Saturday, December 31, 2005

Celebrate Kwanzaa: Kuumba.

On this, the sixth day of Kwanzaa, we focus on kuumba (creativity) and "do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it."

I was always taught that we all have talents. Are you discovering, developing and using your talents? Here are some resources that may help you do so:

* Think creatively about the world's problems and how to solve them.

* Use your talents to serve your community, and we all benefit.

* Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

* Be the person you want to be.

As humans, we are all members of that first African Diaspora. And accordingly, the principles of Kwanzaa apply to us all. Manifest the Kwanzaa principles today, this week, and all year long.

“What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.” - Sappho

Friday, December 30, 2005

Celebrate Kwanzaa: Nia.

On this, the fifth day of Kwanzaa, we focus on nia (purpose) and "make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness."

A few years ago, I attended a festival at a local masjid with my Uncle Agin. As we walked around, enjoying the food, booths, lectures, and other activities, my uncle introduced me to several folks, one of whom asked me, "Karama, what is your purpose?" She was quite serious. And even though I had thought extensively about my career path, I knew immediately that she wasn't asking about those plans.

It bothered me that I didn't have an answer to her important question. So after I got home from the festival, I sat down to do some serious thinking, journaling, praying, and listening about what my purpose is; why God put me, in my particular uniqueness, on this planet. Over several weeks, I thought about my talents, listed my skills, considered my values, and realized that I am here:
"To promote an understanding of the inherent value and equality of all human beings, and serve my community with a focus on equal access to health care and education, particularly for communities and people of color in the southern US and throughout the world."

Today is a perfect day to begin to understand and define your purpose. As my friend Ayanna says, "We're here to do more than suck up air." What are you here to do? Are you doing it?

Think about how much better and more meaningful your life will be when you are doing exactly what you were made and meant to do. I am so happy that my Uncle's friend asked me that question, and even more pleased to now know the answer. As I understand more about my purpose and how to live it, I have become a happier, healthier person. It's a blessing I wish for all of us.

As humans, we are all members of that first African Diaspora. And accordingly, the principles of Kwanzaa apply to us all. Manifest the Kwanzaa principles today, this week, and all year long.

"Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others." - H. Jackson Brown

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Celebrate Kwanzaa: Ujamaa.

On this, the fourth day of Kwanzaa, we focus on ujamaa (cooperative economics) and "build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together."

So what can I do lists numerous ways we can promote economic progress and economic justice. Here are just a few suggestions:

* Pay off your debts and use the money you save to improve the economic situation of your family and your community.
* Buy local to support businesses in your community. They provide jobs, resources and products for you and your family.
* Barter for goods and services and save your cash for when you really need it.
* Fund microloans that will enable folks in the US and abroad improve their economic situation.

As humans, we are all members of that first African Diaspora. And accordingly, the principles of Kwanzaa apply to us all. Manifest the Kwanzaa principles today, this week, and all year long.

"I went in through the doors of the treasury of wisdom, and I drew for myself the waters of understanding. I went into the blaze of the sun’s flame and it lighted me with its splendor, and I made of it a shield for myself." - Makeda, Queen of Sheba

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Celebrate Kwanzaa: Ujima.

On this, the third day of Kwanzaa, we focus on ujima (collective work and responsibility) and "build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together."

So what can I do is filled with ways we can pull together to improve our communities, from volunteering to giving blood to investing locally and responsibly. Peruse the archives for more ideas, then try them out and let us know the results. Your community will thank you, and your work will make it a better place for you and others to live and thrive.

As humans, we are all members of that first African Diaspora. And accordingly, the principles of Kwanzaa apply to us all. Manifest the Kwanzaa principles today, this week, and all year long.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Celebrate Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia.

On this, the second day of Kwanzaa, we focus on kujichagulia (self-determination) and "define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves."

That's really what So what can I do is all about, determining what you want from and for yourself and your surroundings, and claiming the personal agency to make it happen. Here are some tools to help you do just that:

* Think about what you want to accomplish today, this month, in your lifetime and make it happen.

* Think about what justice means to you (and why). Then live your life accordingly.

* Think about what doing the right thing, means in your life, then live ethically.

As the sidebar says, "People are blessed with the ability to change their environments and situations to suit their liking. I started this blog so that we all can exercise that power" to make ourselves the people we want to be.

As humans, we are all members of that first African Diaspora. And accordingly, the principles of Kwanzaa apply to us all. Manifest the Kwanzaa principles today, this week, and all year long.

“We face neither East nor West ; we face Forward” - Kwame Nkrumah

Monday, December 26, 2005

Celebrate Kwanzaa: Umoja.

On this, the first day of Kwanzaa, we focus on umoja (unity) and "strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race."

Unity comes, in part, through mutual understanding and respect. Here are some learn about and gain respect for others:

* Practice tolerance of those who may be different from (or the same as) you in some way. You don't have to agree with someone or share their beliefs to respect them as a person.

* Learn about others through programs like Women for Women International (Thanks KCB!), People to People International, and study abroad and exchange programs.

* Read about folks in their own words through their books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs.

As humans, we are all members of that first African Diaspora. Accordingly, the principles of Kwanzaa apply to us all. Manifest the Kwanzaa principles today, this week, and all year long.

“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question, "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Keep hope alive.

One of the best sermons I ever heard was on hope. The minister (whose name, unfortunately, I cannot remember) spoke about how hope is critical for survival and for thriving. The climax of her sermon went something like:
"One can live without friendship, but one can't live without the hope of friendship. One can live without justice, but one can't live without the hope of justice. One can live without peace, but one can't live without the hope of peace. One can live without joy, but one can't live without the hope of joy."

It was such a moving and meaningful message, and, to me, it represents the true meaning of Christmas: hope for a better life, now and forever. I think of that Sunday sermon often, am reminded that we have both hope, and the means to achieve what we hope for.

May this day and each day bring you closer to being the best person you can be! Peace and blessings to you all.

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. - Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Respect workers and their work.

The Transit Workers Union (Local 100) of New York City are "On strike for fair wages, hard-earned benefits, respect and dignity." I don't know all the details of the labor negotiations but I do know that all honest workers are worthy of respect and dignity.

