Highlights 4 carefully vetted charities per quarter in the areas of Poverty and Health, Education, Human Rights, and Natural World.
Service Corps volunteers save lives and fight for gender equality by supporting local human rights organizations in Ghana’s Northern Region.
Our Beyond Belief Network is a collective of organizations putting compassionate humanism into action through community volunteering and charitable fundraising.
A Disaster Recovery Team deployed in January 2016 to rebuild homes in Columbia, SC damaged by flooding during Hurricane Joaquin.
Foundation Beyond Belief is a humanist charity that promotes secular volunteering and responsible charitable giving. Guided by the principles of secular humanism, our mission is to:
Unite the humanist community in volunteering and charitable efforts.
Advocate for compassionate action throughout the world.
25 May 2017
Beyond Belief Network teams reported nearly 30 events and 1,000 hours of service in the month of April. We already celebrated BE. Orlando for earning April Team of the Month honors and Pikes Peak Atheists and Pikes Peak Atheist Families for capturing the April Picture of the Month. Here's what the rest of our incredible BBN teams were up to!
Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless distributed items to 200 people at their April giveaway, a group record! In addition to the regular toiletries, water, fruit, crackers, etc., 17 Austin AHH volunteers distributed two large bags of clothes, which flew off the tables. Particularly popular were the set of professional men's clothes that had been donated by supporters in San Antonio. Feminine hygiene products were provided in collaboration with Support the Girls - Austin, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to women who are low-income or experiencing homelessness.
Six Brevard Area Atheists volunteers filled 9 heavy duty garbage bags with 50 pounds of roadside trash. Month after month, the group gets out there to keep its community clean!
Volunteers from the Center for Inquiry - Michigan helped prepare raised garden beds at Well House, a Grand Rapids organization that provides housing as a solution to homelessness. The project involved turning and breaking up soil to prepare for spring planting of gardens for Well House residents to grow their own vegetables.
Thirteen volunteers from the Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) and the Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) worked as servers at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility in Columbus, Ohio. It was the sixteenth joint shelter event with the two Columbus Coalition of Reason groups. To date, 72 Columbus CoR volunteers have worked 608.5 hours in 29 events with the Community Shelter Board. CSB provides housing and meals to homeless families and individual men and women in Central Ohio. Some volunteers serve dinners while others wash dishes, mop floors, file forms and clean tables.
Also in April, 5 COUNT volunteers also worked as Housewarmers at the Columbus, Ohio Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children's Hospital and other area hospitals. To date, 17 COUNT volunteers have contributed 905 hours from the start of their involvement with the Ronald McDonald House in 2013.
Humanist Alliance Philippines, International organized a cleanup drive of the Anilao River. After four hours of collecting trash, the volunteers distributed food to children.
Volunteers from the Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation Community Service Committee made no-sew fleece blankets for Chai Lifeline, which provides emotional support to children facing serious illnesses. This event took place after their regular Sunday School session. Students, their parents, and a number of grandparents who had been attending Sunday School that day with their grandchildren participated in this event. They have been doing this project for the past few years. Note that not all participants were community members - grandparents and guests participated as well as adult members and their children.
Fourteen members of Minnesota Atheists volunteered on a blustery spring afternoon to sort donated canned goods and household items for distribution to local food shelves. One stalwart volunteer showed up despite having just had a pituitary tumor removed! The volunteers packed 3,535 pounds or enough for 2,946 meals! Ten Minnesota Atheist volunteers also helped out at The Family Place in April. They purchased ingredients to make a chicken and cheesy hash brown dinner. Thirteen guests were served, and plenty of leftovers remained to feed people into the next week.
South Jersey Humanists had a table at the very punk-rock Smithville Art Walk. Amidst all the dark and goth art sold at other tables, SJH offered participants a chance to get a picture with their realistic Flying Spaghetti Monster. The price of the picture was a donation to the Narenj Tree Foundation, a local group collecting essential supplies and shipping them to Syrian refugee camps. Even people who weren't interested in a photo-op with the FSM pitched in, and SJH collected $103 over the course of the day.
Volunteers from the South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR) helped prepare garden plots at the San Antonio Food Bank for needy folks in the area. STAR continued to see impressive attendance ranging from 873 to 1,000 at the weekly discussions facilitated by humanist chaplains at Lackland Air Force Base (Pictured at the top of this post in our featured photo.) At the third meeting, they had to turn away 54 trainees because they were at max capacity for the meeting space! STAR also pitched in with the San Antonio River Authority "Watershed Wise Warriors" volunteering program to clean up the trails and remove invasive species.
