What's going on here?

I've made a commitment: to do one good deed per day. Large or small, it doesn't matter. Self-sacrificing or not, extraordinary or mundane, it doesn't matter. Just one thing every day, that's all.

The more I do good, the better I feel about myself. Truly, to benefit others is to benefit yourself. I hope this journal may inspire others who also yearn to do good. So join me on this journey, if you will, and think about the difference you can make in your own life.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Styrofoam on the way to school

What was particularly satisfying about picking up a large piece of styrofoam from the elementary yard was knowing a student was following behind me.  This particular student doesn't like English and oks rather depressed most of the time.  Did he notice me pick up the styrofoam?  Did it make any impression on him?  I don't know.  One can only hope.

ONE GOOD DEED:  Pick up styrofoam on the way to school.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Neighborhood clean-up day

Yesterday was the junior high clean-up day, and today was the neighborhood one. People from around the area gathered in the morning and swept across the neighborhood cleaning up trash, chanting, and wearing robes. Wait, scratch the chanting and robes--that's part of my trashmonk fantasy (maybe someday!). I'm grateful that my town has a clean-up day. Even though the area goes back to being filthy in the space of a sneeze, it's good to know people care about their neighborhood.

ONE GOOD DEED: Participate in the neighborhood trash clean-up day.

Junior high trash clean-up day

Hurrah for school-endorsed environmentalism! Every year my junior high school devotes an afternoon to cleaning up trash around town (and no, I didn't suggest it!)

ONE GOOD DEED: Participate in the junior high trash clean-up day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

So many cans

I found a plastic bag blowing around on the way to work in Onishika, so on my way back I filled it chock full of trash. How do so many coffee cans get in one place?

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up coffee cans from the roadside.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is that a laptop screen by the side of the road...

...lying there like a broken piece of R2-D2?

Nobody wants old computer junk, because it's hard (or expensive) to get rid of these days. Well, I'm gonna try.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up laptop refuse from the side of the road.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beach styrofoam

One good thing about trash collection is that there's always more to do. No shortage of good deeds there.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up styrofoam from the beach.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Most of us are familiar with charity click sites -- you click and are shown an ad, and that advertiser pays a certain amount to the relevant charity. EcologyFund.com is like this, but the interesting bit is that it has donation groups. I learned of this from an email list message from Paul Harrison of the World Pantheist Movement. There are many spiritual groups on EcologyFund.com so you can give along with likeminded spiritual fellows.

ONE GOOD DEED: Join EcologyFund.com and start clicking to save rain forest acres.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day Contest

There is a contest going on over at Pinch Pennies Save Planet. Tell how you're celebrating Earth Day to win a prize: In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan.

As for myself, I did some more trashmonking today in Onishika while waiting for the bus back to the office.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash in the town of Onishika.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. I celebrated with a personal favorite in environmental service. You guessed it -- trashmonking. Though my schedule was packed from sun-up to sun-down, I managed to get out twice to pick up some trash around town.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash on Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Send a get well card to Charlotte!

My friend Wendy, a frequent commenter on this blog, let me know about a friend of a friend who's just come out of a coma. They're trying to create a flurry of get well cards to comfort her as she readjusts to waking life.

Please consider sending a letter or card. Read the whole story about Charlotte Lewis at Erin's site.
Mail can be addressed to:

Charlotte Lewis
C/O Erin L. Delaney
R. 1220 South Prospect Street
Nanticoke PA 18634

And please feel free repost this anywhere and everywhere.

ONE GOOD DEED: Send a card to a girl who's emerged from a coma.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Malaysian tea for M

I have a friend in Malaysia (an ex-girlfriend I'm still on good terms with) who sent me a box of delicious red tea from Sabah. Why not share the love?

ONE GOOD DEED: Give a box of Malaysian tea to my neighbor M.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

War Child International

Today I performed my own Genocide Prevention Ritual. After putting so much work into organizing the event, I figured my own ritual would be little more than a formality. But it was quite a rewarding experience. Seeing the flowers before me, the naked cut stems, and the blossoms fallen in the mud was more meaningful than I could have imagined. I don't understand why the senses are so important in this way, but they are. As much intellectualization as I do, it culminates in a sensual experience that brings words to a halt.

After the ritual, I followed through by giving to War Child International, a nonprofit that aids children affected by war, helping them get back on their feet, recover from trauma, and return to education.

ONE GOOD DEED: Donate to War Child International.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tell Vanguard to Divest from Sudan

Vanguard is a mutual funds firm with significant holdings in PetroChina, one of the heaviest supporters of the government of Sudan. Oil revenues are funding atrocities in Darfur.

Below is the message from Save Darfur:

PetroChina is one of the largest oil industry partners of the government of Sudan—a government now headed by a wanted war criminal.

