Saturday, August 27, 2005

Spread the love.

Regular readers know that Kwadjo and I are getting married in a few days. (Woo hoo!!) Nowadays the average cost of a wedding is about $25,000. That's a bunch! Seems like there ought to be a way to spread some of that around to folks who can really use it. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to do just that and still have a joyous, beautiful, fun, and meaningful marriage celebration. Here some ideas you and your partner may want to consider:

--> Donate leftover food to a food rescue agency. There's sure to be one in your area. We're working with Potluck Food Rescue in Central Arkansas. Also, locally- or organically-grown food is a good idea.

--> Choose environmentally-responsible rings that use metals and gems that are recycled and conflict-free.

--> Use recycled paper for your invitations, programs, thank you cards and the like. You can find beautiful recycled paper products at many locations, including office and wedding supply stores.

--> Donate the flowers to a nursing home or assisted living facility. The folks there will really appreciate your kindness. Organically- or locally-grown flowers are also a good choice.

--> Donate your dress after the big day. Are you really going to wear it again? Your daughter may not want to wear it either. (Do you want to wear your mom's?). Instead the resale of the dress can benefit a good cause.

--> Make a donation to your favorite charity in honor of your guests instead of (or in addition to) more traditional favors. If you don't have a favorite charity, scroll through the archives of So what can I do? to get some ideas.

--> Plan a socially-conscious wedding with help from the I Do Foundation. It's run by Swarthmore alums and has great ideas, including making charitable contributions through your registry. Also check out Organic Weddings and Green Weddings for more ways to make a difference on your big day.

Hopefully, you can incorporate one or more of these ideas into your celebration. (Share your own in the comments.) From the registry, to the honeymoon, make your celebration even more meaningful. Spread the love you share with your sweetheart, and let your commitment or wedding celebration be a vehicle for love and service.

"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." - Roy Goodman

Monday, August 22, 2005

Give blood every 56 days.

I just made my regular bimonthly appointment to donate blood with the Red Cross. But a reader, Cora Ivy, recently informed me that "more than half the nation's blood is donated to community blood centers" not the Red Cross. I should have remembered that since I got my first 5 gallon pin from regular donations at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (which, unfortunately, no longer has a blood donation center).

60% of Americans are eligible to donate blood, but only 5% do. Help raise that percentage and save a life. Here's how:

* Contribute blood. To find a community blood center near you visit If you prefer, call 1-888-USBLOOD to make an appointment to donate.

* Contribute time as a volunteer for your community blood center where you'll help conduct blood drives and be involved in community education.

* Contribute money to the Foundation for America's Blood Centers "to purchase medical supplies, support blood drives and increase public awareness."

* Consider these four other ways to donate life. There are so many ways to make a difference.

As they say, "Saving the world isn't easy. Saving a life is." A single donation can save up to three lives. Give blood today (or support those who do). Thanks Cora Ivy!

"With blood donations, I can live a more normal life. I can contribute to society. I can live in this world instead of sitting home waiting to die. Life is in the blood. Without blood, there is no life. I can’t think of a better way to save life than to give it." - Rev. Willie Jones, Jr., blood recipient.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Have you ever wondered what folks did before dollars, pounds, cedis, yen, shillings, and pesos made us bound to money? Likely they bartered, that is, they traded things they had for things they needed. The invention of money, which can be much more efficient, caused bartering to die down substantially. But there are still many good reasons to barter:

> You can conserve your cash for when you really need it.
> You may not have to pay sales taxes on the goods and services you receive. (helpful when trying to subvert the IMF!)
> You will support the local economy.
> You can get rid of surplus inventory (read: junk. Remember, one woman's trash is another woman's treasure.)
> You will prevent waste and encourage recycling.

Here are some sites that will provide information you can use to successfully use bartering in your business and personal life:

* The International Reciprocal Trade Association "is a non-profit organization of companies committed to promoting just and equitable standards of reciprocal trade and raising the value of reciprocal trade to businesses and communities world wide by educating, self-regulating and leading by example."

* Barter News "is the official journal of the reciprocal trade industry."

* Barter Consultants International is a for-profit organization that can help your business reduce cash spending.

* In 2000, Inc. Magazine reviewed and ranked several barter websites including,, and

* And of course, you can organize a clothes swap (or tool swap, or plant/seed swap, or . . . )

Once you start bartering, you'll have more cash on hand to send to your favorite non-profit organizations! It's win-win for everyone!

"All government -- indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act -- is founded on compromise and barter." - Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cut your hair.

So many grown-folks fight hair loss. Men (and women!) spend lots of their money and time trying to "fix" their hair. Now imagine that you are a child with hair loss. What will the other children think? Will they make fun of me? It must be difficult. Thankfully, there may be help available.

