"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Location: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.treme4treme.org

Character of Place as Social Capital in the Revitalization of the Iberville Housing Project and the Surrounding Tremé/Lafitte Neighborhood in New Orleans began to circulate, residents of the neighborhood who are active in civic life began responding positively to it.

Many found it to be an accurate picture of the community, and some found it highly congruent with their own ongoing work and with what they themselves have previously affirmed about the place. The report was described as having “rediscovered” things the community has previously and repeatedly discovered about itself.

+ -A group, Treme4Treme, representing several area non-profits, residents, business, and community leaders with a long history of working in social services, community and economic development, and culture in the Tremé neighborhood came together to design the future and developed a strategic plan for how to create that future.

Tremé for Tremé reached out widely within the community to develop a broadly based vision and process.

What was developed is fundamentally different from providing input into a planning process, or providing community engagement. Tremé for Tremé stepped forward to take the primary role in creating their own future.

The first words of the Choice Neighborhood Initiative application for New Orleans were that “Nearly six years ago, when the city had been inundated with flood waters, some national leaders pronounced that New Orleans was dead and suggested not to rebuild.

This once great city refused to accept that pronouncement…” It is widely recognized that it was the deep resilience of New Orleans, rising from the love of its people for the place and its culture, that produced a bottom-up process of renewal.

Tremé for Tremé and the residents of this neighborhood is ready to take its place and accept its responsibility in continuing that renewal.

Most important, the people and institutions of this neighborhood have taken responsibility for planning their own future, and creating that future. Rather than merely providing input concerning their needs and desires, or stepping forward to play a role in initiatives designed by others. Tremé for Tremé is prepared to play a primary role and ask for partnerships to complement its efforts.

The goal is to create a state that we call resilient autonomy, in which a community is self-directed and capable of constantly renewing itself in a healthy, sustainable way.

We believe the path to resilient autonomy is through neighborhood-led, asset-based and place-based community and economic development.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Location: Chesapeake Bay

Website: www.cbf.org

In the four centuries since the explorations of Captain John Smith, the Chesapeake Bay has lost half of its forested shoreline, more than half its wetlands, nearly 80 percent of its underwater grasses, and more than 98 percent of its oysters.

Across the watershed, approximately 1.7 million acres of once-untouched land were developed by 1950. Development has accelerated dramatically since then, with an additional 2.7 million acres built on or paved over between 1950 and 1980. The human pressure of these changes has imposed heavy negative impacts on the health and resilience of the Bay. Although we will never return to the pristine territory explored by Captain John Smith during those early voyages, CBF is fighting to return this fragile ecosystem to balance.

For years, CBF has been a leader in restoration efforts that improve the capacity of rivers, streams, and the Bay to treat pollution. In programs across the watershed, many of them conducted with CBF volunteers and partner organizations, CBF is restoring native oysters, planting underwater grasses, and planting trees, to restore the Bay's natural filters.

CBF's Clagett Farm is a working farm and a site for field experiences for students, teachers, and adults.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its members, more than 200,000 strong, are the strongest and most effective voice that exists for protecting and restoring the Bay and its rivers and streams. We work at local, state, and federal levels for effective laws and regulations that will reduce pollution, restore vital natural systems like oyster reefs, forests, and wetlands, and encourage smart growth in our communities.

CBF acts as a watchdog to elevate good practices for healing our waterways, while being vigilant in opposing projects or proposals that would degrade water quality. Our scientists submit comments to governing bodies regarding fisheries management, wetlands mitigation, stormwater issues, construction and development projects and more. CBF is a well-respected resource on environmental issues that impact the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, and streams.

From public meetings and adult education classes to numerous hands-on volunteer activities, CBF engages residents and teaches them ways to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries. But it doesn't stop there. CBF is also an active partner in local restoration efforts spearheaded by community organizations throughout the watershed.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pivot Legal Society

Location: Vancouver, BC

Website: www.pivotlegal.org

In the fall of 2000, John Richardson listened to a man tell a story about the Downtown Eastside. The man described being pushed and knocked to the ground by a cop on East Hastings Street. Police harassment had become so commonplace that residents no longer felt like they had any rights under the law. Justice was out of reach for many in this impoverished neighborhood.

