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June’s Sparklers: Those Who Choose to Shine

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Every month here at Dandelion Chandelier we like to celebrate the people, groups and institutions who have spread light in the world recently, even in the midst of great darkness. Every day around the world, people choose to shine in ways large and small. These moments of grace don’t always get reported on, and unfortunately they can be quickly forgotten. To inspire us all to keep reaching out, here are some Sparklers that caught our attention in recent weeks:

Miracle Messages is an organization that aims to reconnect homeless people with their loved ones; more than 500,000 Americans are homeless, and in many cases they have lost touch with their families. By recording and posting videos on social media, the group tries to re-establish contact. As the sister of one man found via this process said: “No one should be lost.”

Hats off to a sparkler who demonstrated in mid-June that the spirit of a super-hero quietly lives inside many of our neighbors: American Ballet Theater dancer Gray Davis rescued a 58-year-old man who was pushed by a stranger onto the subway tracks last Saturday night in Manhattan. He told the New York Times: “People were screaming to get help. But nobody jumped down. So I jumped down.” Bravo.

Dogeared, an LA-based jewelry company, generates 75% of its revenues from products made with recycled materials, offers all of its non-executive workers profit-sharing participation, and sources the majority of its products and materials from local vendors. Every piece is hand-crafted in their studio. Founder Marcia Maizel-Clarke is demonstrating that jewelry can be both beautiful and meaningful.

We give a tip of the hat to Agnes Gund, who announced in mid-June that she has sold her Roy Lichtenstein work “Masterpiece” for $165 million, with all proceeds going to fund an initiative for prison reform, to be administered by the Ford Foundation. Putting beliefs into action is an incredible way to shine.

Pure Living was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Lakshmi Menon, who was determined to reduce waste in her hometown of Kochi, India. The company makes pens from rolled wastepaper, with seeds inside so that when they’re discarded outdoors, a tree grows. Schools and corporations have started using them — we see pen forests on the horizon!

Belgium-based artist Pelagie Gbaguidi’s exhibit at Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany is a maze of paper scrolls covered in drawings based on her research of exclusionary laws in various countries. Their overall appearance is quite cheerful, and that’s by design: the artist says “The joy is my way of rebuilding history.” We love that!

Founded by Brittany Merrill Underwood, Akola Jewelry is a project committed to empowering women in poverty; the Akola collection features casual bracelets, beaded necklaces and earrings, each handcrafted by women from Uganda’s disadvantaged communities who’ve been trained in the craft of jewelry-making.  You can purchase items through Neiman Marcus.

Jacqueline Novogratz has launched several initiatives to alleviate global poverty, including Acumen America, which focuses on issues in the US. Her latest effort is a $100 million program to bring clean energy to 15 million people in East Africa. Thanks for showing how innovative ideas can help lift communities worldwide, Ms. Novogratz.

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