So you might be shocked to learn that in the past 3 months, The Vanguard Group—the world's largest family of mutual funds—has increased its holdings in PetroChina!

This week, Vanguard shareholders begin voting on a proposal to adopt a genocide-free investing policy—a proposal Vanguard opposes. Will you help us make sure it passes?

Yes, I'm a Vanguard shareholder, and I don't want to invest in companies that fund genocide.

I'm not a Vanguard shareholder, but I support genocide-free investing.

Investments from companies like PetroChina allow the government of Sudan to fund its campaign of death and destruction—and resist international pressure to restore humanitarian aid to Darfur. Genocide-free investing is a crucial effort to cut off funding for the genocide in Darfur.

TIAA-CREF, the giant US pension fund, has joined states and colleges in adopting Sudan divestment policies. Now, if Vanguard divests, it could set a new standard for the world's mutual funds.

Vanguard mutual fund shareholders are receiving proxy ballots in the mail this week. If you are a shareholder, please vote FOR Question 3, which would force Vanguard to transparently adopt a genocide-free investment policy. Vanguard claims to have a policy in place—but admits that it has yet to divest from a single holding due to concerns about human rights abuses.

And if you're not a Vanguard investor, make it clear that The Vanguard Group must stop doing business with PetroChina and Sudan—or you won't consider doing business with Vanguard.

I'm a Vanguard investor, and I'm voting for genocide-free investing.

I'm not a Vanguard investor, but I support genocide-free investing.

The voices of citizens and investors like you have compelled 27 states, over 60 universities, and big corporations like TIAA-CREF to take action against PetroChina. Together, we can add Vanguard to that list.


Suzie Armstrong,
Save Darfur Coalition

ONE GOOD DEED: Request Vanguard to divest from Sudan.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Momiji manju sweets

I had some gift sweets left over after Hiroshima. There wasn't enough for all the staff at the school I was at today. Which is why I gave them all to the English teacher who was anxious that she'll soon be turning thirty.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give sweets to comfort a co-worker.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grocery store stamps

The local grocery store gives you these little green each time you buy something. After several years of saving them up, I can get about five dollars off. Deals like that I usually would rather pay that much to not have to bother. But my neighbor M likes to collect them. So after saving them up for about two years, I gave them all to her.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give coupon stamps to my neighbor.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The students took achievement tests all morning, and I was left sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Until I spotted a teacher shredding the completed test materials. Apparently they have to destroy them so that other schools can't peak. I jumped in with enthusiasm, "Hey! Why don't you let me help you!" It was admittedly a means to stave off boredom, but it helped the other teacher who was quite busy.

ONE GOOD DEED: Help a teacher shred test documents.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nails on the sidewalk...

...are not a good idea. Yet they're always there in small towns. Construction projects left half-finished, or half-demolished junk slowly decaying, make for a rusty tetnis wonderland.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up nails from the sidewalk at the bus stop.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Editing my friend's presentation

A friend came to me with a paper he wrote for a presentation he will give. I was happy to give it a once over.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give constructive criticism on a friend's presentation paper.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brandy cake

One of my friends is getting married and gave me and a few other close friends a brandy cake. I'm not really sure why, as it's not a usual custom as far as I know, but nevertheless... As it was too much for me to eat by myself, I brought it over to the house of the old kindergarten principal and shared with him, his wife, and his grandson.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pass on the gift by sharing a brandy cake I received with some neighbors.

Friday, April 10, 2009

PET caps

A hundred PET bottle caps equals medicine for one child on the charity recycling program of my school. I was especially pleased this time that nearly half the caps I brought in were collected from roadside trash.

ONE GOOD DEED: Recycle PET bottle caps for charity.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Trash in Onishika

Once again I found plenty of opportunity to do good while walking to and from schools, this time in the nearby town of Onishika.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash on the way to and from work.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This box too?

While getting a breath of fresh air outside the office building, I noticed a man start to unload some rather heavy boxes. That was a good enough prompt for the day's good deed...

ONE GOOD DEED: Help a man unload boxes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Being a role model

Trash collecting - I love it. But what I love even more is when students notice. This morning I was walking to school and stopped to pick up a stray plastic bag. Some students were following behind and clapped in praise. It gives me hope that I can teach by example.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash, setting a good example for students

Monday, April 6, 2009

Binghamton Tragedy Victims

An account has been set up to receive donations for the victims of the recent mass murder at the immigrant center. Here is the info I received:

Broome County Council of Churches

Seeks Donations to Assist Civic Association Tragedy Victims

The Broome County Council of Churches’ prayers go out to all of the
victims and families affected by the tragedy at the American Civic
Association. Lives have been forever changed in an instant.

