Monday, September 24, 2007

Sankofa: Learn from the past to build the future.

Sankofa is an Akan symbol that represents the concept: "Remember the past to build for the future." For me, Sankofa is particularly relevant this month because this is the 50th Anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, my alma mater. I had such a good experience at Central but it would not have been possible without the work and sacrifice of many brave and dedicated people, including the Little Rock Nine:

* Minnijean Brown
* Elizabeth Eckford
* Ernest Green
* Thelma Mothershed Wair
* Melba Pattillo Beals
* Carlotta Walls LaNier
* Terrence Roberts
* Jefferson Thomas
* Gloria Cecelia Ray

There are many others, of course, including Daisy Gatson Bates who served as organizer for the integration effort. To all of those who worked and continue to work to ensure that all children have access to good public education, THANK YOU. I will do my best to give to others what you all have so generously given to me.

"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." - Thurgood Marshall

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Choose brown.

I've never been a coffee drinker so I don't pay much attention to the coffee-related accoutrements that Kwadjo has around the kitchen. But I did notice the unbleached coffee filters he recently bought. The filters are brown because they haven't been bleached with toxic and polluting chlorine products. There are unbleached versions of many paper products, in a range of shades from brown to white. Choose them whenever you can!

"God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer." - Anne Sexton, American Poet and Writer, 1928-1974.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Give blood, wherever you are.

I just got back from my bimonthly blood donation which means it's time for my regular post on organ and tissue donation. This time, I'd like to focus on blood donation opportunities around the world. According to the Red Cross, 39 countries use only non-paid, voluntary blood donors. Here's how to donate in some of them:

* Canada: Visit the Canadian Blood Services at or call 1-888-2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283) to search for a donation center near you, join the marrow donor list, and learn more about blood, platelet, plasma and marrow donations. You can also make financial gifts online. The site is available in English and French.

* Thailand: The Red Cross in Thailand operates numerous blood donation centers across the country. Visit or call 0-2252-6116, 0-2252-1637, or 0-2252-4106-9 Ext 113, 157 to find a donation center near you. The site is available in English and Thai.

* South Africa: The National Blood Service provides a safe blood supply across the country. Visit or call 0800 11 9031 to learn about eligibility and and find a donation center.

* United Kingdom: Visit the National Blood Service at or call 0845 7 711 711 (to learn more about blood, organ, cord blood, and platelet donation. You can search or call to set up a donation appointment and contribute to a safe blood supply.

Of course there are many other places around the world where you can safely donate (and receive!) blood and blood products. I wish I spoke languages other than English so that I could post information from many other countries. Feel free to list others blood donation information in the comments. And if you're 25 or under consider joining International Club 25 which promotes regular blood donations and "positive, healthy lifestyles".

So wherever you are, consider donating blood or supporting blood donation centers in your area. It's a great way to make yourself useful and to make a difference in the lives of many people.

"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." – James Baldwin

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Change the margins.

I just heard about this on NPR and wanted to spread the word. Ever wonder why the margins on most word processing programs are set to 1.25 inches? There's no good reason. It's completely arbitrary and a waste of paper. For years I've changed the margins for printed documents to .75 inches. Now I know I'm not alone. Enter Tamara Krinsky and Change the Margins.

Change the Margins is a website and movement dedicated to reducing paper waste by reducing the margins used when printing. It's a simple concept really, but it can make a big difference. Consider:

* Penn State University research showed that the University could save 72 acres of forest and over $120,000/year by reducing the default margin settings across campus.

* "Each person in an office on average uses 2.5 pounds of paper each week. In the U.S., a ton equals 2000 pounds, so that means every 2 years and 70 days, each person in an office on average uses a ton of paper."

* "Americans discard 4 million tons of office paper every year -- enough to build a 12 foot high wall of paper from New York to California."

* Paper production is one of the top five water consuming industries.

Change the Margins is working to eliminate some of this waste. Visit to begin convincing your organization to reduce the margins, sign a petition to Microsoft asking them to reduce the default margins, and much more. So before you print your next document, try the following:

--> Send an email instead. Do you really need a hard copy or will a digital version do?
--> Use the back of preprinted paper for drafts.
--> Change the margins to .75 inches. This leaves plenty of room for hole punchers, staples, etc. Don't forget to reduce the top and bottom margins too.
--> Single space or 1.5 space rather than double space the document.
--> Choose a smaller font. Times is much smaller than Courier or Bookman.
--> Reduce the font size. Do you really need 12 point or will 10 or 11 point suffice?

You'll save paper and save money. It's a small step, but it's a start. Today change the margins, tomorrow change the world! Happy printing . . .

“I beg for criticism. You can’t learn anything from a compliment.” – Kanye West

Monday, September 03, 2007

Get the Good Stuff.

The folks at the Worldwatch Institute are all about social justice and environmental sustainability, and all the ways those concepts are connected. They, along with nine partner organizations put together a guide to help us all make responsible purchasing choices. You can download Good Stuff? A Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Things We Buy for free online. What a service!

Just check out to get the skinny on the social and environmental impacts of the production, use and disposal of 25 common items, from chocolate to CDs. You may be surprised at what you learn. For example, once you know how much energy regular light bulbs waste, you may want to switch to CFLs. And when you find out what goes into chocolate production, fair trade chocolate sounds a whole lot sweeter.

So visit Worldwatch and download your free guide to today. Then read it and use it to make responsible purchasing decisions that will not only improve your life but will make a positive difference in our world.

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." - Zora Neale Hurston