My idea – 100 altruistic actions in 2014

I have had an idea and want to write it down so I can keep track of it, so have created this blog.

My motivation to do this is that I hold a great deal of love for people and the planet, but am also very frustrated by social and environmental injustice. I believe every person can create change, and already try to live in a way that is environmentally-considerate and compassionate to others. But I want to do more.

So I have set myself a challenge: to undertake (at least) a hundred altruistic/pro-active actions this year.

Some are going to be bigger, some are going to be smaller, but they have to be out of my ordinary routine to count (with possible exceptions, but it cannot be something that is already an everyday norm of my life). The actions have to be pro-active, not passive. And shouldn’t have direct benefits to me.

My aim of this challenge is to do good things… that help people, the planet, or at least bring a happiness and spread love to others. My ‘philanthropic vision’ is on quite a small budget, so I suppose I also want to see that it is possible to create change even without having huge resources available to you.

I am not doing this with an expectation of this ever being read. I am not doing this because I want to be seen as a ‘good person’. I just want to see how easy or hard it is to do positive things for people and planet a) regularly and b) on a budget.

If there is anyone reading this, thanks for taking the time.

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Note from half way through the year and challenge:

I am finding it more and more difficult to decide what I count as acts. I find that I now want my acts to have tangible greater and/or long-term societal or environmental benefits, and where I am uncertain these will happen, I don’t (or rarely) count them. I am aware this is a flawed idea. Many acts (e.g. random acts of kindness, raising awareness about issues and campaigns, etc) can lead to change directly and indirectly and to not count them suggests they are not of value (even though they are actually of great value).

I suppose I am wishing to see or feel the change my actions are creating, and so by not counting ones where I don’t see the change they create, I am pushing myself to think of new and bigger ideas. However, I am discovering that often -though not always- the most effective actions and projects are those that I have made long-term commitments to (e.g. intellectual disability befriending programme, soup kitchen charity), and I have to make sure that I do not take on additional commitments to increase my number of actions at the expense of the projects for change I am already committed to.

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Actions so far:

1. Regular donations to Oxfam

2. Regular donations to Greenpeace

3. Offered to lend to a stranger

4. Bought a lottery ticket for a homeless man

5. Gave baby stuff to a to-be mum

6. Started a charity

7. Gave a hitch hiker a lift and lunch

8. Litter picking

9. Voluntary essay marking

10. ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge

11. Free C.V. and cover letter proof-reading

12. Cake for SPCA volunteers

13. Helping people with ‘emotional baggage’

14. Intellectual disability befriending programme

15. Spread the altruistic actions challenge

16. Saved a hedgehog

17. Rehydrated a homeless man

18. Donated to an eating disorder charity

19. Sweets for special needs children charity

20. Earth hour

21. Thank you letter to rubbish collectors

22. & 23. Donations to Oxfam & paying it forward

24. Cards for people in hospital

25. Supplies for daycare centre

26. Baking for (140) people

27. Breakfast for a homeless man

28. Give lots of stuff to a charity shop

29. Signed several petitions

30. Helped promote peace

31. Care package for someone in need

32. Set up stall with free plants

33. Thanks and Easter wishes to people who help the community

34. Supported an animal welfare centre

35. Wrote to someone living in a war-zone

36. Became a penpal with someone in prison

37. Sent a surprise to my ‘sponsor child’

38. Worry dolls for anxious people

39. Warm drink on a cold night for a homeless person

40. Served at a soup kitchen

41. (Further) reduced the ecological impact of our household

42. Cooked food for a soup kitchen

43. ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign

44. Encouraged bees

45. Donation to Alzheimer’s research

46. Motivation for people with mental health difficulties

47. Planted trees

48. Adopted a cat

49. Wildlife-friendly garden

50. Free fruit for neighbours & hospital

51. Pushchair for mama-in-need

52. Employment help for unemployed

53. Warm clothes for homeless friends

54. ‘Random Act of Kindness’, passed on a parking permit

55. Medicine money for a stranger

56. & 57. Found a home for a couple sleeping rough & home-starter pack

58. Facilitated volunteering to help a refugee family

59. Set up soup kitchen events in my local area

60. Created a pro-bono initiative at work

61. Helping getting gardening into school curricula

62. Picked up, sorted and distributed large clothing donations

63. Created a Sustainability Policy and action plan for a charity

64. Became regional co-ordinator for the Sustainable Business Network

65. Promotion and public communications on behalf of a poverty relief charity

66. Fundraising for breast cancer awareness and research

67. & 68. A lift for a stranger & money for medication

69. Support for the Green Party

70. Set up a recycling and composting initiative at daycare centre

71. Started the process of becoming a foster/adoptive parent

72. Write Oxfam New Zealand’s environmental education material

Number 72 – Write Oxfam New Zealand’s environmental education material

I had filled in a volunteer registration form for Oxfam and shortly afterwards received a phone call with some great news. Oxfam NZ is currently writing environmental education material and asked me if I could join their small team who are working to adapt the materials from Oxfam UK into ones relevant for New Zealand school children (I had mentioned on the registration form my interest/experience in environmental education and sustainability). The project will probably take a few months and may lead to other projects as well.

