Category Archives: Philanthropy

olivia’s organics supports the food project

Upon opening the top of this (Olivia’s Organics) plastic lettuce container the other day, I was surprised, and pleased, to see a large, inside-cover-like sticker about The Food Project, which has long been one of my top five favorite (non-profit) organizations, since I worked with them almost ten years ago(?!). It turns out that The Food Project is one of several organizations supported by Olivia’s Organics.

As the large, inside-cover-like sticker notes, The Food Project operates urban farm sites on formerly abandoned blocks in the Dudley Square neighborhood of Boston. “On these farms you’ll find teenagers composting, planting seeds, watering, weeding and harvesting the fruits and vegetables that they have grown.” The Food Project, state the folks at Olivia’s Organics, “taught us about the power of urban farming, and the transformation that local, sustainable agriculture can have on neighborhoods and the children who live there.”

In addition to the lots in Boston, The Food Project has a 30-acres farm field in (suburban Boston’s) rural Lincoln. Both sites, suburban and urban, are cultivated by teams of teens from both urban and suburban neighborhoods (hence their moniker, “youth growing together.”)

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new orleans vs. bp

A few weeks ago I was in New Orleans with family to celebrate our recently graduated Tulane alum. I had never been to the Crescent City before, and I’m still slightly obsessed with its history and culture, and of course, recent catastrophic events (not just Hurricane Katrina, but the BP oil spill, as well) under which this impressive community endures. So, when I heard about a store selling “FU BP” t-shirts, I had to check it out.

These shirts are being sold at Crawdaddy’s, near Jackson Square and the French Market, in the French Quarter. As the photo below shows, “Crawdaddy & Co. will donate $1 for each shirt sold that is related to oil spill to The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund!!!!”

Why not contact them (Crawdaddy & Co.), order a couple dozen shirts, invite some friends over, blast a little Rebirth Brass Band, break open the liquor cabinet, and throw an FU BP party?

Or, visit Spill Baby Spill, and participate in a more sober, if not more effective, activist campaign on behalf of the gulf coast.

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, Community Investing, Philanthropy

the rich just ain’t what they used to be

Remember Robin Leach, the host of the television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous who charmed us with “champagne wishes and caviar dreams”? Well, two decades later, it seems we’re all still hungover from the uber-affluent-extravaganza buzz we collectively endured. Celebrity gossip. The Fortune 500. Beltway politics. Who can sort through such porous distinctions anymore?

So is it really surprising that Donald Trump is deciding to run for President? He already has a tower, a board (bored) game, and a TV show. Is he supposed to just ride off into the sunset on his yacht, lounge on the beach of his own private island paradise, telling his martini cocktails they’re fired, never to be heard from again?

If only.

The uber-wealthy. Seems the more they get, the more they get in everyone’s face.

It’s tempting to reason that it has always been like this. “We seem to be made to suffer,” fatalist philosopher C-3PO reasons. “It’s our lot in life.”

But the reality is that today’s insane-ly rich have become even more brash than their power-wielding forbearers of yesteryear. (If that’s even possible. Which, unfortunately, it seems to be.) Commie-red rose-colored glasses aside, the rich just ain’t what they used to be. And an intriguing new study by (former Barnard College history professor) Thaddeus Russell, A Renegade History of the United States, makes that abundantly clear.  Continue reading

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Class, Fair Taxation, Lifestyle Economics, Philanthropy

revolt at the waldorf! rich activists push for higher taxes on themselves

Two weeks ago, two affluent activists from Resource Generation joined a rally at New York’s prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotel to protest Governor Cuomo’s proposed social service cuts combined with tax cuts for the rich. They carried with them a most unusual protest sign: “Another trust-fund baby for taxing the rich.”

Why would they do this? Read about it in my recent article for



A few weeks ago, outside Midtown Manhattan’s famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, protesters gathered to rally against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to cut funding for public services, while also cutting taxes for the wealthy. Organized by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, the marchers represented several organizations joining together to “Demand That Millionaires Pay Their Fair Share.”

But amidst the chants of “Not another nickel, not another dime! Bailing out millionaires is a crime!” on March 31 were two protesters holding a very unusual rally sign: “Another trust fund baby for taxing the rich! Let’s pay our fair share!”

It certainly wasn’t the first time trust-funders have made their way up Park Avenue to the prestigious Waldorf Astoria. But it was probably the first time inheritors of wealth have publicly rallied in front of the esteemed hotel for an increase in taxes on themselves.

Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone actively advocate against their own self-interest? “Our current tax system perpetuates inequality,” states Elspeth Gilmore. “Wealthy people can really change that narrative.”

Read on …


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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, Class, Economic Justice, Fair Taxation, Philanthropy, Social Change

dr. martin luther king, jr. remembered

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary.”                                                       – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was killed 43 years ago today, his life and work cut short by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had travelled in support of striking workers.

