Reach And Teach in San Mateo is a drop-off location for a Book Drive for Women in Prison April 15th to May 15th!
More than two-thirds of the women in state prison are non-violent offenders and more than two-thirds are mothers. Any reading material that engages the mind and broadens horizons will help.
What we need: How-to books, quality fiction from diverse writers, biographies and current, quality magazines in good condition. Paperbacks are strongly preferred. We can take textbooks, but only if they are paperback and are less than three years old (no hardcover textbooks, please).
Children's picture books, easy reading books, young adult and teen classics are especially needed for youth, women with lower reading levels and children during visitation, as are unopened boxes of Crayola crayons and packs of construction paper.
Books can be dropped off at our shop Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 6:30pm between now and May 15th.
Here are other drop-off locations:
Florey's Book Co., 2120 Palmetto Ave., Pacifica Kepler's Books and Magazines, 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park Sereno Group Realtor, 258 High St., Palo Alto Books Inc. Palo Alto, Town and Country Village, Palo Alto Books Inc. in Mountain View, 301 Castro St. in Mtn View Sunnyvale City Hall, 456 W. Olive, Sunnyvale
In April 2014, Reach And Teach was honored to receive the 2014 Sustainability Award from Sustainable San Mateo. The following video was created by Rick Bacigalupi of BACIPIX for the awards ceremony. We are so grateful to Rick and all the wonderful people who appear in the video and ALL of the people who support Reach And Teach and our goal to transform the world through teachable moments.
There once was a village located at the bottom of a bend in the river. The residents of that village were the most charitable people you could imagine. If someone in the village fell on hard times, the rest of the village took care of him. If a family needed food, the village fed them. If someone's house was destroyed, everyone chipped in to rebuild it.
One day, as children were playing at the edge of the river, they saw three bodies floating down. Frightened they ran to the village center and told some of the adults who ran down to the riverside and dragged the bodies out. All were dead, bodies battered. One was a woman, one a man, and one a child.The people of the village, being compassionate and charitable, buried the bodies with great ceremony and tears.
As the days, weeks, and months went by, more bodies floated down the river, and eventually, several people in the village dedicated their lives to fishing those bodies out and burying them. Each time, the entire village would gather and pray and mourn.
One day, after this had been going on for years, a child stood up during the burial ceremony. Normally, children were expected to sit quietly during such gatherings, but she stood up and walked to the grave that had been dug and said "Wait!" The entire village looked at this little girl and wondered what she could possibly have to say. "I know that we are doing charity when we take these people out of the river and care for their bodies and bury them but..." She turned slowly around to look into the eyes of all the people in the village before she asked "Why doesn't anyone go up the river and find out where these people are coming from and why they're dying? Maybe we could do something about that."
Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth and I (Craig Wiesner) were invited to We Day California in Oakland on March 26th. 16,000 young people, most of whom had been involved in some kind of local and/or international service (from small things like bake sales to large things like travelling to Africa to build schools), were gathered to be congratulated on their work and inspired to go out and keep changing the world. Amy Jussel, who spent years in media/marketing as an indie advertising/branding pro, has spent the last decade using those skill sets to teach about media literacy and the power of media messaging, said as we left the event that We Day had used all of the tools in media's arsenal as effectively as she had ever seen in her career. As someone who spent much of my career as a trainer, working on figuring out the best way to grab an audience's attention and move them to action of some sort, I agree.
This gathering was as elaborately staged, loud, and tightly scripted and choreographed as a One Direction concert, with kids cheering and screaming with equal enthusiasm for the likes of Selena Gomez as they did for Nelson Mandela. Craig and Marc Kielburger, who head up Free the Children which runs We Day, rocked the crowd over and over again with their exuberant, revival-tent, crowd-wowing speaking style, finishing each other's sentences and moving around the two stages at the event with all the energy that two 20-somethings can muster (and we 50-somethings could envy).
As an older activist, I come to these events somewhat sceptical. Putting on a spectacle of this nature is expensive and to make it happen requires huge sponsors which, in this case, included Allstate, Microsoft, and Unilever, all of whom also got prime stage time to speak to the kids. Of course these representatives of multinational mega-conglomerates want to get their brands in front of tens of thousands of the up and coming generation of consumers. When the executives from these companies stood up to speak, would they be telling the children that one way to solve the world's problems was to buy and use their products? Well, yes.
But I was pleasantly surprised that one of the first corporate speakers, from Allstate, used a good chunk of his time on stage to encourage the kids to use their voices to speak out against injustice, to not simply be charitable, as most of them had been to get invited to this event, but to go home later and ask the hard questions about why people are homeless, hungry, and dying, and if necessary, to stand up and protest. And that encouragement was repeated, over and over again, by celebrities, including Martin Sheen, business executives, rappers, non-profit leaders, and the kids themselves.
All of this gave this gray-haired activist hope for the future and lessened the discomfort with the brand-building that was also clear and present throughout the event. I'm now very aware of just how many brands fall under Unilever umbrella and how much more effectively we can change the world with a Microsoft tablet.
Despite a bit of that brand-building, the audience was also hearing the phrase "social justice" used by many of the speakers. This made me wonder what the audience thought that phrase meant, if they were thinking about it at all amid all the other words, music, lights, videos and rap stars that were competing for their attention. I would have loved to have had someone on stage tell the kids to text a definition of social justice to "hash tag..." something. There was lots of hash tagging and selfie-shooting going on.
