April 28, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The not for profit sector is a topic that has been frequenting mealtime conversation in my circles lately. So, when I watched Dan Pallotta‘s TED Talk about (in his words) “how the things we’ve been taught to think about giving and about charity and about the non profit sector are actually undermining the causes we love and our profound yearning to change the world”, I was struck by how ripe the conversation was and how strongly his words resonated.
In a time when the new generations entering the workforce are increasingly driven to find fulfilling work that ties into social good, and organizations are faced with growing pressure to operate more transparently, taking into account a deeper set of social, environmental, and financial responsibilities… the social good and cause sector is evolving far beyond just philanthropy and sponsorship. It is becoming an integral part of business, our social fabric, and an expectation. The not for profit sector can’t help but also experience a shift alongside this evolution.
Pallotta has a great deal of experience and expertise in the area being the intellectual powerhouse who invented the multi-day charitable event through AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days years ago, and activated a tremendous amount of support and participation through his events and initiatives. But these successes were not without their challenges – which he gets into in his talk.
Aside from perfectly articulating the core disadvantages he feels the charity-sector faces, Pallotta sends a compelling message about how we think about charities, giving, and not for profit and the ideological shift required to really make a difference. It’s inspiring.
At the heart of his talk, Pallotta speaks to five major areas where non profits are disadvantaged when compared to for profits. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Little Emma Lavelle was born with a genetic disorder, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which causes stiff joints and very underdeveloped muscles – meaning Emma would never be strong enough to lift or use her arms.
Enter the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), created by Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. The device was a combination of hinged metal bars and resistance bands that together could prop up the underdeveloped arms of children like Emma. The benefit? The WREX would allow children to finally be able to hold up and move their arms independently. Playtime and feeding were now possible. As luck would have it, Emma’s mom was present at a conference where members of the research and design team were giving a presentation, demonstrating its uses. In the demonstration, a boy with underdeveloped arms was able to use his arms with the support of the WREX.
Could this be the solution they were looking for?
However, after discussing and meeting Emma and her parents, the Nemours team found that their WREX device was far too big and heavy for the small, two year old girl. It was also designed for use with a wheelchair, and Emma could walk on her own.
The solution: their Stratasys 3D printer. They normally used the printer to make prototypes of their designs, this time, the printer would be used to make the real thing. And what a success! Not only could the parts be customized for Emma’s size, but the new WREX was now light enough for Emma to walk around with and to use. Playtime and feeding became possible, and most of all, she could now hug her mom.
February 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Meet Hug It Forward: a not-for-profit that has dedicated itself to building schools in communities in need of them all around Guatemala through the innovative use of materials that exist in abundance, and even better, are inexpensive and accessible: plastic bottles and inorganic trash. Their model is similar to that of the Bottle School Project Illac Diaz pioneered in the Philippines, but is approached in a slightly different way.
Rather than being filled with adobe, as was the case in Illac Diaz’s schools, the bottles are filled with inorganic trash found in around the communities, which serve as insulation when the walls to up. The bottles then lined up and held together between layers of chicken wire attached to a metal frame. Other materials, like wood beams are used as the support frames for the classrooms, and concrete walls layered on over top.
Since the projects started in 2009, Hug It Forward has worked with communities around Guatemala to complete fifteen schools, with two more underway and ten more needing funding. In each project, whole communities have gotten involved – from collecting and stuffing the bottles, to building and putting up the infrastructure. Their first bottle school project used up over 5,000 plastic bottles and over 2,050 pounds of trash to build two classooms that now houses 297 children and youth attending the school.
The next trip leaves in a few days on February 7th, which may be too soon, but there are also two trips leaving in March on the 2nd and 24th. Their booking site also stays current with upcoming trips.
October 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
On March 11, 2011, the Highland Companies — backed by a US hedge fund, the Baupost Group — applied for a license to excavate a quarry in southwestern Ontario, just north of Orangeville. The quarry would be the largest Canada has ever seen and span 2,316 acres. For those living in the area, this would be the equivalent of the area in Toronto from the Don Valley Parkway to Dufferin Street, and St. Clair Avenue down to Lake Ontario. Of particular importance is the destruction of precious Class 1 farmland, which would result from the excavation, as well as the impact to the water in the area. The proposed quarry would plunge 200 feet below the water table, which feed in the headwaters of five rivers. The result would be that 600-million-litres of water would need to be pumped from the mega quarry every day, in perpetuity.
What is especially disturbing is that this prime farmland was originally purchased with the stated intent of farming it. However, immediately upon consolidating ownership of the land, Highland Companies has turned around and promptly filed application for a mega limestone quarry; a quarry that will destroy the high-quality soil of Ontario’s farming heartland, disrupt the waters of 5 major rivers for generations to come, require water pumping generators to pump the water in perpetuity due to the permanent disruption of the underlying water table, and create immeasurable impact to the vast acres of neighbouring farmland, not to mention very real potential of pollution of the pristine water that currently serves over one million Ontario residents.
More information about this issue can be found at Canadian Chefs Congress.
In particular, on October 16th from 11am to 5pm, an event will be held where Chef Michael Stadlander and 70 other of Canada’s best Chefs will be cooking in solidarity with the movement to Stop the Mega Quarry. Be there to share the land and make a stand. Tickets are pay what you can and can also be bought either through the site, or at the event the day of. All proceeds will go towards assisting with the legal costs of fighting the Mega Quarry.
Thank you very much for reading this post, and do pass the word along. This land and water is ours. We have an opportunity to take a stand, so let’s take it.
September 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
They call him “Solar Demi”. The man known in their community as the god-send who is illuminating their homes. Demi is a volunteer who is a part of the Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Litre of Light) project.
The latest brainchild of Illac Diaz of the MyShelter Foundation, Isang Litrong Liwanag is a project that aims to bring sustainable lighting to some of the poorest communities in the Philippines. The concept, designed and developed by students at MIT, is surprisingly simple. Filtered water and a few tablespoons of bleach are placed into a 1L plastic bottle and a metal sheet is affixed around the bottle with a sealant to seal the seams. A hole the circumference of the bottle is then punched into the metal sheet roof of the home, and the bottle is placed through the hole and attached to the roof. The result: a previously dark home that relied heavily on electrical connections, that can be faulty and present fire hazards, can now be illuminated with free, and clean solar light during the day.
Each eco-friendly Solar Bottle Bulb transmits the equivalent of approximately 55-60 watts of light from the sun, and can last up to 5 years. The bleach in the filtered water prevent algae from building up in the bottle, extending the life of the simple bulb.
As of this year, over 10,000 bottle lights have been installed in underprivileged homes across Manila and the nearby province of Laguna. Isang Litrong Liwanag and MyShelter Foundation aim to install bulbs to light up a million homes by 2012.
To make a donation, or to volunteer for this amazing cause, go to Isang Litron Liwanag.
April 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The Girl Effect was created by The Nike Foundation in collaboration with partners like the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Since then, there have been a number of initiatives and organizations that have taken on the movement with their own campaigns that focus on girls in combating poverty and illiteracy.
Assume this initial condition: A 13 year old girl stands at a crossroads with two choices before her: school or child marriage. The problem is it’s not usually a choice.
Married, she is more likely to die from childbirth at an early age; she is more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases; she is more prone to become a victim of partner violence; she never receives an education; and she is unable to contribute to society in a way that has a larger social impact and helps to push the human race forward.
With an education she marries later in life—to someone she chooses. She decides the timing of her children and is in a position to make decisions about her own health. She invests money in her children’s health and education, and is able to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Other people recognize her value and contributions, and begin to understand that all girls have value.
Multiply that scenario by the 600 million girls in the developing world and it’s easy to comprehend how a small change in an initial condition is capable of determining the course of humanity. That is powerful.
The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart.
That’s a powerful message – and the brilliant design and execution of this campaign make the message even more powerful.
For more information about the girl effect and/or to contribute to the cause, go to girleffect.org.
January 31, 2011 § 2 Comments
With the momentum and outrage that has been building up behind the CRTC’s ruling to give our monopoly telecommunication companies the approval to implement usage-based internet billing as of March of this year, another blow to the social fabric of Canadian communications is lurking quietly in its shadow. In this case, the CRTC is trying to ease up on a ban that states that broadcasters “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news“.
How, you might ask?
The CRTC would like to loosen the regulation to only ban “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.” The key operative is found in the word “and”. Namely, “… false or misleading AND that endangers… lives, health or safety of the public.” It’s such a small word and seemingly small amendment, but the consequences are monumental. What this means is that the law only applies to broadcast news that may endanger lives, health or public safety – broadcasters can’t provide false or misleading information within those parameters. Anything else? Fair game… « Read the rest of this entry »
January 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
Today, the Commission that was assembled by President Obama immediately after the Deep Water Horizon gulf oil disaster released their final report about the disaster.
The verdict: If the industry does not change how they operate and the government does not adjust its regulative policies, another disaster is inevitable.
That’s a frightful forecast.
Even if you did not follow the news reports around the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a quick scan of the table of contents within the report would give you a very good sense of the events that led up to and followed the oil spill that was labeled “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”. From Part 1, “The Path to Tragedy” and the quote, “Everyone involved with the job… was completely satisfied…” through Part 2, “Explosion and Aftermath” – “But, who cares, it’s done, end of story [we] will probably be fine and we’ll get a good cement job” to the final section, Part 3, “Lessons Learned” – “Safety is not proprietary“, the table of contents powerfully highlights the milestone perspectives that characterized the disaster at every point.
Overall, the report gives a methodical take on the events leading up to and giving rise to the disaster, and the actions (and inactions) taken that caused further difficulty. Finally, and probably of the most value, are the recommendations for changes in how the oil industry currently operates and the level of government regulation required.
Below is the summary of conclusions the Commission made, coming out of their six-month investigative report.
- The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.
- The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.
- Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future.
- To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fundamental reform will be needed in both the structure of those in charge of regulatory oversight and their internal decisionmaking process to ensure their political autonomy, technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.
- Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement.
- The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry must support rather than resist that effort.
- Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more drilling, such as the Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural impacts of oil spills.
The report is available for free download. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading it. It’s well-written, easy to follow, and fascinating. More than that, it’s a window into the changes necessary to prevent future disasters such as the Deep Water Horizon oil spill from happening again and spotlighting those who are accountable for change.
October 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
On October 12th, City Councilman Joel Burns, addressed the Fort Worth City Council, and any parents and youth that might be watching the broadcast with a message that was close to his heart: to the young people who may be facing bullying because they are different, hang in there, “it gets better”.
He began his address with a review of the recent spate of suicides that have been a result of bullying of teens who were perceived to be gay or lesbian. One by one, the Council heard the stories young teens who have taken their lives recently because of bullying: Asher Brown (13 years old), Billy Lucas (15 years old), Justin Aaberg (15 years old), Seth Walsh (13 years old), and finally Zach Harrington (19 years old), who hung himself after attending a City Council meeting. Already, the passionate words of the Councilman were moving to hear in highlighting the important issue of bullying that needs to be addressed. Then in a courageous move, he started to share his own personal story of bullying and coming to terms with his sexual orientation. The speech he gave to the City Council would be the first time he had ever spoken of certain events and reflections of his life, and in those tearful moments, he held captive all who were listening… and all who would come to listen to his address. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Late last week, I came across a blog post by Dr. Cleve W. Stevens, the founder and President of Owl Sight Intentions, Inc., giving his perspective on BP’s management of the Gulf oil spill earlier this year.
He talks about the differentiation between a transactional approach to operations, problem-solving, and leadership, compared with a transformational approach. My own personal interpretation is that much of the world still operates within a transactional paradigm, driven by the short-term motivation of economic profits. A transformational way of being occurs when a greater vision is taken on that strives towards enabling the personal growth and holistic well-being and betterment of other people and a community alongside a person or organization’s development. It is a long-term motivation driven by mutual benefit and sustainability. Dr. Stevens uses BP as an excellent example highlighting not only the difference between the two approaches, but also the magnitude of the outcomes: both potential and actual.
The original post can be found at CSRwire’s Talkback blog and I have also included it here below. I highly recommend reading it. It’s not only a great read, but offers compelling insight into the way companies and individuals carry themselves. If nothing else, it presents interesting food for thought.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what kind of leader or company you want to be.