Monday, July 25, 2005

Prevent sexual assault.

Here are the facts:

* In 2002-2003, there were approximately 223,280 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.
*That means, every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. (How long have you been online?)
* One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (Think of six women you know.
* Only about 40% of rapes sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement in 2003. (How many rapists are free to rape again?)
* Thankfully, since 1993, rape/sexual assault has fallen by over 65% . (Are you involved in the work that made this happen? Thank you!)

Because the numbers are so large, almost everyone is connected to someone involved in the crime of sexual assault. If you don't need this information now, you may well need it soon.

If you are sexually assaulted,

  • Go to a safe place and call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). The call is free from anywhere in the US and the conversation is confidential. If you prefer, enter your zip code here to find a rape crisis center near you. You'll talk to counselors at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. For online counseling, visit

  • Write down as many details of the assault as possible and save the list. Even if you decide not to report the crime now, you may change your mind later.

  • Get medical treatment, regardless of whether or not you intend to report the crime.

  • DO NOT shower, douche, or use any medication before seeking medical care. DO NOT wash or change clothing or sheets or straighten the scene of the assault.

Do all you can to prevent sexual assault. You owe to yourself, or someone you know - even if you don't know it yet.

"As long as there is rape ... there is not going to be any peace or justice or equality or freedom. You are not going to become what you want to become or who you want to become. You are not going to live in the world you want to live in." - Andrea Dworkin (1946-2005), U.S. feminist, critic.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Be an idealist.

Can you envision a better neighborhood, nation or world? Are you working to make changes in your society? Do you believe that your efforts will have positive results? If so, you may be an idealist, and is the place for you. Their mission is to connect "people, organizations and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives."

You can visit in English, en Espanol, or en Francais. Here are some of the ways you can use the site:

* Search their database of over 46,000 nonprofits to identify volunteer opportunities in your town and around the world. Don't forget to add your organization if it's not already listed. It's free.

* Search their database to find nonprofit job opportunites.

* Read about news and other issues relevant to the nonprofit world.

Some people may think that being an idealist means being naive or looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. But idealists are those who have a clear vision of the world they want and work to make it a reality. I'm count myself as an idealist. How about you?

"Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act. To act is to affirm the worth of an end, and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal." - Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841–1935), US Supreme Court Justice

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Promote sustainable development.

I've written about sustainable development before, mostly in the context of Heifer International and microcredit. But there's are many more ways you can support and promote sustainable development. Here are just a few:

* Learn more about sustainable development at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a research organization, and at the United Nations Division of Sustainable Development.

* Visit The Sustainable Village and get involved in their work on microenterprise, renewable energy, product development and more.

* Support organizations that provide microcredit, sustainable food and other resources and opportunities.

* Wage peace.

Sustainable development goes beyond the popular metaphor: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat forever." Sustainable development makes sure the river is unpolluted and can support a long-standing population of fish. It ensures that all people in the community have access to the fish and have the skills and equipment necessary to do the fishing. It may even develop strategies that allow folks to sell fish to people who don't live by the river thereby improving the lives of the seller and buyer. That's why I support sustainable development.

"If we did a better job of managing our resources sustainably, conflicts over them would be reduced. So, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace." - Prof. Wangari Maathai, Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Plant a tree.

Ever wonder how we're going to get rid of all that global-warming causing carbon dioxide that comes spewing out of our cars, planes, factories and the like? Well, one way to do it is to plant trees. (Remember photosynthesis?) Trees and other green plants take make oxygen and sugar out of carbon dioxide and water. (6H2O + 6CO2 --> C6H12O6 + 6O2). We breathe the oxygen and get rid of the carbon dioxide. Ta da! And now with the help of Trees for the Future you can plant trees to offset the pollution you create.

Trees for the Future plants trees all over the world. Their work is similar to that of Wangari Maathai who won a Nobel Prize last year for her tree planting and other efforts in Kenya. Here's how to get involved:

* Honor a loved one or special occasion by having trees planted in her name.

* Plant trees to counter the pollution caused by your next trip, whether by plane or by car.

* Order your own tree planting kit.

* Volunteer with Trees for the Future.

Trees for the Future pays about ten cents to plant a tree, so even small contributions are helpful. I won't promise you a Nobel Prize, but I can promise that you'll make a difference. Plant your tree today!

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
- Joyce Kilmer. 1886–1918

Monday, July 18, 2005

Make a microloan.

At this writing, a Google search for "microloans" shows a So what can I do? post as the third hit. Dozens of people have done just that search and hopefully found the information they need to make or apply for microcredit. But what if you don't have the cash to make a donation to a microlender? Well, thanks to you can still contribute. And all you have to do is click.

