Monday, January 29, 2007


It starts with an idea.
But the more you think about it, the more muddled it becomes.
It's then that you choose to give up, or do something.
If you give up, you'll never start again.
If you do something, the first thing you do is admit that you fail your expectations.
It's once you accept the failures you have that you can start to succeed.

You will claim greater success than you believe you have accomplished.
If you don't feel this way, there are problems.

Give yourself entirely. Don't do so abandoning those and that who are there for you unconditionally.
Be present. It is doing this that will exact its greatest toll, that will challenge you more than any other challenge.
It is in being present that will guide you and reward you.

There are no rewards in doing what you do, when you are doing this.

The only reward comes when you have only seconds to savor what you have done.

It is when you draw your last breath, when you ask your final question, that the reward comes.

When darkness comes

After returning from a trip to Ikea, we noticed our neighborhood was looking "a little dark." It took our combined powers of deduction (which apparently, even when combined, didn't add up to much) a few minutes to figure out that our neighborhood was in the midst of its second power outage in six months.

Both our phones and both our laptops were totally out of juice... It was as if the heavens were insisting (if not forcing) us to spend at least part of our weekend totally unplugged. And well, it was entirely enjoyable. Jess made music, I trudged through Easterly's "White Man's Burden (all hail us searchers!!!) which requires a bit of trudging if you're not an economics major, and we had a relatively early night.

Sunday, we went to Blood Diamond which I had intended on skipping. I didn't want to suffer through a sensationalized drama of events that I'm way too emotionally connected to (I can watch CNN for that). But with the story of the film's director angrily that I had blogged about earlier in the week, I decided to give the movie a try.

For those of you have seen it, email me personally. I have an idea that is nothing short of revolutionary that each of us can do easily, if you were affected by the movie as I was.

I hope that should Blood Diamond be recognized by the Academy on Oscar Night, that whomever accepts the award(s), uses it as a platform to challenge all of the assembled celebrity audience to stop their gratuitous promotion of the Diamond Industry. Because it's not just blood diamonds (where blood has spilt caused by civil war and arms trade financed by "conflict diamonds") but equally damning is "dirt diamonds" which is the "legitimate" exploration of diamonds using slave labor and inflicting the most hazardous, hellish conditions on the poorest of people in African countries. Your diamond might be "clean" from blood but it is often not clean from the dirt and misery inflicted upon the people forced to labor for our vanity. Worse yet, this industry exists only because of our own vanity. Are we really that unimaginative or gullible that diamonds should still be a credible, genuine expression of our love for another?

I've got a simple way to fix this, to clean it all up. Seriously. It's the simplest thing I'm proposing, something we all can easily do but I'm not going to talk about it publicly until at least a few of you first contact me privately. So email me if you agree with me in the slightest.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Go forth

On a personal note, I was happy to have Gavin Hollett over at my apartment last night to give him a cheque from the funds he raised at GiveMeaning in support of bringing soccer to a remote, impoverished community in Ecuador. He leaves late tonight.

This project is very special to me for several reasons. Gavin and several other guys all in their early twenties have all played on soccer teams coached by my older brother, Hugh.

Gavin was inspired by Romeo Dallaire's account of seeing young kids in IDP camps during the Rwandan genocide, who despite being surrounded by death and evil, were laughing and smiling playing soccer with a soccer ball made out of plastic bags and twigs.

So this group of guys decided to start collecting used cleats and balls to bring to an impoverished community. It started slowly but gained momentum and credibility and as he leaves tonight, they have raised over $12,000 and received tons of donated equipment!

Late last week, Gavin and a few of his colleagues found out that Romeo Dallaire was speaking in Victoria. They managed to meet him personally and they have a great YouTube clip that they're going to upload of them with Romeo himself talking about what they are doing and applauding their effort.

I'm always excited to see a project get completed, but this project is extra special, given it's personal connection to me and my brother. I was really grateful and honored to hang out with him and his girlfriend on their last night together.