As the world becomes effectively smaller, we become more interdependent. If for no other reason than that (self-interest), we should acknowledge all good work, whether it is manual or intellectual, done outside or indoors, done in an office, officle, or cubicle, makes you sweat or gives you a headache, pays well or pays poorly.

As an example, consider all the folks who were involved in the last meal you ate:

* Who planted and tended the grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts?
* Who harvested the grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts?
* Who developed the seeds that ensured a bountiful harvest?
* Who tended the livestock before slaughter?
* Who slaughtered the animals for meat?
* Who stocked the grocery store shelves?
* Who cleaned the grocery store floors?
* Who baggedyour groceries?
* Who inspected the food for quality and safety?
* Who managed the grocery store?
* Who drilled for the natural gas to cook the food?
* Who drilled for the oil to fuel the vehicle that got you to the store?
* Who drove the truck, or steered the ship to bring the food to your community?
* Who cooked the food?
* Who made sure you had clean dishes from which to eat?

Now consider the folks in your own work environment. Make sure to acknowledge their valuable contributions throughout the year. We all deserve dignity and respect, as workers and contributors, and as fellow human beings.

"Work is only part of a man’s life; play, family, church, individual and group contacts, educational opportunities, the intelligent exercise of citizenship, all play a part in a well-rounded life. Workers are men and women with potentialities for mental and spiritual development as well as for physical health. We are paying the price today of having too long sidestepped all that this means to the mental, moral, and spiritual health of our nation. " - Mary Barnett Gilson (1877–?), U.S. factory personnel manager, economist

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Know the SCORE.

I'm a big fan of small business and microenterprise. In the US, small businesses employ 52% of workers, and they are important for growing a growing economies, and for personal self-sufficiency around the world.

"SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is the best source of free and confidential small business advice to help you build your business—from idea to start-up to success." Here are a few ways you can get involved:

* Volunteer and join SCORE's corps of "10,500 men and women, retired and working" who "donate their time and talent to assist America’s entrepreneurs."

* Receive free enewsletters to learn more about SCORE activities.

* Ask one of SCORES 1200 email counselors for free, fast and confidential business advice.

* Support SCORE, a non-profit organization.

* Find the SCORE office nearest you to register for workshops or offer your services. There are 389 chapters nationwide.

And don't forget to support the small businesses in your area. Also, by funding microloans, you can help others, here and abroad, start their own businesses. These businesses will help the proprietor, her family and her country.

"I am aware that success is more than a good idea. It is timing too." - Anita Roddick

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Recycle Christmas cards and more.

Ready for another reader-inspired post? Janice writes:
What I would like to know is how to recycle those Christmas cards after Christmas. It seems like such a waste to throw them out. I have two years worth of Christmas cards piling up on me.

Good question, Janice! Your concern is justified. In the UK alone, about 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away every season. Imagine how many are trashed in the US and rest of the world! That make for a lot of waste. Here are a few ways to reduce, reuse and recycle during the holidays:

* Cards - Your community may allow you to recycle them with other paper waste. Check to be sure. If not, consider using them for crafts. (I particularly like the idea of using them for holiday postcards or gift tags.) St. Jude doesn't need anymore used cards, but you can buy recycled cards from them for next year.

* Trees - Your community may offer curbside or neighborhood recycling or use in wildlife habitats. If not, you may want to chip it and use it for mulch or compost. Next year, consider decorating a plantable or artificial tree.

* Gifts - No one wants to talk about regifting, but many of us do it. If you have items you would like to "regift", make sure you follow these regifting etiquette suggestions.

* Food - Leftover food from holiday or other functions can often be given to a food rescue agency. They'll use it to feed the hungry in your community. Remember to donate extra food (or money) to your local food bank.

* Reduce, reuse, and recycle the glass, plastic, paper, and aluminum that you use during the holidays and all year long.

Happy solstice, happy new year, and keep the great suggestions coming!

"Children learn more from what you are than what you teach." - W.E.B. DuBois

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Take action against genocide.

In the last two months I've written about seven actions you can take to help end the genocide and suffering in the Darfur region of Sudan. The methods I discussed call for individual action, but some folks may want the support of an established organization to help them make their voice heard and their actions felt. Here are a few organizations that will help you get started:

--> Africa Action "is engaged in advocacy and activism to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, where the Sudanese government has been waging a campaign of destruction against targeted African communities since 2003." Visit Africa Action to find talking points and ten ways you can help stop the genocide.

--> Genocide Intervention Network "envisions a world in which the global community is willing and able to protect civilians from genocidal violence. Our current mission is to empower global citizens with the tools to advance initiatives that prevent and stop genocide." Visit their website to find action alerts, and information on lobbying and divestment.

--> Genocide Hits Home: Communities and Congress Talk Darfur is a project of the Genocide Intervention Network. "This winter, concerned Americans will meet their members of Congress and ask them to (1) urge the Bush Administation to introduce a resolution at the UN Security Council that strengthens and expands AMIS and (2) restore the $50 million that Congress cut in the fall so AMIS can deploy more personnel. We seek  volunteers willing to donate just a few hours per week this winter to lead this cause in your own communities." Register now to get help in talking to your representative.

--> Human Rights Watch lists several things you can do about the crisis in Sudan, including blogging for human rights.

Also, consider the resources available from the, Initiative for Inclusive Security, Institute for the Study of Genocide, and others.

Years from now, when someone asks you what you did to stop the deaths of 450,000 people and the suffering of 2.5 million others, what will you say?

Choose the methods that works best for you, and take action today.

"I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair." - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, December 12, 2005

Stay fit.

I got a great suggestion from a reader the other day. Ted writes:
Exercise to stay fit. If you are fit, you can render better service to your friends, family and community. Sometimes you can combine exercise with fulfilling some daily necessity, like walking your children to school, or walking to work. Or you can make time in your weekly routine for exercise sessions. Try to discover an exercise that you enjoy and it will be fun to do on a regular basis.

Excellent idea, Ted. I agree! Here's are more ways to make healthy choices for your life:

* Make good choices.
* Walk with a purpose.
* Take the stairs.
* Quit smoking.
* Run with a purpose.

And don't forget to take care of your mental health and spiritual health. Also, when you are healthy, you are more likely to be able to contribute in these ways:

* Donate blood.
* Donate your organs.
* Donate marrow.
* Donate platelets.
* Donate umbilical cord blood.

