Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in January


Concert to Fight Poverty2014 is off and running! Whether you made New Year’s resolutions, intentions, goals, to dos, dreams, set a theme, or came up with guide words for the year, I hope that you included helping others in your vision.

After reading Beth Kanter’s blog post about setting a theme and choosing three words for the year (she borrowed these concepts from Peter Bregman and Chris Brogan), I chose “peace” as a theme (for myself and those around me), and for good measure repeated “peace” as one of my three words for the year, adding to it “relationships,” and “community.”

Here are five ways we can make a difference for our communities in the San Francisco Bay Area during this first month of 2014. Will you try one of these? If you do, let me know what happens. Happy New Year!

1. Fight Poverty Through Choral Music: Two South Bay churches, Trinity Cathedral and Stone Church of Willow Glen, are combining efforts to put on a Concert to Fight Poverty, 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12, at Trinity Cathedral, 81 N. 2nd St., San Jose. The choral concert features Saratoga composer Henry Mollicone’s “Beatitude Mass,” sometimes called the “Mass for the Homeless.” Tickets are $20; all proceeds go to Downtown Streets Team, and Trinity Cathedral’s social good programs. Call 408-315-4354 for reservations, or purchase at the door.

2. Start (or Keep) a Tradition of Volunteering on MLK Day of Service: Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 20. Organizations all over the Bay Area are offering service events that day and throughout the weekend which are perfect for individuals, groups or families to jump in and help. Visit the MLK Day of Service website to find a project near you.

3. Read! (and Listen): Silicon Valley Reads 2014 kicks off on Wednesday, Jan. 22, with a special event featuring both authors of the this year’s book selections for the theme, “Books and Technology: Friends of Foes?” Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, and Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, will be interviewed on stage by Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy. The event at the Campbell Heritage Theater, 1 W. Campbell Ave., Campbell, is free. There are no tickets; seating is first come first served, with doors opening at 6:45 p.m. for the 7:30 event.

4. Lean for Social Good: No, no, not Lean In. This is a different kind of lean—and leaning. The learning community Lean Impact is presenting the Lean for Social Good Summit on Thursday, Jan. 23, in San Francisco. Lean Impact was spun out of The Lean Startup wave that came out of a 2011 book by the same name written by Eric Ries. The Lean Startup was aimed at entrepreneurs challenging them to build and run startup companies in new ways. It didn’t take long for “Lean principles” to take root in the nonprofit world. The Lean for Social Good Summit will bring together nonprofit leaders to learn more about Lean principles, and how they can be adapted for their organizations. The highlight will be presentations by nonprofit leaders sharing their own stories of how they were helped by the principles.

5. Become a Mentor: January is National Mentoring Month, and you can find out more about becoming a mentor at the Youth Mentoring Conference, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Santa Clara County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., in San Jose. This free event will introduce a variety of local organizations that are in need of mentoring volunteers, and features keynote speaker Will Lopez of Homeboy Industries. Find out more at the South Bay Mentoring Coalition website. Another good source of information about mentoring opportunities in the region is the Bay Area Mentoring website.