Thursday, May 29, 2008

Improve your vocabulary, take 2.

Fans of the popular now have even more ways to learn words and make donations. In March, was launched to "bring aid to children in need through learning." When you visit, you'll be presented with a word a four possible definitions. Choose the right one and .25 cents will be donated to World Vision, the "relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice." Another fun and educational way to make a difference in someone's life.

Thanks for the heads up, BlueSky!

Envy not the oppressor and choose none of his ways. - Proverbs 3:31

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eat less meat, or none at all.

In my last post I promised to share a small change my family has made to improve our health - we limit our meat consumption. Although meat can be part of a healthy diet, there are many reasons to eat less meat. Here are just a few:

* Health - This was the primary reason I stopped eating mammals since I have a family history of colon cancer. Heavy meat diets are correlated in increased incidence of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and other ailments. On the other hand, plant-based diets are protective and help prevent many of these same ailments. And when you eat lower on the food chain, you're less likely to accumulate environmental toxins in your body.

* Cost - Meat can be expensive, especially when compared to plant-based protein sources like beans. And often meat isn't even necessary - try a loaded vegetarian pizza and you won't even miss the meat. And when you really want to have meat, don't make it the main attraction. Instead incorporate it into soups, stir-frys or casseroles. It's a great way to stretch your meat purchase and save some money.

* Environment - Did you know that livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions? That's more than cars, trucks, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. And consider the resources it takes to get meat to your table. For example, it takes 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain to produces 1 pound of feedlot beef. The average American consumes 97 pounds of beef per year (273 pounds of meat overall per year), so that's a big impact. The numbers are similar for other kinds of meat. And we haven't yet considered the pollution caused by animal waste, processing and transporting meat, etc.

* Animals - I must say, I'd be likely to eat more meat if it were raised in a healthy and sustainable way. Industrial farming practices leave a lot to be desired not only for the people who consume the animal but for the animals themselves. And we have to wonder why most of us wouldn't dream of eating some animals (cats, dogs, parrots, etc.) but are happy to eat others (cows, pigs, chickens). What's the difference? Also, a move from industrial farming which uses loads of antibiotics may help reduce antibiotic resistance.

Now I'm the first to admit that I still eat meat, but it's a lot less than I used to eat. I also recognize that because of supermarket redlining not everyone has access to healthy, fresh foods. That said, one of the easiest things to do is just reduce your meat intake. Instead of two servings of meat, just have one (or none) and an extra helping of veggies, beans, or other non meat items. Increase your the amount of fiber you eat for a full feeling and better digestion. Whole grains are a great way to do that. You may want to check out some of the many vegetarian recipes that are out there. Many of them are so good, you won't miss the meat at all.

Here's to healthy living, for us, for the animals, and for the planet!

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass (1817? - 1895)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Donate a meal.

For many reasons, food prices are increasing - all over the world. That can make preparing a meal challenging - whether you're an elderly woman on a fixed income, a child who won't get school lunch now that school is out, or a family who has to make choices between buying food, paying a mortgage, or getting medical care. Thankfully there are many ways we can work to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. I generally prefer sustainable solutions, but there's plenty of need for stop-gap measures too. There are incredibly easy, fast, and free ways to make sure someone eats tonight. Regular readers already know about click-to-donate sites and Now here's another way to make a free donation:

"Country Crock is teaming up with 5-time Grammy Award-winning singer Amy Grant and America’s Second Harvest for the second year in a row, and invites people to share the little things they do to improve their family’s health. With each small change shared, Country Crock Omega Plus will donate a meal to a family in need through America’s Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network." So surf over to, and enter your story. Stick around to read others' stories. It's a great way to make a difference in someone's life. I'll share one of my small changes in a later post.

"It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men." - Frederick Douglass

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 5.

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

* CNN's Impact Your World has a great listing of organizations that are doing the much needed relief work related to the cyclone in Myanmar, the earthquake in China, and the tornados in the US. Donate what you can.