Each free click at adds 25 cents to their microcredit fund. It may not sound like much, but it adds up quickly. As little as $19 can help a person start an income-generating business that will improve the lives of the entrepreneur and her family. If just you and ten of your friends click every day for a week you all will have donated that and more. How much easier can it be to make a difference? So click today.

Loans are made to individuals all over the world through partnerships with Opportunity International, the Calvert Foundation, and Grameen Foundation. What better time to start donating than in this, the International Year of Microcredit. By clicking regularly and spreading the word, you will indeed make a microloan(s) and change someone's life for the better. Click now.

"If I could be useful to another human being, even for a day, that would be a great thing. It would be greater than all the big thoughts I could have at the university." - Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Drive gently.

I am a big proponent of public transportation, but even so, I still have a car. Thankfully, cars don't have to be that damaging to the environment or to ourselves. Try one of these options to cause less harm while you get there:

* Drive a hybrid vehicle. These use gasoline and electricity to generate power and never have to be plugged in. You can learn more at

* Use biodiesel to fuel your diesel engine.

* Consider an all-electric vehicle. You'll have to plug it in, but you'll get clean air and a quiet ride.

* And if you have a regular gas car like mine, try some of these 20 tips for fuel-efficient driving.

Happy motoring!

"Ellie: A soul is a very expensive thing to keep: much more so than a motor car. Shotover: Is it? How much does your soul eat? Ellie: Oh, a lot. It eats music and pictures and books and mountains and lakes and beautiful things to wear and nice people to be with." - George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Anglo-Irish playwright, critic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Assist Sudanese refugees.

Last month, I wrote about efforts to assist Sudanese refugees in the US. There are, however, many more folks in distress in and near Sudan. You can help Sudanese refugees in Chad or internally-displaced Sudanese people by contributing your time, money or other resources to one or more of the following organizations:

* Islamic Relief Worldwide "works in over twenty countries around the world on projects ranging from emergency relief to long-term development. Our projects focus on key areas such as water and sanitation, health and nutrition, orphan sponsorship."

* American Jewish World Service "supports almost 270 grassroots organizations in the developing world and Russia and Ukraine through grant making, technical assistance, emergency relief and advocacy. We also provide unique international service opportunities for the Jewish community, enabling Jews to play an active role in the process of meaningful social change."

* World Vision is "a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the c auses of poverty. We serve the world's poor — regardless of a person's religion, race, ethnicity, or gender."

* Doctors Without Borders "is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries."

* CARE "is a united force dedicated to helping the world's poorest communities solve their most threatening problems."

* Friends of the World Food Program "engages in advocacy, outreach, and fundraising activities.  With generous support from schools, ethnic groups, religious organizations, businesses, and individuals, Friends of WFP has helped channel millions of dollars to support WFP operations."  

* Save the Children "is the leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world."

* International Rescue Committee "is a world leader in relief, rehabilitation, protection, post-conflict development, resettlement services and advocacy for those uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression."

Send what you can. It's a small step you can take to help wage peace and stop the genocide in Sudan. Thanks to Nicholas Kristof for his blog post on these organizations.

"It's the responsibility of all of us to ensure that our governments stop genocides. We cannot allow them to evade their duty where thousands or millions perish. Otherwise, we will all be responsible for perpetuating the genocides that will inevitably occur in the future." - Paul Rusesabagina, Rwandan innkeeper and inspiration for "Hotel Rwanda"

Monday, July 11, 2005

Buy recycled.

Ever wonder what happens to all those plastics, e-waste, tennis shoes, clothes and other materials that you recycle? Well, everything old is new again at the RecycleStore.

The California RecycleStore "showcases innovative recycled-content products and puts you in touch directly with their manufacturers. Whether you are a wholesale buyer or an individual consumer, use this catalog to discover a variety of quality recycled-content products designed with your needs in mind! In fact, some manufacturers can personalize their products to your specifications." They have all kinds of items: clothing, furniture, office supplies, pet supplies, gardening equipment, and more. Check it out and place your order today!

Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle, restore; in that order. Thanks to Kathy for the tip on RecycleStore!

"Nothing in nature is exhausted in its first use. When a thing has served an end to the uttermost, it is wholly new for an ulterior service. In God, every end is converted into new means." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wage peace.

Some folks may believe that some war is justified. Perhaps they are right, but almost no one wants to be at war. As yesterday's quote makes clear, war has no winners and everyone suffers. We should avoid it whenever possible. But how do we do that? We wage peace.

