Thursday, June 25, 2015

It’s time for a change! We will no longer be posting on this city blog, but make sure to check out our National Blog where you can find anecdotes from your Oxfam Action Corps Organizers and dedicated volunteers. The National Blog will feature events from across the country, important action items and news from Oxfam America. We hope you will move with us!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Reminder: It's Time to Become an Action Corps City Organizer!

Hello Everyone!

Let's talk about Action Corps: it is awesome. Period. No two ways about it. And luckily, it is once again that great time to join this amazing group of individuals as an Organizer!

Check out our page for more information about our locations in 16 different cities, the job description, and the application! And look below at what other Organizers have said about their experiences...

"This is leadership in practice. You can't just read a book on leadership. You have to put it into practice." --Jill Mizell, Researcher, New York

"Oxfam Action Corps has given me a ton of confidence... Gaining knowledge and being able to speak to people about the issues." --Amy L., Business Operations Analyst, Des Moines

"This has become one of the best parts of my life... I can't express enough how satisfying it is to be organizing with people who are just as committed and dependable and passionate. It is so great to have the support from the Oxfam America staff, and I've been really impressed by their accessibility, competency and friendliness." --Isaac E., Educator, New York City

Ready to join them? Apply to be an organizer or if you aren't ready yet, consider volunteering with any Action Corps in efforts to help Oxfam fight hunger and social injustices! Remember, Oxfam is here to Right the Wrong so come join us! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You know Oxfam, you love Oxfam, now lead Oxfam in your hometown

Leadership opportunity:  Organize in your community to end global hunger – join the Oxfam Action Corps! 

Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, invites you to play a leading role in the Oxfam Action Corps, an exciting grassroots effort to stand up to poverty, hunger, and injustice around the world – starting right in your community.  The Oxfam Action Corps is a group of trained grassroots advocates in fifteen US cities who organize with other local volunteers in support of our GROW campaign for policies that will save lives, defend the rights of women and farmers, and protect communities worldwide from rising food prices and climate change.  It includes a free national advocacy and leadership training for select participants. You will gain leadership skills, have fun, and change the world!

Sign-up by February 14 to apply for Oxfam’s free four-day leadership training in Washington D.C. April 5-8, 2014.  

"This is leadership in practice. You can't just read a book on leadership. You have to put it into practice." - Jill Mizell, Researcher, New York

“Oxfam Action Corps has given me a ton of confidence… Gaining knowledge and being able to speak to people about the issues.”  - Amy L., Business Operations Analyst, Des Moines

"This has become one of the best parts of my life… I can't express enough how satisfying it is to be organizing with people who are just as committed and dependable and passionate. It is so great to have the support from the Oxfam America staff, and I've been really impressed by their accessibility, competency and friendliness." – Isaac E., Educator, New York City

View and share the short video below, highlighting the great work done by the Action Corps.

Sign up at by February 14

Our Voices Have Been Heard: Coca-Cola Agrees to Zero Tolerance Policy for Land Grabs

Here is a great post from the Action Corps in the San Francisco Bay area, highlighting our work and success with the campaign!

Original post can be found at:

Our Voices Have Been Heard: 

Coca-Cola Agrees to Zero Tolerance Policy for Land Grabs


Ladies and Gentlemen, our hard work is paying off! All of our hours spent volunteering, campaigning, speaking out, and signing petitions is showing fruition. Over 225,000 people called for action to prevent land grabs and Coca-Cola has heard us. The food and beverage giant Coca-Cola has agreed to respect and protect the land rights of indigenous communities from which it sources its sugar. Specifically, Coca-Cola has agreed to:

  1. A zero tolerance policy on land grabs
  2. A “know and show” policy relating to being held accountable and aware of land rights and conflicts within its supply chain
  3. To support responsible agriculture investment and to advocate for governments and others to tackle land grabbing;
Sugar production requires a vast amount of land and is currently at an all time high triggering land conflicts and abuse. Coca-Cola is the largest sugar producer in the world making this news all the more amazing. Coca-Cola is the first beverage and food company to take such a stand, but should not be the last. For more information on this breaking news visit

Our mission and work does not end here. PepsiCo and Associated British Foods are some of the largest sugar producers in the world and as such we are urging them to follow in Coca-Cola’s footsteps and make a change in relation to the allowance of land grabs within their supply chains. In order to do this we need your help.

What Can You Do to Stop This?

Start by signing Oxfam's current petition to urge Pepsi-co and Associated British Foods to follow Coca-Cola’s example and hold themselves accountable for the land and human rights atrocities occurring in their supply chains. These huge companies have the market power to pressure their suppliers into committing to zero tolerance land grab policies and you have the power to pressure these food and beverage giants into stepping up and standing against land grabs. Make sure your voice is heard.