They will be uploading Flickr and YouTube content while in Ecuador. Their blog is also directly imported to their page at GiveMeaning. Check it out at

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A word to the wise

I'm still trying to figure out which was worse: Jennifer Garner's new movie "Catch & Release" or the smell of the middle-aged woman sitting next to me who kept burping the most horrid smell. Combined, it was a lethal combination. Even though it was a free screening, I feel like I should be reimbursed for my time.

Speaking of movies, the Beeb posted this article on an Oscar-night celebrity promotional campaign being organized by the US Diamond industry.

According to the article, the campaign called Raise Your Right Hand Ring for Africa campaign will donate "$10,000 (£5,000) to African charities for each star raising a hand with a ring at events including the Oscars."

The article quotes the director of the recent movie Blood Diamond as pointing out the cruel irony "that the raising of one's hand and the using of one's hand to vote was the prompt for the Revolutionary United Front to chop off hands in Sierra Leone (where the movie chronicles the use of diamonds to fuel the bloody civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over a third of the country's entire population).

The spokesperson for the Diamond Information Center (the group organizing this promotional campaign) said in response to Blood Diamond's director: ""It's sort of strange that someone who is apparently so concerned about the needs of Africans is making public statements to stop jewellers from making large amounts of money available to African charities. It's unfortunate because it may be that people hear this and hear this very unfortunate connection that has been constructed, and decide not to do it."

The spokesperson goes on to say "The people who would be hurt by that are the beneficiaries of the charities."

Now that's quite literally a bloody cheek. Diamond Exporting from Africa is a hundred billion dollar business. If the Diamond Industry really was concerned about "beneficiaries," they'd concern themselves with the disgusting wages and working conditions of the diamond miners.

This is another example of "social responsibility done wrong." Listen, is the first site I read in the morning, I buy Us everytime I'm on a plane. So this campaign is geared at people like me, people who are influenced by celebrity culture. And I just hope that my fellow Us readers and TMZ surfers see this campaign for what it is. An ironic, insincere, and crude attempt at buying a little good PR.

From a cause-marketing perspective, the lesson here is that "poorly executed cause-marketing" does more to hurt your brand than help it. The idiots who conceived of this campaign are of the same ilk that thought-up Dove's failed attempt at stimulating viral but ended being mocked and angrily criticized by the YouTube community.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ethical Gifts Are Unethical?!?

If you haven't seen this already, you have to check it out

A day after Christmas, Philip Greenspun wrote that a friend of his had received a "water buffalo for Christmas from her dad." The gift was made through Heifer International's catalog of "ethical gifts." On their website, they call their catalog "The most important gift catalog in the world." Wow. Quite the claim. We're all familiar with the appeal of buying "ethical gifts" for friends and family. Many international relief and development charities have similar catalogues and new websites have emerged in recent years as online catalogues of these gifts.

Here's the catch: As Phillip's blog post said "If you read the fine print on the page, however, it turns out that there is no actual buffalo and no actual family and you won’t get a photo of your family and your buffalo. The money simply gets dumped into the common fund at the charity. We are trying to decide if this is the crummiest possible Christmas present."

The defense goes like this: "Donors are too lazy, or too uninterested in the details of our activities, so we're going to publish anecdotes that can be easily related and sold to the average consumer." At the best case, this is just lazy and unimaginative and at the worst case, well... In the days of heightened paranoia around "transparency ad accountability" and all of those other multisyllabic words that all cry "who can we trust?" isn't it some relatively dark shade of outright dishonesty?

The other problem with these unethically presented ethical gifts is that they let the donor off the hook. "Well ma, I bought you the Water Buffalo so that's my contribution for the year. Maybe for your birthday, I'll buy a pig, then we'll really have made a difference!"

Not only does it let the donor off the hook but it lessens the likelihood that you can engage that donor in the actual good work that really is happening on the ground.