In today’s climate of ever-growing economic inequality, we continue to miss his leadership, and celebrate his legacy.


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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, Economic Justice, Philanthropy, Social Change

not-so-secret secret millionaire

I watched The Oscars this past Sunday, and in doing so was treated to several promos for ABC’s newest “reality” show: Secret Millionaire, which will fill the primetime spot of Sundays at 8pm.

The gist of Secret Millionaire: “Some of America’s most successful self-made [aren’t they all?] millionaires … spend a week in the country’s poorest areas and ultimately reward some unsung community heroes with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money.” The millionaires will hide their true financial identity by living for a week on welfare wages (until Congress cuts funding for the program, I imagine), ultimately surprising the charitable-recipients-to-be, and reinforcing the notion that the insanely rich can easily pass for regular folks.

(Where have we heard this before? Ah yes, Undercover Boss, which airs on CBS, also on Sunday, also at 8pm. Better get your DVR ready!)  Continue reading

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, American Dream, Class, Economic Justice, Economic Opportunity, Philanthropy, Social Change

office supplies for non-profit philanthropy!

Need some paper, staples, or pink, square, sticky-notes, but don’t want to stress about supporting a (dreaded) big box store? Look no further, Give Something Back Office Supplies is here!

As our friends over at Bolder Giving noted via their recent Facebook post, “Some businesses aim for more than just the bottom line.” Every year, office supply store Give Something Back “donates their profits to the causes that their customers vote for … sometimes donating as much as 75% of profits!”

What? Impossible.

“Over 19 years, Give Something Back has donated almost $5 million dollars in profits back to amazing nonprofits,” their website proudly proclaims.

Sound crazy? Check it out for yourself, buy a highlighter or two, and vote for the non-profit organization you most want to support.

Democratic consumerism, ethical business practices, and sustainably-funded non-profits. Oh my!

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Consumerism, Philanthropy

do good ron-ron: artest to sell championship ring for charity

As a Boston Celtics fan, the non-Clippers LA basketball team is the last hoops organization I want to see win a championship. But last night, at the hope-springs-eternal-start of this new season, I was reminded that there is one tiny, itty-bitty silver lining amidst the immense darkness that is the Staples Center: Ron Artest is one of the players who received a ring for said championship. A ring he is selling via raffle, to donate the proceeds to charity.

“I’m never going to put it on,” Artest remarked of his first and only championship ring.

After the horrific ending of Game 7 last year, Artest surprised fans by thanking his therapist. Then he visited a local middle school with the co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Rep. Grace Napolitano, “to call for passage of federal legislation and encourage students to reach out to a health-care worker is they need.”

Tonight, on Larry King, he’s auctioning off his ring “as a fundraiser to put more psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in schools.”

Huh?  Continue reading

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sue vs. shue vs. skeptical tv viewers everywhere

Another episode of Glee, and another slew of commercials/PSAs that fool me into paying attention, only to realize the crew is just acting out a(nother) piece for something called The Member’s Project, which apparently, is bankrolled by American Express. The commercial urges us to go online and take a quiz to see if we are a (Mr.) Shue (ie an idealistic do-gooder) or a Sue (Sylvester) (ie a heartless wretch).

Not quite sure if I’m annoyed or intrigued, and immediately skeptical of any big-brand company (especially one in the credit/banking industry) urging others to “do good,” I check out this Member’s Project thing. And in the process I rediscover the Patagonia/Members Project add (featuring company founder Yvon Chouinard) which aired last spring during the Oscars, and caught my attention for similar skeptical vs. hopeful reactions to its viewing.  Continue reading

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Filed under Advertising, Consumerism, Philanthropy, Social Change

guest post for resource generation blog II

Here’s the guest post I wrote for the Resource Generation Blog last week. Jonathan Franzen, The Soup Dragons, freedom, Freedom, Freedom!, responsibility and afflicting ourselves with a sort of happiness …



“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

There’s a new book about freedom. It’s called Freedom. It’s not a political book. It’s a novel, written by Jonathan Franzen, who last month’s Time magazine cover proclaimed to be the “Great American Novelist.” (Who knew that there were still novels? Let alone novelists? Let alone great ones? But that’s another entry for another forum for another day…) I have not read the book – novel, sorry. Nor do I plan to. My literary ADD requires that my reading diet consist almost exclusively of nonfiction (a societal problem Franzen speaks of in the Time piece). But I did enjoy the cover article very much, finding the portion of its discussion of freedom, Freedom the idea, Freedom the ideal, Freedom the bumper-sticker phrase, to be particularly poignant for the Resource Generation community. For who has more freedom than the financially privileged? The freedom to choose what to do and what not to do, how to do it, and when. The freedom to cultivate a life of one’s own choosing.

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