* The American Friends Service Committee has a 'Wage Peace Campaign'. Visit their site to learn more about loss of life in Iraq, sign a petition to bring the troops home, sign up for free email updates on Iraq, and more. The AFSC is "Quaker Values in Action."

Consider also the societal conditions that often lead to war. As we change those, we alter the likelihood of peace. Follow the links below to learn how you can help lessen the chances of war and establish a lasting peace for our world:

* Work towards economic justice. And as you do, consider the role class plays in our society.

* Support efforts at environmental justice.

* Shop responsibly. Invest responsibly. Purchase fair-trade and locally-produced goods.

* Develop and implement new solutions to old problems.

* Promote tolerance and fight hate.

Peace is possible, but we must work for it.

"No justice, no peace." - countless people around our world

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Support noncombatant Iraqi people.

Unfortunately, war has many unintended victims. It's not just the politicians and the soldiers who suffer; noncombatant citizens are harmed as well. You can help ease that suffering:

* Donate to the American Friends Service Committee "to support our work giving assistance and support to Iraq's homeless camps, orphanages, and hospitals, and our efforts to help Iraqis build a better society."

* Support Operation Iraqi Children by sending money or school supply kits that will help children get an education.

Just as many families in the US are victims of war, so are Iraqi families. Do what you can to support them.

"War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost." - Karl Kraus (1874–1936), Austrian satirist.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Support veterans.

There are numerous way to support soldiers and veterans even if you don't support the war the US is currently in. Here are just a few of your options:

* Donate time, money, blogspace or other resources to Homes for our Troops, an organization that assists "injured service men and women and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility." All this at little or no cost to the veteran!

* Support the Wounded Warrior Project which helps injured veterans by offering counseling, adaptive sports and recreation, subsidizing necessities such as housing, food, daycare, airfare and ground transportation while families are visiting injured service members at military hospitals in the US and overseas, and facilitating communication between families and veterans.

* Volunteer at a Veteran's Administration facility near you.

* Check out some more options listed in the April 10th post including Books for Soldiers.

* Of course the best way to help the soldiers is to end the war. Write a letter to your elected officials and to the media to tell them how you feel.

"All war represents a failure of diplomacy." - Tony Benn, British Labour politician on February 28, 1991, the day the Gulf War ended.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Be a social entrepreneur.

This week, PBS broadcasts a set of programs called "The New Heroes" which "tells the dramatic stories of 14 daring people from all corners of the globe who, against all odds, are successfully alleviating poverty and illness, combating unemployment and violence, and bringing education, light, opportunity and freedom to poor and marginalized people around the world." These sound like the kind of people I like!

Such folks are often called 'social entrepreneurs'. They "identify and solve social problems on a large scale, . . seizing opportunities in order to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value." Here are a few of the fourteen thinkers and doers that are profiled:

* Moses Zulu opened Children's Town School and Community Center to serve Zambian children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. "The program has grown from a handful of children living in tent shelters to almost 300 children and a staff of 22 living in six different houses." 'So what can I do' publicized a similar school in Uganda in the November 18th post.

* Mimi Silbert founded founded Delancey Street, "where substance abusers, former felons and others who had hit bottom would, through their own efforts, be able to turn their lives around. [She] has empowered more than 14,000 people to lead crime-free, drug-free lives in mainstream society. They have acquired skills, they attend college and they are part of the workforce." 'So what can I do' profiled similar organizations in Atlanta and the world in the February 4th post.

* Muhammad Yunus helps "people lift themselves out of poverty in rural Bangladesh by providing them with credit without requiring collateral. Yunus developed his revolutionary micro-credit system with the belief that it would be a cost effective and scalable weapon to fight poverty." 'So what can I do' promoted microloans in the December 10th post and economic justice in the March 6th post .

* Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy ("Dr. V.") and David Green are using "compassionate capitalism" to help millions of blind and deaf people in India and Nepal see and hear again. 'So what can I do" gave readers a way to contribute to similar efforts in the October 11th post.

* Albina Ruiz developed a community-managed system of waste collection that has eased health, economic, and environmental problems in Peru. 'So what can I do' discussed environmental justice in the November 17th post.

* Sompop Jantraka and Kailash Satyarthi are working to end human trafficking and slavery in Thailand and India respectively. You can support the work in India, Nepal and Pakistan by buying rugs from The Rugmark Foundation. 'So what can I do' talked about similar issues in the June 29th post.

You can help by contributing your time, money, or other resources to the organizations founded by these people or others like them. Better yet, watch 'The New Heroes' on July 5 and be inspired to create social value in your community and positive change in our world. You, too, can be a new hero!

"The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men." - Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist.