U.S. National Parks Try New Ways To Appeal To Minorities

Cesar Chavez monument - national parks
Flickr, Sam Garcia for the City Project

While U.S. national parks see millions of annual visitors, only 1 in 5 are non-white, and Hispanics (the fastest-growing demographic in America) account for only 1 in 10 visitors. The New York Times just reported about programs hoping to increase visitor diversity by engaging minority audiences with targeted blogger content and highlighting American Latino and African American contributions to park history.

Non-profit organizations are working with the Parks Service and adventure outfitters to market the fitness benefits of the parks, create new attractions, and recruit more minorities to work in the Parks Service. Blogger Carol Cain was selected for one of the American Latino Expeditions and wrote on her blog about making the parks part of her (Latina) heritage, but also warned about the sense of “isolation” she felt as one of the few people of color in the parks.

The National Parks will be free to all on September 28 for National Public Lands Day, and again in November for Veterans Day weekend.

Princess Cruises Veterans Day Spirit Starts At The Top

Princess Cruises Veteran's Day

At Princess Cruises, a deep respect for veterans starts at the top. Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew, himself a Vietnam veteran, has shared his story with fans of Princess Cruises on the line’s engaging “50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List” blog. Princess Cruises offers a year-round Special Military Onboard Credit Program for veterans sailing with the line and has discount prices in honor of Veterans Day.

Now, Princess Cruises is marking Veterans Day by announcing an unprecedented cruise to support U.S. veterans, expected to raise $1 million for two highly regarded U.S. veteran non-profit organizations.

To support the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and Operation Homefront, Buckelew will be on board Caribbean Princess as host from November 5-9, 2013, sailing from Galveston to the Western Caribbean.”We all know someone – a family member, a neighbor, a friend, perhaps ourselves – who has served,” said Buckelew in a statement. “As a veteran myself, I know that America’s warriors face immeasurable challenges both during active duty and when they return home. I look forward to meeting many of our passengers on board to help us raise much-needed funds to assist our veterans.”

The four-day cruise, calling in Progreso, Mexico, is designed to raise $1 million for the organizations. $500,000 will be raised via a portion of each passenger’s cruise fare, and $500,000 will be matched by Princess Cruises.

Onboard programming
and activities, designed to honor those who have and are serving our country include guest lecturers, special topic panels, a Stars and Stripes Sailaway, service branch get-togethers, a film festival and more.

Perhaps even more significant, the cruise launches a new “Cruising for a Cause” initiative where Princess will dedicate entire sailings to support select charitable causes, providing the line’s passengers a way to make a difference even as they vacation.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user John M Cooper]

Art In Embassies Celebrates Serving Abroad …Through Their Eyes

Art in embassies

Art In Embassies
(AIE) is a program of the U.S. Department’s of State and Defense that promotes cross-cultural dialogue and understanding around the world through the visual arts, sponsoring dynamic artist exchanges. For five decades the public-private partnership program has played a big role in U.S. diplomacy. This month, in commemoration of Veterans Day, the AIE program announced the 12 “Best in Show” photographs featured in AIE’s 50th anniversary “Serving Abroad…Through Their Eyes photography exhibition.

Last year on Veterans Day, military, civil service and Foreign Service personnel were invited to submit photographs illustrating their life while serving abroad. Over 3,200 images were submitted, 161 finalists were chosen then the 12 “Best in Show” were identified.

“These photographs depict themes of friendship, places, faces, loss or triumph, providing a window on the complexity, diversity and courageous work performed by America’s heroes throughout the world,” said the U.S. Department of State in a release.

Today, AIE engages 20,000 artists, museums, galleries, universities and private collectors in more than 200 venues in 189 countries. Over 58 permanent collections have been installed in State Department facilities throughout the world.

See all the finalists here

In the video below we see artist Tom Gosford talking about the installation of his work in the U.S. Tijuana consulate, and a look at the Art in Embassies exhibition in the consulate.

The AIE 50th anniversary celebration features U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honoring five artists on November 30, presenting the first U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts for their outstanding commitment to the program.

[Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State]

Remembering the fallen

remembering the fallen
Today is Veterans Day, also known as Remembrance Day and Armistice Day because in 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War One ended.

For four years the nations of the world had torn each other apart. The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, the Ottoman Empire was mortally wounded, Germany’s Kaiser’s fell and so did Russia’s Czar. The world changed forever and 20 million people were dead.

There are countless monuments honoring those killed. The most powerful, I think, is this one. It’s called The Grieving Parents and was erected in 1932 by Käthe Kollwitz, a German artist. Kollwitz’s youngest son Peter was killed while serving in the German army. The monument is in the cemetery at Vladslo, Belgium, where he’s buried. The faces of the parents are those of Käthe and her husband. Her husband looks at Peter’s grave while Käthe bends over in grief. So many young men are buried in this cemetery that Peter’s name shares a tombstone with nineteen others.

Whether you’re on the road or staying at home today, there’s probably a war memorial near you where people are remembering the fallen. Take a moment to visit it, even if it’s for the “other side.” After all this time that doesn’t really matter.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

11 things to do on 11-11-11

11 things to do on 11-11-11

Tomorrow is a unique day on the calendar and one that should not go by without some sort of memorable event. For those who do not have anything planned on the palindromic date, consider our list of 11 things to do on 11-11-11.

  1. Propose– Getting close to asking the big question? This is the perfect day to ask. Decades from now you will thank us for suggesting this.
  2. Your first_____. Anything not yet tried that might turn into something you like to do later works. Skydiving, Surfing, Sushi come to mind.
  3. Private Tour of Manhattan by helicopter– This romantic excursion could very well be the backdrop for a romantic proposal soaring over the Big Apple.
  4. Niagara Falls Day Trip from New York– It’s a tour you can take where travelers explore the falls on both the US and Canadian sides including a ride on the historic ferry “Maid of the Mist.”
  1. Play the lottery/Be brave – Number freaks are all over this date. Buying a ticket at 11:11AM on 11-11-11 has got to be the best luck. In a bar at 11:11PM? The pick-up line options are endless. You too could be lucky.
  2. Quit Smoking– Obvious choice. Just had to throw that in. Better yet: travel someplace cool to do it.
  3. Fly to Vegas- No matter where you are, there always seems to be a flight available to Las Vegas. Maybe just fly there for dinner and come back. Maybe get married or re-married while there. MSNBC reports that over 3500 couples have applied to be married in Vegas on 11-11-11.
  4. Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour– Take off from Las Vegas Airport on an helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon. It’s a 45-minute helicopter flight each way, land deep in the canyon for a champagne picnic, and fly low over the Las Vegas neon Strip on your return.
  5. Take a hike– 11-11-11 is a great day to begin a new hobby or passion or dig up an old one you’ve not done in a while. OneDayOnEarth has plans similar to their hike on 10-10-10, so does RandomGroupOfHikers.
  6. Think about a veteran– 11-11-11 is also Veterans Day. Take a minute to think about someone you might know or know of who served in the military. Better yet, travel to where they are and thank them for their service.
  7. Meditate– Join others from around the world. “When the forces of Eleven become fully activated on earth, they have the power to change history in the making.” says AlchemyEvent.com, hosting a world-wide meditation on 11-11-11.

Flickr photo by Cryo Mariena