I am very excited and so happy to do this, as writing sustainability education material to engage young people in environmental and social is exactly what I want to do with my life – yay!

http://www.oxfam.org

Number 71 – Started the process of becoming a foster/adoptive parent

For years and years I have wanted to become a foster or adoptive parent. My partner and I have talked about it several times and I have done a fair bit of research. We have started the process once before but withdrew our application as we realised half way in that the organisation were only looking for foster parents with strong Christian values and practices. But this time it looks much more promising and we are really excited! :-)

The process of becoming a foster parent (especially for long-term and permanent placements) is long but at least it has begun, and we hope to be welcoming another little person in to our family some time next year.

Number 70: Set up a recycling and composting initiative at daycare centre

I help out at my daughter’s daycare centre each week and have noticed not only that they produce a lot of waste on a daily basis, but also that a lot of it could be diverted from landfill.

So, I set up a recycling and composting system: which will hopefully not only reduce the centre’s environmental impacts, but also engage staff and children in more sustainable waste management behaviours.

I donated a composting bin, a bucket for food waste, another bin to collect recyclables, and bought (another) domestic recycling container that council empties on a weekly basis, and I have promised to empty the waste food bin each day as well as take all the recyclables home with me biweekly, so they can be collected and recycled.

Number 69 – Support for the Green Party

Elections are coming up next week in New Zealand. I have always voted and been interested in politics, but I have never (financially) supported a political party before. But the Green Party in New Zealand really represents the values I stand for. And because of the voting system here, they are proportionally represented (at least more so than the system in the UK); so the more supporters they can get, the greater their power in government. So I just gave my first political donation.

I am not advocating a particular political party or cause, just writing about my personal actions (though I’d like to live in a society that is less unequal, cares for all people, promotes peace and is considerate to the environment. And I tend to encourage people to vote for parties and generally support organisations, institutions and movements that aim to do that ;-) ).I believe voting is important as it shows we care about the world we live in (even if you don’t agree with any of the parties, you can sabotage your ballot paper: so that it is counted and they know you care, but also know you aren’t happy with the available choices).

https://www.greens.org.nz/

Creative ways to sabotage your ballot paper – http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/may/06/general-election-2010-spoil-ballot

Questionnaire to help discover where you lie on the political spectrum – http://www.politicalcompass.org/test

Number 67 & 68 – A lift for a stranger & money for medication

Yesterday a lady knocked on our door asking if she could have a lift across town as she didn’t have transport or bus money, and had very bad back pain. She had just moved to this side of town and needed to pick something up from a friend. I gave her the lift and also stopped to pick up some paracetamol for her back. She was very grateful and when I dropped her off at home I realised she must have knocked on at least 20 other doors before she got the lift.

Number 66 – Fundraising for breast cancer awareness and research

I have signed up to be a street fundraiser for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Society during their annual fundraising week taking place next month. I will be sitting outside a supermarket in town with information about breast cancer and a collection tin, and the money raised will be used to fund research, raise awareness and support women suffering from breast cancer.

http://www.nzbcf.org.nz/

Number 65 – Promotion and public communications on behalf of a poverty relief charity

Hamilton Homeless Trust, the charity I have been volunteering with for the last 6 months, has recently undergone some changes and difficult times as the Chair resigned but then spread some unkind (and untrue) rumours. While it turns out she did not mean them and was just upset at the time, they have been quite damaging to the organisation’s reputation, and all the volunteers have suffered a dip in morale.

To try and explain the situation to the now disillusioned and misinformed supporters, as well as restore the reputation of the Trust and it’s hard-working volunteers, I spent a(n entire) day responding to messages and promoting the charity’s positive work. By the evening I was emotionally exhausted after spending hours defending myself and others who are just trying to help people, but it turns out it was worth it, as since then the influx of accusing and unkind messages has been reduced to a trickle and the positive feedback from our work is rising to its previous levels.

Yay!

https://www.facebook.com/hamhomeless