Locks of Love "is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children 18 years and younger suffering from long-term medical hair loss." If you're interested in donating your hair for this worthy cause, here are the guidelines:
1. We accept 10" minimum hair length (tip to tip), not wigs, falls, or synthetic hair
2. Please bundle hair in ponytail or braid.
3. Hair needs to be clean, dry, placed in a plastic bag, then padded envelope.
4. We need hair from men and women, young and old, all colors and races.
5. Hair may be colored or permed, but not bleached or chemically damaged (if unsure, ask your stylist).
6. Hair swept off the floor is not usable.
7. Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail or braid.
8. Hair that is short, gray, or unsuitable for children will be separated from the ponytails and sold at fair market value to offset the cost of manufacturing.
9. You may pull curly hair straight to measure the minimum 10".
10. The majority of all hair donated comes from children who wish to help other children.
11. Layered hair may be divided into multiple ponytails for donation.
12. Please note: Anyone can cut your hair as long as the above guidelines are followed.

Remember, it's just hair. Yours will grow back. If your don't want to cut your hair or don't have enough hair to cut, you may want to volunteer or make a financial contribution.

Two more things:

* I wrote Locks of Love to ask if they accept hair donations from people with kinky hair so that black children who want to wear natural hair styles have the option to do so. I did not receive a response, but if anyone has information on natural hair wigs for children, please leave a comment.

* Given that treatment for blood cell cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, etc.) causes many, many children to lose their hair, please consider joining the bone marrow registry so that you can help cure these diseases and save a life.

So comb your hair, braid it up, and go get the scissors. A child will thank you.

"It's all good hair." - Michelle N-K Collison *

Monday, August 15, 2005

Think globally, act locally.

Just the other day, a colleague and I were discussing the fact that large, global problems like war, hunger, racism, poverty, environmental degradation, and the like can seem so overwhelming and unmanageable that some folks give up trying to solve them. That's a shame. Especially since readers of So what can I do know that we all can make contributions to solving the worlds problems. Part of the key is to start small. Make micromovements by taking small steps in the right direction, focusing on your community, your network, yourself, realizing that your actions impact all of us and have ramifications for our world. Collectively, our small steps make a big difference. You choose whether that is a positive or negative impact.

Here are a few steps you can take locally to address and correct the big global problems we face:

--> Take steps against WAR:
* Wage peace. Remember, peace is not the absence of war.
* Hold your media and elected officials accountable. If you don't like what they're doing, TELL THEM!
* Live ethically even when it's unpopular, uncommon, unexpected or inconvenient. Consider not only what you do, but also what you don't do.
* Strive to behave justly. Remember, No justice, no peace.

--> Take steps against CLASSISM, SEXISM, HOMOPHOPIA, and other unjust forms of DISCRIMINATION:
* Teach and model tolerance of those who are different from (or the same as!) you.
* Consider the role of class in your society. If you don't like it, model something better.
* Make sure your actions reflect your beliefs.
* Learn to communicate precisely so that you can avoid misinterpretation and say what you mean and mean what you say to whomever you want.

--> Take steps against HUNGER, FAMINE and HOMELESSNESS:
* Build a home for someone who needs one.
* Donate food from your pantry, party or garden to a shelter, food rescue agency or food bank near you.
* Make free donations to agencies working in these areas.
* Become a social entrepreneur and find creative ways to solve your community's problems.

--> Take steps against POVERTY:
* Insist on economic justice buy purchasing fair trade products.
* Invest responsibly in socially-conscious businesses.
* Support sustainable development which is one of many ways to actually END POVERTY.
* Fund microloans and help a family take care of itself in the long term.

--> Take steps against VIOLENCE:
* Report abuse and assault of all kinds.
* Consider how you may unknowingly support violence.
* Get the help you need to deal with being a survivor of violence.
* Support agencies that work to end violence.

* Reduce, reuse, recycle, restore everything, in that order.
* Insist on environmental justice. Whose neighborhoods are the dumps in?
* Conserve water and make sure it is clean, and physically and financially accessible to everyone.
* Choose heirloom or recycled jewelry to avoid the damage to earth and communities that mining can cause.

--> Take steps against SICKNESS:
* Donate platelets blood, organs or tissues to save or improve someone's life.
* Make good choices about your personal physical and mental health.
* Donate stethoscopes and other medical equipment to clinics and hospitals around the world.
* Support health initiatives at Carter Center and Clinton Center.

You'll find many more ideas in the archives of So what can I do (see sidebar). Now let's get started! Thanks, Pat, for this suggestion!

"I am only one, but still I am one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And just because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." - Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Never mine.

Kwadjo and I were excited to get our wedding rings the other day. We love them! We chose them from, makers of "ecologically responsible jewelry." Their goal is to end destructive diamond and gold mining. And to do so they "provide an ecologically and socially responsible jewelry alternative to those who seek change."

Gold is a very versatile metal. It is malleable and ductile. It’s a good conductor of heat and electricity, immune to tarnish, and resistant to acids. Although these properties make it very useful in industrial applications, 80% of the gold used each year nonetheless goes into jewelry.