I think it's high time we treat donors more intelligently, yes, even those that only have $100 to give. Instead of giving them this dumbed-down approach to giving, find new ways to express what it means to take on the problems of a community, embrace media like the one I linked to at the top of this post. Take some of your massive fund-raising budget and spend it on inexpensive video cameras, and a small centrally located edit suite, license some songs, and start posting 'em to YouTube like the clip I posted the other day.

That's the way to engage donors, not treat them like they need to be lied to.

Of course, I can't help but mention that it's this more respectful, intelligent approach that we do at GiveMeaning, but that aside, really, I'm saying to all my colleagues and "competitors" (your view, not mine): Treat donors with more respect and assume a higher degree of intelligence and interest in your work than in the "most important gifts" variety.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Net Neutrality in Canada - Who Cares?

The Tyee just posted an article entitled "Canada Sleeps Through War to 'Save the Internet."

The Tyee defines the issue of Net Neutrality as "Whether telecom companies can favor some Internet sites over others by charging different rates to different customers and making some sites much easier to access than others."

While the issue has made its way to the top of hot button issues in the US, even being hilariously profiled on the Jon Stewart show by the "PC Guy" (see below)

Anyone that expresses shock or outrage that the telco's dare to propose making more
money off the services they provide should give their head a shake. It's this mis-perception that the internet is free or a public utility that gives rise to the argument against Net Neutrality. The internet is NOT free. It's access is owned by an elite group of multi-billion companies whose business it is to make as much possible money of their assets and services. Whether in an Internet cafe in Kitgum, Uganda or at home in South Granville, I have always paid a provider for my internet (except when I find open wireless networks, but then still, someone is paying for that network access).

That these companies have gained these assets in part because of years of government granted monopoly is not sufficient argument against keeping them from charging for tiered access.

The companies that provide this access to both servers and browsers of content have made multi-billion investments in being able to efficiently deliver an exponentially increasingly amount of high-bandwidth content to the masses, expecting the highest return on their investment possible that that their customers are willing to pay for.

Is it a sad day that this new medium has matured into a platform that is now drawing big numbers of people away from their television sets, magazines and newspapers and as such is starting to act more like traditional media industries or is the portioning of the internet really nothing more than the logical evolution of a medium that has finally begun to truly mature? It's probably both.

The argument that valuable progressive media broadcasting will not be able to afford a two-tiered model, I reject. Supporters of those organizations will donate in membership drives (GiveMeaning has already funded some of those drives).

Yes, the fact that this might mean higher start-up costs for new organizations and that it would impose a "success fee" as organizations serve-up more content but the great majority of these content providers will find a way to cover those costs.

For the organizations that can't support themselves independently, they will form media co-ops that will pool resources, and a crop of new intermediaries will emerge to offer pooled resources for similarly oriented content providers.

So amongst all of the issues that need our Country's attention, I don't think Net Neutrality should factor to the top 5.

But you see that I have posted a blog badge to because I do believe that all of us but especially those of us in the IT business need to be more aware of the policies and issues governing our infrastructure providers and as consumers of internet services, we need better insight into what the major providers are doing especially in regards to free speech and fair competition.

That's why I post the blog badge and why I dugg the Tyee article. We need to be aware of the changing landscape as the medium we rely on matures as an industry. We need both extremes of the debate advocated passionately and keep informed about the policies that shape the industry.

Lastly, I'm waiting to see what IT company figures it out first and makes this issue a core aspect of their corporate social responsibility platform.

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Saturn Returns

This Saturday I turned 28 years young! I was talking to Babz Chula this week who told me that according to Astrologists, the planets are in the exact same place as when I was born during my 29th year, so this year should be like a "rebirth" for me.

I started celebrating Friday afternoon at our normal team lunch. This week I got to choose (I picked Denny's) and I received quite literally the best birthday gift ever. Each team member had written a little note and each note was stapled together to form a little booklet. The booklet got me very ferklempt and they had printed and framed three pictures, including a team picture that I've now hung at home. One of the other ones was of me at my desk and the other was a picture of my cowboy boots with the quote "I'm the decider" on it (a joke about Bush's famous line "I'm the decider, I decide things.")

