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Freeing Minds
March 2012

Yoga Mitigates Prison Recidivism

yogaOvercrowding is a serious issue in American prisons partly because the rate of recidivism (return) is high. A 1994 study showed that 67.5 percent of the 300,000 adult prisoners released in 15 states were re-arrested within three years.

James Fox, founder of the nonprofit Prison Yoga Project (PrisonYoga.com) believes that part of the problem is that the U.S. prison system overly emphasizes punishment during incarceration and that programs such as yoga classes might lower the rate of recidivism. He is an advocate for restorative justice and has worked with prisoners for 10 years.

The theory is that yoga and meditation help prison inmates develop important emotional and social skills, including impulse control and willpower, and thus reduce tendencies toward antisocial and criminal behaviors. Fox observes how anyone that adheres to the practice can develop mindfulness, patience, diligence and self-motivation.

The Prison Yoga Project provides training for yoga teachers that want to work in prisons. Fox also would like to maintain a scholarship fund to help former inmates do teacher training, so they can make a career out of the practice.


Source: Dowser.org

 
Smart Giving
March 2012

Silicon Valley Launches Philanthropy 2.0

givingReinvention is nothing new in Silicon Valley, California, home of some of the world’s most prominent cutting-edge technology companies. Frustrated with what they perceive as the slow pace and inefficiency of many nonprofits, some of the area’s innovators are bringing fresh approaches to solving vexing social issues. Along with money, these social entrepreneurs are applying their business skills—from marketing to operations, together with their enthusiasm and business drive—to transform nonprofits into more savvy, goal-focused businesses.

“Donors aren’t waiting until retirement now,” says Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, a philanthropist and author of Giving 2.0, a book on how to improve philanthropy. She says, “This is no longer about sympathy. It’s about strategy,” asserting that donors today are demanding more research and metrics before funding charitable projects.

Beth Kanter, a nonprofit scholar and author of The Networked Nonprofit, points to MomsRising.org, which advocates for family-friendly laws, as a leading example. “MomsRising didn’t reinvent the wheel, and instead just focused on what they were enthusiastic about—mobilizing people,” she says. Instead of operating in a traditional manner, the nonprofit outsourced much of its operations, allowing it to run more nimbly on a virtual basis.

Arrillaga-Andreessen advises, “If we are to solve these problems, the onus is on givers to facilitate that change.”


Source: The Christian Science Monitor

 
Cold Comfort
March 2012

Big Boosts in Fridge Efficiency

refrigeratorRefrigerator manufacturers are making huge strides in creating more energy efficient products, and with recent improvements in standards, upcoming designs will use a fifth of the energy that household refrigerators required 40 years ago. That will save the average owner about $150 over a typical 12-year product lifetime.

Government analysts note that side-by-side refrigerators might be more convenient than traditional top-andbottom models, but they offer less usable space and use more electricity—50 to
150 more kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, about 20 percent of the unit’s total energy consumption. An icemaker and door-accessed ice and water service can each add another 10 to 15 percent to overall refrigerator energy consumption.

Top Ten USA, the leading source of independent information about the energy efficiency of common products, identifies and publicizes the most efficient products on the market, so that when consumers are able to find the most energyand money-saving models to buy, manufacturers are encouraged to make products even more energy-efficient.

The nonprofit uses comprehensive information from Energy Star, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), The California Energy Commission and professional and manufacturing trade publications to evaluate and determine the most energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers in the United States. They recently tested three size categories: medium (14 to 18 cubic feet); large (18 to 22 cubic feet) and extra-large (22 cubic feet and up). To compare the top 10 most efficient medium refrigerator models, visit Tinyurl.com/7wm6cub.

Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, calculates that by upgrading to Energy Star appliances, Americans saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid creating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.


Source: NRDC.org

 
Improve Your Snooze
February 2012

Sleep Aids versus Sleep Sappers

sleepCan eating a whole-wheat peanut butter cracker or sipping tart cherry juice help us sleep? Either is certainly worth a try, because most of us aren’t getting enough shut-eye. According to the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation, 64 percent of America’s adults frequently experience sleep problems; nearly half wake up at least once during the night. This deficit of restorative rest can affect our health.

“Lack of sleep can affect the immune system,” says Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center and an officer of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Studies show that people that don’t get a good night’s sleep or don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold.”

A concept called sleep hygiene refers to good health practices that promote sleep. For example: Is the room dark or quiet enough? Is the mattress comfortable? Have we allowed sufficient time to wind down after daily activities to become relaxed? What we eat or drink also can have a profound effect on getting a good night’s rest.

 
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