While gold is valuable enough to provide an incentive to recycle, significant amounts of gold sit idle, while mining continues at a pace of 2,500 tons a year. In fact, there is enough gold above ground (already mined) to satisfy all demands of the jewelry industry for the next 50 years. Much of it sits in bank vaults and in the form of old and unused jewelry.

So our beautiful gold rings (which we can't wait to put on next month) are recycled. Your next jewelry purchase can be too. GreenKarat sells rings for weddings and commitments and jewelry that is a "responsible indulgence." Check out their standards and catalog. And once you get your jewelry, verify the content on You'll love your jewelry even more by knowing that the gold and gems were obtained in an ecologically responsible manner and are conflict free.

Thanks greenKarat!

"We therefore call on Newmont [Ghana Gold Limited] to stop its disastrous forays into the forest reserve, provide the people of Yayaaso with alternate drinking water, pay prompt adequate and reasonable compensation for destroyed farms and also build the same number of rooms for the affected landlords in order to avoid the break up of families. Newmont should avoid undertaking activities that would destroy sacred burial grounds and respect the traditional cultures of affected communities.

In conclusion, we are concerned about the fact that the community problems and the attitude of Newmont even at the construction stage in Ghana, would produce the same negative impacts on affected communities and the environment as had occurred in Indonesia, Peru, Romania  and Nevada.
" - Daniel Owusu-Koranteng of Wassa Association of Communities Affected By Mining and Mike Anane of League of Environmental Journalists. (2005) Accra, Ghana*

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cherish youth.

The United Nations has declared today, August 12, International Youth Day. They encourage us to team up, organize, celebrate and take action for youth. Want some concrete ways to do that? Try these ideas from the So what can I do? archives:

* End child abuse. If you or someone you know needs help call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Professional counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

* Donate life so that children and others can benefit from your blood, platelets, organs, and marrow.

* Be a foster parent to one or more of the thousands of US children who need them.

* Support children of imprisoned parents and eliminate the fact that children with parents in prison are five times more likely to go to prison themselves.

* Be a mentor to youth in your community.

* Consider the effects of class and economics on youth and on yourself.

* Make good choices for the health of yourself and youth everywhere.

If you want more ideas, peruse the archives. You're sure to find many ways to serve.

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Follow the Presidents.

The leaders of the United States often do their best work after they leave the Presidency. Certainly, their name recognition and contacts put them in a perfect position to do and advocate for good works. Check out these examples:

* The Carter Center "is committed to advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering." Their peace programs and health programs are active in more than 65 countries. The Carter Center is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

* The Clinton Presidential Center - "The mission of the William J. Clinton Foundation is to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. To advance this mission, the Clinton Foundation has developed programs and partnerships in the following areas: health security, economic empowerment, leadership and citizen service, race, ethnic, and religious reconciliation." The Clinton Center is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

* People to People International - "The purpose of People to People International is to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. It will cooperate with any and all other organizations which are of similar nature and purpose." PTPI has a presence in 135 countries with programs in the following areas: Humanitarian and Educational Initiatives; Adult Exchange Program; Missions in Understanding; the International Visitors Program; the Student Ambassador Program; and the Sports Ambassador Program. PTPI was founded by Dwight Eisenhower and is based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Consider how you can support these worthy organizations with your time, talents, money, or other resources, and walk in the path of the Presidents.

"According to Gandhi, the seven sins are wealth without works, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principle. Well, Hubert Humphrey may have sinned in the eyes of God, as we all do, but according to those definitions of Gandhi’s, it was Hubert Humphrey without sin." - President Jimmy Carter, eulogy at funeral services for former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, January 16, 1978.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Go to the source.

Have you noticed that only 13% of the expert commentary on the three major US networks is provided by women? Ever watch the Sunday news talk shows? On those broadcasts, men outnumber women nine to one. Thankfully, is working to change that., which launches in Fall 2005, is "an online resource of expert women ready and available to enrich the public debate. SheSource is designed to include spokeswomen from a variety of backgrounds, representing demographic and ethnic diversity as well as work in a variety of issue areas – particularly ones that are traditionally male-dominated."

There are at least three ways you can help SheSource meet their goal "to ensure that women are recognized as stakeholders and called upon as experts in all fields:"

* Recommend a spokesperson. Submit the names of credible, dynamic, well-spoken women who are experts in their fields (see comments) to SheSource so that media sources can contact them for commentary.

* Reference women in your reporting. If you are a reporter, journalist, or writer, in print, broadcast or online media, sign-up with SheSource to receive the names of expert spokeswomen in your area.

* Spread the word about SheSource. Tell your friends and colleagues, and make sure your local media know about and use SheSource.

Who knows what the news would look like and sound like if more women participated? I'm sure it would be a change for the better!

"The greatest privilege in our society is to be a purveyor of news." - Franklin Bliss Snyder (1949), President, Northwestern University, in his commencement address at Medill School of Journalism