The Curious Autodidact

June 5, 2016

Updated: One Person Can Make a Difference: Denise “Cookie” Bouldin

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 10:19 am

Image result for detective cookie seattle

Some posts deserve to be refreshed and reposted. This is one of those that needs a new airing as people making a positive difference in the world around them should be recognized and their good deeds shouted from the mountain tops.

Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin of the Seattle Police Department is just such a woman. She is a role model as a police officer but also as the founder of the “Urban Youth Chess Club” based in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, encouraging kids to get off the streets, channel their energies, and learn to think critically through chess.

I have supported this club for many years and was thrilled to hear of this publicity they received on the local news station about the new art with Cookie in mind, brava!

There was an interview with Eric Lui on the Seattle Channel and a great article that appeared in 2011 urging support of her organization that appeared in The Stranger by Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Sanders.

You can listen to the segment from the local NPR station here.

Those wanting to support this terrific endeavor are encouraged to donate on line thought Seattle Neighborhood Group by clicking here.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself: What have you done this week to make a difference in your community?


December 7, 2015

Sibling Support: For the Families of the Developmentally Disabled

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 9:38 pm


IMG_3957 (1)

When you think about disabled children generally you have pity for the parents. Many marriages crash and burn at the prospect of raising a special needs child but what this little film will make you aware of is how long the relationship is between this child and his or her siblings will go on longer than those with the parents.

Don Meyer is based in Seattle has helped siblings all over the world with his Sibshops and those interested should connect to his website and subscribe to the Sibnet that has subscribers from all over the world who discuss sibling issues.

For a moving YouTube experience see this piece about the word “retarded” and a sister’s love of her brother.

Open your mind to the needs of the developmentally disabled and take a moment to see how you could make a difference in the lives of these special people and his or her family.

August 10, 2015

News Websites of Merit you May not Have Discovered

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 11:47 pm


A few websites that are worth checking out often are PolitiFact with it’s famous Truth-o-meter. Here you will find the facts behind the many political spins that circulate around our mainstream media. If you are wanting to keep an eye on the health care reforms proposed for our country with in excess of 47 million people without health coverage this is a good place to start.

Check out ProPublica, “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.” (from their website) They hope to put into place more investigative journalism that has lost it’s place is our fast paced 24 hour news cycle. Staff includes: Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Engelberg, a former managing editor of The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, and former investigative editor of The New York Times, is ProPublica’s managing editor. For a sampling check out their coverage of the bailout.

NewsTrust is also a good site to keep in your bookmarks. Here readers rate the quality of the stories featured and you can find some stories you may not see in the mainstream media. From their site “NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each story against core principles of journalism, such as fairness, accuracy, context and sourcing — using our unique review tools.” Here’s a sampling of that they offer, an article on sleep paralysis. NewsTrust based in California is a nonprofit public benefit corporation with an educational purpose. They started NewsTrust to “address growing problems of information overload, misinformation and mistrust on the Internet, caused by the rise of opinion news and amateur journalism, as well as media consolidation and newsroom cutbacks” (from their website).

For international news that is more in depth check out Global Post where you will find this moving story about children born behind bars. They have quite a stable of on-the-ground journalists of superior quality. They have more than 65 correspondents in nearly 50 countries giving it a hand up in international coverage.

June 15, 2015

Ten Tips for Saving Money on a Funeral

Filed under: end of life,helpful hints,money saving ideas,nonprofit — Honilima @ 12:21 am


Ten Tips for Saving Money on a Funeral from the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance

1. Talk about funerals with family members ahead of time so they all will know your wishes and you will know theirs. If your plans are mentioned only in a will, the will may not be read until long after other ar-rangements have been made. If Mom had always said she wanted something “simple” and you aren’t sure what she meant, you may end up purchasing a great deal more than something truly “simple.” Or perhaps Mom told everyone what kind of funeral she wanted, but she had no idea that it would cost far more than anyone could afford.

2. Price shop by phone or in person. Price-shopping can save you thousands of dollars. The funeral home in your neighborhood may be three times as expensive as one across town. Many of these price lists are now available on-line. By law, funeral homes have to give you prices over the phone, or hand you a General Price List (GPL) when you start talking about prices at the funeral home. If the GPL shows that caskets begin at $595, did you ask to see one if it was not on display?

3. Only buy what you want. If you are shopping for a funeral at the time of death take a friend with you, someone who will help you be sure you buy only what you want. Don’t buy more than you intended out of guilt. People often think that how much they spend is a demonstration of how much they love someone. Don’t buy more because of fears of being “different” or “cheap” or worries about “What people will think?” Funeral sales literature today commonly refers to a “traditional” funeral package (meaning elaborate and a good profit margin for the mortician), with one funeral often looking just like the next. Enjoy making your own traditions. A unique and personalized memorial observance is what others will remember. Don’t feel obligated to put on a big “show” when the deceased has been prominent dur-ing his or her lif etime. For the cremation of the author of The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford’s family spent just under $500. Shortly thereafter, they hosted a grand memorial gathering. It was very much in keeping with Jessica’s disdain of lavish funeral merchandise but love of a good party

4. Make your own or buy online. You can find caskets or kits on-line for a fraction of the retail price. It is illegal for a mortuary to charge a “handling fee” for using a casket obtained elsewhere. Or, choose a “minimum container” from the mortuary and drape it with attractive material, a handmade quilt, or a flag. Most people know what’s involved in growing a head of lettuce or a few tomatoes and would think $10 each was an outrageous price; they probably would stop buying them. Few consumers realize that caskets may be marked up 300500% or more. A casket that is listed for $1,295 at the funeral home might wholesale for only $325. That same casket is probably available from a casket retailer for $650. 5.

5. Consider the “direct burial” or “immediate cremation” packages. These plans do not necessitate buying grand caskets, embalming, cosmetic touchups, or funeral services and processions. Cemetery space for cremated remains is generally – but not always – less expensive than the space needed for a body burial. Cremated remains can be buried/scattered almost wherever you choose. Also, if you choose one of these options, you don’t need to use a local funeral home which might cost twice as much as the one in the next town.

6. Plan a memorial service without the body present. In that case, there would be no need for embalming, a fancy casket, or expensive transporting of the body back and forth. Private family visitation and “goodbyes” can occur in the hospital or home, before you call a funeral director. Use a church, park, or community center for the memorial service without attending funeral home staff. Again, with this option, you do not have to use a local funeral home. .

7. Skip embalming. Embalming is not routinely required by law. Some circumstances may precipitate the need for embalming, but in no state is it necessary when burial or cremation is planned within a day or so.

8. Consider body donation to a medical school. In some areas, there may be no cost to the family whatsoever. In other circumstances, the cost of transporting the body may be the only cost. Generally cremated remains are returned to the family within a year or two.

9. Some cemeteries may require a grave liner or vault, but not all. There is no state law that does. If you prefer body burial, ask for a “grave liner” rather than a “coffin vault” at a fraction of the price. And again, be sure to shop around. The “outer burial container” is a way for morticians to increase their income and is an added burden on your funeral finances. With prices as much or more than caskets, remember that it is just a boxforthebox which gets quickly covered by the cemetery lawn.

10. Consider handling all arrangements without using a mortuary. Most people also don’t know that in the majority of states a family or church group may handle a death without the use of a funeral home and many families have found it loving and therapeutic. The book, Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love, gives a great deal of state specific practical information, and the PBS documentary, A Family Undertaking follows the stories of several families. Both are invaluable resources for anyone choosing this meaningful way to say goodbye.

And, a bonus tip: Join your local Funeral Consumers Alliance. Some have contracts with local funeral homes for services at a reduced price for members. Some have done a price survey and have done the priceshopping for you already. Most will refer you to an ethical funeral home. There are reciprocal benefits if you move to or die in another state. Supporting an Alliance will help to keep this consumer information available for future generations, and the membership contribution is modest. Remember: Funeral directors are business people who deserve to be paid for what they do. However, it is your job, as a funeral consumer, to be well educated about your funeral choices, to determine the kind of funeral or memorial service that meets the needs of your family, and to locate an ethically priced facility that will honor your choices with dignity.

May 18, 2015

Simple Ways to Volunteer Your Time

Filed under: cool internet stuff,helpful hints,nonprofit — Honilima @ 8:15 pm

girls with hula hoops


Think that you are too busy to volunteer your time? Consider how many older people live in your neighborhood who would value a visit or a homemade something brought to brighten their day. Send a funny cartoon to someone who is housebound. Write a letter to someone who is incarcerated, many of whom haven’t heard from their family in years. These simple things will brighten someone’s day who is compromised and make you feel good too.

If you have regular time available go on-line and get matched!



May 15, 2015

Pancreatic Cancer: the Silent Killer

Filed under: end of life,nonprofit — Honilima @ 12:19 am



Raising Awareness of a Silent Killer: Pancreatic Cancer

What do Margaret Mead, Count Basie, Rex Harrison, Henry Mancini, Irving Wallace, Marvin Beli,  Patrick Swayze, Michael Landon, Donna Reed, Dorothy Dunnett, Joan Crawford, Steve Jobs, Phillip Levine, Jack Benny, Dizzie Gillespie, and Frank Zappa all have in common? They all died of Pancreatic Cancer, as did former President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy, and their mother “Miss Lillian.”