Friday night, Jess and I had an amazing steak dinner with one of my best friend's and his wife and daughter who have become like an extended family. The dinner was amazing and I ate everything on my plate. Then, Saturday afternoon, we drove down with our two friends, Shira and Lucas, the couple behind Choosing Joy, a multi-medium company that I am very excited about.

Jess and I always see ads for Red Lobster on TV but there are no locations in Vancouver. Sometime last year, she said after seeing one of those mouth-watering ads that if she were to ever get a record deal, that we would drive to Seattle to go to Red Lobster and celebrate. Well, she signed her record deal late in December, so we decided it was time to do the trip! Shira & Lucas were game, so we drove down for the night and found the closest Red Lobster (in Lynwood).

We had a great night, ate tons and had some great conversations. We met a group of four women who were down from Whiterock for the weekend who were a lot of fun. We stayed the night in Bellevue and drove back late this afternoon.

If you're reading this blog and know me personally, it's not too late to celebrate! You can click here to make a generous donation in support of the first ever fundraising project I have created at GiveMeaning. I'm about half of my way there and want to finish my goal by the end of the month.

I'm looking forward to this year!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Pig-e-Bank campaign

(Wickaninnish Gallery in Granville Island was the store who raised the most money)

We have picked-up all of our Christmas REAL CHANGE FROM SPARE CHANGE retail campaign experiment here in Vancouver and we're all totally blown away by the success!

By way of background, we built these beautiful red little boxes that we call "Pig-e-Banks" and gave them out to retailers throughout Vancouver. We asked them to pick any charity in Canada or any project on our site that they wanted to fundraise for and then ask their customers to donate their spare change.

After seeing how much money was raised by kids in our Halloween campaign pilot, we thought we would extend the experiment to retail stores.

Conventional wisdom warned that Point-of-Purchase retail real estate was far too valuable to give over to the Pig-e-Bank boxes, never-mind the business of the season would prevent employees from talking about the Pig-e-Bank or anything else during their busiest time of the year.

In less than three weeks, a total of $2082.05 was raised from participating retailers!!!

The top 5 stores (who raised the most money were):

1. Wickaninnish Gallery
2. Gloss Salon
3. Chic
4. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
5. Heaven's Playground

The program validated everything I instinctively believed. It's perfectly fitting that the Chinese New Year is the "Year of the Pig." We're going to expand this coin collection program nation-wide.

GiveMeaning takes care of all of the logistics (picking-up, sorting, getting the participants the boxes etc). It's perfect for any store, any office, any desk at work. And our "Junior" version is ideal for kids groups and schools to raise money.

If you're interested in participating, click here

Dear, a store in South Granville got creative with their box and made a little sign to wave to customers asking them to donate in support of the BC SPCA.

Of course, the program couldn't have happened without Hannah & Anna, our dynamic duo who went store-to-store, spreading our Piggies throughout the city

Thanks to everyone who participated. In such a short amount of time, we raised a lot of money (given the denominations collected) and have proven the concept. Now it's time to roll-out these little Piggies across the Country!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Blogging in the Philanthrosphere

This morning, Lucy Bernholz over at Philanthropy 2173 asked "What foundations are blogging" and "Which foundations or donors are doing anything in virtual worlds or social networks?"

I had just finished reading Phil Cubeta's blog this morning in which he writes "Philanthropy blogging is becoming an awful lot like reading way too many professional journals: The official story told by the officials in official upper middle brow language that will upset no one and change nothing, often accompanied by advertising, or a business model that ties the words back to an influx of cash and a nice soft life. "

So in response to Lucy's question and to Phil's point, I ask "What foundations's representatives or donors are saying anything interesting or world changing on their blogs?" The list then becomes small if not almost entirely non-existent.

