Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 12.

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity. Happy holidays!

* Still not done with your holiday shopping? Consider charity gift certificates. They are a wonderful way to redefine Christmas.

* Want to give a lasting and meaningful gift? Try giving life.

* And once the holidays are over, consider these ways to recycle at Christmas.

* And on a completely unrelated note, December 31,2008 is the last day to order your free coupons for the analog to digital TV convertor box. All television broadcasting in the US will be digital as of February 2009, so if you have analog TV with no pay service, you may want to order your coupons for the converter. Visit or call 1-888-DTV-2009 for more information. An excellent alternative: Turn off the TV.

* Recently completed: The Shack. Thanks Temika!
Currently reading: Good News Bible
Next on the list: Blood Colony

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time! In the meantime, subscribe to So What Can I Do (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter (@sowhatcanido)

"The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.” - Desiderius Erasmus

Monday, December 01, 2008

Stop AIDS, keep the promise.

Today is the 20th annual World AIDS Day. By now, most of us know someone who is or was affected by HIV, even if we aren't aware of it. So it make sense for all of use to do what we can to promote awareness of the HIV pandemic and respect for those affected by it, directly or indirectly. This year's theme is "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Lead - Empower - Deliver". Here's how you can participate:

* Visit to learn more about HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, treatment, and research.
* Visit or text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948) to find an HIV testing location in your community.
* Volunteer your goods, services, time, or money to an HIV/AIDS service or research agency or person.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if in 20 years, World AIDS Day was irrelevant? Our actions today can help make that possible.

Support World AIDS DayFacing AIDS - World AIDS day 2008World AIDS Day. Take the test. Take control. www.hivtest.orgWorld AIDS Day. Celebrate life.

"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." -Moshe Dayan, military leader and politician (1915-1981)

Friday, November 28, 2008


I was blessed to grow up in a household in which holiday gatherings meant story time. My parents and grandparents taught all who would listen about their lives and those who came before them: Griffin Henry Belk, Sarah Suttles, Andy Suttles, David Maclin, Mose Neal, Jim Neal, Willie Beatrice Jones Neal, and many others. They shared the triumphs and horrors of the past and their hopes for our future. I treasure those memories, those stories, and those expectations for my own life. Over the years, I learned to value the experiences and lessons of the past, in part because of the relevance they have for the present and future.

That's why I am excited that today is the First Annual National Day of Listening. StoryCorps suggests: "This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year." Visit to

* Download the free Do It Yourself Guide to selecting your questions, recording your conversations, and more.

* Upload your interview to share your conversation with others.

* Request NPR's StoryCorps visit your community.

* Sign up for free weekly stories by email.

Now is the perfect opportunity to give the gift of listening. So take time today, and everyday, to listen, and learn.
Join StoryCorps in the National Day of Listening

"Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. Seize the day, trust not to the morrow." - Horace

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Join a So What Can I Do Giving Team.

'Tis the season of thanksgiving. With that in mind I encourage us all the adopt an "attitude of gratitude" - thanks, and join a So What Can I Do giving team. These teams sponsored by major charitable organizations are great ways to track our progress and see the real difference So What Can I Do readers are making in our world. Here are the first three giving teams:

Kiva Team -
Heifer Team -
Nothing But Nets Team -

I will add more giving teams to this list as they are organized. Spread the word and see what an impact we can have. And let me know if you would like to see a So What Can I Do giving team for your favorite organization.

Give thanks and happy giving!

Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is. -William James, psychologist and philosopher (1842-1910)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Be a Netraiser.

Ten bucks doesn't buy as much as it used to, but it's enough to save a life. When you donate $10 to Nothing But Nets, the malaria mosquito net campaign of the UN Foundation, you will send a net and save a life, by protecting someone from the deadly malaria parasite.

Now you can join the So What Can I Do Netraiser team to raise money for more nets. Our goal is $4350 because this is the 435th post on So What Can I Do Why should you join? Because NETS SAVE LIVES. Want to know more?

--> 41% of the world's population lives in places where it is (Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, Hispaniola, and Oceania).
--> Over one million people die each year from malaria, most of them young children.
--> In some parts of the world where transmission rates are high, there can be as many as 2 deaths per minute from malaria.
--> Life-saving treatments for malaria are relatively inexpensive: $0.13 for chloroquine, $0.14 for sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, and $2.68 for a 7-day course of quinine.
--> "Insecticide-treated bed nets can reduce transmission as much as 90% in areas with high coverage rates."

Your ten dollars goes solely to providing the insecticide-treated net and education a family on how to use it. It lasts 4 years and can mean life for a pregnant woman, HIV positive person, or young child. So . . .

Be a netraiser. Be a buzzkill. Send a net, save a life. Join the So What Can I Do Netraiser Team and put your ten bucks to good use.

"The failure of attempts at culture have led me to believe that the microbe of malaria lives outside the body in the parasitic state and I suspect in the mosquitoes which are abundant in malarial areas and which already play a very important role in the propagation of filariasis." - Alphonse Laveran in 1894, winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Recycle your carpet.

Now that our move to Little Rock is getting closer (woo hoo!), Kwadjo and I are preparing to sell our home near Atlanta. We're doing all we can to make the home more inviting for potential buyers including replacing the carpet. But what to do with our old carpet? Recycle it, of course!

