Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Put people first.

Since I commute by train and bus, I run into many of the same people everyday. Yesterday, on my way home I rode the train with a women I see frequently. She's blind, and when we moved to exit at the same stop I asked if she needed assistance. We chatted on the way to her bus and were pleased to note that her first name is the same as my middle name. My conversation with Carol inspired this post on putting people not disability first.

Here are some resources that will help you interact with all people regardless of their (dis)abilities. It's not surprising that that these guidelines apply to everyone because species atypical people (like blond people, blind people, and any other group that is not in the majority) have many of the same needs, desires, concerns, hopes, etc. as everyone else. Considering that most people will be disabled at some point in their lives, this is especially true. Consider these suggestions:

--> Recognize that people are individuals. Give them respect and treat them they way you would want to be treated.
--> Treat adults as adults. Do not patronize people with disabilities by telling them how courageous they are, talking to them like they are children, or talking down to them.
--> Speak directly to the person not their companion (if they have one).
--> Offer assistance but only give it if your offer is accepted. Wait for any instructions the person may give you.
--> Don't focus on the disability, but don't pretend it doesn't exist.
--> Be willing to adjust your pace of walking or talking as necessary.

You may think that this will be easy, but take this test for bias first. If the results surprise or disappoint you, consider a visit to to learn how you can promote tolerance in yourself, your home and your community. Here are a few more resources you may want to consider:

* From Linc, Inc:
* From the National Center for Independent Living:
* From Disability Rights Advocates:

Remember that perspectives may differ because all people with disabilities don't agree on everything. Neither do all women. Or all wealthy people. Or all black people. You get the idea. When we recognize the value that all people possess we're well on the way to putting people first.

It was great meeting you, Carol! See you on MARTA!

"I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves." -- Harriet Tubman

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Vote smart.

The candidate for whom I am most likely to vote for in November's presidential election is one which many call "unelectable". That's okay. The candidate is the one I think is best for me, my country, and my world. Although I initially worried about "unelectability" I put those concerns aside when I remembered my favorite Ghandi quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Everyone should vote for the person the person they believe will do the best job. If we just vote the person who is most "electable" we could end up with a president everyone voted for, but who no one really likes. That's not a recipe for success. So in the spirit of choosing the person who is best for you, your country, and your world, I present

Project Vote Smart is a political research organization that gathers information on candidates to help you make the very best decision you can on Election Day. Visit to learn about the candidates. You'll find

* Biographical Information
* Campaign Finances
* Issue Positions
* Interest Group Ratings
* Voting Records
* Public Statements

It's all collected and assembled by people from both major political parties. It can help you make your decision both for the primary or caucus and in the November general election. It is indeed our responsibility to vote responsibly. helps make that possible.

"Onward and upward." -- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Give and get back or give and grow.

I happened upon a press release from today. What a cool organization! They have developed a way for everyday people to give an interest-bearing donation to their favorite charity and earn a return on their gift. It's called a Charitable Mutual Fund and they've been in use for years, but only for those who can make very large donations. Using the power of the internet, echoDonations enables people to participate with only a $25 donation (or more).

Here's how it works: You make a donation to your favorite charity through echoDonations. They invest the money in the charitable mutual fund. There are two choices on what to do with the interest earned: Give & Get Back™ or Give & Grow™.

* Give & Get Back™ - With this option, the interest is split between you (or your beneficiary) and your charity. Each of you gets a yearly check for the interest, and when you die, your charity gets your original donation. Use this option to get Lifetime Cash Rewards™.

* Give & Grow™ - With this option, the charity gets half the interest in a yearly check. The other half is reinvested in the charitable mutual fund. When you die, the charity gets the original donation plus all the compound interest it has earned.

--> Use their gift calculator to determine what your gift will mean to you and to your favorite nonprofit. echoDonations is a nonprofit so your contributions are tax deductible, but the amount you can deduct is based on your age at the time of donation. is a wonderful way to make a meaningful donation to an organization you care about. And it is particularly nice that both you and your charity can benefit from the interest. What a great way to get your money back. Enjoy!

"Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed." — Mohandas K. Gandhi