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 »
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.
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.
April 17, 2011 § 3 Comments
Documentaries are a staple in our household. We watch them as religiously as some families follow their favorite sitcoms or catch up on the evening news. This evening, I finally got around to watching “The End of the Line“, based on the book by Charles Clover with the same title. If you haven’t watched it yet and are one for documentaries, I highly recommend it.
The documentary discusses the fishing industry and focuses on the current state of the health of our oceans – and more importantly, the expected degradation we can expect if we do nothing to change our attitudes and behaviors. Having gone diving in some local waters that have been depleted of ocean life and also others that are protected areas that were teaming with life, I have to say the documentary struck a particularly sensitive cord in me. What a shame if within our generation we saw some of our most beloved fish disappear into extinction and the waters look as barren as they already do in some parts.
Upon finishing the documentary, I went to the film’s website where they have more information about what the average person can do, and updated news links about the fishing industry. They also provide links to other sites that give listings of restaurants (unfortunately, mainly in the United States) according to a sustainability ratings, as well as recommended fish to eat and to avoid – based on current population levels. For a detailed pocket fish guide (PDF) of the recommended fish to avoid and eat, you can download it here.
I’ve included a summary chart of the top ten fish to avoid and to eat below, in case it’s of interest to you. I know it was to me.
If you’d like more details about why each of the fish is listed in either the avoid or eat list, you can find the original chart on the The End of the Line website. Just select the fish you’re interested and more content will appear.
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 »
September 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Yesterday afternoon, Carrie James, Harvard research director, presented her findings of US youth online behavior around ethics at Mashable’s Social Good Summit. What Carrie found was interesting. Generally speaking, the youth she interviewed seemed to display little to no consideration of ethics in their behavior and interactions online.
This was a strong statement. So what did she mean by online ethics?
Ethics were defined by five areas of study, with a focus on the last one for the presentation: identity, privacy, ownership and authorship, credibility, and participation. Participation was the way youth interacted and behaved online in a way that on the one hand may involve hate speech in social forums and cheating in mass multi-player games, and on the other hand how youth may leverage social sites like Facebook only to circulate funny videos rather than sharing more serious ideas, struggles, and contributing to civic, political, and humanitarian causes. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 11, 2010 § 2 Comments
One man’s dream and vision is now a reality and having global implications and impact. At the Techonomy conference in San Francisco last week, Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of MIT’s Media Lab and the One Laptop per Child foundation, about the program he grew into an international phenomenon.
Perhaps one of the most notable comments Negroponte made about the recent success of One Laptop per Child was that fifty per cent of the children in Peru who use One Laptop Per Child have been observed to be teaching their parents how to read and write. The program is not perfect, with many children still lacking access to the internet, an issue that is still being worked on; however, the latest results are still worth applauding.
A video clip of Negroponte’s talk is below.
June 10, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In a recent report by Reuters, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn is offering its workers at the Shenzhen plant an opportunity for a 66 per cent wage increase in reaction to the recent wave of suicides and deaths. It’s an “opportunity” for wage increase as employees would need to pass a three-month performance review for the opportunity to earn 2,000 yuan ($300 CDN) a month. Employees would also be provided the option to work overtime, “making it more voluntary than in the past”.
The wage increase comes in addition to a universal 30 per cent pay increase on the cash portion of wages that was recently announced, as well as the installation of safety nets at the factory as a preventative measure to suicide attempts. All of which are notably tactical reactions. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 27, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Earth Hour started four hours ago in its founding city, Sydney, Australia, and has since been making it’s way around the world. Since then cities small and large have been demonstrating their concern for climate change by silently, yet powerfully, turning off their lights for an hour at the stroke of 8:30pm-local time.
Here in Toronto, we still have a solid eleven hours ahead of us. And for you – are you going to participate?
I’ve heard, in the past, a lot of cynicism and critique around Earth Hour. “Why participate? What’s an hour going to do?”
My comment to this is two-fold.
The first is that Earth Hour is not about the actual energy saved around the world. It’s about awareness, choice and social change. It’s about taking a stand through something as simple as turning off your lights for an hour, and bringing to the surface how that simple act is already a contribution. We waste so much energy in the developed world – amongst so many other things (water’s another good candidate). And if only for that one hour, we think about how much we consume and actually need, that’s a good thing.
The second is around actual impact. Environmental impact, energy savings, and for the individual, money back in the pocket. The small act of turning off your lights for the one hour may be miniscule in the grand scheme of things, but it’s not just about you – it’s about the collective. In 2009, cities all over the world noted decreases in energy consumption in their locales. For Toronto, we saw a 15% decrease in electricity usage. Around Southern Ontario, the energy savings amounted to 88.3 megawatts (the equivalent electricity to power 1,471 average-size homes for 24-hours). In a country like the Philippines, the savings came to 611 megawatts of electricity, which for that small country was estimated to be the equivalent of shutting down twelve coal-fired power plants for an hour. Who said there’s no impact?
When we act as a part of something bigger, the result can be enormous and even miraculous. Big change comes from the small actions of people who believe in something more. And there’s empowerment in that. The best part is that we get to choose.
I don’t know about you, but at 8:30-ET tonight, I’m turning my lights off.
April 8, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Behind every change is an inspiration for change. Something that grabs us and compels us to do something. Growing that seed of inspiration into something with a resemblance to change takes expression, action, and sharing. And that – starts in the kernel of words. Within words are our expressed thoughts, decisions and ultimately, a means towards shared understanding with other people. They have the power to move or to stall, empower or to belittle. And they have the power to inspire towards something more, something desired – something changed.
So what’s in a word? Inspiration. Empowerment. Movement. Momentum… Change. What do you want to change? Maybe you should put it down in words.