What I take from Phil's post is that bloggers who represent foundations, donors, charities, whatever, they must actually ENGAGE. And this starts ultimately by being able to talk about what's wrong with the sector and/or specific programs and interventions... It means throwing out ideas fearlessly that break the status quo and it means one of us philanthropshere bloggers actually being the ones to break the Gates Foundation story not just commenting on the story.

And you know, by being "out-there" it may mean you're less popular at the next schmoozefest, but guess what? You'll be headlining the event, because people crave the real deal.

On the Social Networks & Virtual World's Question

I have blogged previously about canceling my MySpace account. As someone who consults to many charities about IT and media strategies, I can tell you that if any charity or foundation representative boasted that they were spending time on MySpace or Friendster, let alone Second Life or any virtual world, I would tell them they are wasting their time.

Organizations are far-better served investing resources in making their own sites more interesting, including having content and activities that encourage that organization's supporters to be the ones creating a new audience. Kiva and DonorsChoose have introduced blog badges to some success but even the big sites have a long way to go to leveraging their content to turn their supporters into their spokespeople.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An amazing early birthday gift

I received an amazing early birthday gift today! Late last year, we raised money for an orphanage in Indonesia to buy a new minibus to transport the kids to school.

The orphanage is home to about 50 children ranging in age from 6 - 17. Because of the wide range in age of the kids, the orphanage must transport the kids to several different schools, which means several bus trips a day. In addition to school transport, the orphanage also needs a vehicle to go to the market each day to pick up fresh produce for the children's meals.

The project reached it's goal back in November with most of the funds being raised directly through the site and additional donations being raised off-line.

This video is what we got from the Canadian charity responsible for this project.

Jess and I watched it together first and we were moved to tears! Talk about "Return On Generosity!!!"

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GiveMeaning interview at

Austin Hill, a guy I've never met but feel like he's a kindred spirit, posted an interview on GiveMeaning that I did via email.

Just on my way to a meeting. More later.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

We Care Marketplace

I just read this article from the Edmonton Journal about the We Care Marketplace, a "charity market" that occurs in the same spot every Sunday morning in Edmonton that gives away donated items "with no questions asked and no names taken."

It's entirely voluntary and no formal organization is behind it.

These kinds of grass-roots initiatives are exactly what I was talking about in my earlier blog posts today.

The article says that about 500 people receive gather each week to receive items.

On a similar note, I StumbledUpon the Burrito Project, another grass-roots initiative to feed the hungry that gives the "ingredients" needed for you to replicate their project in your community online and promotes itself well through MySpace and Friendster.

I LOVE these kinds of projects.

If you know of others like these, please post them here.

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Mind The Gap

Everyday on the drive to the office we pass a corner of Vancouver where men stand around all morning, waiting and hoping to be picked-up for construction work. They arrive early in the morning and stand around for hours in the freezing cold, hoping that a contractor picks them out from a field of scores of other men.

These are men who are trying to make a living, many of whom trying to support families.
I can't imagine the frustration of standing around all morning in the freezing cold, hoping to be picked, and then returning home facing a mountain of bills and a family to feed without the ability to do anything about it.

One of the most common complaints about funding programs for the homeless is the age old "they lack work ethic," "get a job," make an effort." While I know better, I nevertheless understand and can empathize with the emotion that drives that sentiment in many of us.

But here's this group of people who are genuinely trying and struggling to provide for themselves and their families.

But I suspect that this group of men (and groups like them) are almost totally over-looked by society. The people that are on the "fringes of poverty" need our care, compassion and assistance.

I'm thinking about a small group of friends and colleagues to deliver coffee and donuts to this group of guys on a particularly cold day this week. It's not a hand-out. It's just an act of saying "Hey, I recognize that it's freezing out, and I hope this makes waiting around a little more enjoyable."

The gap between the "obvious poor" and the "fringes of poverty" is narrow but while the former can be clearly seen, those living on the fringes are not obvious until they have already fallen. If forced to choose, what would you invest it? Preventing the fall or trying to pick-up the fallen?

