 12 months ago, I had no idea I would meet so many great people, have such incredible experiences and grow as much as I did. It seems like just yesterday that I first hopped on a unicycle and I’m already moving on to the next set of challenges.

It’s been quite a journey, but it isn’t over yet. As I write this, my final 12for2012 post, I hope you’ll continue to come along for the ride as I begin 12for13: A Year Without Fear.

Thank You!!!

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GR12: Organ Donor

I went back to United Blood Services again on December 20th, but they sent me away, saying I had to wait until the 27th for the Haitian induced restriction to be lifted. With just 4 days to go before this year and its resolutions expired, I returned to UBS once again. They poked me, took samples, checked my vitals and asked the questions again. I made it past the Haiti question, but this time I was rejected again for a different reason. This time the problem was that I had lived in England for 6 years and this time the ban is for life. According to the rules of the FDA, there is a possibility that I may have come into contact with some mad cow tainted beef and therefore I can never donate blood in the United States. (As an aside, I did ask whether it mattered if I was a vegan and they said, “Hahahaha. No, but nice try.”)

I had been counting on giving blood to satisfy this, my 12th Giving Resolution for 2012. I had no backup plan. I was genuinely worried that I would fall short of my goal. Then, like a sign, I happened to pass the DMV on my way home. Suddenly it hit me. They can reject my blood, my hair and even my sperm while I’m alive, but they won’t reject my organs and tissue when I’m dead. Even if they do, it won’t be as demoralizing because, well, I’ll be dead.

I went to the woman at the “welcome” desk (by the way, she wasn’t very welcoming) and asked if she could check to see whether I had already elected to be an organ donor. “No one has ever asked that before. I’m not sure.” Score! I asked a question that she’d never heard before and I’m sure she’d heard plenty sitting in that seat.

Turns out she could find that information and the answer was, “No”. For $25, I ordered a replacement license that will have a pink dot on it, signifying that when they scrape me up, they should handle with care.

Organ Donor

Organ Donor Facts

  • Most commonly transplanted organs are kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.
  • They’ve even cured diabetes with a pancreas transplant.
  • Tissues transplanted include skin, bone, heart valves, tendons, veins, and corneas.
  • There are 117,059 people in the US waiting for organ transplants.
  • Each day 79 people receive organ transplants and another 18 people die waiting for one.
  • Up to eight lives can be saved through organ donation and 50 improved through tissue donation.
  • Roughly 1/3 of those eligible to be donors have elected to do so.

In light of this information and the fact that these parts will simply turn to dust when I’m done with them anyway, it seems to me, not electing to be an organ donor has to be the most selfish decision anyone could make.

It’s as simple as ticking a box the next time you get your license renewed. California residents can do it online by clicking HERE and all others HERE.

GR11: Book Drop

Book DropFor more than twenty years, my wife and I have been hoarding our favorite books. We never re-read them or use them as reference material, but we just couldn’t let them go. We’ve moved a lot over those years so we have shed quite a few at times, but still about 300 or so managed to make the cut each time. We haven’t added to the physical collection in quite some time, having gone digital with the release of the 1st Kindle back in 2007.

Library DonationWhen we came to grips with the fact that we wouldn’t be adding to the collection, it meant that it had become and would forever be, an incomplete collection. Many of the books were no longer representative of who we are and so we decided to donate them to someone who would make better use of them. We inquired with some of the local charities, but then we thought that the best place to donate them would be the place they were most likely to be used — the local library.

GR10: Stranded Hiker

Cold Spring TrailOn October 8th, I went for what was meant to be a quick hike up the Cold Spring Trail in Santa Barbara. I know the date because earlier that morning I had decided it was time for me to move on from the firm I’d help build. The purpose of the hike was to clear my mind and get to a calm place for the meeting I had called with my partners. I grabbed Stella from home and we headed up past several groups of hikers, including some families with young kids having lunch at the bench and a group of elderly hikers.

On the way back down, all the others were already gone, except for the elderly group. One of the older ladies was having trouble making it down a rocky section with medium sized boulders. In fact, she was stuck. She was afraid to take a step forward and fearful that if she sat down she wouldn’t be able to get back up. Her friends waved us past, but I wanted to make sure they’d be ok. Turns out the woman had injured her knee and any movement at all resulted in a lot pain, but also a lot of fear that she had done some real damage. Luckily it happened with only about a half of a mile left to the trailhead.