Another important message weaved throughout the event was the importance of travel, getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a completely new and different place, not only to do good work, but also to connect with people from very different cultures. Free the Children provides opportunities for youth to travel. Here's a video about their program.
Amy Jussel and I are in total agreement that travel is one of the key ways to open people's eyes to alternative realities than they live each day and we were glad to see this emphasis on travel. There was one aspect of travel, though, that could have been mentioned and wasn't. These 16,000 kids had gathered from all over California for the event, most of them coming from outside of where the event took place, Oakland. The We Day kids don't have to travel to another country to see poverty, hunger, violence, human trafficking and slavery. Nor would they have had to travel far to meet people living far different lives than their own. Hopefully the folks who put on We Day will incorporate something into future gatherings where they let attendees know that "just outside of this stadium, just a few blocks away, there are people who need your help and injustices that need your voices."
How many of the 16,000 attendees at We Day Oakland California will become school-yard, neighborhood or world-changers? Speaking with kids during the lunch break we heard incredibly strong enthusiasm for going out and making a difference. "I wish I had been at a We Day during my first year of High School instead of this year when I'm graduating!" One young man told us. His schoolmate, a freshman, smiled broadly knowing that he was just getting started. We told the soon-to-be in college student that he'd have plenty of opportunities to rock the world in the years to come too.
So, can a huge, corporate-sponsored, mega-event like We Day, filled with celebrities like Orlando Bloom, Selena Gomez, Magic Johnson, Seth Rogen, Martin Sheen, and J Cole create a ripple of movement that brings about real change? To quote Craig Kielburger who was once asked why a 12 year-old was taking on the issue of child labor, "Why not?"
There's more than enough work to be done. The rivers are flowing with the dead and dying, the hungry and abused, the cold and broken. Lots of hands are needed to pull the bodies out, bury the dead, and care for the wounded. Just as importantly, we need people to go up river, find out why there are so many battered bodies, stand up for justice, speak truth to power, and clean those rivers out.
Can a few words from Orlando Bloom help one child to be like that little girl in the village?
Thank you to Free the Children and We Day for inviting us to be part of this event. Photos in this story are from the We Day web site, courtesy of We Day. The river image at the start of this post is from RiniArt.org.
And yes, thank you to the sponsors who helped make the event possible. Now, for some strange reason, I feel the need to go get some Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Silicon Valley’s forgotten public offering: 18 percent of our community lives in poverty
"I fundamentally disagree with the notion that companies are only accountable to their customers or shareholders. The fact is, companies are an integral part of our society. All entities should be stepping forward and working together to address community needs." -- Sid Espinosa (Microsoft)
Our friends at Kids Can Make A Difference sent us the latest issue of Idea Clearning House, a newsletter from the Finding Solutions to Poverty and Inequality Alliance, a project of IEARN.org. As Derrick and I were walking this morning we were talking about the massive inequality in wealth we're seeing all around us. As we walked, we noticed the line of people waiting for bags of produce offered in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church of San Mateo was longer than we had ever seen it. These were our neighbors, struggling to make ends meet, getting a small boost from a bag of produce. Unemployment in Silicon Valley is under 5%, yet working people, families where parents are working two and three jobs, still can't put enough food on their table.
Our neighbors are also people working for corporations and this newsletter offers important and concrete ways people at these corporatiions can be good neighbors, and how being good neighbors can be good for everyone. We asked permission to share this newsletter and the answer was a resounding YES! Please consider sharing this with friends, especially those working for companies that are doing well financially. We all need to work together so that hard-working people don't have to stand in line waiting for food, or at least to make sure that those who do are greeted with an abundance of help.
Silicon Valley’s forgotten public offering: 18 percent of our community lives in poverty
What an exciting time to be in the Valley. It seems every month turns up another major IPO and another handful of new local billionaires. As the economy staggers to find its footing, the tech industry eagerly anticipates more IPOs, more innovation, more advances in technology and more growth in the sector. It seems the tide is starting to raise all boats again.
There is now only one region in the nation with a higher concentration of top household earnings (>$191,469), and that is Fairfield County, Conn., which is essentially a suburb of New York. Fifteen percent of Silicon Valley households earn nearly four times the national average, and billionaires have become the new millionaires.
And yet, in some ways, Silicon Valley is failing. One in four Hispanic students drop out of school by high school, and the dropout rate for the general population is a shocking 18.1 percent. In a region with unprecedented and ever-increasing wealth, 18 percent of our residents are living in poverty. The Silicon Valley wealth divide is increasing. In a region famous for innovation and entrepreneurship, huge swaths of our population are being left behind, without the skills or opportunities to engage.
There’s no panacea here; there’s no quick fix. But there is a need for innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. It’s not just educators, academia, government entities, or nonprofit organizations that are needed to exact measurable change. There is a need for wide-scale, cross-sector engagement. And in light of these recent IPOs, I want to suggest that corporate involvement in addressing a community’s needs can never start too early.
I fundamentally disagree with the notion that companies are only accountable to their customers or shareholders. The fact is, companies are an integral part of our society. All entities should be stepping forward and working together to address community needs.
But if the societal responsibility alone isn’t compelling, there are tangible business benefits to focus on. Positive brand recognition and great PR tend to follow good deeds. Establishing and maintaining a culture of philanthropy can also provide a leg up in recruiting and retaining top talent in a competitive employee marketplace, especially with socially conscious Millennials. There are tax incentives. And as the company grows, so too can the extent of its role in addressing the most crucial community issues.