The Carpet America Recovery Effort "is a joint industry-government effort to increase the amount of recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet and reduce the amount of waste carpet going to landfills." What a great idea! You may be surprised at the innovative ways people are reusing carpet. Did you know it can be reprocessed and used to make lumber, soundproofing barriers, plastic, and other items?

So if you are planning to replace your carpet, visit or download this list of carpet reclamation centers (PDF). They are located all over the country. But if there's not one in your area, consider starting one. Here are two resources to show you how: here and here.

Keep your carpet out of the landfill - recycle it!

This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in. -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Give a laptop, get a laptop: OLPC

My family and I were so excited when we received our laptop from One Laptop Per Child almost a year ago. I just love bringing it to the library, coffeeshop, jury duty waiting room, or other public venue because people always ask questions about it and give me the opportunity to talk about the fantastic machine and organization. People are always so intrigued when I demonstrate my computer, but they're often a bit disappointed when I tell them that they can no longer order the machine. Well cheer up folks, now's your chance!

To all those who missed out the first time, Give one, Get one from One Laptop Per Child is back! Starting November 17, you can order the great XO Laptop and ensure that a child in the economically developing world receives one too. It's a great deal for your family and another one.

So visit to learn more and to order your XO laptop today. I'll look for you in the mesh network!

Conscience is a dog that does not stop us from passing but that we cannot prevent from barking. - Nicolas de Chamfort, writer (1741-1794)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Help promote peace, heath, and welfare in Congo.

This morning's Diane Rehm Show focused on the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo. It's been in the news a lot lately because more than 1 million people have been displaced, because there is increasing use of child soldiers and rape as a weapon of war, because more than 5 million people have died because of the conflict since it started 10 years ago. So instead of just listening to the news about Congo, let it drive you to action.

First, learn more about the crisis:

* Listen to the Diane Rehm Show podcast discussion.
* View pictures from Doctors Without Borders and listen to their commentary.
* Read this article from The AFRican on one effective response to the conflict.
* Listen to an interview with Samual Ngabe from Oxfam.
* Visit the action and education center at Raise Hope for Congo.
* Watch the CNN video below.

Now act. You can donate to the organizations below, educate your family, friends, coworkers, and colleagues, or write a letter or blog post urging others to support the important work.

* Oxfam International
* Doctors Without Borders
* World Vision
* Red Cross
* Women for Women International
* Diane Rehm Show
* Raise Hope for Congo

Let's get started!

"If there is anybody in this land who thoroughly believes that the meek shall inherit the earth they have not often let their presence be known." - W.E.B. Du Bois

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tweet your solution: #swcid

The new social media platforms provide a great way to stay in touch and spread information. So What Can I Do is on a number of sites (see below) and has been on Twitter for several months now. You can follow us at @sowhatcanido.

I frequently use the twitter search page to find out what folks are saying about particular topics, but would love to know what ideas I missing. So I am introducing a new hashtag: #swcid. Now when you tweet about a way to make a positive difference in our world, or offer a solution to a societal problem, or have a question you'd like use to tackle, you can tag it with #swcid. That way anyone and everyone can easily search for solutions and ways to tackle our most challenging problems. I look forward to reading your tweets! Spread the word!

Here are some other places you can find So What Can I Do on the web:

* Twitter
* Associated Content
* Alltop Good
* Alltop Nonprofit
* Blogged
* Kiva
* Technorati
* Squidoo
* Atom xml feed

See you online!

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Choose socially-responsible e-cyclers (e-waste recyclers).

I've written about e-waste several times before, so I was pleased to see a piece on 60 Minutes about it tonight. Check out the video and the US Government Accountability Office Report on E-waste mentioned in the report.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Did that scare you? It should, because according to the EPA, people in the US discarded 47 million computers in 2005 (compared to 20 million in 1998). When you add in cell phones, TVs, VCRs and other electronic equipment, that means we throw away between 300 million and 400 million electronic items each year. Here's how to make sure yours old electronics are recycled responsibly:

* The e-Stewards Initiative maintains a list of responsible e-cyclers. Check it out to find one in your area.

* The International Association of Electronics Recyclers is the first and only trade association for e-cyclers. Their members adhere to voluntary socially responsible guidelines for recycling. Choose a member in your area.

We all want to do the right thing, so take the extra step to make sure you doing all the good you expect.

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen." - Louis Brandeis

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change We Can Believe In (Booth 11).

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity.

* Congratulations and thank you to everyone for electing Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. I am prouder, more hopeful, and more confident than I have ever been. It is a beautiful day.

--> Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
--> The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

President Obama cannot make the changes we need all by himself. Here's how you can help:

* Vote - every position, every election. Your vote always counts - in state and local elections, on bond issues and constitutional amendments. So keep up the momentum.

* Serve jury duty, willingly. Your service is an important way to contribute to a fair and just judicial process. Most everyone has been or will be touched by a civil or criminal case. Be the juror you would want on the trial that matters to you.

* Write of letter to your representative and elected officials. This is how elected officials know what is important to their constituents. And it's a great way to hold your public servants accountable for their actions.

* Run for political office. You can participate directly in the governing process and and even if you don't win, you'll help shape and influence the conversation about the issues that matter in your community.

* Here's what else is on my mind:
Leaving Atlanta
Going Home
Little Rock, Arkansas

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time! In the meantime, subscribe to So What Can I Do (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter (@sowhatcanido).

