Travel to Cuba!

February 23, 2009 | 2 Comments

From Christopher Baker on February 9, 2009:

Dear friends,

Last week a bipartisan bill (H.R. 874) was introduced into Congress that would lift travel restrictions to Cuba for all U.S. citizens and residents.

You can read all about this landmark legislation at my blog:

Meanwhile, I urge everyone to take individual action by asking your congressional representative to co-sponsor the bill. It’s simple to do and will take less than one minute of your time. Click here:

Let’s seize the moment together!

Christopher P. Baker

Lowell Thomas Award 2008 “Travel Journalist of the Year”

January 15, 2009
12:00 am

From Global Volunteer Network (GVN): what if this year our New Year’s resolutions not only focused on bettering our personal self but also bettering the global community?

If you have ever had a desire to learn about working for the United Nations, or a desire to start an international charity, or have just wondered how to get into the field of International Development, then GVN’s ‘Be The Change Program’ in Jamaica is the perfect way to start 2009.

Thanks to Kalpana Mohan for this link to a New York Times article, What They Hate About Mumbai, by Suketu Mehta.

“I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. ‘Mumbai is a golden songbird,’ he said. It flies quick and sly, and you’ll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you. The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.

Congratulations to Linda Jue, who was given a much-deserved award at the annual banquet for the NorCal chapter of Society of Professional Journalists for her outstanding service to the profession. And thanks to Joanna Biggar for letting us know about it.

November 6, 2008
6:00 pmto8:00 pm

Rowing for Children: For those of you who have been keeping track of Erden Eruç’s progress as he rowed—singlehanded—from the waters off California to those off Papua New Guinea, you can hear a first-person account of the adventure at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon on November 6. Click on the link to learn more, or to RSVP.

From Erdun: “There will be dinner beginning at 6 p.m. and I will begin my presentation at 7 p.m. about my row across the Pacific Ocean from California shores to the Papua New Guinea waters…  This singlehanded crossing by oars was especially meaningful for me since we raised about $47,000 for charity during that crossing to benefit the rural primary school children in regional boarding schools in Turkey.

I found out last night, in an entertaining evening at the War Memorial in San Francisco. It was a Recce conversation, sponsored by Geographic Expeditions, in which Don George interviewed Robert Thurman, to the extent that Thurman can be interviewed.

Bob Thurman is one of the world’s leading experts on Tibetan Buddhism, “the founder of Tibet House, the President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, and the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. He was the first American ordained as a Tibetan monk and Time magazine named him one of the 25 Most Influential People in America.” (GeoEx)

“WARNING” the site reads. “This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance… ” The oh-so-addictive-and-good-for-you-too vocabulary game works like this:

  • You’re presented with a word.
  • You click on the answer that best defines the word.
  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.
  • For each word you get right, FreeRice donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

Check out the Exquisite Safaris website, with sections on philanthropic travel, an article about Marc Gold and the 100 Friends Project, thoughtful—and thought provoking—articles about kindness, spiritual activism, and related topics … and beautiful photographs.

“The Exquisite Safaris philanthropic mission integrates a guided visit to a humanitarian outreach project into every private, luxury, epicurean experience we create. These personal introductions create authentic cross cultural friendships that generate trust, respect, and generous donations funding philanthropic travel projects worldwide.”

“If you are coming to help me, you are wasting your time but if you are coming because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
— Indigenous Saying

“If you have been wondering how you can make a difference and ‘give back’ while you travel and explore this extraordinary world of ours, this is your chance. Your grace, interest, and generosity as a traveler will impact the lives and the future of the people you meet. Don’t miss the opportunity—come along on a life-changing experience with The Cultural Explorer. Call us at 415-387-1335.”

Check out the Making a Difference trips, special two-week, hands-on tours that give you the opportunity to get involved and make a difference while you explore and learn about South Africa.

100 Friends Project

December 10, 2007 | 1 Comment

Dear Supporters of the 100 Friends Project,

Greetings from Thailand! So far this year I have been using your donations for humanitarian projects in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia, Tibet, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, Guatemala, Laos, Myanmar and other countries.

This is the time for our semi-annual appeal for donations.

You can view photos of recent project activities individually or in a slide show format related to all the activities described below by clicking here:

View Slideshow

You can read a more detailed report about recent 100 Friends activities described below by
clicking here

Here’s a New York Times article about vacationing like a rock star.


Published: December 9, 2007

DOING charity work while on vacation no longer has to mean backbreaking labor and dorm-like accommodations. A new kind of philanthropic travel lets wealthy vacationers do good works while still enjoying plush hotel suites and fine restaurants.

More luxury tour operators now offer philanthropic-minded trips to places like Kenya, Cambodia and Vietnam that incorporate visits to local schools, hospitals or wildlife centers. Travelers also go on traditional sightseeing tours and safaris that may cost $300 to $1,000 a day, not including airfare.

Lee Azus from Get Lost Travel Books writes in October’s Store Notes about his new appreciation for Rick Steves:

Beach Impeach III

September 5, 2007 | Leave a Comment

September 15, 2007
1:00 pm

Local cabbie, travel writer, activist, and community organizer Brad Newsham plans Beach Impeach III for Saturday, September 15 at Chrissy Field in SF. If you’re wondering what that has to do with travel writing, think: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, preserving the Constitution, civic responsibility, ability to travel freely, no-fly lists, unlawful searches … you get the idea.