After hearing other residents repeat similar stories, John – a recent law school graduate – could not ignore what was happening to people in this twelve-block stretch of Vancouver. As an environmental advocate committed to using the law to affect change, John realized that people living in the Downtown Eastside needed legal tools to tackle the problems they faced on a daily basis.

Over the next few months John attended meetings where residents openly disclosed their accounts of police abuse and the impacts of a decade of provincial and federal cuts to social services and housing programs. Recognizing the power of people’s lived experience and shocked by the rights abuses, John connected with neighbourhood residents, members of the legal community, and local activists – including VANDU founder Ann Livingston. Together they prepared to act.

The following spring Pivot Legal Society was born. John explains, “the concept of Pivot came to me fully clothed— name, concept, everything.” The pivot point which allows maximum force to be exerted on a given structure made perfect sense as a symbol.

By making the most tangible violations of human rights the focus of our efforts, Pivot could create the kind of force needed to carry out legal campaigns around policing, housing, and sex work that would result in meaningful positive change for people living in poverty.

Since then, Pivot has exerted this force through legal challenges, legal education campaigns, public engagement, and innovative projects that highlight the struggles, hopes, and insights of people living on the margins of society.

The success of the organization can be attributed to an unflinching passion for justice, the support of thousands of people, and strong partnerships in the downtown eastside and beyond. With compassion, force, and resilience, this tiny staff and an incredible body of volunteers and supporters allows Pivot to function as a punchy vehicle for social and systemic change.

Hope in Shadows

Location: Vancouver, BC

Website: www.hopeinshadows.com

Hope in Shadows is an innovative community engagement project that creates positive and meaningful interactions between residents from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and people from other neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland and beyond.

Each year, winning photos from the Hope in Shadows photography contest are featured in a calendar that local residents can sell on the street through our vendor program.

Hope in Shadows demonstrates that meaningful employment opportunities positively contribute to the well-being and dignity of people impacted by poverty and marginalization.

Photography Contest and Calendar -

Each year we distribute 200 disposable cameras to residents of the Downtown Eastside as part of a photo competition that gives residents the chance to document their own community. Forty photographs are chosen for exhibition, and 12 make it into the Hope in Shadows calendar. In 2013, we piloted a second photography contest in North Vancouver. Visit to find out more.

Vendor Program -

The Hope in Shadows vendor program is designed to remove barriers to employment by offering low-threshold sales work that generates both money and transferable skills for residents of the Downtown Eastside. After attending a basic sales training session, low-income residents are licensed to sell the Hope in Shadows calendar on the streets of Vancouver.

Vendors get one free calendar to get started and make $10 profit for every $20 calendar sold. We train over 200 vendors every year. We have expanded the program in recent years to include an elected vendor advisory board, monthly vendor meetings, advanced sales techniques workshops, financial management workshops, and social events.

Hope in Shadows Archive Project -

Over the past 11 years, Hope in Shadows has amassed a significant archive of photos and negatives. We are developing a process for organizing the thousands of negatives, and our digital archives of the top 40 photographs from each year's contest. Along with organizing our archives, we will be developing best practices for ownership of photo negatives, terms of use and informed consent for archived photos, and community access to the photo archive.

Financial Opportunities for People Impacted by Poverty -

Hope in Shadows trains more than 200 vendors annually. Since 2005 the vendors have increased their sales by more than 500 percent – from 2,500 copies of the Hope in Shadows Calendar to more than 13,000 annually. The impact of this project on the financial standing of people living in poverty is significant with street vendors earning over $0.5 million through calendar sales since 2003.

Hope in Shadows Wins Book Award -

In 2008 Pivot co-published the award-winning Hope in Shadows book with Arsenal Pulp Press. The book has sold more than 5,000 copies through our vendor program. The book contains a collection of personal stories behind some of the stunning contest photos. The personal narratives in the book are candid and moving and challenge the way many of us think about poverty, mental health and drug addiction. The book won the City of Vancouver Book Award and was nominated for a B.C. Book Prize.

Hope in Shadows Artists Recognized -

As the project has evolved, Hope in Shadows photographers are been increasingly recognized for their achievements as artists. Contest participant’s photography has twice been exhibited at the Mayworks Festival on Vancouver Island and private sales of prints are a regular occurrence. In spring of 2011, a selection of Hope in Shadows photographs was auctioned at Dignity, a touring international event curated by the NURU project benefiting the Acumen Fund.