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Random Acts

It's easy to out-think ourselves. We're passionate, we want change, we want BIG change. Sometimes though, the most obvious, most immediate solutions are right in front of us.

Last week, someone very close to me witnessed a colleague of hers at work being quite literally shouted and verbally abused in front of a room of 15 of his colleagues. This man, a recent immigrant to Canada, is incredibly good at his job, not to mention routinely goes out of his way to help his colleagues in his workplace. The person (let's call her Mary) that observed this could see the pain and humiliation that this verbal abuse caused him and decided to do something about it.

On her lunch break, Mary bought this man a bouquet of flowers and a card and circulated the card amongst his colleagues who had witnessed this verbal abuse. Mary presented the card and flowers to this man who broke down crying, overwhelmed from both the generosity of his colleagues and the pain of being abused.

If we all seized the opportunity to practice these kinds of Random Acts of Kindness, the world in which we each live would no doubt be a far better place.

Why not commit ourselves to being on the lookout for one opportunity a week to commit a Random Act of Kindness for someone in your community?

Comment on the Blog with your stories. What you have observed others do, what you have done, maybe even suggest acts.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who gives a damn about the environment?

en·vi·ron·ment /ɛnˈvaɪrənmənt, -ˈvaɪərn-/ Pronunciation[en-vahy-ruhn-muhnt, -vahy-ern-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

1. the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings; milieu.

It might come as a shock to some of my close friends when I say that I really haven't given much thought to the environment. It's true. For the kid who used to write letters to McDonald's asking them "to stop using stirofoame [sic]in their cups because it hurts the environment," it's been years since I have cared or engaged myself on environmental issues.

Before yesterday, the last time I got concerned about the environment was when I found out that Polar Bears have been declining in numbers because of the rate that ice is melting, causing massive disruptions in the feeding, hibernation and reproduction of the species. I remember the week where the news story was circulating and I did some searching but I couldn't find any organization to donate to, so I gave up.

I'm the kind of guy that last summer, as we enjoyed an especially warm summer, I glibly thanked global warming for the longer summer when making obligatory weather chit-chat in the elevator of my apartment building.

I never saw Inconvenient Truth, and despite attempts to get motivated to see it, just couldn't and still can't bring myself to do it.

This all seems like horrible admissions for a person in my job, and for a person who is known amongst his friends and colleagues as an incredibly passionate guy, a guy who quite literally aspires for nothing more than to change the world.

I suppose (if you'll indulge the metaphor) the clouds began to part for me round about Tuesday night when without warming and whilst still relatively warm out, snow began falling but then, within two hours had almost completely disappeared.

The next morning, we picked up Mr Brown as we do every morning. (We run a car-pool but it's economical not consciously environmental) He starts talking about this article, how 10 blocks of Austin's downtown core had been closed because of birds mysteriously dropping dead from the sky. This, I remember, is how that movie The Core started and then we found out that the earth had stopped spinning, dooming us all until Hillary Swank and that guy from Thank You For Smoking saved the world.

Apparently, birds dropping dead isn't limited to Austin. It's been reported in Australia as well.

I remember being in Toronto just before Christmas (it was warmer in Toronto than in Vancouver) and reading a great article in the Globe & Mail. I wish I could quote it exactly but it went something like "December - 23: In Ottawa where snowblowers are being sold at fire-sale prices and with flowers starting to bloom on Parliament Hill, it comes as no surprise that Prime Minister Harper is starting to take Global Warming seriously."

Throughout the day yesterday, various members of the upstairs team started emailing each other links to various environmental calamities, oddities or outright disasters.

By the end of the day yesterday, as snow began coming down again, we talked of little else other than just how f*cked we might be as a result of environmental damage.

And to be clear, this wasn't just end of the day kibitzing. This was neither dispassionate nor disconnected. This was genuinely a collective moment of several of us finally connecting our hearts and minds to the importance of the environment on our life here on earth. I mean, I don't know how many times I've heard pithy little statements like "we have only one earth" and variations on the theme but hey, we really have one f*cking planet and there is increasingly convincing proof connecting cause (our collective behavior and choices) to devastating effect.

