Elfenworks Center for
Employment Justice Launched
On October 14, The Elfenworks Foundation and Golden Gate University (GGU) announced the founding of The Elfenworks Center for Employment Justice at the Women's Employment Rights Clinic of GGU's School of Law. The announcement marks an important milestone for The Elfenworks Foundation as it begins focusing on internally driven technology efforts and and positive partnerships that work to promote social justice issues in the country.
With a $500,000 contribution from The Elfenworks Foundation, part of which will constitute an endowment fund for the new Center, the Center for Employment Justice will focus on advocacy, legal services, and education for domestic workers and other caregivers. It includes a mandate that allows for expansion in the future, should potential needs change, to other issues affecting low-income workers.
The agreement with the GGU School of Law will be the last in a series of major university grants and endowments that the Foundation has made over the past five years, including Stanford University's Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, St. Mary's College's Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism, and Mills College's Center for Socially Responsible Business.
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The Butterfly Effect: Kids and Cortisol
Recent studies have clearly demonstrated the link between high levels of stress and elevated production of cortisol. For kids growing up poor, life can be full of the kind of stress that increases cortisol — and that's bad news because cortisol suppresses the immune system. To help children reduce their stress load, The Elfenworks Foundation has developed a simple and straightforward visualization exercise. In the exercise, children imagine a butterfly rhythmically opening and closing its wings while listening to a counting meditation available at elfenworks.org/butterfly (or, alternately, counting the beats in their mind). For younger children, a video of a butterfly opening and closing its wings (also available online) may help with the meditation. This form of mindfulness-based stress reduction has been proven to be effective in mitigating stressors and promoting mind and body wellness. To make the project universally appealing, the foundation has translated the meditation into nine languages (and counting!). It is our hope that the beating of the butterfly's wings will create a ripple effect of change — just as it can affect the weather across the globe.
An Evening of Hope
"There was a voice that called us all to action — and I hope that we all leave here with that voice resonating in our minds, living within us: that we have to step up, that we have to get involved, that we CAN make a change."
-Ronnie Lott, Emcee, 2010 In Harmony with Hope Awards Ceremony
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at the fourth annual presentation of the In Harmony with Hope awards, NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott exhorted the assembled guests to channel the inspiration of the evening into a long-term promise to be part of the solution.
On September 30 at the Kohl Mansion in Burlingame, California, Lott and the guests of The Elfenworks Foundation paid tribute to three heroes among us who long ago decided to be part of the solution. Will Allen, founder of Growing Power, a leader in the urban farming movement, told the audience, "Part of the inspiration is the challenge." Allen's co-honorees, Rosanne Haggerty and Rebecca Onie, were similarly inspired by seemingly insurmountable challenges early in their careers. Since her founding of Common Ground more than 20 years ago, Haggerty has been leading the charge to house our country's chronically homeless. Rebecca Onie was just 17 when she founded Health Leads (formerly Project HEALTH), which is reforming health care delivery in our poor neighborhoods.
If challenge inspired our award recipients, they in turn inspired the audience. From Pat Winans, who was motivated to march down to her local homeless shelter and volunteer her services the day after the ceremony to attorney James Wood, who wrote, "I can't tell you how grateful I am to have been invited to last night's ceremony. Today I traveled to Sacramento to meet with a group of folks to try to find a solution to providing health care to California's school children... and I was burning with the fire of last night!"
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Mark Your Calendars Now
The fifth annual In Harmony with Hope awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. We look forward to seeing you there.
Know Someone Who Is Creating Meaningful Change?
Nominate him/her for the In Harmony with Hope award. Simply click here to download the PDF form.
Forty Years, One Night
Elfenworks founder Dr. Lauren Speeth was recently honored as one of the 40 most influential women graduates of St. Mary's College. The evening gala, titled 40 Years/One Night, paid tribute to Speeth and 39 other female graduates of the college on the 40th anniversary of their initial admission to the formerly all-male college. Because of the number of honorees, remarks were limited to a few words. In accepting her honor, Dr. Speeth invited people to make a ripple in her 10-word speech, "Thank God, SMC, family. Want joy? Practice compassion. How? Elfenworks.org."
Go for the Gold
The Elfenworks Foundation recently won three gold awards from the American Pixel Academy. The EMPixx Award Gold Place finishes were given in the writing category for the Commodore Callahan song "Such a Crime" and in the music category for the band's songs "Rough Justice" and "Wave Rider."
'Tis the Season
No matter what budget, there are ways. Bring canned food to the local food bank, allow kids to direct some of the family giving (use checkboxes for little tykes). If you let them divide their allotment between worthy causes, you've got a math teaching moment, as well.
As a start to the season of giving, two Elfenworks elves (and their families) baked, roasted and served delectable treats to the hungry and homeless at bay area shelters over the Thanksgiving weekend. We'll take second servings of that.
Certifying Fair Truth Business Practices
The Elfenworks Foundation launched a new website called fairtruth.org in early November. The site is the starting point of a plan to develop an identifiable seal or label by which consumers can know that a producer of goods or services is acting in "fair and true" manner with regard to their employees and manufacturing. The long-term goal of the Fair Truth initiative is to encourage businesses to adopt fair truth good-capitalism practices. Initial plans call for Fair Truth certifications for the following: vendors, traders, manufacturers, growers, distributors, sellers, and believers (a category for donors/supporters of the Fair Truth initiative).
There is currently no way for businesses to signal to their customers that they are providing a good working environment or otherwise behaving ethically. Fair Truth certification would be publicized by a recognizable seal or label, which would allow manufacturers and providers of services to distinguish themselves as "fair and true" in the environment they provide their workers. The Fair Truth label would allow employers to recapture, through a fair and free market, some of the costs of doing business in a way that benefits the neighborhoods in which these businesses operate and the consumers do their purchasing.
An "unconference" to further discuss the concept is being planned for November 11, 2011, and a call for papers to present at that conference is currently underway. For more information, visit fairtruth.org.
Elfenworks and Kerns Fine Jewelry Add Some Bling to Charity's Coffers
The Elfenworks Foundation and Kerns, a Burlingame-based jeweler, recently helped expand the dreams of the boys at San Francisco's Boys Hope Girls Hope program. Kerns generously donated their commission on the sale of some donated jewelry to increase the impact of the donation. On September 29, the Kerns team joined the Elfenworks team in presenting a check for $12,000 to Paul Minorini, President of Boys Hope Girls Hope's national office, and Suzanne Palmer, executive director of the San Francisco residential home for boys. Boys Hope Girls Hope offers a nurturing and supportive environment for academically motivated children facing challenging circumstances in 15 sites across the country and four sites in Latin America.