Banff Centre

Location: Banff, Canada

Website: www.banffcentre.org

New art and ideas are born at The Banff Centre every day. We support ground-breaking artists. We inspire visionary leaders. We convene trailblazing researchers.

The Banff Centre is the largest arts and creativity incubator on the planet. Our mission is inspiring creativity. Over 8,000* artists, leaders, and researchers from across Canada and around the world participate in programs at The Banff Centre every year.

Through its multidisciplinary programming, The Banff Centre provides them with the support they need to create, to develop solutions, and to make the impossible possible.

The Banff Centre adds to Canada's and the world's cultural repertoire by commissioning, supporting, and producing new creative works. We develop multidimensional artists for the international stage in an artistically rich learning environment.

Our leadership programs equip people who want to change the world with the skills to do so. Moving forward, the Centre will disseminate the art and ideas developed in Banff using new initiatives in digital, web, radio, and broadcast media Arts programs are at the core of The Banff Centre. Programming supports the commissioning and creation of new work by individual artists and arts collectives, and provides resources for collaboration and applied research. Training and professional development is offered at the post-graduate level in more than a dozen art forms including, music, theatre, dance, opera, Indigenous arts, literature, ceramics, print-making, painting, papermaking, photography, sculpture, audio engineering, digital film and video, and new media. Work is showcased in public performance, events, and exhibitions throughout the year, culminating in the annual Banff Summer Arts Festival; and is disseminated beyond Banff through Banff Centre LIVE.&The Centre also partners with national and international arts institutions to bring art incubated in Banff to stages and concert halls around the world.

Leadership Development programs equip people who want to change the world with the skills to do so. More than ever, the world needs high-performing, creative leaders who are ready to face increasing complexity and change, while keeping their organizations ahead of the curve. At The Banff Centre, we inspire leaders to make a meaningful difference for their organizations, their communities – and themselves. Leaders developed in Banff are equipped with the skills to manage people and projects under conditions of uncertainty. Leaders developed in Banff are innovators and creative entrepreneurs who identify untapped opportunities and potential. Leaders developed in Banff experience transformational growth to provide the new perspectives needed for their organization's toughest challenges. Conferences at The Banff Centre provides delegates from Alberta, Canada, and around the world with exceptional meeting facilities in an environment that fosters inspirational learning. Net revenue from the Centre’s conference operations supports arts programming.

Cape Cod Modern House Trust

Location: Cape Cod, MA

Website: www.ccmht.org

In the late 1930s, on the isolated back shore of Wellfleet, a group of self-taught architecture enthusiasts began building experimental structures based on the early Modern buildings they had seen in Europe.

Through mutual friends they invited some of the founders of European Modernism to buy land, build summer homes and settle. Like their local hosts, the recently emigrated Europeans admired the traditional Cape Cod ‘salt boxes’.

These ancient houses were simple, functional, owner-built and designed for long winters. The Modernist summer houses were inversions of these, oriented to capture views and breezes, perching lightly on the land.

In the three decades that followed, these architects built homes for themselves, their friends and the community of internationally influential artists, writers, and thinkers that took root nearby. Though humble in budget, materials and environmental impact, the Outer Cape’s Modern houses manage to be manifestos of their designers' philosophy and way of living, close to nature, immersed in art and seeking community.

The work of these architects and their clients spread around the world. These houses are the physical remnants of this unique convergence.In the summer of 2006, The Provincetown Art Association and Museum hosted ’A Chain of Events: Modernist Houses on the Outer Cape from Marcel Breuer to Charles Jencks.

The show was reviewed in The Boston Globe & New York Times and received the first place award for Best Architecture or Design Exhibition from the International Association of Art Critics and Writers, New England Chapter, for 2006. All the models, photographs, drawings and research material in the exhibit, as well as all materials collected subsequently, are permanently archived at the museum in their secure vault.

We are seeking drawings, photographs and narratives pertaining to these buildings. This material is fast disappearing.

Our goal is to digitize and archive as much of it as possible to allow for future scholarship and publication. Loaned material will be reproduced and returned promptly. If you can donate your time and/or experience in research, fundraising, construction, event planning, publicity, graphic design or technical support, it would be a great help.