"I'm going home. I'm going home! And that are Little Rock." - Sister Dale (~1957)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Write in your candidate.

I went to vote this morning and had jury duty yesterday, so I've definitely been involved in participatory governance this week. Judges Linda Hunter and Antonio DelCampo gave very moving addresses to the jury pool on Monday morning. Everyone was hoping to get on a trial after listening to them. I particularly liked that Judge DelCampo mentioned the opportunity to interact meaningfully with people different from oneself as an advantage to serving on a jury. They're both running for reelection this year, though DelCampo is unopposed.

DelCampo told a story about how he was unopposed during a previous election but was a bit shocked and disturbed to get several hundred votes against him. But he was humored and relieved after seeing that most of the other votes were for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the like. But that got me thinking - it made me realize that even when someone is unopposed your vote matters. If you take the time to write in someone else, especially a real person, the unopposed candidate may take that as a vote of no confidence. This is particularly the case with incumbents, who may be running on a lackluster record.

So this morning when I voted (I was only in line 45 minutes - woo hoo!), I thought hard about my votes for unopposed candidates. Those I supported, I voted for. In the past I just ignored unopposed candidates I did not support and didn't vote at all for that office. But today, I considered people I know who would do a better job than the unopposed candidate on the ballot and I wrote those names in. For example, I've been unimpressed with my state representative for many years. I haven't run against her, and no one else has either, but wouldn't she get an meaningful message if more people voted against her than for her, even if those folks were write-ins.

Now I know the people I wrote-in this morning won't win the election, but if more of us write in real people in a vote of no confidence, maybe the unopposed candidates who could do a better job will start doing so.

"A man can't ride on your back unless it's bent." -Martin Luther King, Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do business with a B Corporation.

Because of the focus and audience of So What Can I Do, I get a number of announcements from companies who are involved in "cause" or "green" marketing. All other things being equal, I certainly choose products associated with a cause I support over those that do not. However, I am much more impressed with companies who focus their mission, not just their marketing campaign, on more than just the bottom line. That's why I like the idea of B Corporations.

"B Corporations are a new type of corporation that are purpose-driven and create benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders." Certified B Corporations adhere to a set of transparent social and environmental standards and they make the interests of all stakeholders part of their business model. There are now 134 Certified B Corporations in 31 industries. If this sounds like a business model you can support, consider these ways of getting involved:

* Become a B Corporation. Follow the three step plan to become a certified B Corporation. Once the process is complete, your company will have access to best practices for social and environmental performance. Your business will be promoted through the nonprofit B lab. And your (potential) customers will know that you are committed to being a good company, not just good marketing.

* Do business with a B Corporation. When you need goods or services, consult the list of Certified B Corporations to see if one fits your needs. You'll get what you need and support socially and environmentally responsible business practices. I am pleased that So What Can I Do has already directly or indirectly profiled several B corporations, like Better World Books and Shore Bank.

The transparent policies of B Corporations are a great way to combat greenwashing and good-coating. So consider becoming or supporting a B Corporation. And by the way, B stands for Benefits - for everyone.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." - Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 10.

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity.

* Google is marking their 10th anniversary with Project 10^100. It is "a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible." Submit your ideas by October 20. Categories are community, opportunity, energy, environment, health, education, shelter, and everything else. Winning projects will be funded, so submit your great idea today.

* How good is your browser?. Visit the website to see how well your browser adheres to web standards. If you are a webmaster, be sure to build your sites in accordance with accepted international web standards. This is important so that people with less sophisticated browsers can still access your site and information. Thanks Jan!

* Hopefully, by now everyone who is eligible is registered to vote. If you need to find your polling place visit They also have information on absentee voting, ID requirements, ballot measures, and other voting-related topics.

* Blog Action Day 2008 was this week. Check out the website or google "Blog Action Day" to read/view/listen to some of the thousands of blog posts, podcasts, pictures, and videos on this years theme - poverty. So What Can I Do participated with this post - End poverty.

* It's time for us to renew our subscription to GOOD Magazine. It's a great magazine and it costs only $20 for a year's subscription. And get this - the full price of your subscription is donated to your choice of twelve charities. Subscribe today!

*The 2008 MacArthur Awards have been announced. Read and be inspired!

* Thanks to all those who voted - So What Can I Do was chosen as Most Original Blog and is a winner of the 2009 Black Web Award. What a great birthday present for So What Can I Do which celebrates four years online this week. Thanks for reading everyone!

* It's prize season and here are some prize-winning books:
--> Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the MacArthur Prize for her work including Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus: A Novel. The Sisters of the Yam read Purple Hibiscus and we really enjoyed it.
--> Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work including Wandering Star.
--> Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The White Tiger.

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time! In the meantime, subscribe to So What Can I Do (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter (@sowhatcanido).

"Men are more often bribed by their loyalties and ambitions than by money." - Robert H. Jackson

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

End poverty.

Today is Blog Action Day 2008 and this year's focus is on poverty. Poverty can be defined as lack of the common necessities that determine quality of life - lack of safe food, shelter, and clothing, lack of opportunities presented by education, health care, and community and personal agency.

Many of us do things to combat poverty in the short term. We donate food to our local food rescue agency for those who need to fill their belly. We donate furniture to the local furniture bank to give to those who need a place to lay their head. We donate coats for kids who need to stay warm in the winter.