So, take care of your health: mind, body and soul. There's no limit to the good work you can do!

"Being an activist is the rent we pay for being on the planet." - Alice Walker

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Designate a sober driver.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. During 2003, more than 17,000 people died in alcohol-related highway crashes in the US. Every 30 minutes someone in the US dies in an alcohol-related crash. Now think of all the folks who are injured because of drunk or drugged driving. You can help stop these needless and preventable deaths and injuries. Who knows, you may even save a life, perhaps your own or that of someone you love.

Here's how:

If you are a party-goer:

--> Never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’ve been drinking.
--> If you are drunk, high, tipsy, buzzed, drugged or otherwise impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit, or call a sober friend or family member to come get you.
--> Or, just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.

If you are a party host:

--> Remind your guests to plan ahead to designate a sober driver.
--> Collect keys upon entry to your party and give them back only if the driver is sober.
--> Always offer alcohol-free beverages during the event.
--> Make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver.

We all can contribute to awareness. Click the links to learn more, spread the word, and take action.

Remember, friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Do not hesitate to take the keys from a friend who is about to drive while buzzed, drunk, drugged, or high. Be safe out there, and have fun.

"It is easier to stay out than get out." - Mark Twain

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Send giving cards.

A few days ago I did post on gifts that give. Now I want to tell you about cards that give. For many people, sending and receiving Christmas and holiday cards are an important part of the season. If you're going to send cards anyway, why not choose cards that will promote social justice as well as deliver your greeting?

Thankfully, Just Give has compiled a list of social justice greeting cards that are available. Here are just a few of the options:

* UNICEF "is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized."

* Courage Center "has provided services and advocacy aimed at increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to lead healthy, independent, productive and empowered lives within their communities. Many of our artists have a disability and are nationally recognized."

* Special Olympics "changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Through year-round sports training and athletic competition and other related programming for more than 1.7 million children and adults with intellectual disabilities around the world, Special Olympics has created a model community that celebrates people’s diverse gifts."

* Children's Defense Fund "provides a strong, effective voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities."

For all-occasion greeting cards, try

* Charity Cards "10% of the sale of our cards benefit worthy causes that make a difference in people's lives. We take a socially responsible stance in providing your clients, and our customers, with artful cards that send a humanitarian message."

* Good Cause Greetings "10% of the proceeds from the sale of each card are donated to a well-respected charitable organization."

You can also choose stamps that send a message and support a cause. Don't forget to mail your cards early! Or if you prefer, send E-cards. Happy holidays!

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Give a giving gift.

I love the idea of donating to a nonprofit in someone else's name. It's a great way to support your favorite organizations and honor someone you care about at the same time. (A great idea for weddings!) But what if your friend, relative or colleague wants to support a different organization? Now you can let them choose by giving charity gift certificates. You provide the financial donation, but your friend decides where to donate it.

Here are two ways to purchase charity gift certificates:

* "Our eCards, Gift Cards and Gift Certificates are Charity Donations that add a charitable dimension to special occasions, holidays, presentations and ceremonies. A great gift idea to accompany awards and trophies, flowers, wine, gift baskets, business gifts and every standard gift item." Recipients choose from "over 75 charities."

* "Charity Gift Certificates enable you to purchase a gift certificate and allow your recipients to redeem it to support their favorite charity." Recipients choose from "more than 1,000,000 nonprofits across the nation."

These go well with a child's, colleague's, friend's or relative's gift (and make a great way to teach a child about giving). They can also stand alone, or be used in a wedding or other registry. Remember, the gift will be tax-deductible (for the purchaser). Also, if you run a non-profit, you may want to consult the organizations above to be added to their list.

During this season of giving, and throughout the year, choose the gift that will give again.

"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." - Helen Keller

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Read it online.

About a year ago, all at once, I got several offers to turn my unused frequent flyer miles into free magazine subscriptions. I redeemed my miles for magazines and started getting all sorts of new reading material. It was great except that it generated so much more paper waste! I was always running to the recycling bin! (I should have done what my mother does: donate them to a waiting room and ask them to recycle them.) Nowadays I donate my miles to charity and read more online. You can too! Here's how:

* Read newspapers online. Many newspapers make much of their material available on their websites. Often it's free, requiring only a free registration. This is a great way to keep up on news outside of your region. I read the Arkansas Times online, and often send my parents articles from the Atlanta Journal Consitution. Kwadjo reads the Christian Science Monitor online. I also sometimes check out the New York Times, the Washington Post , and non-US newspapers. It's helpful to have another perspective on events. Don't be limited by language; use Google to translate articles.

* Read magazines online. Many magazines make material available online. Check out the sites of your favorite magazines and journals. Also, consider subscribing to and reading those that publish only online.

* Read books online. Several organizations offer free online libraries which you can use to read books for free. In most cases, the books are in the public domain in the US, and so are older. This is a great way to check out some of the classics.

So browse the vast resources on the internet and read online. It's often free. Plus, you'll learn more, be entertained, and produce less waste.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." - William James

Monday, December 05, 2005

Petition the UN.

In October, I wrote a post giving six things you can do to help end the genocide in Sudan. Ready for one more?

Samuel Totten, professor at the University of Arkansas and co-chief editor of the journal Genocide Studies and Prevention, is gathering signatures for a petition urging international action against the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Click the comment link below for the full-text of the petition.

Actual signatures are best. So print the petition, sign it, circulate it amongst your friends and colleagues and send it to

Dr. Samuel Totten
University of Arkansas, COEHP
205 Peabody Hall
Fayetteville, AR 72701

If you prefer, send your name, city and affiliation (if appropriate) to Then click the envelope below to forward this post to your friends and colleagues.

Remember, after all this time, women, children and men are still being killed in Darfur. (Five hundred people each day.) People are still being raped. (Women and girls are very vulnerable.) People are still displaced. (Over 2.5 million people, so far.) Won't you add your voice to those calling for an end to the genocide?

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." -Edmund Burke, statesman and writer (1729-1797)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Stop AIDS.