I offered to give her a piggy back ride down, but that would require me holding her up by wrapping my arms around her knees. Since that was the source of the pain, it seemed like a bad idea. Instead we opted to have her wrap her arm around my neck and shoulders, allowing me to sort of carry her down in an upright position. It was hard work and I was concerned about being late to such a potentially contentious meeting that I had called, but I didn’t see any other way of getting her down to the road. To be honest, what weighed on me more than anything was the fact that I was soaked with sweat from the hike that preceded this episode and this poor woman was forced to lean on me like that.

Anyway, it was slow going, but we made it to the trailhead where a doctor happened to be jogging by. She put the injured hiker at ease as we slid her into the back seat of her friend’s car. They all wanted her to go to the local emergency room, but she was concerned because she hadn’t any insurance. She asked them to drive her home to her husband, but they insisted that she have her knee looked at by the emergency room doctors.

As I said goodbye, she broke down in tears thanking me for helping her. She asked for my name and number, wanting to repay me in some way, but I refused. I said, “You’ll have paid me back in spades when I see you passing me on this trail again. For now, just listen to your friends and get yourself better.”

GR9: Paid Forward 1x

GR9 moves on from Santa Barbara, CA to Coral Springs, FLStacey paying it forward by donating bloodStacey K held up her end of the deal, paying GR9: Chez Magnifique forward to Matt L by donating blood in South Florida. Thank you, Stacey! Still working to get Samantha’s wish to come true. Also, a couple more Pay It Forward resolutions to fulfill, so open to more ideas.

 

 

 

 

GR9 (PIF3): Chez Magnifique

Giving Resolution #9 is a Pay It Forward that came in from Stacey K. via the request form.

Samantha of Food Hurts“There is a teenage girl named Samantha who suffers from an Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease (Eosinophilic Esophagitis).  She is allergic to food.  Samantha is fed formula through a tube in her stomach, her only safe food is white potatoes.  Although Samantha can’t eat, her dream is to become a chef.  She loves cooking for others, it helps her feel connected to meals which are such a central part of our lives.  Think of how much of our lives revolve around food – imagine if you or your child was permanently isolated? Samantha had wanted one of the cooking shows like an “Iron Chef” or “Top Chef” to challenge their chefs to prepare food eliminating the Top 8 Allergens.  I think it would be amazing for Samantha to get to see her dream become reality while spreading awareness for EGIDs.  As an orphan illness we receive $0 in government funding unlike other gastrointestinal disorders.  Many children have few if any safe foods and live on formula; no cake at birthdays, no eating in the lunchroom or family meals, repeated doctor visits, tests and hospital stays… it is truly heartbreaking… Samantha wants a cure so she can taste the food she cooks.  I would love to at least see part of her dream come true by one of the cooking shows doing the Top 8 Elimination challenge, but how much greater if she could actually BE there and meet the chefs?!  She is a brave girl who has done numerous YouTube videos to spread awareness, I would love to see her given an opportunity to spread awareness even further.”

WOW!!!! How could I not try to help this courageous and inspirational young lady?

There are a few ways I may be able to help and I will try every one of them.

  1. I have contacted Samantha’s family to let them know her efforts have not gone unnoticed and that people like Stacey and I are working alongside her. (I encourage you to do the same via her Facebook page.)
  2. I will try to promote Samantha’s cause via this blog and all the social media tools I have at my disposal.
  3. I am forwarding her request on to every contact I have in television, particularly those at Bravo, which airs Top Chef.
  4. Posting links to her cause wherever I think it may gain traction.

I have no idea if my efforts will make her dream a reality, but nothing would make me happier than seeing Samantha on TV.

Food HurtsPlease add your name to Samantha’s Change.org petition. It only takes a second.

Make a tribute donation via CaringBridge.

Make a donation to CURED. Get this, 100% of your donation goes into researching a cure. 100%!!!

Visit her Facebook Page.

Watch her videos on YouTube

GR8 (PIF2): Learning Adventures

Pay It Forward #2 was requested by a teacher who has given up the confines of the traditional walled classroom in favor of experiential learning. Her new venture has exposed kids from around California to some of the great wonders of the world, not the least of which are the extraordinary cultures of Southeast Asia, via Friendship Tours.