These activities are critically important because they meet a pressing and immediate need. However it is also important to consider ways we can eliminate these needs completely. Many people argue that it is actually possible to END POVERTY. I suggest that that should be our goal. Here are some ways you can ensure that everyone has the common necessities we all need to have a decent quality of life.

* Consider class. Consider how tolerant you are of people who have a different (or the same) amount of or access to money and opportunity as you. Think honestly, carefully, and critically about what you believe in. Think about what is right. And make sure your words and actions reflect your beliefs. We may demonstrate class or other biases without being conscious of it. So be honest with yourself and when you see or hear inappropriate unjust behavior, do something about it.

* Think globally, act locally. The current financial crises emphasizes that we live in a highly integrated world. By practicing consciously connected living, we acknowledge how intertwined our lives are and make choices that maximize benefit for everyone.

* Stop making excuses. Instead of focusing on what won't work, develop something that will. Instead of saying you have no time to contribute, use the time you have more wisely. Instead of saying you have no money to contribute, look for other valuable skills, items and resources that you can use for good.

* "Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mohandas Ghandi reminds us that who we are, how we act, what we care about influences the world we live in. If making the world a better place for all of use who live in it is important to you, browse this site to find ways to make sure your lifestyle reflects your values and priorities.

Want to learn more about how to end poverty? Check out these books:

* Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism
* Our Day to End Poverty: 24 Ways You Can Make a Difference (BK Currents (Paperback))
* The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass (c. 1817–1895), U.S. abolitionist. Speech, April 1886

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trick or Treat for good.

Halloween is almost here - time flies! If you are looking for something meaningful to do this holiday, consider these suggestions. The kids will have a good time while making a positive difference in the world.

* Sight Night - Trick-or-Treaters collect used eyeglasses that will be cleaned, repaired and hand-delivered to people in developing countries who couldn't otherwise afford them. If you wear corrective lenses, you know what a difference they can make and how much better your life can be because of them. Download information and collection materials from

* Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF - You or your children can raise money for children everywhere by collecting donation for UNICEF. Order a box online or download a canister wrapper. You can also help UNICEF by raising money online, with your mobile phone, through your Facebook or Myspace page, or by sending Halloween ecards.

* Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy - Order a box from the Food Allergy & Anaphlyaxis Network to collect money to be used for food allergy research and education. You can order up to five boxes online or call 1-800-929-4040 to order more. Kids can even earn prizes for participating.

* Trick-or-Treat for canned goods - Kids can support their local food bank by collecting canned goods while trick-or treating. Visit (formerly Second Harvest) to find a service agency near you. And be sure to tell your neighbors about the organization their donations will support.

* Party with a purpose. If you host a Halloween Party or Haunted House, ask your guests to bring canned goods, gently used coats or clothes, eyeglasses, or monetary donations for your favorite charity.

Start planning and order your materials now, so that you'll have them in time for Halloween. Enjoy!

"If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes. If you don't wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes." - West African proverb

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Make your own fuel.

We are experiencing a significant gas shortage here in Atlanta. Nowadays, it's not unusual to drive by a dozen or more gas stations, all with no gas. I really appreciate our hybrid in times like these, but I still wish I could convince Kwadjo to get a grease car. Wouldn't it be great to be able to have an automotive fuel supply separate from big oil? We'll now you can. Check out these options for making your own biofuel:

* The Ester Machine System from Green World Biofuels is "a complete biodiesel production system that enables the operator to turn used fryer or virgin vegetable oils into high quality finished fuel." You'll need to identify a source of oil to use as feedstock.

* The EFuel100 MicroFueler™ is "the world's first portable ethanol micro-refinery system." The system can run on their sugar-based feedstock (available for purchase) or you can use waste ethanol - leftover beer, wine, and spirits.

* What if you have oil but don't want to use biodiesel? Perhaps a vegetable fuel conversion kit from is right for you. Once it's installed, your diesel engine can run on straight vegetable oil in any climate.

* What if you drive a vehicle with a gas engine? In that case, check out the Flex Box Smart Kit E85 conversion kits from Flex Fuel US. Their models are the only conversion kits approved by the EPA. They allow your vehicle to run on anything from pure gasoline to E85 (85% ethanol).

This kind of DIY technology is expensive at the start, but may make sense if your home or business uses a lot of fuel or you have a good supply of reagents and feedstock to make the fuel. Note that there may be tax credits available for purchase of these machines. And you'll want to make sure you don't run afoul of tax law by trying to sell the fuel.

Of course one of the best ways to decrease dependence on oil and gas is to use alternative transportation - transit, walking, biking, teleworking, or at least carpooling. Safe journey!

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Do business with a community development bank.

A bank is a bank is a bank, right? Well not if it's a community development bank. Community development banks, also called community development financial institutions, are federally insured banks that "have a primary mission of promoting community development" through "stimulating the local economy, creating jobs, and improving the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods." What a great purpose!

When you do business with a community development bank you automatically support their mission since profits are directed into local community development programs. So visit a branch or website for a community development bank in an area you care about. Then open an account. If you prefer, you can make a direct donation to the programs the banks supports. Either way, your money will work for a better future in a community you love.

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you." -John Wooden, sports coach

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 9.

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity.

* As a follow up from the last Carnival, consider applying for the Acumen Fund Fellows Program . "Our goal is to build an entrepreneurial bench of professional talent with strong financial and operational skills, experience in low-income markets, and the moral imagination to build enterprises that meet the needs of low-income consumers." Applications are due by noon on October 20, 2008 and February 10, 2009.

* Fast Company announces the 2008 Social Capitalist Awards. The list includes 45 nonprofits and 10 for-profit organizations working to make a positive difference in our world. I'm pleased to see that So What Can I Do has featured many of these organizations, including Heifer International, Teach for America, Better World Books, City Year, Donors Choose, Accion, Domini Social Investments, and Network for Good.

* Visit the one stop vote shop - register, get an absentee ballot, find your polling place: If you live overseas, visit to get and process your absentee ballot. Spread the word and make your voice heard.

* Apply for a "Each year, Echoing Green awards 20 two-year fellowships to entrepreneurs creating new social change organizations. Fellows receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and technical support to turn their innovative ideas into sustainable organizations." The next application deadlines are this fall, so start preparing now.

* Do you have a blog? If so, consider participating in Blog Action Day 2008. It will be October 15, 2008 and this year's theme is poverty. And be sure to check out So What Can I Do on Blog Action Day.

* Vote for So What Can I Do for the 2009 Black Web Award for Most Original Blog. Visit and vote as often as you like before October 5, 2008. Anyone can vote and there's no need to register to do so. Thanks!

* Wonder when the 2008 Blooker Prizes will be announced? "The Blooker Prize (formerly the Lulu Blooker Prize) is the world’s first literary prize for “blooks” – or books based on blogs, websites or other online content." While we wait for the 2008 prize, here are the overall winners from 2007 - My War: Killing Time in Iraq , and 2006 - Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time! In the meantime, subscribe to So What Can I Do (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter (@sowhatcanido).

"Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vote, wherever you are.

The November elections in the US are just a few weeks away. Now is the time to make sure you are able to vote. This is particularly important if you are an eligible voter who does not live in the US right now. Here are two resources to help you out:

--> This is the site to go to if you are a an eligible US voter who does not live in the US. They have special resources for:

* Military voters . Perfect for uniformed service people and their dependents.
* Young voters ages 18-29.
* Low-bandwidth. Reduced graphics for slower connections.

If you live outside the US and want to vote, START NOW. It takes significant time to send and return ballots, and the ballots have to be received long before the November election day. Don't lose your chance to vote in this historic election.

--> US voters regardless of residence can use this site to

* Register to vote.
* Request an absentee ballot.
* Find your polling place.

Please forward this post. Democracy works best when everyone participates in the process. See you at the polls!

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you." -John Wooden, sports coach

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tell your municipality about RecycleBank.

My last post focused on incentives for individuals to recycle. But what about community recycling programs? There are only three homes on our street that use the curbside recycling service. My mother's street has a similar issue - only she and one of her neighbors uses curbside recycling, and their curbside pickup is free! So what can we do to encourage recycling in our communities? The incentive program from Recycle Bank may provide the answer.

Recycle Bank forms partnerships with municipalities who want to encourage recycling in their communities. Recycling reduces landfill and waste disposal costs, in addition to providing a cleaner environment for residents to live in. Residents in the community put all their recyclable items in a single bin and when it is picked up the bin in weighed. Residents get rewards in the form of Recycle Bank Points Recycle Bank Points. These points can be redeemed for coupons for various goods and services, including shopping at CVS, Bed Bath and Beyond, and 1-800-FLOWERS. Residents can also use their points to get coupons for food and other household items. Basically, the more you recycle, the more rewards you earn.

But what if you're at a college or university, or an apartment complex which doesn't have curbside waste pickup? In these cases, Recycle Bank Kiosks may provide the answer. After your organization signs up, you can recycle your materials, and then redeem the rewards points you earn.

If you think this is as great as I do, tell your municipal, school, organization leaders about Recycle Bank and encourage them establish a partnership. Forward this post to your officials, write them a letter, give them a call, or speak at an open meeting. It's a win for you, for your town, and for our world. Happy recycling!

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sell your old electronics for recycling.

Right now on our kitchen table is an old modem. It doesn't work anymore, but I refuse to throw it away and create more e-waste. I already know how to recycle cell phones and rechargable batteries, but what about MP3 players, digital cameras, laptops, GPS devices, gaming consoles, portable hard drives, and, of course, my old modem? Gazelle will buy these items and more from you and recycle them. That's right, you GET PAID for your old gadgets.

Are you making a list of all the stuff you'd like to get rid of? Good! Every item gets an offer, and they'll even send you a box and pay for shipping. It's a win for you and for the environment. Here are three ways you can get started:

* Visit to set up your free account. You'll be ready to sell in no time.
* Donate your electronics to raise money for one of over two dozen nonprofits. This is a great way to get your civic or religious group involved.
* Sell in bulk. This is a great option for schools, businesses, and others who have large numbers of recyclable electronics. Gazelle will make a personalized offer for your gadgets.

Electronic waste can cause real problems for the environment, and it reduces availability of valuable resources used in manufacturing. Recycling helps solve both of those problem and pays you for your efforts. Go Gazelle!

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Succeed in school and serve.

Now that school is in session, it definitely feels like fall, even though we haven't reached the equinox yet. There's so much to do to get ready for school and do well once you're there. Here are a few ways to help you succeed in school and serve others at the same time:

* Learn words and more. is a great way to improve your vocabulary and give rice to those who need food. Now they've expanded and users can be quizzed on a wide variety of topics, including world capitals (my favorite), famous paintings, words in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and English (with pronunciation), multiplication tables, English grammar, and chemical symbols. There's something for everyone, including the people who will eat because of your efforts.

* Learn words. works like with donations to World Vision instead of to the World Food Programme. Yet another way to improve your vocabulary.

* Change the margins. When you print out documents for your teacher, professor, or students, consider reducing the margins to .75 inches. This is just one of many ways to save paper, and money!

* Change the menu. It's hard to learn and perform well in school when you're hungry. So Stonyfield Farms has a great site on ways to improve school lunches - from recipes for you or your children to model legislation for healthier food in school vending machines.

* Publish. Graduate students and others know the importance of publishing their work. When your finished your thesis, dissertations, experiments, or paper, consider publishing your work in an open access journal. Your work will be available to anyone who can get online increasing readership, exposure, and citations.

* Pay back, give back. So you're finally out of school. Congratulations! Now it's time to pay back your student loans. Consider these ways to reduce your student loan debt while being of service to society. It's a win-win situation!

Have a great school year! Study hard, it's worth it.

"A mind is a terrible thing to waste." - United Negro College Fund motto

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Join the So What Can I Do Kiva Team.

Kiva, one of my favorite microloan agencies now has Team Lending. When you join the So What Can I Do Kiva Team you join other readers who understand the microloans are an important tool in sustainable development. You can make a loan for as little as $25, and together we'll make a big difference.

"Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right." -Carl Schurz, revolutionary, statesman and reformer (1829-1906)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

IM or email for the greater good.

Hotmail has a great program about which I am happy to spread the word. You can raise money for your favorite charitable causes simply by using Windows Live™ Hotmail® and Windows Live Messenger (instant messaging) as you normally do. When you open or register your account with the i’m™ Initiative, MSN will donate a portion of their advertising revenue to the cause of your choice, every time you use their service.

This is a great way to make what you do everyday a little more meaningful. The more you email, the more your IM, the more you contribute. Thanks for the tip, Ingrid!

“Reject hatred without hating.” - Mary Baker Eddy

Monday, August 11, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 8.

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity.

* Apply for a Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. "We are particularly interested in applications from social entrepreneurs working in five critical sub-issue areas that threaten the survival of humanity – climate change, nuclear proliferation, global pandemics, conflict in the Middle East and water scarcity." The next application deadlines are November 4, 2008 and February 10, 2009. For more on social entrepreneurship, see the new SE section on Alltop.

* More from Skoll - This time it's their partnership with Sundance. Submit your film idea to Stories of Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary. Completed films are not eligible. Deadline is August 15.

* Apply for a Echoing Green Fellowship. "Each year, Echoing Green awards 20 two-year fellowships to entrepreneurs creating new social change organizations. Fellows receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and technical support to turn their innovative ideas into sustainable organizations." The next application deadlines are this fall, so start preparing now.

* I found an interesting blog on microfranchises. Microfranchises are "small businesses that can easily be replicated by following proven marketing and operational concepts. The overall objective of MicroFranchising is to promote economic development by developing sound business models that can be replicated by entrepreneurs at the base of the pyramid; therefore, the start-up costs of MicroFranchises will be minimal. The key principle is replication, replicating success to scale." Check out David Stoker's blog, appropriately titled Microfranchising.

* Nominate a worthy social entrepreneur to be an Ashoka Fellow. "Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who we recognize to have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change. Ashoka Fellows work in over 60 countries around the globe in every area of human need." You can also donate to Ashoka's Venture Fund for Leading Social Entrepreneurs.

* Get your climate concerns heard. Submit your video on the topic to . You could win $3000 and the winning videos will be broadcast nationally and distributed to Washington lawmakers.

* Vote for So What Can I Do for the 2009 Black Web Award for Most Original Blog. Visit and vote as often as you like before October 5, 2008. Anyone can vote and there's no need to register to do so. Thanks!

* Have you found the theme here? Guess what I'm reading (other than the Bible): Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector, Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change, Social Entrepreneurship: A Modern Approach to Social Value Creation (Entrepreneurship Series), and Social Entrepreneurship.

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time! In the meantime, subscribe to So What Can I Do (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter (@sowhatcanido).

“Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right." -Carl Schurz, revolutionary, statesman and reformer (1829-1906)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Take an HIV test.

Right now, the 17th annual International AIDS Conference is going on in Mexico City. While there has been encouraging news coming out of the meeting, many of the reports focus on the serious challenges HIV and AIDS present. Thankfully, HIV infection is generally preventable.

* Use safer sex practices. That means a barrier method - condoms, dental dams.
* Don't use IV drugs. Other than abstinence, a new, sterile needle is the best way to prevent HIV transmission.
* Get tested before you get pregnant or very early in your pregnancy.

Most everyone should get tested for HIV and learn their status. Here's how to get started:

* Visit and enter your zip code to find an HIV testing site near you.
* Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), 1-888-232-6348 (TTY), in English or en Español. Lines are open 24/7 and calls are confidential.
* Text your zip code to KnowIt or 566948 to find an HIV testing site near you.

Everyone should know their status. If you're positive, you can start treatment to stay healthy and extend your life. You can also take steps to make sure you don't transmit HIV. If you're negative, you can take steps to make sure you stay that way. Learn more from the CDC.

