In July, Portland native Travis Bradach was sweeping out land mines in Iraq when one blew up. Since then, Bradach's mom has been trying to raise enough money to "adopt" a mine field and clean it up. Every year 100,000 kids lose limbs or are killed by abandoned landmines. To make a donation, contact Adopt-a-Minefield (www.landmines.org); earmark your donation for Bradach.
Or how about donating to a political campaign to help oust the Bush regime (or to make certain that Francesconi doesn't become our mayor)? Did you know that the State of Oregon gives up to a $50 tax credit for political donations? Different than a tax deduction, a tax credit means that you receive the money above and beyond your deductions. (See "Line 40" on your Oregon tax form.) Think about it this way: Either you're giving $50 to the state or your favorite candidate.
Of course, the flip side of shopping in the right place is not shopping at the wrong place. Like, have you been paying attention to what's going on in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma? After a coup in 1990, the democratically elected Prime Minister (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. Thousands of children are being forced to sweep mine fields there. The rate of deforestation is third highest in the world. And currently, two Seattle lawyers are pursuing a case against Unocal, alleging that the gas corporation has co-sponsored rape, torture, and forced labor with the Myanmar regime!
Although some companies adhere to the adage that "trade can be a positive force for change," most reasonable corporations have abandoned this notion with Burma. Under intense pressure, PepsiCo pulled out in 1997. Even so, many toys are still produced there. Toys R Us continues to sell these toys. Join the "toycott"!
Traveling to grandma's house? How about NOT stopping at Shell or Texaco stations this year! Texaco has a 30-year contract with the Myanmar government to drill for oil there. And Shell remains deeply invested in Nigeria. A few years ago, eight Ogoni people were killed after protesting Texaco's presence in their native land. PB