Today is World AIDS Day, a time to "celebrate progress made in the battle against the epidemic and bring into focus remaining challenges." You can get involved with the numerous events that are taking place around the world, or choose one of these ways to help stop AIDS:

* Call the CDC National STD Hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) in English or español or TTY: 1-888-232-6348. Health communication specialists are available 24 hours per day and "offer anonymous, confidential HIV/AIDS information to the American public. They also provide referrals to appropriate services, including clinics, hospitals, local hotlines, counseling and testing sites, legal services, health departments, support groups, educational organizations, and service agencies throughout the United States."

* Use your computer to help "assist fundamental research to discover new drugs, using our growing knowledge of the structural biology of AIDS." No scientific expertise needed. Through distributed computing, your idle hard drive does all the work.

* Get tested so that you will know your HIV status and can protect yourself, you sexual partners and those you love. Act responsibly. Get help if you have trouble doing so.

* Participate in research. A good friend of mine is involved in an HIV vaccine trial. Like her, you may be able to help scientists and physicians develop new treatments, drugs or vaccines that fight HIV and AIDS. Also consider the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Remember, you can support research by donating time, money or resources, in addition to being a study participant.

* Donate time, money, or resources to an HIV/AIDS organization. I like SisterLove and Nyaka AIDS Orphans School. Or search in español, português, français or English to find a worthy organization near you.

We can stop this disease. We have to.

"We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them." - Titus Livius

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sponsor a business.

Last year's post on microloans is one of my most popular. Now Kiva offers a new way to make a microloan. When you fund a microloan through Kiva, you get your money back:

"Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on our website and then lending money online to that enterprise, you can 'sponsor a business' and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive monthly email updates that let you know about the progress being made by the small business you've sponsored. These updates include reports on loan repayment progress, photos of new capital equipment, narratives on business growth and standard of living improvements, and more. As loans are repaid, you will get your original loan money back."

Your money will go far in the countries where Kiva works, so it's easy to make a big difference in a family's life with a relatively small amount of money. You can start with as little as $25. The money is used to start a small business, like a barber shop, vegetable stand, restaurant or cell phone rental. Such business create a sustainable change in the family economy and allow the family be economically independent. Funding a microloan is just one more step toward economic justice.

You could even fund this person:

The International Year of Microcredit is almost over. So check out Kiva or another microcredit agency today!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Norman MacEwan

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Learn CPR.

Imagine that a friend or family member has a heart attack in your presence. Would you know what to do? Yes, call 911. But what else? Would you be able to keep your loved one alive until the paramedics arrive? 80% of heart attacks occur in the home and are witnessed by a family member. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can be learned and used by almost anyone and it doubles the survival rate from a heart attack.

The American Heart Association just released new guidelines for CPR that make it even faster and easier for you to learn this lifesaving technique. Here are three ways you can learn CPR and be prepared to save the life of a stranger or someone you love:

* Take a class from the American Heart Association. Just enter your ZIP code to find a course near you.

* Take a class from your local chapter of the Red Cross. There are chapter all over the world.

* Order a kit from the American Heart Association and learn CPR in your home on your own schedule.

Why not get a group of friends together and take a class? Or order the kit and learn CPR with your family. Be prepared. You never know whose life you will be able to save.

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." - Confucius

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Keep the party going.

Another holiday season is upon us, and many social organizations, businesses, families and other groups will soon have holiday parties to celebrate. But after the party is over, what will you do with all that leftover food? Keep the party going by donating leftovers to a food rescue agency. I became sold on food rescue when I worked with Potluck Food Rescue to donate food from my wedding. Remember, you can donate leftovers from all kinds of celebrations, throughout the year.

Americans throw away 27% of all food available in the country. That's one pound every day, for every child, women, and man in the US. Do your part to reduce this waste and feed those who are hungry. Food rescue is so much better than throwing good food in the trash. Contact your local food rescue agency or food bank today to arrange a donation. Or click the envelope below to forward this post to the organizers of your celebration. Party on!

"Waste is worse than loss. The time is coming when every person who lays claim to ability will keep the question of waste before him constantly. The scope of thrift is limitless." - Thomas A. Edison

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Share your blessings.

Today, many folks in the US celebrate Thanksgiving, a harvest celebration and feast when we take time to be grateful for all the good that has happened. Of course, we can and should give thanks and be grateful every day. One of the best ways to recognize all we have to grateful for is to share some of what we have with others. This blog is chock full of ways to share your blessings. In this post, I'll focus on those involving food, since, for many of us, this is a food-focused holiday. Here are a few of the many ways you can fight hunger:

* Feed a family, forever. You can do just that by contributing to Heifer International. They distribute livestock, trees, and other resources to "help people obtain a sustainable source of food and income." Heifer animals make great gifts.

* Feed a child today. The World Food Program is working to end child hunger by 2015. You can provide some immediate relief by clicking here. Each click will feed one child one meal. Won't you visit and click now? It's free to you and takes less than a minute.

* Donate food time or money to your local food bank. They're working every day to feed those who are hungry or food insecure.

* Send a card. Each e-card you send from will feed one child for one day. It will also spread the word about the World Food Program.

* Click again to feed more folks. Visit and click daily. It's free to you and takes less than a minute.

No one makes it in this world alone. Just as others have helped you, you too can and should help others. Don't forget to say 'thank you' to those who've made your life easier or better. Let them know you appreciate them and their actions, and take time each day to express gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!

"Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart." - Seneca

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Use your hands.

After finishing grad school five years ago, I decided that I needed to get involved in the Atlanta community and meet some new people. I'd lived here six years but most of that time had been spent in the lab. I wasn't sure how to start or where to volunteer so I contacted Hands On Atlanta, "a non-profit organization that helps individuals, families and corporate and community groups find flexible volunteer opportunities at more than 400 service organizations and schools." I did my first workday at MedShare International, and later joined TeamWorks to meet more people and try more projects (including MedShare again). The new folks eased my transition out of school and the relationship with MedShare has been a lasting and fruitful one.

You too can find volunteer opportunities in your area. Hands On Atlanta is an affiliate of the Hands On Network which works with organizations throughout the US and in several countries around the world, including South Africa, China, The Philippines, and Brazil. Here are just a few of the ways they'll help you use your hands:

* Serve your community by joining and participating in the Hands On affiliate in your area. For example, Hands on Atlanta lists over 200 service projects each month, so you're sure to find one that you enjoy and helps others in your community.

