Saturday, March 30, 2013

We're excited to announce...

Earlier this year, we announced the opportunity for supporters of the Iowa Oxfam Action Corps (and for Oxfam in general) to apply to be one of two regional volunteer organizers for April 2013 through April 2014. After an interview with Oxfam America, the newest organizers for the Des Moines area have been selected! Both will attend an organizer training in Washington D.C. in mid-April where they will meet with Oxfam staff, receive training on Oxfam’s campaigns, and lobby Congressional officials. We’re incredibly excited by their enthusiasm and wanted to take an opportunity to introduce them to you...

How long have you been volunteering with the Iowa Oxfam Action Corps?
I am a University of Iowa graduate and USMC veteran currently working in the insurance industry, which is how I connected to Oxfam through my company's volunteer match website. That was last September [2012] and I've enjoyed being a part of the Action Corps ever since. 

What are you most looking forward to over the next year?
I'm looking forward to working with the volunteers here in Des Moines on Oxfam's campaigns this year. 

What’s your favorite GROW Method principle?
My favorite part of the GROW Method is Support small-scale food producers, especially local producers & small businesses here in Iowa- you can often see me running around the Farmer's Market here in Des Moines buying one of everything.

How long have you been volunteering with the Iowa Oxfam Action Corps?
I contacted the Action Corps here in Des Moines in January, because I wanted to give my time to a cause or to a people needing the extra help. Oxfam fit everything I feel strongly about so it was a no-brainer for me!

What events (farmers markets, concerts, service projects, etc.) are you most looking forward to over the next year?
I am particularly excited for farmers markets. I believe in promoting sustainability, and buying produce from local growers.

What’s one skill you’d like to develop or work on over your year as an organizer?
Public speaking! I want to become more comfortable speaking to crowds.

What’s your favorite GROW Method principle? Tell us about a meal you had (or cooked) recently that met that principle…
I am a HUGE proponent of buying only what you need or will eat. Food is wasted at an alarming rate, and there are people who do not have enough. This is something that was instilled in me from a very young age.

If someone was “on the fence” about volunteering with the Action Corps, what would you tell them? 
We're a friendly group of people who are all here for the same reason, to fight poverty and injustice. I know a lot of folks are worried about the time it may take up, but really all we ask for is a few hours a month, and helping your community is priceless. Change starts at home!

Friday, March 22, 2013

World Water Day 2013

Happy World Water Day!

The United Nations marks March 22nd as World Water Day, a day to celebrate this enormously precious resource and recognize the continuing barriers many communities face in achieving water security. Recent U.N. statistics show that nearly 780 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water and nearly 2.5 billion lack access to proper sanitation. That’s a little “difficult to swallow” considering our home, planet Earth, has a surface that is more than 2/3rds water (albeit, not freshwater – but modern technologies make desalination relatively inexpensive).

As water pertains to food, nearly 70% of all freshwater is used for irrigation and agricultural purposes, 20% for industry and manufacturing, leaving the remaining 10% for drinking, sanitation, and other purposes. In more simple terms, to produce the daily caloric requirements for each human– it takes almost 1,300 gallons whereas our daily drinking requirement is something more like 1 gallon. So, what we eat has an enormous impact on the amount of freshwater that is consumed compared to actually drinking the water. For example, 1 pound of grain-fed beef takes 2,000 gallons of water; where a similar nutritional profile (proteins, fats, etc.) grown out of plant matter takes about 800 gallons of water. That’s a crazy savings! I often hear that people say that “I’m just one person, what difference can I make?” When it comes to water, your difference is a big one! Now, we’re not asking you to give up your favorite burger joint – but what if you had lentils one night instead of ground beef?

That’s why when Oxfam created The GROW Method, they saw that choosing to eat a little less meat made a huge impact on agriculture, climate change, and the consumption of freshwater! This World Water Day, be a part of a growing movement. Maybe you were really looking forward to that chicken alfredo for dinner but don't worry - there are many other ways that you can reduce your water “footprint”. You can install a low-flow shower head, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, wear that shirt twice (assuming it doesn’t have an odor – or if it does and you’re looking to avoid people), or have a plant-based meal. You might already do some of these things and for that, we give our thanks.

Today, raise a glass (of water, of course) to water: a beautiful molecule of 1 hydrogen atom and 2 oxygen atoms which without, life, as we know it, would not be possible.

And with a quenched palete, raise your voice for justice: clean, safe water for all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

An IWD Thank You!

It wouldn’t have been possible without you.

On March 7th, nearly 150 people attended Women and a Well-Fed World at the Hall of Laureates to hear three women panelists (Dr. Dorothy Masinde, Denise O’Brien, and Muthoni Muriu) share their thoughts on the role women play in feeding the world and the significant equality barriers those same women face every day. It was a truly beautiful event – the space was gorgeous and there was even time for networking before the panelists spoke, thanks to our 10 co-sponsoring organizations who hosted an information table. Let us take this space to say THANK YOU to all whether you volunteered, were responsible for any part of planning, attended the event, or helped us promote through your networks. The event’s success would not have been possible without your support! Pictures are forthcoming on our Facebook page, but here's a lovely picture of our Action Corps volunteers.

Then…on March 8th, the Iowa Oxfam Action Corps took to the streets of downtown Des Moines to participate in a 15-city campaign awareness action. After months of planning (and secrecy), we were finally able to share the specially wrapped candy bars and our message. The ask: Let’s tell Mondelez, Mars, and Nestle to support women cocoa farmers in their supply chains. 12 volunteers with posters, candy bars, and petition clipboards shared the message with an estimated 1,000 people, handing out 388 candy bars, and collecting (over two days) 169 petitions signatures. Click here to view our pictures! To the nightlife of Des Moines who listened to our message and to the many volunteers who braved the cold and rain to share that message: THANK YOU!

Celebrating International Women’s Day is more than taking the time to honor the sacrifices and contributions of women. Celebrating this day reaffirms our commitment to ourselves and to each other, no matter our gender – because we are all humans and we all deserve to live lives of dignity and promise. And when we see the broken promises – lives of women and children torn by hunger, despair, and injustice: we take a stand. International Women’s Day may be over, but the fight for gender equality and equality for all will press on. Stand with us, it’s never too late.

It’s not possible without you.