Then share the following messages:

Via Twitter

Tell @PepsiCo & #ABF to take action against land grabs! #BehindTheBrands

Via Facebook

Post the following message to PepsiCo's Facebook page

Stop land grabs! Tell PepsiCo and ABF—some of the biggest buyers of sugar in the world—to make sure their sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs that force poor farmers and their families off their land. #BehindTheBrands!

Typhoon Haiyan: Relief and Rehabilitation

This week, we are sharing a post from Oxfam Action Corps NYC volunteer Nikko Viquiera. Read on for his personal take on the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan and the steps towards recovery.

When news of a super typhoon about to hit central Philippines started coming out last month, many Filipinos, including me, shrugged it off and went on with our regular schedule, knowing that country gets an average of 22 typhoons annually. A day after the typhoon came; news outlets reported less than a hundred dead people. People thought it could have been worse and were glad that it wasn’t as big of a tragedy as other major typhoons have been in the past.

Days later, nothing could have prepared us for the breadth and depth of the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan. To date, over 5,000 people and counting are dead and 10 million other Filipinos have been affected in one way or another.

As a former Program Officer for Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP), I used to visit volunteers in Samar, one of the hardest hit regions by the typhoon. JVP sends volunteers to marginalized communities around the country to serve as educators, youth formators and community organizers. One such community is Lawaan in Eastern Samar. It was a small, quiet town by the sea, where many fish and farmed for a living. I would visit the parish school where volunteers where assigned as educators for high school students. The community would always be very welcoming, serving me the best food and accommodation they had to offer when they did not have much.

One afternoon, I remember some of the students in the Parish school invited me to ring the 6:00 pm bell. We climbed the bell tower beside the Church, just as the sun was beginning to set. As I rang the bells that echoed through the town, the sun began to set on the people going home after a day’s work, on the children playing in the streets and the coconut trees that stood as tall as the bell tower.

Today, most of the town has been destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. The once mighty coconut trees have fallen, along with many houses, the school and the church. A more recent picture shows that only the bell tower remains standing amidst a sea of debris and destruction.

And so it is for many other towns ravaged by the typhoon in Eastern Samar, Palawan and Cebu. Dead bodies are everywhere, waiting for surviving relatives to recognize and claim them. Just this week, 120 bodies were discovered under the San Juanico Bridge, the longest one in the country. Reports describe residents walking around aimlessly like zombies. They are dazed and confused, with no work to do and no house to go home to. As such, many have flown to cities such as Manila in search of jobs, anything to get away from the rubble of their previous lives, only to find themselves homeless and jobless in a city that can be as unkind and apathetic as a typhoon.

Yet in the darkness of the devastation shines the generosity of people. More developed countries such as the US, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom have pledged millions of dollars in relief. Relief agencies such as Oxfam, Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services were quick to respond and have been present in the region since Day 1.Oxfam Pilipinas, in particular, through the generous donations of people all over the world, has been working to provide clean water and sanitation to victims of the typhoon. Individuals and small groups have organized themselves and made efforts to raise funds for the victims of the typhoon. In Manila, people have offered to take turns feeding and keeping those, who left their homes in search of livelihood, stranded in the airports company.

But as news of the typhoon and its deadly effects begin to fade in the news, the more difficult task of rebuilding and rehabilitation is just starting. How does one rebuild thousands of houses, roads and structures from the ground up, all at the same time? How do we bring back livelihood to towns where even trees no longer stand? How do we begin to bring back hope to those who are still counting their dead and their losses? How do we begin anew?

A month has passed since the typhoon killed thousands of people and left survivors hungry, homeless and jobless. And yet many groups and individuals continue to work in the Haiyan areas, this time with a focus on rehabilitation. Oxfam, for example, has distributed rice seeds to rural areas to help farmers earn income again.

Many have pointed to the resilience of the Filipino people to withstand any tragedy as the main key to rehabilitation. But as Christmas nears, and the tenuous task of rehabilitation unfolds before us, we realize that resilience is not enough. We also need critical minds, calm spirits and skilled, tireless hands that move together like waves in strength and unison.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Intro to the incoming Oxfam Columbus Action Corps Co-Leaders

The national Oxfam Action Corps blog has made public short profiles of the new pairs of organizers for its 15 volunteer-run action corps across the country.

Without further delay, please take a peek at what Jeremy Ward and Lydia Bailey have to say about their backgrounds and interest in volunteering with the Columbus Action Corps.