Sunday Assembly Los Angeles hosted an afternoon of board games for residents of the People Concern, an organization that aims to end homelessness for LA's most vulnerable - primarily adults with mental illness - through a continuum of services and housing. SALA volunteers provided snacks and prizes and taught several games to the residents. SALA members also sorted baby clothes with Baby2Baby.
Great work, BBN teams! To learn how you can become a BBN team, click here.By FBB
The uncertain future of the coal industry has been a central figure in the media’s portrayal of the political turmoil disrupting a large swath of the United States. So too has the uncertain future of environmental policy that protects the land in coal-rich regions. It’s never been more important to be able to take a literal step back and get a comprehensive view of the issues. By stepping way back, satellite-distance back, in fact, we are revealing the devastation left in the wake of the most destructive form of mining. This bird's eye view is also pointing the way toward a solution.
SkyTruth uses satellite and aerial imagery to study and reveal the marks humans are leaving on the earth in their ever-expanding quest for natural resources. We have shown the impacts of natural gas drilling on the Rocky Mountain west and the growth of strip mining throughout the United States. Our FrackFinder project has enlisted citizen scientists to help analyze tens of thousands of aerial images and build datasets on natural gas fracking sites that can be used to study impacts on public health and the environment.
Our reach has been both global and intimately local. Based in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the small village of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, we have been conducting satellite image analyses on the environmental impact of Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) in these mountains since 2007. That work has changed policy, driven scientific research, and brought previously unrecognized destruction into the public eye.
“Apocalyptic transformation of Appalachia is happening under everybody’s nose,” says SkyTruth’s president and founder, John Amos, “and nobody can see it or realize it, until you get up in the air, and take a look and see how inexorably this destruction has grown over the last few decades. It really slaps you in the face.”
Mountaintop Removal mining involves blasting away mountain ridge tops to expose coal seams for extraction. Once the seam is exhausted, coal companies dump the “spoil” (the unusable earth that remains) into the valleys below, fouling waterways and poisoning sources of drinking water. When we began analyzing satellite images of the Appalachian Mountains ten years ago, no one—not even government officials charged with overseeing the mining industry—had a reliable map of where coal companies were conducting MTR or how many mountaintops had already been leveled.
Environmental groups had been sounding the alarm, and Appalachian Voices asked us if we could measure the extent of the destruction in West Virginia. John surveyed the satellite data. His shocking results provided the visceral impact that moved the political machine.
That original work covered 59 counties and identified nearly half a million acres of new mining over a 30-year period. SkyTruth’s data allowed outside organizations and research institutions to directly link MTR to downstream water pollution and related environmental and health effects. Some of the work is currently factoring in an unprecedented legal case between the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers over mine permits.
This year, we have expanded our surveys to 74 counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia. Together with Duke University and Appalachian Voices, we have created an interactive, online mapping tool that displays a timeline of active mining from 1985 through 2015. “We are now taking the new tools that have become available to us through Google’s cloud computing infrastructure and the entire multi-million image archive of satellite data that is at our fingertips, and we are keeping people updated on year-to-year changes in the landscape,” John says.
Our motto is “If You Can See It, You Can Change It,” and the new map visualization tool allows everyone to see it. The map provides gut-wrenching visual evidence of the sheer scale of MTR across the Appalachians. Although it is unlikely that mountaintop removal will stop in the near future, understanding what the landscape looks like now, and what it looked like before can drive efforts to reclaim the land to a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem again. “It’s time to start thinking about transition,” John says.
SkyTruth’s work reveals the extent of the reclamation problem as the threat of coal company bankruptcies looms over Appalachia. Citizens will need diligence and evidence to ensure the courts hold companies to their commitments to repair the landscape they’ve so carelessly destroyed. But our birds-eye view also reveals the massive opportunity for economic revitalization in the region.
“Lots of people are going to have to drive lots of trucks and bulldozers and backhoes and plant trees, to reclaim this land,” says John. “That’s a lot of jobs that could help soften the blow from the continuing decline of mining in the region.” It may even be feasible to bring in outside dollars through the sale of carbon credits for forest planting. John hopes the new map SkyTruth is producing can become a springboard for that kind of thinking. “People need to be planning out what they want Appalachia to be in the future and how to get from here to there,” he says, underscoring SkyTruth’s unique ability to use images from the past and the present as tools to imagine the future.
Post has been supplied by SkyTruth.By Guest post from SkyTruth