* Study at the Citizen Academy, a site "designed for people to learn more about community issues, to explore frequently asked questions, find ways to take action [and] test your knowledge on an issue." Subjects include literacy, environment, animal support, housing, youth, technology, and more.

* Join the Hands On Network. This is a great way for your nonprofit organization to get dedicated and exited volunteers. The Network "supports a gro wing international membership that offers resources to a va riety of organizations engaging communities in service."

* Build your business presence by participating in corporate volunteerism. "Many companies support and promote employee volunteering because of its perceived benefits to communities, employees, and companies themselves."

By volunteering in your community, you can "be the change" you want to see in the world. Join today!

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." - Booker T. Washington

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Expand your family.

Today is National Adoption Day, "a collective national effort to raise awareness of the 119,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families." If you are considering adoption as a way to expand your family and share your love, here are some ways you can begin the process:

* Read family stories to learn how adoption has been a blessing.

* Get more information on adoption. Resources include a Beginner's Guide to Adoption, a fact sheet, links and more.

* Find National Adoption Day events in your area. Events include adoption awareness classes, celebrations and more.

* Find the information you need if you are considering placing your child for adoption, are a member of a birth family, are an adoptive parent, or are an adopted person.

* Consider being a foster parent. Foster parents give love, care and support to over 500,000 children in the US.

Since this is National Adoption Month (Español), now is a great time to consider expanding your family and sharing your love with a child.

"By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better." - Richard Fischer, adoptive parent

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Get help (part 2).

A few months ago, I wrote about thirteen 12-step programs that people with various addictions can use to get help in recovery. But, as anyone with addiction in the family knows, addiction affects family members, friends and all those who love or interact with the person who is addicted. Thankfully there is help available.

If you love a person with an addiction and are concerned about that person and yourself, use these resources and Family Groups to "share experiences, strength, and hope in order to solve common problems":

* Debt-Anon Family Groups "consist of relatives and friends of money and debt addicts who realize that by banding together they can better solve their common problems." 

* Al-Anon/AlaTeen - "No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship." The site is available in Español and Français .

* Co-Anon Family Groups "are a fellowship of men and women who are husbands, wives, parents, relatives or close friends of someone who is chemically dependent. If you are seeking a solution to the problems that come from living with a practicing or recovering cocaine addict, we at Co-Anon can help you."

* Gam-Anon is a self-help organization and "a life saving instrument for the spouse, family or close friends of compulsive gamblers."

* COSA "An anonymous 12-Step fellowship open to those whose lives have been affected by compulsive sexual behavior."

* Adult Children of Alcholics "is a Twelve Step ,Twelve Tradition program of women and men who grew up in alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes. We meet with each other in a mutually respectful, safe environment and acknowledge our common experiences. We discover how childhood affected us in the past and influences us in the present ("The Problem"). We take positive action. By practicing the Twelve Steps, focusing on "The Solution", and accepting a loving Higher Power of our understanding, we find freedom from the past and a way to improve our lives today."

* Nar-Anon "is a twelve-step program designed to help relatives and friends of [narcotics ] addicts recover from the effects of living with an addicted relative or friend."

* S-Anon Family Groups "are a fellowship of the relatives and friends of sexually addicted people who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems."

* OLGAnon Family Groups "are a fellowship for relatives and friends of on-line gaming addicts, who share their experience, strength, and hope, in order to resolve their problems."

* Sober-24 is "a virtual fellowship for recovery. If you are recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, or are a loved one of someone in recovery (or who needs recovery) you are welcome at"

Find a meeting. Get the help you need for yourself. Life is too short and too long not to.

"Change not the mass but change the fabric of your own soul and your own visions, and you change all." - Vachel Lindsay

Monday, November 14, 2005

Invest locally.

One of the best ways to invest responsibly is to invest locally, in communities that are financially underserved. "Community investing is capital from investors that is directed to communities underserved by traditional financial services. It provides access to credit, equity, capital, and basic banking products that these communities would otherwise not have. In the U.S. and around the world, community investing makes it possible for local organizations to provide financial services to low-income individuals, and to supply capital for small businesses and vital community services, such as child care, affordable housing, and healthcare."

The Community Investing Center has numerous resources you can use to be part of this "strategy that remedies the economic disparity in domestic and international communities by providing lower-income people access to capital, credit, and training:"

* Use financial professionals that direct at least 1% of their managed funds to community investing.

* Search the community investment database to find investment tools that allow your money to work for you and for others.

* Select investment products that help restore economic justice.

* Consider international community investment programs.

* Note the impact of community investing. Through the 1% in the community campaign over $5 billion has been put into community investing.

* Also consider using credit unions, eating local foods, financing microloans and other ways you can act locally.

Invest your money so that it grows and works not just for you, but also for your community.

"Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for the tree." -Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Do your duty.

My grandmother always wanted to serve on a jury. Perhaps that was because, as a black American, for most of her life, she was barred from serving. Unfortunately, even after black folks were allowed to serve, she was never called. She would have been a good juror. She understood the value and purpose of juries and would have taken her duty and responsibility seriously. I will strive to do the same when I have jury duty in February. I know Kwadjo took his responsibility seriously when he served a few months ago.

If you are called to serve, think carefully about your activities and limitations, and the jury obligation and its role in our judicial system before trying to defer. Consider these resources:

* Consider the various types of justice and how they may apply in the case at hand.
* Use the tips to prepare for deliberation.
* Make sure you understand your employer's policy on leave for jury duty.
* Remember to respect your fellow jurors.
* Be sure to dress appropriately for jury duty. You'll want to be comfortable.

Participation in a jury is one of the ways you can contribute to a more just society. The duty is not to be ignored or taken lightly. So next time you are summoned for jury duty, do your best as you serve and work toward a just verdict.

Today would have been Fanilla Suttles Cobb's 95th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Repay your student loans.