Pancreatic Cancer is the #4 cancer killed in the United States amongst both men and women. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it is rarely diagnosed in time for treatment. It has the #1 fatality rate of all cancers. Only 4% of the patients will survive beyond five years.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network  approximately 32,180 people will be diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer this year. Yet, “despite the especially lethal nature of pancreatic cancer, the research spending per pancreatic cancer patient is only $1145, the lowest of any leading cancer.”

Why is this? Perhaps because most people don’t even know where their pancreas is located or what role it plays on our body’s good health. It works in the production of enzymes for digestion and the production of hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. It is a gland located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine.

Every 17-minutes someone in the country dies of this lesser known disease that has a 99% fatality rate.

Although it is the fourth cancer killer in the country most people do not know the risk factors or the symptoms of this type of cancer. Hence, November has been designated as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer include:

Pain in abdomen or back

Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)

Dark Urine


Fatigue or Weakness

Digestive Problems

Nausea and Vomiting

Significant Weight Loss

Risk factors include:

Smoking: 2-3 times increased risk for smokers vs. nonsmokers

Chronic pancreatitis

Family history: 2-3 times increased risk if first degree relative diagnosed with PC


Only a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are able to have the tumor surgically removed. More often than not, by the time the diagnosis comes, the cancer has spread and there are not at this time many treatment options.

The NW is home to one of the country’s highly-respected Pancreatic Cancer researchers, the UW’s Dr. Teri Brentnall whose work has been nationally recognized.

Thank you for reading this article and for taking a moment to be aware of some of the symptoms of these lesser-known but grave forms of cancer.

If you know someone with pancreatic cancer, or a friend who is caring for someone who has this form of cancer, I urge you to lend a hand —it is a horrible disease. This posting is meant to raise awareness and urge you to support the quest for additional research dollars to help find a cure.


April 15, 2015

One Person Can Make a Difference: Kim Bogucki

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,prison reform,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 2:00 pm

What do some police officers do with their spare time? Some more than you might imagine, you have already read here about Detective Bouldin’s Chess Club.

Well Seattle Police Detective Kim Bogucki is a co-founder (with Kathlyn Horan and former WCCW inmate Renata Abramson) of the IF Project.

She tells in this TEDx presentation of the $47,000+ a year it costs to keep prisoners locked up in Washington State and how her work helps people in prison to tell their stories to discourage others to enter that same pathway.  She encourages us all to mentor young people, to give a felon a job, a place to live and a chance.

From IF Project’s website:

“We are a unique collaboration of formerly and currently incarcerated adults working together with law enforcement personnel to affect change for those who are facing issues and challenges regarding incarceration and recidivism. Our work is built upon — and inspired by — these people sharing their personal experiences surrounding the issues of incarceration.

This project is based on the question:

If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been?

“If someone would have told me I was relevant…”

“If someone would have cared about me to console me…”

“If I would have met someone that has been where I have been to share their mistakes”

What the IF project allows us, is a highly unusual but greatly needed path for collaboration as it brings together inmates and law enforcement in an unprecedented manner. Officer Bogucki’s alliance with the inmates provides a break through to discover the real reasons behind our system of mass incarceration and access to the personal stories and intimate struggles that are leading people down this dead end path. We watch as she offers them access into a new world and they discover their ability to change, to heal and to find forgiveness – both from society and for themselves.

We provide ongoing support and education to the inmates who participate in the project, we offer monthly meetings/trainings inside the prison. The monthly topics are chosen by the inmates and can include domestic violence, healthy relationships, sexual assault and abuse, child abuse, parenting, and gang violence.

To support their project click here.

  • At age 14 I decided I wanted a baby because I wanted to have someone to love me unconditionally. At age 16 I was a mom and scared as hell.— Woman at Washington State Prison

April 11, 2015

One Person Can Make a Difference: Ms Veronika Scott

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 11:55 am


If you ever doubted that one person can make a difference meet Veronika Scott a then 23 year old design student who decided to make a piece of warm clothing called The Element Survival Coat. She designed it to serve as a sleeping bag for Detriot’s many homeless citizens. Her group The Empowerment Plan  works with “individuals…are trained to manufacture a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag at night, and a bag when not in use.  The coats are distributed to homeless people living on the streets at no cost to them through partnerships we have established with outreach organizations in communities around the nation”  (from their website). You can listen to a segment about her on NPR or read more in the Detroit Free Press or watch this short You Tube video or Vimeo.

Bravo Ms. Scott thanks for being a woman hero to so many and for having the heart to think beyond just fashion  You have empowered others to change lives one coat at a time.

You can send in donations large and small to her organization here.

February 19, 2015

Smaller Nonprofits To Support Today!

Filed under: helpful hints,nonprofit — Honilima @ 12:18 pm


 Lots of people don’t think of sending a little dough to a nonprofit each month. I tend to support the local food pantry first but then to support some of these small nonprofits that most people don’t know about.