From Brad:

“Dear Everyone,

Interested in traveling to Africa? Then don’t miss The Cultural Explorer, which specializes in off-the-beaten-path itineraries. In 2007, there are two Make-a-Difference tours (one departing in September and one in October) on which you meet with “entrepreneurs, interact with the local children, visit schools, teach in a orphanage, assist health care workers, observe animal rescue, and experience life in the townships.” For 2008, there’s a tour that combines animals and art, and sounds absolutely wonderful.

April 25, 2007
9:00 pm

Thanks to April Orcutt for reminding us about the upcoming documentary. The following review is from Z Magazine, “an independent monthly magazine dedicated to resisting injustice, defending against repression, and creating liberty.” Watch it from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25.

“Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I’ve watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you’ll never watch television news again — not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.

“While a great many pundits, not to mention presidents, look remarkably stupid or dishonest in the four-year-old clips included in “Buying the War,” it’s hard to take any spiteful pleasure in holding them to account, and not just because the killing and dying they facilitated is ongoing, but also because of what this video reveals about the mindset of members of the DC media. Moyers interviews media personalities, including Dan Rather, who clearly both understand what the media did wrong and are unable to really see it as having been wrong or avoidable.

July 26, 2007toJuly 29, 2007

Join Wild Women Workshops instructors Chelsea Griffie and Deni Hodges on a 4-day beginner-friendly backpacking trip to the Desolation Wilderness. The trip will include yoga classes and some reflective writing time.

July 26-29, 2007. Pre-trip meeting scheduled for July 21, 2007.

Cost: $100 (This trip is subsidized through a grant from REI). Applicants will be selected on a first come/first serve basis. Space is limited to 10 participants.

June 16, 2007
2:00 pmto3:00 pm

June 16th, 2 pm
Book signing
Book Passage
1 Ferry Bldg # 34
San Francisco

“Oakland, California has more to offer than anyone would have guessed. From a vibrant underground music and art scene to the most straight ahead sustainable restaurants and businesses, it should not be missed on a vacation to the Bay Area. Oakland has a rich history marked by a welcoming spirit and the most ethnically diverse population in the United States.

Serena Bartlett recently self-published Oakland: The Soul of the City Next Door, “an ‘urban-eco travel’ guide. It is the first guide in our company’s City Next Door Series, inspiring people to look to their own stomping grounds for adventure and cultural experiences, all of which can contribute to the longevity of the planet and the development of strong community.”

A tireless giver to the world’s desperate and needy, Marc Gold has become a St. Nicholas for the new millenniumby Michael McCarthy
Pacific Sun, December 15, 2006

“If Santa Claus is an old man with a long white beard who gives away gifts at Christmas, then Marc Gold must be one of his merry elves.

Or Santa’s helper, for few people personify the spirit of giving more than Gold, to whom every day seems to be Christmas. News about his work is spreading via word of mouth; the world may be a mess, but meeting Gold presents opportunities to change all that.

Can George W. Bush Be Purged?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sage is always good. Or maybe lavender. Pine is nice, too. Dried, bundled, tied with string, burned with hot, divine intent. Would it work? Do we have enough to go around? This is the question.

I speak, of course, of ritual. Purging and cleansing and purifying and, truly, burning a nicely dried, blessed smudge stick can be a terrific slice of personal magic, to rid a space (or perhaps even your own body) of negative juju or vicious spirits or just to make way for the new and the moist and the good. You can smudge a room. You can create a divine smoldering cloud and then move through the smoke, invoke change, purge the negative, invite hot licks of yes. It is a thing to do.

But here’s the thing: Can you smudge an entire nation? Do we have enough lavender for 300 million?

“Travel often turns my expectations upside down. In 1999, I visited Iran with a small group of Americans to watch a total eclipse of the sun. On the afternoon of the event, I found myself alone in Esfahan’s vast Khomeini Square: one American among 50,000 Iranians…” Read the rest of this article about Jeff Greenwald in the March 13 New York Times. If you haven’t visited Jeff’s Ethical Traveler website in a while, check it out here.

Michael McCarthy published a story about Marc Gold and 100 Friends in a recent Pacific Sun. You can read it here.

Here’s an update from the Peoples of the World Foundation. This article, by Dilwyn Jenkins, is about the AshÃ¥ninka, “one of the largest indigenous groups living in the Amazon today.”

Greenwald in Iran

February 28, 2007 | Leave a Comment

Hear Jeff Greenwald tell his story about being the lone American in a vast Iranian crowd gathered to watch a solar eclipse, and what happens to him when an aggressive anti-American demonstration erupts. This and other stories are archived by Tales from Earth on KUSF.

What’s the connection between travel writing and the Beach Impeach project? Let’s see: freedom to travel, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech … not to mention human decency. Here’s a link to a powerful Beach Impeach video, Run to the Rock, by Jamie Cavenaugh, which YouTube yanked because of “inappropriate” content. What’s inappropriate about it? Well, it shows what’s happening in Iraq, that’s what.

Here’s Impeach on the Beach, shot by thirteen-year-old Sam Rubin. This one is on YouTube.

The movement for impeachment has mushroomed; there are a lot of YouTube entries. Here are a few more:

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