Joining you in the 12 days of Austin's Christmas is the heart of the holiday's bittersweetness, but a deeply fitting way to remember Austin and his beautiful quirky wonderful ways in the world.
And so again, I've spent a lot of time finding organizations that reflect different aspects of Austin and his commitments, selecting only those that were highly ranked by Charity Navigator or GiveWell, as we know he appreciated efficiency and its documentation based in thorough research. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on Austin's life and being in the world, and through the sadness of his loss to make some donations that honor the joy of his existence. And so with $1000 i am making donations of $200 each to the following organizations in Austin's name:
For his love of music and desire for spreading happiness--
Education Through Music (http://www.etmonline.org) is one of the two organizations I've kept from last year. ETM forms long term partnerships with New York City schools to establish and maintain music education programs, not only reaching thousands of students with music education
but providing the groundwork for sustained music education in public schools.
For his appreciation of nature and his love of the US west--
Wildearth Guardians (http://www.wildearthguardians.org) is an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and environmental health of the American West (this one honors Dayle too). They are active in many registers and in many places, including one of Austin's favorites, the Jemez Mountains, which they are studying and restoring as part of 'a living laboratory for climate change resilience and adaptation' (http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/PageServer?pagename=priorities_wild_places_jemez_mountains&AddInterest=1304#.VKNDlRagQds).
For his love of science and the humanity of his curiosity--
I will again donate to the 'Dispensers of Clean Water Initiative' of Evidence Action (evidenceaction.org). This small and recently formed organization was rated a 'top charity' by GiveWell last year. It is an organization that uses rigorous evidence and constant evaluation to understand what works for improving people's lives and well being in underdeveloped countries, and then 'scales it up' to reach the broadest population possible. In one of his college essays Austin remarked on the importance of identifying what works best and applying it broadly. Evidence Action does just that.
For his commitment to social justice and interest in helping others--
Robin Hood Foundation (https://www.robinhood.org) is an organization that fights poverty in New York City. I think Austin would appreciate that they fight poverty of the 'body, mind, and opportunity,' recognizing the connections among health, hunger, housing, learning, labor, and finding employment and the chance to be effective in the world. They do a lot of background research so that they help fund the 200 best organizations on the 'front lines of fighting poverty,' and a look at their grantees demonstrates this commitment and its rippling effects.
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCRjustice.org) is an educational and legal organization committed to the deepest 'pursuit of justice,' and the 'creative use of law as a positive force for social change.' In this year of so much injustice and state violence against individuals and groups nationally and internationally, I think Austin would appreciate the work CCR does. CCR received a 3 star ranking from Charity Navigator, but it was right at the border of 4, and I am less numerologically exacting than Austin was... But also I know that he thought with his heart as well as his mind, so I think he would have been a little forgiving here.
Thank you for sharing with all of us the chance to reflect on Austin and extend his beautiful presence in the world.