It’s easy to give, some employers match donations, take a moment to consider making charity a part of your annual budget, give 5-10% of your annual income to those who haven’t anything extra.

Another thing I try to do is send a gift card to a friend who lives on a fixed income to the grocery store or to a general merchandise place she can get the sundries that add up—like toothpaste and the like. I collect magazines and pens for the local hygiene center.

Groundswell Northwest  

It is their goal to have every resident of Ballard to have access to green space within walking distance without crossing a major arterial. A grassroots group with passion and enthusiasm.

Heron Helpers

This group is Seattle neighborhood Magnolia-centered, to help the herons of the rookery in Magnolia and who lurk around Salmon Bay and the Locks to have a fighting chance. They will accept donations worldwide to continue their important work. Next time you go to the Locks and see dozens and dozens of healthy herons tip your hat to this group.

Bikeworks, a bike shop for kids.

Another smaller but growing nonprofit that does great things for children and adults. They train young people on bike repair, provide a place for them to be involved in activities and to learn the pleasures of self propelled non-electric activities. They also send bikes to Ghana. They have a bike shop in Columbia City that you should drive out of your way to support.

Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center

Miraculously this organization, with a two year waiting list, has found another property to move their riding center too. This should give you an indication of the vast community support they have and the passion of the staff. It serves disabled children and adults by giving them an equine relationship and something to master outside his or her disability.

Footloose Sailing Program for the Disabled  

A sailing program run by volunteers to get the disabled out on the water and to feel the joys of nature close up and a feeling of the power of the wind.

Children’s Play Garden for Disabled Children:

Located by the NW African American Museum this play garden is to teach children the joys of gardening and a place to go that is wheelchair accessible and allows them a chance to experience the outdoors and nature in new ways. The Executive Director is totally dedicated and has pulled more than a few rabbits out of her hat to make this come together. A very dedicated group.

Washington CASH

Microlending for Small Businesses: No need to send your money out of country to participate in the thrills of micro-lending. This organization helps people start their own small businesses with educational programs and loans. It’s a marvelous program that has moved lots of families off public support and into a new status as business owners and tax payers.

KIVA Loans that Change Lives

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. You can go on their website and filter through specific areas of interest or by location.

Compassion and Choices of Washington, End of Life Choice

This is the local chapter of the national organization bringing education about end of life choice to a culture that rarely speaks about death and dying. If you feel passionate about the freedom to choose the end you most wish for your life were you to be deemed terminally ill send in a check today. Their WONDERFILE is like a $500 trip to an estate attorney and is a gift to those left behind, get one today if you don’t have your affairs in order. Their green ICE wallet card, I don’t get anywhere without one and I hand them out liberally to friends.

Pancreatic Cancer Network

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a nationwide network of people dedicated to working together to advance research, support patients and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer. Their PALS service helps those diagnosed and their families to weigh their options and have support as they cope with the realities of this “silent killer.” Further they lobby for more research funds and highlight the work of researchers nation wide, several of whom are in Seattle working at the UW and Hutch.

Funeral Consumer’s Alliance

A watch dog over Funeral Industrial Complex: Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral. This is a small organization that is looking out for you even though you may have never heard of them. Send them a check today to make sure that others aren’t taken advantage of at a vulnerable time by the ever consolidating funeral industrial complex!

September 21, 2014

Three Women’s Talks You’ll Want to Listen to

Kavita Ramdas is a powerful speaker, and was at the time of the talk the President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women who appears on the KQED radio show Forum. Listen and you will be impressed by her intelligent comments about women globally. During her tenure at the Global Fund for Women the fund’s assets have increased from $6 million to $21 million and their grant making has risen to $8 million a year to over 160 countries. The fund was founded with the belief that “…women’s human rights and dignity were essential to the advancement of global agendas for social, economic, and political change.” They believed that by “putting resources into the hands of grassroots women leaders, women would change the world ” (from their website).

Another Forum program that is worth a listen features Dr. Nadine Burke, who runs The Bayview Child Health Center, a clinic in San Francisco. She talks about the correlation between traumatic situations—known as Adverse Childhood Experiences and chronic health problems ranging from depression and obesity, to cancer and heart disease, in later life. Her work was featured in the New Yorker’s March 21, 2011 issue and her passion about her work is to be deeply admired.

For something totally different tune into Bob Edwards segment with Robin Nagle talking about her work as an anthropologist for the New York City Department of Sanitation since 2006. She hopes to create a Museum of Sanitation to bring to the public more awareness of all we throw in the trash and try to keep “out of sight out of mind.” She has said “garbage is very scary to us culturally, and it is also… one of the single most fascinating things you could ever study.” Her talk about trash will give you a new perspective on what you pitch and what can be seen from space. If this short interview makes you want to know more read Alex Carp‘s interview with her here.

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