As we enter this time of mourning and work towards a time of healing.
The Broome County Council of Churches would like to assist these
people by collecting monetary donations on their behalf. Extraneous
expenses that these families may incur could include funeral expenses,
emergency food and medical bills among many others.

If you would prayerfully consider helping out in this most dire time
of need, you can send a donation with your check made out to:

Broome County Council of Churches

Please put: “Civic Assoc. Victims” on the memo line of your check to
ensure that your donation reaches these hurting individuals.

Please mail your donation to:
Broome County Council of Churches
3 Otseningo Street
Binghamton, NY 13903

On behalf of the victims and their families, we thank you for your
prayers and your generosity.

ONE GOOD DEED: Donate to help victims of a mass murder.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Maxims for trashmonks

As you've surely noticed, I like picking up trash. It's not exactly what I'd list under "likes" in a dating ad, but nevertheless. I often pick up trash around my town's river, beach, or streets. This has developed into a kind of meditation. I'm fond of calling it the way of the "trashmonk." Even though it has nothing to do with monasteries and monkhood.

Musing thoughts led me to these maxims.

Maxims for Trashmonks

Take care for your health
Respect others' territory
Respect others' possessions
Cultivate patience
Cultivate perseverence
Cultivate fortitude
Set goals and achieve them
What is clean one moment is dirty the next; what is dirty one moment can be clean the next
Don't be a burden on others
Don't preach
Set an example for others
Don't be troubled by those who mistreat you; just go on your way
Weather your hardships
Enjoy your rewards
Carry nothing that can't get dirty
Reduce, recycle, reuse
Educate others
Don't condescend
Take care to avoid righteousness
Keep your mind on what you are doing
Take things one step at a time
Step carefully
Prepare adequately
To be dirt is to be out of place
All things have their place
Whatever cleans tends to get dirty
Whatever can become dirty can also become clean
Mind your own habits before minding others'
Clean your own home first
Study waste: its materials, its effects
Rome was not built in a day
Trash is matter out of place.
Respect all matter.
All forms of matter have their appropriate place and time.
Diversity, not disorder.
As without, so within.
Clean without, clean within.

image: H.A. Shulte's trash art in Cologne

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Trash on the street

I'm sure these trash posts are getting tiresome, but the streets still need cleaning.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean trash from the streets.

Styrofoam on the beach

It's always jaw-dropping - the sheer amount of trash strewn across the beach after the snows melt away. And no little WALL-E units to clean it up. I decided to focus just on the styrofoam, since that stuff doesn't really biodegrade. Ever. It just breaks down into smaller pieces. And if you burn it the fumes aren't good either. A lot of foresight went into that one.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up styrofoam from beach.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Raising awareness for charities

The last month I've worked so hard on the Genocide Prevention Ritual that I've hardly had time to look into other charities. But over time the ones I learn about pile up, and today I posted quite a number of them to Polytheist Charity.

Mercy Corps - a team of 3700 professionals helping turn crisis into opportunity for millions around the world; a vast list of programs addresses nearly all areas of humanitarian concern.

Heifer International - giving livestock as an economic base to struggling families in developing countries; recipients agree to pass on offspring and knowledge to others.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - a worldwide mission to help victims of conflicts and internal violence, whoever they are; efforts help people affected by armed conflict in some 80 countries in 2009; Sudan is currently the organization's largest humanitarian operation, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan.

The American Red Cross - the Red Cross in America

Oxfam International - a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change; working in development, emergencies, advocacy, campaigning, and policy research; campaigns in health, education, agriculture, climate change, arms control, and trade.

Best Friends Animal Society - rehabilitates abandoned pets deemed "un-adoptable" and finds them good homes, rescues animals from disasters, and educates about setting up animal shelters and programs

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) - not a crusade against alcohol consumption - MADD's mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) - Founded as Students Against Driving Drunk in 1981, SADD has been committed to empowering young people to lead education and prevention initiatives within their schools and communities. SADD now highlights prevention of all destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people, including underage drinking, substance abuse, impaired driving, violence and suicide.

Central Asia Institute - works with local people of remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan to promote education and literacy among girls; also awards scholarships

Nike Foundation - works to get girls on the international agenda and drive resources to them; researches the critical importance of girls in the developing world; finds the best programs for girls

The Girl Effect - initiative of the Nike Foundation communicating the importance of girls in the developing world

BRAC - works to fight poverty in the developing world through a broad set of services ranging from education to health care, emphasizes poor rural women as agents of change

Google Groups

Polytheist Charity

Visit this group

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for important charities.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trash in a parking lot

Home at last. With a few days of leave from work left, I went to nearby Rumoi to have my hair cut. The parking lot was filthy. It's spring now, and the snows are melting away to reveal loads of rubbish. I expect I'll be posting quite a lot about trash in the weeks to come. Trashmonk season is here!

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash in a parking lot.