Just last week, I received my last diploma in the mail. Now that I'm finally done with school (though I'm never done with learning!), it's time to pay back my student loans. If you are in a similar position, you may want to consider a loan repayment program. In exchange for service to the community, many federal agencies will repay portions of your student loans. Your community gets a well-educated and dedicated servant, and you get your loans repayed. It's win-win! Ready to learn more? Here are several programs you may want to consider:

* The National Institutes of Health has a intramural and extramural loan repayment programs for people with docotral level degrees in health and biomedical sciences. Eligibility depends, in part, on the type of research you do. I hope to qualify for this at some point.

* The AmeriCorps Education Award can be used "to pay educational expenses at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans." As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Kwadjo received this award. Good work!

* The Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program "offers registered nurses substantial assistance to repay educational loans in exchange for service in critical shortage facilities."

* Peace Corps volunteers "with Perkins loans are eligible for a 15 percent cancellation of their outstanding balance for each year of Peace Corps service."

* The Indian Health Service has a loan repayment program that is aimed at "obtain[ing] health professionals to meet the staffing needs of the IHS in Indian health programs."

* The Federal student loan repayment program "permits agencies to repay Federally insured student loans as a recruitment or retention incentive for candidates or current employees of the agency."

* The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a list of U.S. programs that "offer financial assistance, in the form of loan repayments, for a commitment to service (generally in an area of need). Information regarding each program has been provided by state health departments and other agencies, medical and health professions schools, federal programs, and military agencies."

These are some great ways to get rid of your debt. And they are wonderful ways to make a difference.

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Get the truth.

As a Southern black American woman, I am keenly aware that there are multiple versions of the "truth". Growing up, I'd often hear one version of history from my mother, grandmother, and father (Thanks y'all!) and a completely different version in school. So nowadays, I consult multiple media sources in an effort to get the truth. My favorite (read: most reliable) sources are independent media. You may want to peruse these resources to find independent, non-corporate newspapers, magazines, radio and television reporting:

* The Independent Media Institute "empowers people with independent journalism, information, and media tools to change the world."

* The Independent Media Center "is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth." Read it in deutsch, Ελληνικά, português, español, nederlands, italiano, français, and english.

* AlterNet is a project of the Independent Media Institute and "is a highly acclaimed Internet information source that provides readers with crucial facts and passionate opinions they can't find anywhere else."

* Reporters Without Borders "is an association officially recognised as serving the public interest. More than a third of the world’s people live in countries where there is no press freedom. Reporters Without Borders works constantly to restore their right to be informed." Read it in français, español and english. Also, they have a great Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents.

* The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters is "an international non-governmental organization serving the community radio movement, with almost 3 000 members and associates in 110 countries. Its goal is to support and contribute to the development of community and participatory radio along the principals of solidarity and international cooperation." Read the site in français, español and english.

* Indymedia UK is "a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues."

* Pacifica Radio has been "bringing listeners alternative, community, free speech, listener sponsored radio for over 50 years."

Don't settle for someone else's corporate-driven, politically-motivated version of the truth. Consult independent media and decide for yourself.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Invest with a purpose.

Almost a year ago, I did a post on socially-responsible investing (SRI). There are so many ways that you can invest in ethical businesses that are good corporate citizens. Won't it be nice to see your money grow while it makes a positive difference in our world? Here are some resources to help you get started in ethical and socially-responsible investing:

* is "a national nonprofit membership organization promoting the concept, practice and growth of socially responsible investing."

* is "features over 10,000 pages of information on SRI mutual funds, community investments, corporate research, shareowner actions, and daily social investment news."

* The Christian Science Monitor hosts a monthly video and podcast discussion on ethical investing.

* GreenMoney Journal "encourages and promotes the awareness of socially & environmentally responsible business, investing and consumer resources in publications & online. Our goal is to educate and empower individuals and businesses to make informed financial decisions through aligning their personal, corporate and financial principles."

* is a "resource for investment professionals, academics, and other people interested in the quantitative aspects of socially responsible investing (SRI)." They also have an SRI blog.

Carefully consider the companies you in which you are investing. Include the investments you manage personally and your pension and retirement investments. Make sure your money not only works for you but also works for others.

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." -Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Quit smoking.

Happy first of November! If you are a smoker, now is the time to plan your participation in the Great American Smokeout. Statistics say that 85 percent of smokers want to quit. On November 17th, thousands of people will quit smoking for the day, and perhaps for the rest of their lives. Here's how you can be one of them:

* Plan your quit day by considering the answers to three questions:

  • Why do I want to quit smoking?
  • What method will I use to quit smoking?
  • How will I stay smoke free?

While you think about the questions, consider the three steps to quitting:

* Get help from friends family and professionals. Call the toll free Quitline (1-800-ACS-2345 or 1-866-228-4327 for TTY) for smoking cessation tips and counseling. For online help visit the American Cancer Society.

* Be a friend to someone who is trying to quit. The American cancer society offers numerous ways to help and be supportive.

Most people try five to seven times before they quit forever. So don't give up! Every day, even today, even right now, is a good time to stop smoking. Your body will thank you. Your wallet will thank you. Your family and friends will thank you. Best of all, you'll thank and be proud of yourself. You can stop smoking!

"We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly... spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order." - Susan Taylor

Monday, October 31, 2005

Eat grub.

The folks at have a great definition of "grub: healthy, local, sustainable food for all; food that supports community, justice, and sustainability." I can get on board with that! Would you like to join us?

* Eat low on the food chain. "The healthiest diet for our bodies and the earth is a whole foods, plant-based diet. Factory farming contributes to massive air and water pollution and global warming. In the process, we also waste vast amounts of grain and other resources-not to mention the cruelty to animals or the ripple effect of antibiotic resistance from over-use of in animals." Learn more at and

* Eat organically grown, in-season, locally-grown, fair-trade and fresh foods. Learn more about local foods, fair-trade foods, and organic foods. You can also garden and grow your own. I'm preparing to grow shitake mushrooms and my compost pile is going strong.

* Help others eat grub. Donate food from your pantry, party, or garden. Support Heifer International and other sustainable development programs. Visit

* Vote with your ballot and with your dollars. "One of the best ways you can make a difference on any and all of the issues you care about is to vote and get others to do the same. Voting about what we believe in happens at the ballot box and the supermarket. Each of our consumer and savings choices has a huge impact." Also, consider the ways you can invest responsibly.

Now that's good eating, for the body, mind, and soul! Enjoy and happy trick-or-treating!

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." - Thomas Pynchon

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Take action.

Since I started Open Letters for Change (the So what can I do companion blog), I've had to find ways to get reliable information that I can use to write my letters of concern. Many organizations provide action alerts that let you know about new legislation, recent injustices, and opportunities for change. You can use that information to contact your elected officials and the media to make sure your voice is heard.

Use the sites below to:

--> Learn about issues that matter to you and how you can respond.
--> Clarify your opinions, suggestions and needs using the information provided.
--> Contact your elected officials, media, and thought leaders to share your thoughts and hold them accountable.

Consider these resources:

* People for the American Way is "fighting to maintain and expand 50 years of legal and social justice progress." They provide numerous resources you can use to communicate effectively with your elected officials, including lists and descriptions of legislations, contact information, and sample letters, and it's an excellent place to start.

* Friends Committee on National Legislation is "A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest. We seek a world free of war and the threat of war. We seek a society with equity and justice for all. We seek a community in which every person's potential may be fulfilled. We seek an earth restored." They provide numerous resources you can use to communicate effectively with your elected officials, including lists and descriptions of legislations, contact information, and sample letters, and it's an excellent place to start. Quakers have been involved in the peace and justice movement from their beginning. I saw this first-hand during my time at Swarthmore.

* Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a national media watch group. Use their media contact sheet and action alerts to "contact national media and make your voice heard" about news content (or lack thereof), advertising, and more.

* Africa Action "is the oldest organization in the U.S. working on African affairs. Our mission is to change U.S. Africa relations to promote political, economic and social justice in Africa. We provide accessible information and analysis and we mobilize popular support for campaigns to achieve this mission."

* New American Dream encourages environmental and socially responsible choices and helps you lobby your officials so that they will make those choices too.

Also, check with any social, political, or professional organization to which you belong. They may also provide resources that increase your lobbying power. Remember, be polite. And when you write or call, it's always best to modify the sample text to reflect your personal experience, community and feelings. So speak up and take action! You may be surprised by the effect you will have.

"Lower your voice and strengthen your argument." -Lebanese proverb

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Donate your organs.

As I write this, there are 89,879 people on the national transplant waiting list. Thankfully, as of mid-October, 8,487 people have generously donated their organs to 16,447 people. But we have a long way to go before all 89,879 people get the organs and tissues they need. But you can help meet that need. Here's how:

* Donate your organs. Learn how to become a donor and make sure that your wishes will be upheld. Make sure you tell to your family about your decision, and encourage them and others to become donors as well. Your organs and tissues can save and improve the lives of over 80 people!

* Promote organ donation in your community through speakers, brochures and other promotional materials. "Despite continuing advances in medicine and technology, the demand for organs drastically exceeds the number of organ donors. You can make the difference in someone's life by helping to increase organ donation."

* Donate time or money to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the National Donor Memorial, or the National Transplantation Resource Center. "Your gifts of money and time help save lives by supporting UNOS in educating the public about the critical need for organ and tissue donation. Every dollar of your tax-deductible contribution goes directly to programs aimed at increasing donation."

* Read donor stories at the National Donor Memorial. "Organ and tissue donors leave a miraculous legacy. They are living proof that death can bring life, that sorrow can turn to hope, and that a terrible loss can become the greatest gift of all. Every day they lead us on a journey of hope, renewal, and transformation."

Thoughtfully, prayerfully, consider all the ways you can donate life: blood (every 56 days), platelets (every 3 days), bone marrow, and organs. It is such a meaningful way to make a difference.

"The main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." - Thomas Carlyle

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Click now.

Several years ago, my mother's sorority chapter (Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta) hosted a mobile mammogram service so that folks in their community would have greater access to mammogram screening for breast cancer. One of the many women tested, who happened to be a member of the organization, learned that she had breast cancer as a result of that screening. Because of early detection she was able to start treatment and extend her life.

Every day, you have the opportunity to make a similar contribution. The Breast Cancer Site donates free and low-cost mammograms to low-income women in exchange for your clicks. And since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, each click is tripled. So far there have only been enough clicks for 408 mammograms. Click now to help them meet the goal of 750 mammograms.

It takes less than 10 seconds to click the big pink button. Click daily, and give some woman peace of mind or help her get a head start on treating the cancer. Want to spread the word? Use the white envelop below to send this information to your friends. It's such a simple way to make a difference.

Don't forget, women over 40 should have a mammogram every year. Won't you help someone make the appointment that could save her life? Click now, click daily.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Be bioethical.

Later this week, the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities will hold its annual meeting. Bioethicists ask and try to answer or solve the often difficult moral and ethical questions and dilemmas arising from the practice of medicine and life sciences research. When I ask people about bioethics, they often think of the hot button issues like human cloning, stem cells, and euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide. But there are lots of other issues that bioethicists study. Consider health care access, research priorities, health disparities, suffering, and justice (this year's ASBH theme).

Here are a few issues bioethicists are tackling, and some ways you may choose to respond:

***Issue: The shortage of donated organs leads to long transplant waiting lists and difficultly deciding who will receive scarce organs.
Response: Donate life. You may be able to donate blood (every 56 days), platelets (every 3 days), bone marrow, organs, or umbilical cord blood. Talk with your family about your decisions and call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or 1-888-USBLOOD to find a blood donation center near you.

***Issue: Development and testing of new drugs, medical equipment and medical treatments requires voluntary participation in research and clinical trials.
Response: Support and participate in research programs. Learn more about the purpose of biomedical research, and clinical trials, and decide whether you want to be a subject. You may or may not receive direct medical benefits but you will help improve medical care. If you choose not to participate, you may want to support research programs financially.

***Issue: End-of-life care and decision-making can be difficult and contentious given complicated medical, familial and legal environments.
Response: Get a living will. This legal document makes clear your wishes about certain aspects of your own end-of-life care, and will help your family, your physicians (and the courts) make decisions about your care that, ideally, respect your wishes. Make sure you talk with your family about your decisions.

***Issue: Health care workers need to respect the privacy of their patients while protecting public health, but doing both is not always possible.
Response: Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and other communicable diseases for which you are at risk. Get counseling so that you understand how the results will impact you, your family, your loved-ones, and others. Act responsibly.

