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)