* The 2008 Net Squared N2Y3 will be May 27-28 in San Jose, California. Net Squared is "remixing the web for social change." This year's theme is Mashup Challenge and the conference "will bring together a unique mix of people from the public and private sectors to develop and release Mashups designed to provide deeper insight into the social issues affecting communities around the globe."

* Interested in open access publishing? Make a short video promoting OA for the 2008 SPARKY Awards and you may win $1000. Deadline is November 30, 2008.

* Biology major or recent grad? Consider competing for the Pearson Benjamin Cummings Biology Prize. Applicants must write a letter to their elected officials expressing their "opinion about a biology-related issue" and four will win a $1000 scholarship. Deadline is November 4, 2008.

* So What Can I Do children's book/social justice analogy - Beatrice:Heifer::Kojo:Kiva

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!

"Resistance is the secret of joy." Alice Walker in her book Possessing the Secret of Joy

Monday, May 12, 2008

Publish in open access journals.

I spend a good deal of my life reading and writing academic papers. In the olden days (which weren't so long ago), that meant going to the university library, sometimes to the basement or archives to search for particular volumes among shelves and shelves of books and journals. But school libraries can't carry all scholarly journals. Interlibrary loan eased the problem in the past, but the internet offers an opportunity to really solve the problem. Enter open access journals.

Open access journals are scholarly academic journals that are freely and openly available on the internet. The reader is able to access these journals without restrictions, though some some journals charge authors a fee to publish. These journals are developing the same levels of quality, prestige, and copyright protection as more traditional journals, and there is evidence to suggest that publishing in open access journals can increase impact and citation rates. Great news for any academic!

I recognize that not everyone has access to university libraries, and that not all libraries have the financial resources to grant access to expensive and numerous scholarly journals. For those reasons, I have decided to prioritize publication in open access journals. I like to think that my writing is of value to many kinds of people, not just those who have easy access to wealthy academic libraries. It really makes sense when you consider that taxpayers fund so much research. I'm not the only one who thinks so. In 2002, George Soros' Open Society Institute launched the Budapest Open Access Initiative to promote open access journals and publication.

With thousands of peer reviewed open access journals available around the world, there is bound to be a journal in your field and language. And if you see a need for a new open journal, here's a guide to starting your own open access journal.

So are you all jazzed about open access journals? Ready to publish? Check out these resources to find the publication and information you need:

* Directory of Open Access Journals aims to "increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals thereby promoting their increased usage and impact. The Directory aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content." They cover 3353 journals in all languages all over the world. Journals must use peer or editorial review.

* Open J-Gate is "an electronic gateway to global journal literature in open access domain." The database indexes "4375 open access journals, with links to full text at Publisher sites." They include both peer-reviewed journals and industry and professional journals in English.

* Open Access Directory is "a compendium of simple factual lists about open access (OA) to science and scholarship, maintained by the OA community at large." It's a wiki so everyone can contribute.

So you can see, there are lots of ways to promote open access. Here's my first OA paper. I look forward to reading yours!
I Support the Public Library of Science

"Fortune does not change men; it unmasks them." - Suzanne Necker

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 4.

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

* The 2008 Echoing Green Finalists have been announced. Read and be inspired! Echoing Green conducted a social entrepreneurship survey of the 2008 Semifinalists. You can download the PDF here. "To accelerate social change, Echoing Green invests in and supports outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to launch new organizations that deliver bold, high-impact solutions."

* Want to know more about social enterprise? You may want to attend the Social Entrepreneurship Intensive "Bootcamp". Hurry! The bootcamp is May 12 - 14, 2008 so get your registration in now.

* Nedra Kline Weinreich at Spare Change has a post announcing the upcoming Social Marketing University June 2-4, 2008. Social marketing applies "marketing principles to promoting health and social issues and bringing about positive behavior change."

* The goal of is to organizes all the top sites on the web. Check out for previews of the recent posts of nonprofit and service related sites. I'm pleased to report that So What Can I Do is among the number. You can also follow So What Can I Do on Twitter at and on Squidoo at Also there's a nice article on So What Can I Do here. Enjoy!

* David Bach and Hillary Rosner have a new book out called Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying

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!

"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.