If that is still not reason enough, just focus on the bottom line that we are simply not producing enough qualified workers for the tech industry. To continue thriving as a region, Silicon Valley will need future talent to unleash the next wave of revolutionary innovations and gain ground in increasingly competitive markets. But where will it come from with less than eight percent of our nation’s high schools offering AP-level computer science curriculum?
I was recently speaking with the CEOs of several local startups who all said the same thing: “We’d love to help… as soon as we start making more money.” But I would challenge that approach. Taking on a leadership role in the community can start the day a company is born. It doesn’t have to involve donating massive sums of money. Here are five ways a young company can engage, starting today:
1. Start thinking about philanthropy right away. Make it a topic of discussion at leadership meetings. Build it into the marketing plan. Creating a culture of giving starts from the top down and should touch every aspect of the business model. 2. Empower employees to get engaged. Support and institutionalize volunteerism. Launch a giving campaign. Create a culture of involvement and ownership. 3. Choose a policy or community issue and become involved. Join industry associations or executive boards. Offering informed insight and constructive feedback or introducing an organization to a new network of contacts can give that organization access to resources they otherwise would not have. 4. Consider a cause-marketing campaign for crucial issues facing the community. Tying important issues directly to sales can help address important social problems and benefit the bottom line. 5. Start small with strategic philanthropy. Target an underserved region, study its social needs, choose one, and engage.
I hope that we continue to see an increase in IPOs and produce great wealth for companies and individuals. Our country continues to thrive because of it. And simultaneously, I hope that all companies, regardless of size or stage, will recognize the importance of their role in the ecosystem of our community – and that they will actively engage and partner to address the issues we face.
Microsoft Silicon Valley’s Sid Espinosa heads up corporate citizenship for Microsoft in the SF/Bay Area. Sid worked in the Clinton administration, led global philanthropy for HP, and joined Microsoft a few years ago. He was also the first Latino Mayor of Palo Alto.
Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld shared a post that struck a very loud chord, loud enough that with his permission we're sharing it here. Dr. Blumenfeld is one of a group of wonderful people who have reviewed the pre-release version of Speaking Out: Queer Youth in Focus, a powerful photo-essay book by Rachelle Lee Smith which we are publishing this Fall. Dr. Blumenfeld's experience, as described in this post, is all too familiar, not just to those of us who lived back in the day, but today.
Despite incredible progress for GLBTQ rights and increasing levels of understanding and acceptance, taunting, bullying, name-calling, and other hurtful behaviors are still epedemic in our culture. Dr. Blumenfeld alerts us to an article in the Feb 17 2014 issue of Pediatrics, in which a Boston Children's Hospital study clearly and compellingly shows the long-term impact on quality of life bullying can have, especially bullying that occurs over long periods of time.
We're sharing Dr. Blumenfeld's post in the hopes that it will spark a desire in anyone reading it to make a difference. After his post we share a YouTube video of a song called "Don't Laugh At Me" which we hope people will use to start a conversation with children AND adults in their lives. Talk about the pain that our words, laughing AT someone, teasing, bullying can cause. If each one of us takes the time to find a way to talk about this with someone, we may be able to start to make a real difference. Boys and girls shouldn't come home from school crying, or be afraid to go to school, or go to school with stomach aches because they know how bad it is going to be. We can make a difference.
Thanks Dr. Blumenfeld for sharing your story, and thank you Mosaic Project, for providing a song and an entire curriculum that can be used to truly make a difference.
I dedicate this commentary to my life-long friend and comrade,
Lawrence (Larry) J. Magid, who has been there himself,
and who always has been there for me.
“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This stands as one of the great lies our culture teaches us growing up. Another myth states that bullying is simply a sign of a youthful rite of passage, that “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls,” and that it will toughen them to better meet the demands of life.
In a new longitudinal study conducted by Boston Children’s Hospital and published in the February 17, 2014 online issue of Pediatrics, while the results might appear rather intuitive, researchers confirmed that the longer the period of time peers bully a young person, the more severe and lasting the impact on that person’s health.
I did not have to wait for the recent study to understand full well the long term consequences of bullying. For most of my years in school, I was continually attacked and beaten by my peers who perceived me as someone who was “different.” Names like “queer,” “little girl,” and “fag” rained down upon me like the big red dodge ball my classmates furiously hurled at one another on the schoolyard. I would not – or rather, could not – conform to the gender roles that my family and peers so clearly expected me to follow, and I regularly paid the price.
This kind of bullying and policing of my gender started the very first day I entered kindergarten. In 1952 I attended public school in Bronxville, NY. As my mother dropped me off and kissed me good-bye on the cheek, I felt completely alone and began to cry. My new teacher walked up to me and said, in a somewhat detached tone of voice, “Don’t cry. Only sissies and little girls cry.” Some of the other boys overheard her, and quickly began mocking me. “The little girl wants his mommy,” one said. “What a sissy,” said another. Without a word, the teacher simply walked away. I went into the coatroom and cried, huddling in a corner by myself, until she found me.
Not knowing what else to do at this time with what they considered as my gender non-conformity, my parents sent me to a child psychologist at the age of four until my 13th birthday because they feared that I might be gay (or to use the terminology of the day, “homosexual”), and because they were afraid for my safety.