I might be revealing too much of myself by referencing yet another schlocky near-apocolyptic Hollywood movie but in The Day After Tomorrow, Dennis Quaid plays a climate scientist who tries to warn the Vice-President of the US about a potential storm that would essentially create a new Ice Age. The Veep dismisses it, the World freezes over, the President dies, he ascends to the Presidency, and then at the end of the movie, from America's new base in Mexico, he addresses what remains of the World by saying something like "well, we've got to start taking care of the environment."

While back in the real world, there haven't been any Dennis Quaid types warning of an Ice Age coming in the next months or years, I reference this only as a reminder to myself of what might happen if we continue to push this off.

I found the above graph pretty compelling from an intellectual perspective. I found this in a report on Natural Disasters prepared by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group. According to their report:

Despite all of this, I'm not compelled to act because of the Polar Bears or because I fear suddenly being frozen to death on my way into work. I look at this in surprisingly (for me) pragmatic terms: $$$Money$$$.

The need to do whatever we can to reverse and address the damage that's already been done, and to collectively do all we can to prevent more damage is best expressed in economic terms:

As the figures above address, not only are we vulnerable to more "big shocks" that devastate entire communities, regions or countries but everything from rising health costs, decreased agricultural outputs, wasted government and private donor disaster relief donations in the billions, there's no area of the economy that isn't touched by the environment. It's why it's called the environment.

I wonder if anyone has studied the environmental attitudes of Katrina victims? Do they correlate the devastation they experienced in any way to their own and their country's attitudes and actions towards the environment? Has even a significant minority of the affected population changed their daily actions to be more environmentally conscious?

Maybe it's already too late to reverse course and it's now all just an eventuality. But I ain't no quitter. Shouldn't we all be saying "But I'm gonna die trying?" Seriously, what on this earth, must happen for us to seriously give a damn?

The phone just rang. It was a good friend of mine. I told him I was in the middle of writing a blog about the environment. His reply? "Don't you have anything better to talk about than the weather?"

And this is the challenge.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Happy New Year, everyone. I was telling Jessie that I remember being in 5th grade, talking about the 21st century as this far-away time, imagining what life and the world be like. I must admit my disappointment that personal Jettsons-like vehicles aren't the norm, and that life on a daily basis isn't much different from when I attended Campus View Elementary.

That said, if I have to compare 2007 to a more recent time when I dreamed of the future, say when I started GiveMeaning, a lot has changed.

When I started GiveMeaning in the summer of 2005 wise, intelligent, experienced people told me there was both no need to change anything about the charitable sector. Worse yet, trying to form some kind of business that could eventually profit from charity was not only bad business but just bad form.

Two years later, Philanthropy, social consciousness, charity, altruism, the desire to do good, to change the world is THE topic. Magazines launched, new web ventures launched, thinking changing, evolving.

I'm happy to see a more vocal voicing of a desire to find meaning in our lives. There is of course, danger that by turning up the volume on the conversation around doing good, that we overdose and overwhelm. Or that with all the recipes to do good, that we end up buying a bunch of ingredients, and then settling on take-out.

As for me personally, here are my New Year's resolutions (in no particular order):

Blog more: I want to do more with this blog. I want to get out of the office a lot more, not just in Africa but everywhere where we have projects going on (which is pretty much everywhere in the world). There are so many people that start projects on GiveMeaning that I am totally amazed and inspired by. I want to help tell their stories.

Women's Rights Now: I have registered the domain I'm going to create a simple petition site that I want to use to advocate for what is the simplest, smartest one thing we can do to change the world: Ensure women's rights and gender equality the world over. I hope to launch the site before the end of January.

Get out there: The greatest joy and most inspiration I get is talking to young people. I want to get out to more schools this year.

And now on to my first day back in the office. Enjoy!

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