There are many new HIV tests available. Some can give rapid results in as short as 20 minutes. Some test only oral fluids and don't require a needle or blood draw. Many can be done anonymously (no name or false name (like Minnie Mouse) is fine) or confidentially (your name is held secret). Many testing services are FREE and insurance covers some others.

There's no excuse. Get tested, today. Take ControlKnow Your HIV Status?

"I have found that if you love life, life will love you back." - Arthur Rubinstein

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Use social media for good.

Some folks are really into social networks. Although I'm not too busy on Facebook, MySpace, and some other more popular ones, I do have three networks on Ning, including the XO Users Group. So when I first heard about SocialVibe I was a little curious.

SocialVibe is a social networking site with a social entrepreneurship twist. When you build a page on SocialVibe, you select a sponsor and a cause. Then every time you connect with friends, add photos, add to your profile, link your page to Myspace, Facebook and the like your sponsor donates money to the charitable cause of your choice. I'm sponsored by Mac (on whose computers I do all my work and blogging - except when I'm on my XO) and my cause is Donors Choose.

So click below to visit my page at SocialVibe. Your click will contribute to Donors Choose. And if you like, build your own page, get a sponsor, and start earning money for your favorite cause.

"Truth never damages a cause that is just." -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fund your social business idea.

I first learned about Ideablob about a year ago when NoSweat solicited support from customers and Ideablob for their business. I was recently reminded of Ideablob when Emory Astronomy doctoral student Jessica Hammock won $10,000 for Project Epiphany which teaches astronomy to elementary and middle school students. These are both great business and project ideas and now they have another line of funding. Do you have a business idea you'd like to get funded?

Ideablob is "where entrepreneurs and small business owners can share and grow their business ideas – and have a chance to win $10,000 towards fulfilling them." People submit their business ideas and once a month, the idea with the most votes wins $10,000. This could be a wonderful way to fund your social entrepreneurship idea. So here's how you can participate:

* Submit your business idea. There are new competitions every month.
* Vote for your favorite business idea. This is a great way support and learn about growing businesses.
* Serve as an advisors for beginning entrepreneurs. Share your knowledge and business acumen.

Do you have a great business idea? Check out Ideablob. And if you're a social entrepreneur, let me know when your idea is ready to receive votes. Ideablob may be just the ticket you need to get your great idea off the ground.

"The dread of censure is the death of genius." -William Gillmore Simms

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Give naturally.

People frequently stumble upon my site when they search the phrase "Heifer scam". Let me be clear, Heifer is not a scam. Their headquarters (which I have visited) are in my hometown (Little Rock, Arkansas) and I am regular contributer and supporter. But that said, there are poorly run nonprofits out there. Some may even be scams. How does a well-meaning, socially-concerned person choose the best ways to be of service? One option is UniversalGiving.

UniversalGiving is a "web-based service helps people give and volunteer with exceptional organizations all over the world." They match volunteers and donors with more than 200 pre-screened nonprofit partners that operate around the world. Their mission? "To create a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life.” Just pick a geographic or service area to get a list of service opportunities. 100% of your donation goes directly to the nonprofit. Right now they list 756 opportunities to donate and 298 international volunteer opportunities. They also provide customized services for corporations and philanthropic giving circles.

UniversalGiving makes it easy to volunteer or donate with confidence that your contributions are making a real difference to the community you care about. Now, are you ready to get started?

* Donate. Tax deductible!
* Volunteer.
* Create a wish list or gift registry.
* Purchase a gift package. Tax deductible!
* Support UniversalGiving. Tax deductible!

Now doesn't that just feel like the natural thing to do? Thanks for the tip, Cheryl!

"Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought." - Henri Bergson

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 7.

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity.

* Are you a woman blogger? If so, check out the BlogHer '08 National Meeting in San Francisco, July 18-20. Short notice, I know. If you can't make it to San Francisco, perhaps you can attend the regional 1-day meetings in October. They'll be held in Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Nashville, Greenboro, and New Orleans.

* Are you a woman entrepreneur? If so, check out the The Power of Yin live, interactive webcasts. The three fall broadcasts feature "women angel investors discussing society’s greatest challenges and answering questions from women entrepreneurs about building the socially responsible companies of the future." They're free!

* Alanna Shaikh of Blood and Milk offers this interesting post on the concept of positive deviance and it's role in development. Deviating from the norm is often a good thing!

* I've written before about the XO Laptop from One Laptop Per Child. For those of us who are lucky enough to have one of these supercool, ultrafunctional machines, I've started the XO Users Group - For users and fans of the XO Laptop. Do you have an XO? Then stop on over and join.

* Do you blog about social change? If so, you may want to contribute to the Changebloggers Wiki, conceived of and executed by the good folks at Have Fun * Do Good and Social Butterfly for Change.

* Learn about World Heritage Sites and maybe win a trip to visit on by taking the Friends of World Heritage Adventure Quiz. This is inspired by, of all things, Indiana Jones. Happy trekking!

* I needed inspiration for the book this time so I took key words from each of the items in today's Carnival and put them in Amazon search. Out popped Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time! In the meantime, subscribe to So What Can I Do (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter (@sowhatcanido).

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Send a CDC Health E-card.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the one of the most respected public health agencies in the world. I remember being so impressed when I realized that my prospective graduate school (Emory, which I attended) was right next door to the CDC. They do some amazing work. While much of it is highly specialized epidemiology and biostatistics, some of their work is very easily accessible. Their new health e-cards are a perfect example. This is a great example of social marketing.