From the Friendship Tours website…

Educational travel and community service programs for students and teachers. Experiential learning and volunteer projects create diplomacy and mutual prosperity for a more peaceful world.

We invite you to…

  • Transcend ordinary tourism.
  • Experience living history.
  • Join meaningful learning adventures.
  • Support global communities healing from war.

Teachers Travel Free!

Lead students on life-changing discoveries.

Friendship World ToursMy job is to review the educational material she has created to ensure that those joining her tours gain as much perspective and historical knowledge as possible. She wants the kids, and teachers, to maximize the intellectual returns on their investment of time and money. I love it!

There are 5 Units, each one broken down into 5 or so sections, plus quizzes, powerpoint presentations, worksheets and best of all, “Simulated Activities” for me to review. I am to go through it all looking for typos, to make sure lessons are clear, formatting is correct and essentially, that the material fulfills its intended purpose.

I’m looking forward to learning from the material and hoping this resolution will call attention to the great work Friendship is doing. To learn more about the tours, click HERE. If you are a teacher, you should definitely look into this. Teachers travel free!

Considering the work she is doing, asking her to pay this forward almost seems redundant, but she has agreed to do so. I’m hoping this PIF will reach across the globe following her travels.

GR7 (PIF1): Musical Mold

The first Pay It Forward giving resolution, sent to me via FB, is officially set.

“I was trying to think of a way for you to help the music programs here. But I can’t get past the ‘not in a financial way.’ I’ve been trying to come up with another way for you to give to that program. I need a few more weeks. Brain is fried. Maybe that’s what you need to give me–some new brain cells!

Maybe some sort of instrument drive? Or if I had the time and skills to research and apply for grants, that would be great too. Both the middle school and high school my kids are zoned for are Title I schools. There is little money in the county and state for music to begin with. Because we pull from a lower economic bracket, there isn’t much in the way of fund raising and personal donations. Our middle school band director said he wouldn’t recommend any of the school-owned instruments to the kids because they are full of mold. Gross! But for many families, renting a school instrument is the only option.”

So, how can I help the music program without writing a check? Well, if I could find a way to rid the instruments they already have of the mold, that would go a long way toward improving the music program. That way, more kids could play an instrument, the school won’t have to come up with funds and I’m not an enabler of financial waste.

UltrasonicAfter doing some research, I found out that mold in instruments is not a unique problem. The most common and effective way to get rid of the mold is by dipping the instrument into what is essentially a giant ultrasonic vat. There is a company out there that manufactures one big enough to dip an entire tuba. It holds 36 gallons and costs about $3,000. There is an instrument shop called All-County Music in Andrea’s area that has one, but they charge about $150 per instrument for the service.

Then I had an epiphany. I know someone who used to have a large ultrasonic machine in their factory, for a completely unrelated purpose. They’ve since retired, but I thought it worth a call to see if (a) he still has it and (b) it is big enough to fit a musical instrument. The answer to both questions was, “yes!” It’s only a 10 gallon version, so it won’t fit a tuba or trombone, but it will certainly do the job for almost all the other instruments when broken down. To make matters even better, the gentleman offered to deliver it to the school..

Andrea put me in touch with the music director so that I could work out the logistical details, but of course nothing is that easy when a bureaucracy is involved. While he was incredibly grateful for the help, he informed me I would have to seek approval from the county before we could proceed. I have moved it up the chain of command and as of this moment am awaiting a response.

However, as per my definition, even if they refuse my help, I have satisfied my resolution and look forward to seeing how Andrea pays it forward.

GR Resolution 7-11: Pay It Forward – “Success or failure for the GR will be determined solely by what I can control, namely that I carry out a favor, get confirmation that the favor will be paid forward and pass along the information for tracking it.”

GR7-11: Pay It Forward

I’m going to take a slightly different tack with giving resolutions 7-12. For the remaining GR’s I am asking people to tell me how I can help them or someone they know, directly. In return, all I ask is that they pay that favor forward to someone else with the same stipulation. I will select 6 “favors” and we will track each one independently over their life. The hope is that a competition of goodwill will develop, we will see some interesting acts of kindness and meet some fun people along the way.

Success or failure for the GR will be determined solely by what I can control, namely that I carry out a favor, get confirmation that the favor will be paid forward and pass along the information for tracking it.

It all begins with you. Keep in mind how I have defined my Giving Resolutions when submitting your request, for that definition still holds for these.

Do 12 charitable things that don’t involve writing a check. I’m looking to inspire others and myself to be more caring and considerate by gaining a new perspective.

I’m hoping for some outlandish requests that will really make me push my limits physically, mentally or even socially, but I have a feeling it will be the really simple requests that are likely to have the biggest impact on me. If you can’t think of anything please share my request with someone who might.

 

GR6: League of Professional Educators’ “What If” Campaign

Americans tend to be visually stimulated, meaning we tend to respond to images and videos over text and auditory messages. So in order to help people understand what the League of Professional Educators is trying to accomplish, we are creating an image of what the world will look like when our plan is fully implemented. Here are the first three steps in that direction.

What if America's BEST TEACHERS were revered like pop icons?What if America's BEST TEACHERS were paid like corporate titans?What if America properly valued the contribution of its BEST TEACHERS?

GR6: Celebrate Our Teachers

According to a recent study, just over 98% of the time “teaching” is mentioned in the news or online, it is with a negative connotation. The League of Professional Educators seeks to turn that around and it begins with campaigns like this one. Please share them via FacebookTwitter and the LPE website to help spark that reversal.

Also, we added another image to the IF campaign.

Click here to share “If community…” on Facebook

If community is your concern, so is education

GR6: LPE’s “IF” Campaign

I met with an amplification consultant, which is essentially a business designed to help get a message out via the full array of social media outlets. Amplification, Inc has come on board to help us do just that. This is an iterative process, that will require us trying things, assessing their success and making adjustments. What I learned from our 1st discussion is that in the world of social media, a picture is worth 1,000 words and video is worth exponentially more, especially short videos. Children and animals are a huge plus. Nothing new in any of this, but if we are going to be successful at getting our message out, it’s important for us to be cognizant of what works. Here are the first 5 images from the new “IF” campaign for the League of Professional Educators. I would greatly appreciate it if you would share them via Facebook and/or Twitter. Every “Share” and “Like” helps get us closer to fixing education.

Click here to share “If children…” on Facebook

If children are your concern, then so is education

Click here to share “If poverty…” on Facebook

If poverty is your concern, then so is education

Click here to share “If crime…” on Facebook

If crime is your concern, then so is education

Click here to share “If women’s rights…” on Facebook

Women's Rights

Click here to share “If terrorism…” on Facebook

If terrorism is your concern, then so is education.

GR6: Thank a Teacher

I was a little late to the party on that Mission: Small Business contest, so I won’t be too hard on my ability to mobilize the troops, but clearly I need to learn how to better utilize social media if I am going to have any success in launching the League of Professional Educators.

My contempt for all these quotes camouflaged as images that go around Facebook, begging people to “share” and “like” is well telegraphed. However, I can’t deny how effective they are for rallying people behind a cause. If you get the right message, they get passed around like a hot potato. So, I’m going to try a few for the LPE, beginning with these and see how it goes.

Click here to share this one with your friends on Facebook if you’re so inclined.

Thank a Teacher Mark

Click here to share this one with your friends on Facebook too.

Thank a Teacher LeBron

If you have any suggestions, please share them with me. If you’d like to make one of your own to help the cause, please send it to me at bijapoo@me.com.

GR6: League of Professional Educators

League of Professional EducatorsIn 2007, I decided I wanted to do more than simply run a successful business and enjoy my life in Santa Barbara. I wanted to see if I could apply what I do for a living, to solve a major social problem. After a year researching everything including poverty, crime, health, the environment rights issues, and so much more, I found that when I drilled deeper and deeper down, at the core of all of these issues, is education. Solve the education problem, and we solve so many other social ills.

I spent three years focused on the task of boiling the issue down to its essence and then developing a solution. The result is the League of Professional Educators (LPE).

Initially, the plan was to launch the LPE as a non-profit, but after fighting with the IRS for 501c3 status for a year, with the only beneficiary being our lawyers, we reorganized as a for-profit. No other aspect of the entity changed. It was always intended to be a commercially viable entity, for I believe that’s the only way you can ensure long term sustainability.

