Give as You Live:
Profound Impact from Everyday Acts

In the coming months, we plan to build this area into a comprehensive guide to bettering the world through eating, drinking, shopping, traveling, working, volunteering, contributing and investing wisely. For now, we're simply setting forth a few examples of how everyday acts can have profound impact. And we would love your feedback.

Eating: You can support community-supported agriculture, local farmers and farmer's markets, and movements like sustainable agriculture, sustainable cuisine, and slow food. You can buy organic, get to know your grocers and your own palate, cook with joy and love, savor your food, give thanks for it, and invite friends to join you. You can eat at the many amazing restaurants that do so much for the community and at those that need your help. (A good example of these can be found at Dining to Make a Difference, and it would be great to see guides like this for your town.) You can attend benefits that showcase the best of local culture, agriculture and cuisine for such causes as Windows of Hope and Share our Strength. You can give back -- donating non-perishable goods, contributing to and volunteering at local soup kitchens, and more.

Drinking: Wine tasting was my first career and remains a strong love. Since it's something I partake in whenever possible, I always aim to do it responsibly…with all senses alive and alert, with friends I adore, and in ways that make a difference. These days, I'm doing more of it downtown -- hosting toasts at and shopping in the places that need and deserve it most. I'm frequenting Vintage New York as yet another way to support my home city and state, which I love more than ever! I encourage everyone who can to buy wine at auctions that support charity. (Napa, Sonoma, Hospices de Beaune and Grapes of Grief, which recently raised $1 million for WTC relief funds, are all great examples.) I am amazed by organizations like Roots of Peace, which defuses landmines and replaces them with grapevines. And I thank goodness for brands like Johnnie Walker, whose Keep Walking Fund supports Windows of Hope and other meaningful efforts.

  Shopping: As consumers, we have the power to vote and veto several times each day…with our pocketbooks and purchases!!! Wherever I am in the world, and especially when I am at home, I shop to support and celebrate local food purveyors, craftsmen, clothing designers and stores of all sorts, from hardware to software and all stops in between. This year, we're encouraging everyone who can to consider downtown NYC as their hometown, and to support it accordingly. The wine shops listed in Dining to Make a Difference do deliver. Downtown Alliance offers extensive listings of establishments that are open for business. Community partnerships in TriBeCa, SoHo and Chinatown are doing what they can to lure visitors back downtown. Plus, there is great shopping to be done for good causes online, as at eBay's Auction for America, via Here is New York and September 11 Photo Project, and by buying books like New York September 11 or From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America that benefit 9.11 funds. This year, on a tight budget but determined to make a difference with each gift, I managed to find hope-laden hearts made by schoolchildren in New Paltz, proceeds of which benefit the New York Arts Recovery Fund. Their teacher says they learned much from the project, which furthered them as budding artists and philanthropists and will also earn them a pizza party.

  Traveling: While the very act of traveling is a major contributor to local, national and global economies, travel designed specifically to make a difference carries more power still. Over the years, eco-tourism, adventure travel, educational tours with institutes like The Smithsonian and humanitarian stints with organizations like Doctors without Borders have become increasingly popular. This year, efforts to bring tourism back to Manhattan in the aftermath of 9.11 have been nothing short of amazing: NYC & Company is offering fabulous specials via its Paint the Town Red, White & Blue campaign and innovative Restaurant Week, CultureFest, and I Love New York Culture programs. Delta Airlines will be contributing 10,000 tickets to the program. And perhaps the most moving form of tourism to our town has been the thousands of firefighters who have flown in from around the country to support their fellow firefighters -- bearing funds collected in their boots, bringing condolence cards from school kids, attending funerals, cooking in firehouse kitchens and more.

  Online: These days, you can go virtually anywhere, do virtually anything and make real, live, measurable differences online!!! NetworkForGood, produced in cooperation with America Online, Cisco Systems and Yahoo!, is a great guide to pressing issues and what you can do to make a difference. Guidestar guides you to non-profit contributions. Volunteer Match helps locate volunteer opportunities in your locale. Online areas like Ebay's Auction for America, raise money for 9.11 funds, while places like collect kids' messages of support for U.S. servicemen and others. To date, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised online, while hundreds of thousands of supportive messages have been sent.

  Volunteering and Contributing: Going forward, I'm hoping to build Give as you Live into an engine that can help individuals, organizations and corporations to identify and act on (with their time, talents, purchases and investments) the differences that they are uniquely poised to make. For example, an individual who enjoys biking and children might want to join a Big Brothers/Sisters program, while an individual who enjoys biking and health can participated in Aids and Multiple Sclerosis Bike-a-thons in his/her locale. An ISP company that specializes in local access and has an innovative corporate culture might opt to partner with and wire a local school -- encouraging their employees to guest teach classes and mentor youth. For now, I simply hope that you will look into your hearts and give where, what and when you can.

Despite recent devastation and continued uncertainty, I believe we are living as stronger people in unprecedented times -- showing faith in the face of fear, drawing closer to self and others, caring compassionately about humanity, and thinking brilliantly out of the box.

May this renewed spirit of living and giving remain with us always. And may all the joys of the season be yours.

Warmly and looking forward,

Wendy Dubit, Vergant




  WENDY@VERGANT.COM 301.530.0684
fax 301.530.5869