There are about one hundred cards available now when new ones being added regularly. You can find them on a number of topics:

* Injuries
* Parenting
* STDs and HIV
* Travel
* Climate
* and more.

Cards are available in Spanish and English. Here's to good health!
CDC Data and Statistics Widget. Flash Player 9 is required.

"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little." -Sydney Smith, writer and clergyman (1771-1845)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Run for political office.

Tomorrow is election day where I live. This isn't one of the so-called "major" elections - we're not choosing between Clinton and Obama, or between Obama and McCain. Instead this election focuses on local offices. And I suggest that these elections may be the biggest of all. That's because local elected officials have a lot to do with the quality of your life. Most importantly, because they represent a relatively small number of people, you have a reasonably good opportunity to meet them, tell them your concerns, and influence their position. That's a lot of power for people who are chosen in an election that lots of folks ignore.

I've been educating myself on the candidates in tomorrow's election, and unfortunately, I've not been impressed with many of my options. If you can't file your fundraising reporting paperwork on time, why should I trust you to run my county? If you photoshop yourself and a popular presidential candidate into a picture for your flyers to imply and endorsement where there is none, why should I trust you to be my senator? What's a concerned person to do?

Here are just a few ideas:

* Vote responsibly.
* Education yourself and others about the issues and candidates.
* Run for political office.

Yes, I suggested running for office. People who care, really care, and are honest, ethical, discerning, and thoughtful (all qualities of readers of So What Can I Do!) are needed to govern our society. It may seem a strange suggestion, but think about the improvements you could make by bringing a fresh perspective to government. Just running a collaborative, honest, positive campaign could make a big difference in your community, even if you don't win. Have I got you thinking? Now check out these resources:

* Monitor your local paper for seminars and workshops designed to teach people how to run for political office. For example Scientists and Engineers for America holds workshops to train scientists to run for office. And the League of Women Voters offers workshops for women interested in running for office. Contact the League in your area.

* Download the manual "How To Run For Office" from the Committee of Seventy. They wrote it for Pennsylvania, but it's useful for the rest of us too.

* Want to read more? Check out some of the books on the topic. Here are just a few:
--> How to Run for Local Office : A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide that Will Take You Through the Entire Process of Running and Winning a Local Election
--> So You Want to Run for Political Office: A Practical Guide for Aspiring Politicians
--> Winning Local and State Elections
--> The Newcomer's Guide to Winning Local Elections: Trials of Balance, Chapter Three

Be sure to talk it over with your family before you begin. Then learn all you can about the process so that you can run a campaign you can be proud. Remember that if you are trying to change the way your government currently works, you may have to do some things differently than the way they've always been done. The serve your community proudly when you win!

"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming." - Soren Kierkegaard

Monday, July 07, 2008

Connect to doers.

One of the best things about peer to peer lending is that the lender know exactly what person, project, organization, or business she is supporting. Now, GobalGiving provides a way for charitable donors to connect with community-based projects that need support. As they say, they "connect donors and doers." Here's how it works:

* Visit and select from over 450 projects worldwide.
* Donate to support your favorite projects. It's tax-deductible.
* Receive regular updates about the use of your gift and the resulting impact.

It's that last step the makes GlobalGiving special. Want more ways to get involved?

* Give a gift certificate to someone you care for. Then they can select their own project to support.

* Become a GlobalGiving partner. They need corporate partners project partners, volunteers, and more. This could be a great way to raise money for your nonprofit, or give more support to your favorite organizations.

* Purchase gifts at the GlobalGiving store.

Now you'll know exactly the impact your gift is having. Happy giving!

"A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain." -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 6.

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity. Happy Juneteenth!

* The World Resources Institute recently released The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid. The publication, which is available for print purchase or free download, is useful for those developing for-profit businesses that focus on the 4 billion poorest people. Those folks may not have a lot of money, but they make up the majority of the world's population and they need goods and services too. This is the approach that has made Mohammad Yunus' Grameen Bank so successful.

* The Greater Good blog highlights a great way to contribute to academic knowledge about heroism and altruism. People are needed to participate in a scientific study by the Heroism Research Group. It takes about 20 minutes to answer the survey-type questions, and, who knows, you might learn something about yourself. I did.

* Riches for Good has a great post listing social entrepreneurship fellowships and training programs. Check it out, and use the comments to add others to the list. These are a great way to jump start your socially-responsible business or business idea. I'm forwarding this info to Jules Walter of Bagazo in case they're interested in these opportunities.

* If social entrepreneurship isn't your thing, how about social marketing? Social Butterfly lists numerous social marketing events, conferences, and opportunities. This is a growing field and there are lots of ways to get involved in it.

* Like the idea behind So What Can I Do? Check out similar blogs (along with SWCID) at Thanks Neenz! Want to listen instead of read? Check out Julie Zauzmer's weekly podcast 52 Ways to Change the World. It's also available on iTunes. Thanks Julie! Also, So What Can I Do was also recently featured in Social Butterfly's Blogger Neighborhood. Thanks Alex!
Blogger Neighborhood Badge

* I go through phases where I just read nonfiction, or just fiction. My favorite writer of either class is Octavia Butler. Her writing helps me recognize that we are all always already invincible. Three of my favorites are Wild Seed, Bloodchild, and Kindred.

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time!

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell