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Posts from the ‘Social Change’ Category

Samsung’s Power Sleep app. Donate computing power while you sleep.

I think it’s safe to say that of all the “free giving” programs out there, Samsung’s Power Sleep app takes the prize. (And by “free giving” I mean programs that allow people to contribute to a good social cause while doing what they normally do anyway.) In case you haven’t heard about Power Sleep yet, the app was developed in collaboration with the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Vienna and donates your phone’s unused computing power to scientific research while you sleep. What kind of research, you might ask? How about research on cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer?

Researchers found that they didn’t have enough computing power to process the data they were working with. According to Dr Thomas Rattei, Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Vienna, “in order to fight diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer, we need to know how proteins are created. This requires series of tests that need immense computing power and this is where Power Sleep bridges the gap between science and society.”

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Remembering our veterans: One veteran’s transformation

I’m not going to lie, this one had me tearing up.

Just in time for Remembrance Day next Monday (or Veteran’s Day for those of you in the US), Dégagé Ministries worked closely with Rob Bliss Creative to release this beautiful time-lapse video showing the transformation of Jim Wolf, a US Army veteran who has struggled with homelessness, poverty, and alcoholism for decades.

The video is shows how much of a difference a hair cut, and new clothes can make. For Jim, it’s also the starting point he needed to start taking control of his own life. Since the film was shot in September 2013, Jim has started attending Alcoholics Anonymous for the first time and is scheduled to have his own housing.

It’s really worth watching as we remember those now passed on and those who are still with us who sacrificed greatly for us all. Lest we forget.

Billboard that creates potable water from the air

It all started with the impending start of the University of Engineering and Technology’s (UTEC) application period and its need to capture the attention of potential students. Based in Lima, Peru, where potable water is limited and the air humidity is 98%, the University launched a very different kind of campaign: a billboard advertising their school that also contained the technology necessary to capture the air humidity with an air filter and turning it into drinkable water through a condenser and water filter. Each billboard contained a water tank that could carry up to 20L of water.

UTEC not only showcases the very benefit of what their institution offers, but also developed a great way of building awareness and relationships with the very communities they want to draw students from at the grassroots level.

Everybody wins. And, it’s brilliant.

For the marketers and brands out there: how can you better integrate your product or service as a benefit to the communities you’re a part of? Is there a way of also integrating your messaging intrinsically into what you’re doing in a way that demonstrates what you offer – rather than just saying what you offer? Of course, not every product lends itself as beautifully to an idea and execution like UTEC, but perhaps there are other ways of bringing product offering and service to a community together that’s beyond donated dollars and the social responsibility programs often isolated from the rest of the company.

Something to think about.

Lest we forget: Time lapse video of Korean flag illustration

This time lapse video shows the progression and completion of an incredible freehand illustration of the Republic of Korea’s flag, done by Korean artist, Kim Jung Gi.

The evocative image carries an equally powerful message: “Never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of Korea’s independence.”

Seeing Kim Jung Gi’s illustration and video, I can’t help but think of the people around the world still fighting for their freedom, democracy, and voice. In these times for those of us living in a democracy, it’s important not only to remember, but also not to take it for granted.

Dan Pallotta: A call to change how we think about charity and fundraising

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 more

3D printed “magic arms” makes arm movement possible for 2-year old, Emma

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.

Hug It Forward: Schools built from bottles

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.

Image credit: Hug it Forward

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.

Hug It Forward also organizes week-long volunteer trips for those wanting to help build schools, and accepts donations through their website and Paypal.

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.

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