There was a basic routine in the “therapy” sessions. My mother took me out of school every Monday and Thursday at 11:00 to the psychologist’s office. I walked in, took off my coat, and put it on the hook behind the door. The psychologist then asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to discuss. I invariably said “no.” Since I did not understand why I was there in the first place, I surely did not trust him enough to talk candidly.
When I was less than forthcoming in our conversations (which was on most occasions), he took down from the shelf a model airplane, or a boat, or a truck, and we spent the remainder of the hour assembling the pieces with glue. In private sessions with my parents, he told them that he wanted me to concentrate on behaviors and activities associated with males, while of course avoiding those associated with females. He instructed my parents to assign me the household tasks of taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn (even though we lived in an apartment building and we did not have a lawn), and not washing or drying the dishes. Also, he also told my parents to prevent my playing with dolls or to cook. And – as if this all was not enough – he advised my parents to sign me up for a little league baseball league, which despite my hatred of the sport, my father basically forced me to join for two summers.
“When you wave,” my father sternly warned one afternoon on the front steps of our apartment building when I was eight years old, “you MUST move your whole hand at the same time. Don’t just move the fingers up and down like you’re doing.” He grabbed my arm, and despite my free-flowing tears and cheeks red with shame, he vigorously demonstrated the “proper” hand wave for a “man.” Then, as if anticipating the scene in the film La Cage Aux Folles (and the U.S. remake The Birdcage), my father took me into the backyard and forced me to walk and run “like men are supposed to move their bodies.” Obviously, I had previously been doing something wrong. “Of course the other children pick on you,” he blamed. “You do act like a girl.” I was humiliated.
Despite this, I developed what would become a lifelong appreciation of music and art. In the fifth grade, I auditioned for the school chorus and the music teacher accepted me along with only a handful of boys and about 50 girls. The scarcity of boys in the cast was not due to any gendered imbalance in the quality of boys’ singing voices. The determining factor was one of social pressure. I and the other few boys in the chorus were generally disliked by our peers. In fact, most of the other boys in our class picked on us, and labeled us “the chorus girls,” “the fags,” “the sissies,” and “the fairies.” The girls, on the other hand, who “made it” into the chorus were well respected and even envied by the other girls.
I can see now that this all amounted to an insidious and dehumanizing fear and hatred of anything even hinting at femininity in males. This is, of course basically thinly veiled misogyny, and it nearly succeeded in taking my life.
Looking into the bathroom mirror, my 14-year-old self stared back at me, tears rolling down into the sink below. All I could envision was the continual and relentless attacks: boys flicking my ears from behind aboard the school bus, girls loudly giggling as I walked by, peers isolating me on the school yard keeping me from playing games or joining them for lunch, students flinging food at me from multiple corners of the lunchroom, boys waiting for me with constant blows to my stomach and face when teachers weren’t looking.
I don’t remember where, but I learned that if I took more than the recommended dosage of aspirin tablets, I could develop serious internal bleeding. Seeing no way out, I opened the bathroom medicine cabinet turning my 14-year-old reflection away. Reaching inside, I grabbed the 1000-count aspirin bottle, and with hands shaking, soundlessly twisted off the cap as not to arouse suspicion from my family just beyond the door. Then with seeming effortlessness, I poured a handful of pills as if I were pouring salt into a shaker. With little hesitation, I lifted my clenched hand toward my mouth and tossed the white disks into my mouth, choking and gagging as they hit my throat, then heaving back toward my tongue, then teeth, then into the sink.
Though I was angry at myself for not having the “stomach” to kill myself, I was also relieved because I suppose at least a part of me still wished to live.
All things considered, my life turned out fairly well. I entered college in 1965 during a time our society underwent dynamic changes. I joined with others to demonstrate our opposition to the war in Vietnam; I worked with students of color in our common struggle against housing discrimination around our campus, and I helped plan ecology workshops to highlight the state of our increasingly polluted planet. I chose to join a therapy group in my college counseling center, which gave me the support to “come out” as gay. I later went on to become a teacher for blind children, a journalist, and a tenured university professor.
As I am writing this today at age 66, I consider myself not as a victim, but rather as a survivor of the bullying and abuse from those earlier times. When my therapist diagnosed me having Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, along with Social anxiety disorder, moderate agoraphobia, and clinical depression nearly 25 years ago, I was actually relieved, for then I could begin to let go of the self-blame I had carried for so long.
Today, I often hear Steven Sondheim’s song, “Anyone Can Whistle,” in my minds ear, a Broadway show tune about a person who has accomplished many difficult tasks – like speaking Greek, dancing the tango, even slaying a dragon – but who seems incapable of managing simple things like whistling.
Anyone can whistle, that's what they say -- easy. Anyone can whistle, any old day -- easy. It's all so simple. Relax, let go, let fly. So someone tell me, why can't I?
In my life, I earned numerous degrees including a doctorate, and I published quite a number of books and peer reviewed journal articles. I have been asked to speak throughout the United States and around the world on varied topics, and I have been given a wonderful opportunity to travel to places I only dreamt about when I was younger.
I have come to understand full well, though, and I have come to accept my severe limitations due to the damage I endured from those earlier times. Sondheim’s “whistling” stands as an analogy for relationships.
Though I have attempted to develop long-term romantic relationships along my way, I have come to endure the harm to my emotional self. I have lived alone since 1977 following a series of tries at sharing residences with trusted roommates, though none of these living arrangements worked for me.