If these topics pique your interest, you may want to learn more about bioethics, moral reasoning and decision-making in health care and research in today's world. To start, check out the Women's Bioethics Project, the Tuskegee National Center for Bioethics, the Center for American Progress' discussion on progressive bioethics, and the American Journal of Bioethics.

And remember that many other issues, like violence, hunger, homelessness, environmental damage, economic injustice, prejudice and more, are involved in health care and biomedical research decision-making. So consider the ethical and bioethical implications of your actions, then revise them as necessary. It's the right thing to do.

"Old bioethicists never die, they just lose autonomy." - Karama Neal, bioethicist and writer

Monday, October 17, 2005

Make a difference today.

So what can I do readers are all about making a difference, so October 22 is the day for us! This Saturday is Make a Difference Day. Here are some ways you can get involved in this "national day of doing good":

* Find a project in your area. Volunteers are needed all over the country to all kinds of work. You're sure to find something you'll enjoy.

* Organize a project to make a difference in your community. You can find numerous ways to contribute as an individual organizer or as part of a non-profit.

* Learn more at, or contact the organizers at 1-800-416-3824 or

But don't let your good works end on October 22. Check out the archives of So what can I do, to find ways to incorporate service into your life every day. You can make a difference today!

"You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth." -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Choose your methods.

Although you wouldn't know it by your TV news, the genocide in Sudan is still going on. After all this time, people are still being killed. (Five hundred people yesterday. Five hundred people today. Unfortunately, five hundred more people will die tomorrow.) People are still being raped. (Women and girls are very vulnerable.) People are still hungry and displaced. (Over 2.5 million people, so far.) Although the problem is large and severe, we are not helpless. Thankfully, there is hope. Here are just a few of the ways you can help.

Choose your methods:

* Learn more about what's happening in Sudan. Consider the Genocide Intervention Fund and Let others know what you've learned and encourage them to act.

* Divest from the Khartoum government. Do you want your money to support an unjust and murderous regime?

* Support relief organizations that are working to ease the suffering. Many of these organizations work in Sudan with internally displaced people, and also with refugees in Chad and elsewhere. Consider CARE, Mercy Corps and Doctors Without Borders.

* Assist Sudanese refugees in the US. These folks know a lot about the situation in their home country and may be well-positioned to help friends and relatives there.

* Write a letter of concern to your elected officials. Let them know that the crisis in Sudan matters to you and matters to all of us. Encourage your President, senators and representatives to allocate money and other resources to ending the genocide and brutality in Sudan.

* Send a letter to the television networks asking them to improve their coverage of Sudan. The more people know about what's going on in Sudan, the more likely they are to act to end it.

Years from now, when someone asks where you were during the Darfur genocide, what you did to end it, how you helped your brothers and sisters who were in danger, what will you say? Act now. End genocide, forever.

"To think is easy.  To act is hard.  But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking." - Goethe

Friday, October 14, 2005

Swim against malaria.

Three thousand children die each day from malaria. But with the help of a $5 long-lasting treated mosquito net, malaria can be prevented. World Swim for Malaria is organizing to make sure families get those nets.

On Saturday, December 3, 2005, they hope to have 1,000,000 people swimming to raise money for the nets."100% of the money raised buys mosquito nets. Millions of them. And every net matters." Here's how you can contribute:

* Get a group of friends together, start raising money, and get ready to swim. 225,005 people have already signed up. You don't have to swim on the third, and the distance and number in your group don't matter. Just register your swim, and do what you can to make a difference in a child's life.

* Sponsor a swimmer in your area or across the world.

* Learn more about malaria and the other ways you can support research, prevention, and treatment.

If you could prevent even one child from dying would you do so? Now you can swim not only for your health, but for someone else's as well. So get out your swimsuit/trunks, or get out your checkbook, and make a difference!

Information on the World Swim is available in English, 日本語, Dutch, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch , Ελληνικά , 中文 (简体字), and Italiano.

"For anyone addicted to reading commonplace books ... finding a good new one is much like enduring a familiar recurrence of malaria, with fever, fits of shaking, strange dreams. Unlike a truly paludismic ordeal, however, the symptoms felt while savoring a collection of one man’s pet quotations are voluptuously enjoyable." - M.F.K. Fisher (1908–1992), U.S. culinary writer and autobiographer.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fight fires.

Candle fires. Chimney fires. Heating fires. Arson. Wildfires. All of these can cause damage to life, health and property. Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined. 83% of civilian fire-related deaths occurred in the home. And civilians aren't the only ones who bear the burden. In 2004, 117 firefighters were killed while on duty.

October 9-15 is National Fire Prevention Week. You already know many of the things you can do to practice fire safety. Here are a few:

* Make sure smoke detectors are properly installed and maintained. (Check the batteries when we fall back, October 30th.)
* Develop and practice a home fire escape plan.
* Use candles safely. (That's this year's theme.)
* Practice safe smoking (DON'T SMOKE!), safe cooking, and safe heating.

That will help you. But what about everyone else? Consider becoming a volunteer firefighter. Swarthmore, PA has a volunteer fire department and several of my collegemates were firefighters. Whether it was day or night, whether they were in class, at a party, or asleep in their dorm rooms, when the siren sounded, these dedicated and brave students (male and female, large and petite, of all ethnicities) would rush down the hill to the headquarters to risk their lives while serving their community, all without pay. I have the utmost respect for them.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, consider these resources:

--> The National Volunteer Fire Council is "a non-profit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the information source regarding legislation, standards and regulatory issues." They operate a national recruitment campaign. Call 1-800-FIRE-LINE to learn more.

--> The US Fire Administration provides "training and educational opportunities for the Fire Service and allied organizations . Also available are fire statistics, public fire education campaign materials, and information on funding opportunities." They also offer a Volunteer Incentive Program, maintain a list of fire-safe hotels and provide information on home fire safety.

--> provides "a place for volunteer firefighters to come and share information with their fellow 'unpaid professionals'. is strictly for volunteer and combination departments and is built to address the unique issues that all volunteer departments share."

Thank you to all the firefighters and other emergency personnel that help keep us safe, paid and volunteer. Be careful.

"People are tested by wealth, just as gold is tested by fire." - Chinese proverb