Uplifting billboard says don’t cry, pout, tells you why

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The Joy Team put up this billboard at NE Glisan and 27th in Portland, Oregon to spread acceptance and hope during the holidays.
(photo courtesy The Joy Team)

The holidays are a time to be grateful for the good things in our lives, but for a lot of people this season of celebration can also stir up feelings of loneliness and sadness.

To combat these winter blues, The Joy Team out of Vancouver, Washington has created a new billboard campaign to spread messages of acceptance and hope.

Here’s a sample:

  • You are so freaking awesome.
  • We believe in you.
  • Celebrate.
  • Cultivate your awesomeness.
  • Something wonderful is about to happen.

Nice work, Joy Team! I feel better already.

What encouraging message would you put on a billboard?

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Kevin Bacon-approved last-minute gifts

If you’re too late to do your holiday shopping online (or just don’t want to), there’s still time to hit up your local shops for that perfect Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Years present.

Shift Your Shopping, a national grassroots campaign to promote strong local economies and businesses, will even sweeten the deal if you decide to keep your purchases close to home before tomorrow. Shop at one of 40,000 participating local and independent businesses across the country and they’ll donate a portion of that sale toward a charity of your choice.

By giving twice through Shift Your Shopping, you’ll also get on Kevin Bacon’s “nice” list (which you’ll have proof of if you print off some of these “Kevin Bacon approves the charitable nature of this gift” tags).

The actor/celebrity/philanthropist’s charitable initiative sixdegrees.org has teamed up with Cause Town, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and American Independent Business Alliance (AMBIA) to get tons of local businesses and shoppers on board for Shift Your Shopping.

You can learn more about how Shift Your Shopping works by watching this fabulous video starring the totally-not-Kevin-Bacon “Melvin Macon.”

Need some ideas for socially-conscious gifts before you hit the stores? Check out our Idealist “good” gift guide.

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Our Top 10 “good” gift ideas

Hanukkah came super early this year, but if you’re still shopping for Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year’s presents, we have a few tips on where to find “good” gifts at the last minute.

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1. The NYC Taxi Drivers 2014 Beefcake Calendar: Featuring sexy/silly photos of the city’s most awesome cabbies as captured by freelance photographers Phil Kirkman and Shannon McLaughlin. All sales benefit the University Settlement which helps immigrants find housing and educational opportunities.

2. You Be My Heart: This indie music treasure trove is a compilation featuring artists like Horsefeathers and Maps & Atlases. All sales benefit 826 Valencia, Dave Eggers’ nonprofit which fosters creative writing skills in children.

5. Artlifting: An online art gallery featuring iPhone covers, paintings, and other original pieces made by participants in Common Art, a Boston-area art therapy program for homeless and low-income individuals.

4. The Tutu Project: When photographer Bob Carey’s wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer, he started taking pictures of himself in pink tutus to make her laugh. Compilations of his gorgeous self-portraits are available as Ballerina (book), calendars, and photo prints benefiting The Carey Foundation for Women with Breast Cancer.

3. Teal Cats: Make it a “Meow-y Christmas” with a spray-painted ceramic vintage cat figure. With every purchase, The Teal Cat Project will make a donation to one of their partnering kitty-cat rescue organizations.

3. The Wire Poster Project: Your favorite quotes from “The Wire” illustrated as typographic posters designed by artist Oliver Munday. All sales benefit the Baltimore Urban Debate League.

7. Adventures in Feministory “Groundbreakers” Mug Set: Cozy mugs decorated with portraits of inspiring women, like Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Sales support the feminist nonprofit Bitch Media.

8. That’s So Gay! trivia game: Perfect for the game nerds in your life, this trivia game features 2,400 questions on LGBTQ history and current events. LGBTQ groups are encouraged to sell the game as a fundraiser.

9. Shop Clean List: A directory of clean-powered U.S. retail brands, how much renewable energy they use, and where it’s sourced (some top-scorers are Toms of Maine, Fat Cow, and Venture Snowboards).

10. Mighty Girl Gift Guide: A girl empowerment holiday gift guide with toys to encourage “smart, confident, and courageous girls.” Search by age or by category (like building toys, science, arts and crafts, and dolls/action figures).

For more gift ideas, check out this GOOD post on how to shop with a conscience this holiday season.

What “good” gifts are you excited about this year? Join the conversation on our Idealist Facebook page or in the comments below!

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Superstitious? The writing’s on nonprofit walls

Did you realize it’s Friday the 13th? If you’re as superstitious as some of these nonprofit folks, you probably did.

In honor of this special day, we asked our community about the weird traditions and superstitions they uphold. Check out these three fun responses:

The Minnesota-based Global Citizens Network seeks to promote peace and tolerance through cultural exchange with indigenous peoples. And apparently also by warding off evil eyes.

One staffer reported to us: “We watch out for El Mal Ojo and have a glass eye bead hanging in many of our cubes.”

Kanuga Conferences hosts 25,000 groups and families every year on 1,400 acres in the mountains of Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Says one staff member: “Kanuga has a TON of weird traditions. My favorite is ‘Kanuga Toast,’ which is this buttered, double-baked, melba-style toast. It’s like a large, hard crouton. People LOVE it, and eat it at every breakfast.

In some cases where repeat guests who love the toast aren’t able to join us for breakfasts during their stay, I have taken to mailing them a Tupperware container full of it. Some deployed servicemen have even been shipped Kanuga Toast—all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan!”

p.s. Kanuga Toast has its own Facebook page. For real.

Our own Idealists in Action blog editor Celeste Hamilton Dennis and her husband Craig Dennis (also of Idealist) met as Peace Corps volunteers in Guyana.

She divulges: “Our Guyanese friends would always tell us that we were bound to come back to their country if we drank the black water and ate labba, a local delicacy. And we did it. Whenever we would swim in black water, we’d make sure to take a sip. If labba was placed in front of us at the local karaoke joint, we’d eat it without question.”

Does your nonprofit entertain any superstitions? Tell us before the witching hour.

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Cyber Monday is Green Gift Monday, too!

featuredFolks are all a-Twitter today over Cyber Monday, the start of the online holiday shopping season. Did you know that last year on Cyber Monday, consumers spent nearly $890 million online? And that The Nature Conservancy has also dubbed today Green Gift Monday, to encourage all of us to green our holiday shopping?

Why not direct part (or all) of your shopping funds this year toward responsibly manufactured goods or donations to your sister’s/neighbor’s/partner’s favorite cause? For ideas for some causes to support, take a look at The Nature Conservancy’s gift guide. (Diana’s hoping for someone to adopt a Coral Reef in Palau on her behalf – hint, hint!)

Additional resources that might help guide your Cyber/Green Gift Monday and the rest of your holidays:

  • Climate Counts scores all kinds of companies (from airlines and hotel chains to toy and electronics manufacturers) on their sustainability efforts.
  • Low Impact Living rates green holiday gifts.

Do you know of others? Share them in the comments below!

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