In truth, sticks, stone, and names can damage the body as well as the spirit, and they all can kill. Fortunately, schools have at least begun to leave the myths and lies behind, and to take actions. Most notably, we are witnessing more schools conducting programs to empower the so-called “bystanders” – those who know of the bullying, but often feel powerless to step in – transforming them into active “upstanders” intervening to stop the abuse.
With knowledge, understanding, and interventions, young people are now leading the way to a better future. So…
Maybe you could show me how to let go, Lower my guard, Learn to be free. Maybe if you whistle, Whistle for me.
Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense).
It is with certainty that we know people reading Dr. Blumenfeld's story will feel the pain and will wish that the world were different. It is with equal certainty that many will then ask themselves, "But what can I do?"
You CAN make a difference!
Watch this YouTube of the song "Don't Laugh At Me" and then find someone in your life with whom you can share it. Too many people of ALL ages get pleasure from other people's pain. We all need to talk about it and work together to change that.
At a gathering of over 200 middle school children, during an exercise where the kids were asked to walk to one side of the room or the other, depending on their answers to certain questions, every single child in the room walked to the "yes" side when asked if they had ever laughed at someone because of a particular trait in that other child. 90% walked to the "yes" side when asked if they had ever been laughed at that way. If we can impact that, we can make a huge difference in everyone's lives. This little song can be the launching point for conversations about that.
Here are the words to the refrain:
Don’t laugh at me. Don’t call me names. Don’t get your pleasure from my pain. Deep inside we’re all the same. We all need hope and care and love. Don’t laugh at me.
This song is one of many included in the Mosaic Project Curriculum, a comprehensive curriculum that has made a huge difference in creating more peaceful and accepting schools around the world.
Watching this video, singing or listening to this song can be a great start to an important process of talking about and planning how to handle situations where someone is being teased, bullied, laughed at... Just feeling bad for the people who are picked on isn't enough. We all have an opportunity to at a minimim NOT participate in such behavior, but we can also step up and make it stop whenever we see it.
Find someone in your life with whom you can share this video, watch it together, and then discuss it. Discussion items can include questions like these:
Were you ever teased, bullied, laughed at? If so, how did it feel and what did you do about it?
Have you ever participated in bullying, teasing, laughing at someone else?
Why do people treat other people that way?
Did you ever see anyone standing up for someone who was being bullied, teased, or laughed at? If so, what happened?
Did you ever stand up for someone? If so, what happened? If not, why not?
What are some of the things people are afraid of having happen if they stand up against this kind of behavior?
A great way to prepare for being an upstander instead of a bystander is to rehearse what you will do the next time you see someone being teased, laughed at, or bullied. Rehearse with one or two other people who can play roles like the one doing the bullying and the one being bullied. We ALL have the ability to stand up!
Reach And Teach offers a wide variety of resources for helping children, teens, and adults understand bullying and take action. Here are just a few of those resources.
We've got some great events happening in our San Mateo shop the coming weeks. Mark your calendars! See below for all the etails:
We're located at 144 West 25th Avenue. (near El Camino Real) in San Mateo. There's plenty of free street parking and we're less than a mile from the Hillsdale Caltrain station. We're open Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 6:30pm (later on some evenings for events).
Your Event HERE At Our Shop in San Mateo - And Where Is Here Anyway? (Shop Address and Hours)
We make our space available to non-profits and others who want to host a speaker, workshop, fundraiser, film showing... all kinds of things, and we do it all for free! We just ask that your program include time for your guests to browse around the shop! Click here to contact us if you'd like to have an event in our shop.
Meet Some of the People Behind Reach And Teach Products
One of the greatest joys we have is getting to know the people behind the products that transform the world through teachable moments. For our holiday newsletter we wanted to share a bit about some of the local folks with whom we work. These are people we've gotten to know, who treat us as though we're their biggest customer, and treat their employees and the planet with the deepest respect, and give back to their communities and the world.
EM-Labs and Skallops
Wandering through the Maker Faire we were overwhelmed by all of the gadgets and gizmos but nothing stopped us in our tracks the way a giant Skallops contraption did. We soon learned that this creature been built out of playing cards and these little wooden thingies called "Skallops" invented by the team at E&M Labs.
The young man in the booth told us about the company he and some friends had founded. Using these little wooden pieces with slots into which you can slide cards, you can build just about anything... including a lovely company that manufactures Skallops in Mountain View California, using sustainably sourced wood, with assembly/packaging done by physically and developmentally disabled folks.
We got to know the team at Blue Orange Games having booths near each other at the Green Festival. There are four things we love about them. 1. These are people who truly cared about the planet and are incredibly committed to making sure that anyone making their products is paid a living wage and would work in a safe and healthy environment. 2. The games are REALLY fun and engaged kids and adults in a way that actually took them away from their "devices." (That's our friend Shane from the Spot on 25th playing his favorite game.) 3. The games are beautifully made and a joy to play with. 4. Blue Orange gives back to the community.
And... their warehouse and office are just a short distance from our house! We visit the folks there all the time and in doing so we've gotten to know them even better. They are wonderful LOCAL people who treat us like friends, not just customers.
Every morning Toby gets to visit a dog park on the way to work. One morning as he was scampering we started chatting with one of the other dog's pets. We told her about our store and she said "Well in a shop like that you've got to have ZOOB!"
A few days later she stopped by our shop with some ZOOB and we had to agree. ZOOB is a building kit that covers two very important types of people: those who like very clear instructions on how to build something, and those who like to be given a challenge and then use their creativity and imagination. We invited one of our young friends over to the shop and after his eyes lit up just looking at the box, he went wild building things.
ZOOB kits are really well made, incredibly fun, and the founder of the company and his team are fanatic about making sure the folks who manufacture the kits are paid a living wage, treated well, work in safe conditions, and that their work enhances the community in which they live.
Not only that, they treat us as though we are their biggest customer rather than joining the race to the bottom in which so many other toy-makers are running.
If you're curious, ZOOB is an acronym for Zoology,Ontology (the branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being), Ontogeny (the development of an individual organism, usually from a simple form to a more complex form), and Botany. ZOOB is all about creating a love of math, science, engineering, and art in boys and girls of all ages. Our young toy tester LOVES ZOOB.
Each of the companies above has incredibly wonderful people working near us and they've made it clear that they not only value our business but treasure our mission of transforming the world through teachable moments. They are committed to making the world a better place and we're proud to consider them partners in peacemaking.
Thank You Everyone AND Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season
We feel very blessed to be working with wonderful people locally and across the planet and we are especially grateful to all of you, who take Reach And Teach out into your world.
We only do a newsletter around once a month but if you want to keep up with us a little more please like our Facebook page.
And.. please DO consider sharing this newsletter with someone who might not already know about Reach And Teach (see forward to a friend link on the bottom of this message)... AND... if you're struggling to figure out just the right gift for someone, please consider giving them a Reach And Teach gift certificate. Click here to buy one online and we can email it to them!
We wish all of our partners in peacemaking, friends, and fans around the world a very happy holiday season and look forward to a great new year.
Wishing you peace, Craig and Derrick and Toby
Thanks to Susan Munroe, a local photographer, for this wonderful photograph.
In this newsletter we'll share some special gift stories which we hope will make you smile, inspire you, and perhaps prompt you to do the very best thing you can do with any story... gift it to someone else! We invite you to join us this holiday season in making a difference one gift at a time.
This Friday November 22nd at 4pm you're invited to join us in a decorating party as we get the shop ready for the holidays. We'll use some of the beautiful fair-trade ornaments that are helping to improve the lives of people in Central America, Asia, and Africa.
On November 30th you can come by our shop and create a few hand-made gifts for people you love, meet a few wonderful local authors, hear some great stories that you can pass along, and yes... do a little holiday shopping.
We'll have fun things happening Saturday November 30th (AKA Small Business Saturday) starting at 10am. We'll have fun, hot cocoa, snacks, craft activities, and Bay Area authors who are gifting us with their time, manning our cash register, reading stories, and signing their books (more details below).
Any time is play timeat Reach And Teach! We have open samples of every game, toy and puzzle ready for you to play with any time you come by!
At the end of this newsletter we'll let you know about our holiday hours. But now... how about some wonderful stories?
Yes We Are... BE OPEN
We had gifted a basket of Reach And Teach products and a gift certificate to Our Family Coalition, an organization that supports GLBTQ families, for their annual gala. Shannon Weber, who had won the basket, came to visit our shop a few months later and after learning more about our mission she realized she had the perfect gift to share with us. Beyond her day job doing AIDS education and support work, and her full-time job raising a family, she also creates love notes that she leaves in places where folks she knows, and many she'll never meet, can find them. She's changing the world one love note at a time and gave us a beautiful gift that now graces our front door.
You can check out Shannon's story by clicking here and if you'd like to spread a few love notes yourself we've got some of her love note packages in our shop.
The Pan Flute
One of the greatest joys of moving to West 25th Avenue in San Mateo has been meeting some wonderful families. A few days ago someone walked into our shop and said "I know someone who really loves this shop and I was wondering if I could give him a gift certificate." He wanted to gift it anonymously as a surprise and was wondering if I would call the family and just say "Someone has given you a gift!" Of course!
The gift was for the youngest child in the family (7 years old), and that evening he came in, wide-eyed, hunting through the shop. Eventually, he told me that he had spied something special, that he wanted... to give to his big sister. Wait, what?
Rather than getting something for himself he found something he thought his sister would love? Yep. Seeing joy on a child's face because he was able to give his sister something special, a Pan Flute from Peru, (from our friends at JamTown) made our eyes light up too, and...
The Gift Is in the Giving
That seven year old reminded me of someone with a similar name... A while back Charley Fontenot walked into our shop and said "I've written a book, would you like to see it?" Of course I wanted to see it.
Charley had won a wonderful marble, a "Taw" that made kids ooohhh and ahhhhhh. He told his mother the story about how he'd won it, and that set her to thinking a bit... Then Charley said he wanted to give a gift to his best friend, but it wasn't the prized marble, it was another. Why not give him your very best marble... and that set Charley to thinking.
We fell in love with Charley, his wife Lucy, and this wonderful book. Charley and Lucy had suffered one of the most difficult tragedies any family can endure, the loss of a child. After grieving a long time, one of the ways Charley channeled that grief was by writing this book and he has gifted many children with this important lesson...... The best books in the world don't tell you what to think, they simply make you think. And this book does a marvelous job at that! We've got copies of that book in our shop and if you'd ever like Charley to come into your school and do a reading... just ask!
Small Business Saturday - Crafts, Authors and A Gift from American Express
With big-box stores trying to grab as much business as possible during what has now become "Black Thursday" and giant Internet retailers trying to compete with price-slashing and instant delivery, there are a lot of folks out there who want to support local small businesses like ours. A few years ago American Express invented the idea of Small Business Saturday. This year, in our shop, we're graced by the gifts of parents, authors, and American Express, who want to help make Reach And Teach a great place to be on Thanksgiving weekend.