Jeremy Ward has had the opportunity to call a few places his home. However, he has lived in Columbus for 9 years now. He studied at The Ohio State University for International Economics with a focus on agriculture. After learning of Oxfam’s work, Jeremy became interested in the organization which seemed to fit right along the lines of his. He looks forward to leading the Action Corps in Ohio and achieving Oxfam’s mission of righting the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice.

Lydia Bailey lives near Columbus and volunteers with the Ohio State University to protect water quality in the Great Lakes Watershed with the F.T. Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie. She is working with some friends on smaller projects to accomplish goals similar to those of Oxfam in both Bolivia and Peru with some particularly impoverished populations in the Andes Mountains. She is inspired by the goals Oxfam works to accomplish, and is certain that the Action Corps will make great progress this coming year.

The incoming leaders will attend training from April 13-16 in Washington, D.C. and assume responsibility for the Columbus Action Corps soon after their return.

Please join me in welcoming Jeremy and Lydia to the Oxfam community! 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Expert's guide: How to properly taste chocolates

Temptation thy name is chocolate, at least for some of us with a nearly insatiable sweet tooth.

The urge to clumsily tear off the packaging of your favorite holiday treats and wolf them down  as quickly as you can is something difficult to overcome, but the complex and multi-dimensional flavors of chocolates might give you reason enough to try.

Nationally acclaimed chocolate expert Clay Gordon discussed the steps involved in a proper chocolate taste test during the Columbus Action Corps' "Sweet Justice: Choosing Chocolates" program on Thursday, March 21. During his lecture, Gordon explained the five steps involved in chocolate tasting.

They are as follows:

Get a whiff of cocoa goodness 
You may find:
A combination of subtle, strong or clear smells.
Chocolate combined with other smells, such as vanilla.
Differing levels of sweetness of chocolate smell.

A woman takes a small sample of chocolate, closes her eyes, focuses and inhales its scent.  No specific skill is needed to assess the aroma of chocolates, just focus.  Credit:

Take a good look.
Dark chocolates are shinier than other types.
Surface of quality chocolates range from matte sheen to glossy.
Avoid chocolates with white powdery substance on the outside. It indicates improper storage and preparation.
Pinholes in chocolate means the air bubbles were not removed in process. No effect on taste.

A random photograph of chocolates that have a quality surface with no pinholes or other worrisome imperfections. Credit:

It is a snap

After smelling and seeing the chocolate, take it between your fingers and break it into pieces.
Dark chocolate should have a crisp snap.
Other chocolates have a brittle snap. This may an indication of age and/or improper storage. Negatively affects taste.

A bar of chocolates is broken into smaller pieces after being  smelled and examined. Credit:
To chew or to melt
Breathe in smell of chocolate as you begin to eat it. 
Chew just 3 to 5 times, paying close attention to textures and try to label them. Smooth, waxy, dry, sandy, uneven sugar crystal sizes?
Do you like or dislike the textures?
After chewing the chocolate, press it against the roof of your mouth and let it melt.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply through your nose to try to recognize the smells of the chocolate.
Work from more general flavors to more specific.

Anonymous chocolate addict tries and succeeds to slow down and take small bites of the sweet to  truly taste it. Credit:

First Taste Zones
Initial taste: First flavor of chocolate in mouth: fruitiness, bitterness, intensity of chocolate flavor and sweetness.
Middle Taste: When chewing chocolate, you will detect flavors such as woody, earthy, tobacco, herbs, floral, etc.

Woman's facial expression changes as she takes bites of chocolate and slowly chews and  then lets the chocolate melt. Credit:

Short aftertaste: A good chocolate will leave a “clean and clear” aftertaste on the tongue. Chocolates made with oils other than cocoa butter may leave a pasty feeling on the tongue.

Long aftertaste: (30 sec. after chocolate out of mouth) is how you measure quality chocolate. Should leave no off taste. Most people don’t slow down enough for this taste.

Girl smiles as the complex aftertastes of the chocolate settle on her tongue. Credit:

NOTE: All tips and more chocolate tasting advice can be found in Clay Gordon's Book "Discover Chocolate: The Ultimate Guide to Buying, Tasting and Enjoying Fine Chocolate." You can also learn more about the different types of chocolates and how Gordon rates them by visiting his website,, or by following him on Twitter at @DiscoverChoc.

Looking at all of Gordon's helpful and easy chocolate tasting tips, I hope that you are able to exercise a teeny bit of impulse control and try to slow down and savor the deep and earthy tastes of chocolates. Please remember, this advice holds true for other occasions--Christmas, Valentine's Day, rough Mondays and other  emergencies.

Now, go enjoy your chocolates!

  1. Jessica J. Burchard, Oxfam Columbus Action Corps Co-Leader 2012-2013