Values in Action

Environmental Practices

Reducing our impact on the environment has always been a concern of mine. Looking back, I think it came from living in and traveling to developing countries, including my native country, the Philippines, where poverty is prevalent and natural resources are being depleted faster than they regenerate.

Our lives depend on clean air and clean water. It’s that simple. Protecting our environment is the only way to ensure our survival.”

Before recycling was even really a thing, I initiated an office paper recycling program at my first job. Every report sent to the mega printer began with 2–3 sheets of blank tabloid size sheets. My colleagues would rip that part off and toss it. This waste bothered me. So I searched high and low for the only organization at the time that would do regular pickups from our office — Earthworm! I got everyone in the office committed to the practice. I reported on our progress and successes in our employee newsletter.

I later did a lot of work promoting zero waste practices in the city of Portsmouth, while spearheading a public art project as part of a new downtown public recycling program.

Here are some of the ways I try to reduce my waste and my impact on the environment:

  • Compost my food scraps
  • Use a cloth bag when I shop, avoiding plastic bags
  • Carry a water bottle with me most of the time so that I don’t buy [plastic] bottled water
  • Use soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and detergents that won’t add toxic chemicals to the groundwater
  • Use wool dryer balls with lavender essential oils instead of toxic dryer sheets
  • Reuse paper that was only printed on one side, in my printer
  • Recycle glass, aluminum cans, plastic containers, paper products in accordance with the city’s single stream recycling program

Now, I am not 100 percent perfect at these practices but they have been part of my daily/weekly practices for several years now. Every little bit counts!

Community Involvement

I was born into a family with a legacy of community involvement and leadership, giving, and civic engagement. It took me a while to find my place in that legacy. But once I did, I blossomed. Here are some roles I have had in the city of Portsmouth, NH:

  • Chairperson, Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Sister Cities and Citizen Diplomacy (6/17–present)
  • Member, ArtSpeak’s Foundry Place Garage Percent for Art Project, (’16–present)
  • Coordinator, Islington Creek Neighborhood Association, (’08–present)
  • Member, City of Portsmouth, Planning Board (’12–’13)
  • Sustainability Chairperson, Share Our Strength Seacoast (’10–’12)
  • Management Team/Steering Committee, Sustainable Portsmouth (’08–’09)
  • Committee Member, Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices (’08–’09)

Special Initiatives and Projects in the Arts

  • Two showings of “Faces of Iraq” Traveling Photo Exhibit (2004)
  • Pennies for Peace Campaign (2009–2010)
  • Zero Waste Portsmouth Downtown Recycling Public Art (2009–2011)

Giving

While doing my 2015 taxes, I paused to think more clearly about my annual giving plan. I realized during this exercise that there are two themes in my causes: 1) education; and 2) I am somehow personally connected to the small nonprofits I support. 

EDUCATION MATTERS. We may take it for granted here in the US. But those plagued by war and conflict lose everything — their homes, jobs, belongings, access to schools, robbing them of a promising future, the ability to support themselves and their families, and to be a productive member of society. Those living in less developed areas often lack the resources to either get to school, or buy the books needed to study.

As for being personally connected in some way, what better way to give than to support the incredible efforts and leadership of people I know, trust, and admire? They inspire me in my own work, and they inspire me to give.

Organizations I have been supporting:

  • TentED (educational programs for children displaced by war)
  • Project Honduran Child (educational expenses for Honduran children)
  • Skateistan (educational programs for street kids in Afghanistan)
  • HAVEN (sexual assault support services and educational programs)