At 10am on Saturday November 30th Shannon Casey and friends from Our Family Coalition will host a gift-making gathering at our shop. Think of a few people with whom you'd like to share a little love and join us to make hand-crafted cards and other gifts. We'll provide everything you need, including treats!
Authors from around the country, who believe in and want to see small independently-owned shops like ours stay in business, are planning new ways to support us in the coming year. On Saturday November 30thauthors have volunteered to spend time at shops like ours, doing readings, running the registers, signing books and we are looking forward to having two in our shop that day.
At 11am, Cynthia Chin-Lee, author of Operation Marriage, Amelia to Zora, and Akira to Zoltan (among other great books) will do a reading and sign books.
At 11:45m, Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi's Virgins and A Golden Web, will do a book reading and sign books.
At 5:30pm, Pamela Mayer, author of Don't Sneeze at the Wedding, will do a book reading and sign books.
And... all day on November 30th if you use your American Express card in our shop and spend $10 or more, American Express will give you $10 back! That's their way of encouraging people to shop at small local businesses like ours. You have to register your card first (click here).
Fair-Trade Gifts, Books, and Products Made in a Socially Responsible / Ethical Way
If you do shop for gifts this season, we hope you'll consider checking out some of our fair-trade gifts (what is fair trade???). Beyond being something you can share with someone you love, your gift also makes a difference in the lives of people locally and around the world.
Thank You Everyone AND Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season
We are so grateful to have moved to our new location at 144 West 25th Avenue in San Mateo and to all the people who have helped make that happen and who are helping us even still. If you're nearby please come by the shop and share a cup of cheer (cocoa or tea) and let us thank you in person!
Our holiday hours, starting November 30th are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 8pm. We'll have lots of other fun things happening in the shop during the holidays. To keep up to date, visit our events page and/orlike our Facebook page.
Please DO consider sharing this newsletter with someone who might not already know about Reach And Teach and... if you're struggling to figure out just the right gift for someone, please consider doing what that anonymous gift-giver did for the youngster in our pan flute story, give them a Reach And Teach gift certificate. You can get one in the shop orclick here to buy one online!
We wish all of our partners in peacemaking, friends, and fans around the world a very happy holiday season and look forward to a great new year.
If you came to this page because you are being bullied and need help, there is help available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit the Trevor Project which has a hotline and online text-chat avaialble 24/7. You are not alone. You deserve to be protected. Click here or call 866-488-7386
Bullied - Life in Middle School
Hiding... praying that they won't see you... waiting until a half hour after school lets out to go home before making a hasty escape, hoping everyone else will have already gone home... never going to the bathroom... Avoiding the lunchroom, eating in an empty classroom instead... But no matter what you do, almost every day, they'll get you. Words turn into shoves, slaps, punches, kicks, it escalates. You beg for help but the teachers and administrators turn a blind eye. Worse yet, they blame you. "Toughen up!" "Stop acting like a sissie." You come home with a bloody nose, a black eye, bruises. Maybe your parents call the school. Maybe they come to school and meet with the principal. Nothing happens. It only gets worse.
"Faggot!" "Queer!" "Homo!"
That was my daily diet in middle school in the 1970's. No one deserves to be treated that way yet thousands, perhaps millions of children go through it every single day. It goes way beyond "being picked on" or even harassment, it is torture. Not only are you afraid it will never end, but you become convinced that sooner or later, these kids might kill you. Drinking and doing drugs, skipping school, running away from home, attempting suicide, or committing violence against the bullies seemed like the only way to escape.
Over thirty years later it may seem like nothing has changed BUT much has changed. Across the country there are programs to prevent bullying and help children who are being or have been bullied. In many communities, in many schools, people are starting to act. Some do so because they don't want children to suffer. Others are doing something out of fear of lawsuits. I'm thankful for any reason it takes to get schools, teachers, parents, local and national leaders to stand up and say enough is enough, and do something about this national sickness. Even the President of the United States has weighed in on the bullying problem.
Time to STOP Ignoring Bullying and DO Something About It!
Could I ever have imagined back in 1974 that another student, years later, would sue his schools over the same kind of treatment I'd lived with every day... and win? With the help of Lambda Legal Defense, Jamie Nabozny did. And now, because of that landmark case and decision, teachers, parents, administrators, and students can learn from his story, his struggle, and his victory to help create safe schools for everyone. Perhaps if his story were more well-known, if more schools took advantage of the resources available today to stop bullying, children like Brandon will have some hope that their lives can get better.
Bullied - A Teaching Tolerance Documentary
I've just watched Bullied - A Teaching Tolerance Documentary and I urge every school, every faith community childrens/youth ministry leader, every social service organization that works with children, to get a FREE copy of the DVD and viewer's guide and use it as one of the tools to make your community, your school, your classroom, your center, your home a safe place for every child. Teaching Tolerance is a project of The Southern Poverty Law Center and has done incredible work to foster acceptance, inclusion, compassion, and community-building in schools across the country. Now they have created a powerful documentary and teaching guide that is available for free to every school in America.
Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. It can become a cornerstone of anti-bullying efforts in middle and high schools.
A 40-minute documentary film (DVD), with closed captioning and with Spanish subtitles
A two-part viewer’s guide with standards-aligned lesson plans and activities for use in staff development
Additional materials online
Bullied is designed to help administrators, teachers and counselors create a safer school environment for all students, not just those who are gay and lesbian. It is also intended to help all students understand the terrible toll bullying can take on its victims, and to encourage students to stand up for their classmates who are being harassed.