Mission: Small BusinessI will provide far more details as this resolution develops, but step one for GR6 is to ask my followers to vote for the LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS to win a $250,000 grant in Chase’s Mission: Small Business program. Click here, log in via Facebook and enter League of Professional Educators in the box marked “business name”. Then spread the word….PLEASE! With this grant, the LPE can build out the operations necessary for triggering real improvement in America’s education system.

In this video, I describe the key issue facing our education system and how the LPE will solve it.

LPE on FacebookLPE on Twitter

 

 

GR5: Locked and Loaded

400 Square Feet of YarnAfter defusing the yarn bomb, the 400 square feet of knitted pieces were lugged back down the Cold Spring Trail in four large backpacks and shipped off to North Carolina. When the packages arrive, Warm Up America will convert them into blankets and scarves for those in need.

Warm Up America

Halfway There

12for2012 Ballroom DancingI’m at the halfway point in my quest to learn 12 new things and do 12 charitable things this year.

Unicycling, slack lining, jumping stilts, yarn bombing, and drumming have now been checked off, with ballroom dancing and eating right being works in progress on the learning side. That leaves 5 more to be accomplished. (Paragliding has been tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of July.)

SugarOn the giving side, I’ve built homes, fostered a puppy, volunteered to donate bone marrow, did graphic design work for a mitzvah and next Sunday will donate 400 square feet of knitting to Warm Up America, while having my blood, sperm and hair rejected. That leaves 7 more to be accomplished. (I become eligible again to donate blood on December 25th so that will likely be GR12.)

Duneier SlackliningThis is where you come in. I need suggestions for the remaining 12. Is there something you have been wanting to learn, but aren’t ready to take the leap? Is there something you would like to try, but worried it will be too difficult or time consuming? Use me as your guinea pig. Let me pave the way. Is there something you’ve learned that you think others should try too? Is there a charity you know of that could use a hand? Tell me how I can help.

Send me your suggestions. Share your thoughts.

Thanks!

GR5: Warm Up America

Warm Up AmericaI had been trying to find an organization that would benefit from all the hard work and material that is going in to create the 12for2012 Santa Barbara Yarn Bomb and thanks to Lara, one of our yarn bomb contributors out of Macon, GA, we found it. After the bomb is defused, I will be sending all of the swatches to Warm Up America, a foundation run out of North Carolina.

Flower Knitted by Lara in Macon, GA

Flower Knitted by Lara in Macon, GA

Welcome to Warm Up America! the charity that has warmed peoples’ lives since 1991. It started in a small Wisconsin town with neighbors knitting and crocheting afghans for neighbors in need. Thanks to the creativity of founder Evie Rosen who came up with the idea of having volunteers knit or crochet small sections and then others join them together, the idea quickly caught on. Today Warm Up America distributes warm afghans, caps and other items to tens of thousands of people, thanks to the generosity of knitters and crocheters around the country.

Thanks to the hard work and generosity of Lara and all the other 12for2012 Bombers, lots of people will be warmer next winter.

Learn more about the 12for2012 Santa Barbara Yarn Bomb

Join the 12for2012 Yarn Bomb on Facebook

GR4: Image Mitzvah

Invitation FrontInvitation BackI’ve gone back and forth on whether or not the time and energy I put into designing the invitations, logos, etc for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah should satisfy one of my giving resolutions. After my sister repeatedly suggested that it should, I gave it some real consideration, beginning with the rereading of my definition for the resolution.

Do 12 charitable things that don’t involve writing a check.

receipt_GIRLSTruth is, I’m not a graphic designer by trade and the project took several weeks to complete, partially because I’m not an expert, but mostly because my sister is a perfectionist (and so am I). I didn’t get paid for the work and didn’t do it for any other reason than I hoped it would make my niece happy and my sister’s life easier. If you replaced the words “sister” and “niece” with something like “a little girl and her mother”, I don’t think I would hesitate to let this serve as one of my Giving Resolutions. So I have.Logo

Donate Hair

Locks of LoveI’m letting my hair grow out again, so thought why not actually cut it all off once it gets really long and donate it to “Locks for Love”? Once again my charitable intentions have been stymied by age. According to their website, “Yes, we can accept donations of gray hair. Because we only provide hairpieces to children, we cannot use this hair in a hairpiece but will sell it to offset our manufacturing costs.” I searched the internet for alternatives, but to no avail.

I hadn’t anticipated that trying to do good would make me feel so bad about myself.