Donations of art and furnishings connected to mid 20th century modernism on the Outer Cape, however modest, would allow us to recreate environments in the renovated houses that give context to the architecture.

Receipt for tax deductions is available based on appraised value. Tax deductible donations are greatly appreciated.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Neighborhood Development Foundation

Location: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.ndf-neworleans.org

Neighborhood Development Foundation (NDF) is one of New Orleans’ greatest success stories and the key to a rewarding and productive life for many low and moderate-income families.

Building assets over a lifetime that will enable you to leave an inheritance to your children is a dream for many working families and a dream that the Neighborhood Development Foundation (NDF) has helped to make a reality for thousands of families throughout the greater New Orleans area since 1986.

NDF was founded on the beliefs that decent affordable housing is essential to the physical and emotional health, productivity and self-esteem of individuals and that homeownership has a significant effect on children’s success. Studies show that the positive behavioral characteristics required of homeowners are passed on to their children. These positive outcomes include: better health; fewer behavioral problems; greater achievement in math and reading; lower high school dropout rates; fewer teen births; more years of schooling by age 25; and an increase in high school graduation rates. And in the community, homeownership builds and stabilizes neighborhoods.

For over 25 years, NDF has provided knowledge, education, and advocacy that make owning and maintaining a home affordable. This education is something we can all benefit from. It’s fiscal responsibility 101 and it results in lifetime renters becoming homeowners, landlords, developers, and investors in our community.

The Mission of the Neighborhood Development Foundation is to educate and assist low and moderate-income families to build assets through homeownership.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Art Everywhere US

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.arteverywhereus.com

Five leading U.S. museums came together in January 2014 with a daunting challenge: to celebrate the history of American art through a total of 100 great works--twenty each--from our respective collections.

Our museums have collaborated with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and with artists, estates, foundations, and rights agencies to share images of these 100 works with the public in August, so that you can vote for your favorites, informing a final selection of 50 works that will be reproduced in tens of thousands of public spaces nationwide, including billboards, street furniture, transit hubs, and many other channels. This collaborative effort is the first of its kind in the US, and follows a successful version in the UK in the summer of 2013, with plans to be repeated this summer as well. It affords an unprecedented opportunity to acquaint countless millions of Americans and visitors to our country with some of America’s best and most memorable artworks.

The 100 artworks illustrated on this website span the history of the United States, from portraiture before and after the American Revolution in 1776, to landscapes of the nineteenth century, both illustrative and imagined, to scenes of daily life in the last quarter of the 1800s, to still life paintings and images of the well-to-do. Selections from the early twentieth century take us to the American West through photography, to a scene from the Bible, to the emergence of abstract painting on American soil. The First World War is commemorated in colorful tributes, followed by artworks championing the centrality of the agrarian tradition and the emergence of an industrial economy.

Gritty urban scenes documenting the Great Depression are joined by an image of the Dust Bowl in the West. The genius and travails of African-Americans at that time are commemorated, along with Surrealism’s fascination with human psychology and perception. Abstract Expressionism’s explosion on the scene in the 1950s is chronicled in multiple masterpieces, a new form of artistic language that changed the rules of painting. Pop Art takes the stage in the 1960s, with several instantly recognizable images from the worlds of advertising and mass media. The decades since the 1970s are represented by the disparate forms and concerns of artists questioning the received wisdom of the past, probing topics ranging from identity politics to race to gender stereotypes.

All in all, the 100 works in Art Everywhere US bring us face-to-face with the story of our nation, told by the visionaries who captured our essence at the time they lived and worked, and who to this day compel us to find our place in the evolving story of America. From a stained glass window to a prairie quilt, the two-dimensional artworks in this wide-ranging selection invite reflection on the vernacular of American art, from high art to the everyday, from East to West, and from our origins to the present moment.

Art Everywhere US will provide chance encounters with great works of art to reflect the story of our country, encourage everyone to visit their local museums, and start a national conversation about the importance of nurturing creativity in our schools and in our daily lives. We hope you enjoy the biggest art exhibition in history—and please let us know which artworks you’d like to see reproduced, wherever you live or travel, by voting now!