It Gets Better
There's a national campaign happening to help kids realize that they can get help if they are being bullied, and that bullying isn't cool. Here's Justin Bieber letting kids know that "It Gets Better."
In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.
Two months later, the It Gets Better Project (TM) has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 5000 user-created videos and over 15 million views. To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google and Facebook, the Broadway community, and many more. For us, every video changes a life. It doesn’t matter who makes it.
The website www.itgetsbetterproject.com is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where our straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members. It’s a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support, and seek help through the Trevor Project and GLSEN.
Bully - A Powerful Film and Teacher Guide
Across the country school districts and other organizations are working to help 1 million children get to see Bully. San Mateo County, Reach And Teach's hometown, sent over 4,000 children to see the film. We got to meet Alex Libby, one of the young people shown in the film and the film's director Lee Hirsch and urge parents, teachers, faith groups, and others who work with children to get as many children as possible to see this film. The shift in attitudes of those who see the film, moving them from bystanders to upstanders, is one of the keys to putting a dent in the pandemic of bullying.
Click here to order the DVD and Teacher Guide from The Bully Project.
Click here to check out our story about meeting Alex Libby along with our review of the fantastic book, Wonder.
About the Film:
Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. The new documentary film BULLY, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.
BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America's bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy "kids will be kids" clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.
I Think of A Dragon - Becoming an Upstander Instead of a Bystander
Reach And Teach friends Nancy Schimmel and Judy Fjell have written and recorded a wonderful song which they are graciously making available here. You can play the song for kids or use the sheet music to teach the song and have a singalong. In the song a child (or it could even be an adult) wishes to have a dragon to stand by her side when bullies are being mean, not only because a dragon could scare the bullies but because when a situation gets tense, two heads... are better than one. What I love about the song (spoiler alert - don't read any more if you want to listen to the song first), is that the key message is that we have to stand up for each other, even when we are scared. If it takes thinking of a dragon next to you to give you the strength to stand up, that's fine. But stand up we must! Because when it comes to someone being bullied... two heads, or three, or four, or a dozen, are better than one!
In the last few years the issue of CyberBullying has become to gain recognition as being as serious as, if not more serious than "in person" bullying. OnlineColleges.org recently created this InfoGraphic about it.
We believe that the seeds of violence are planted and take root at a very young age. That's why we're committed to providing our partners in peacemaking with as many resources as possible to reduce and perhaps some day eliminate bullying. Below are just some of the products we have evaluated and chosen to recommend. If you know of other resources we should feature (free or for purchase), please click here to let us know about them! Together, we can work to create a world where no child has to go home in tears because of bullying, AND, the children who are bullies can also be helped to overcome their problems.
Any time the word "neighbor" comes up, many people across America think of Mr. Rogers, an iconic children's TV show host who sang a cute little song at the start of each episode... "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine..." It harkened to the idea of being part of a neighborhood where everyone knew each other, kids could go out and play safely, and folks took care of each other in times of need.
Click here to order your own copy of the poster (or send some to friends and family). It costs $10 and that price includes shipping! Another iconic image many have become all too used to is the "Neighborhood Watch" sign, a warning to would-be ne'er do wells to stay out of the neighborhood because folks are watching.
Today, a young black male wearing a hoodie has become an iconic image representing our struggles with race in this country. Trayvon Martin, a young black teen, wearing a hoodie and walking home after buying some candy and an iced tea, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, who had followed him, and even continued following him after police had told Zimmerman to stop.
This poster was designed by Micah Bazant in July 2013. It was originally commissioned by the Oakland organization Justice for Families, for the Night Out for Safety & Democracy. This event is an alternative to National Night Out, which is sponsored by police and neighborhood watch organizations across the country. In the course of creating the poster, George Zimmerman was found innocent for the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the poster’s message took on a new level of meaning and urgency.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS, seeing them, being in community with them, is not only a way to make our neighborhoods safe, it is a way to make our communities more loving, caring, compassionate, and to help them thrive.
When the first image of this poster was shared on Facebook people loved it. "When can I get one?" "Who is going to produce it?" "I want ten of these!!!" There was no funding to produce the poster for national distribution so Reach And Teach, our friends at Design Action, and the artist decided to launch an IndieGoGo campaign. In one month we raised enough money to produce the poster and today we are proud to offer it to the world.
Thank You to Those Who Supported the Campaign!
We give great thanks to all the people who helped make producing this poster for distribution possible, including the following folks who granted us permission to share their names as supporters of the campaign:
Inno Nagara, The Story of Stuff Project, Naomi Ishisak, Wendy Amengual Wark. Abby Reyes, Caitlin Sislin, Pat Plant, Brooke Anderson, Doyle Canning, Kasha Ho, Jerri Jensen, Rudolpho San Miguel, Mia Henry, Elisabeth Santellana, Pam Marino, Diana P. Wu, Annie Koh, George White, Abby Mophaut, Janet Sells, Margaret Okuzumi, Paul George, Svea Boyda-Vikander, Aren Aizura, Sadie Sabot, Maya Amichai, Noam Szoke, Jennifer Giffen, Eleanor Cooney, Peter Van Wesep.
AND, we thank those who donated towards the campaign who chose to be anonymous. Thank you neighbors!!!