Comedy is good for community

Austin’s first comedy festival, the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival, is happening this week, 4/25-4/28/12.

It got me asking myself, “How is comedy good for community”? Obviously, it brings people together to laugh about our idiosyncracies and problems and, hopefully, to identify a little better with each other. But there’s so much more….

Here are a few examples: Continue reading


Buy Less, Borrow More

How often do I really use my hammer? Or my blender? Truth is not often. 

Why do I buy all this stuff and stick it in my closets and cupboards anyway? Sooner or later, it all becomes junk. The truth is that consumerism ultimately drives all the waste we generate– in the U.S. that is 230 million tons of solid waste per year, or 4.6 pounds per person per day.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, right? I’d rather use (and spend) less and just borrow the hammer on the rare occasion I have a new picture to hang. And, hopefully, return the favor some day.

All this is to share with you a new venture called OhSoWe which helps local groups share things or knowledge (as in, how to use a thing). I first learned of them  in this article “Sell Less, Share More“.

Continue reading

The (Pesticide) Circle of Poison. Heard of it?

I was reading today a list of recommended 12 fruits and vegetables to buy organic.  I knew about apples (some of the worst offenders when it comes to being over-sprayed with pesticides), but the item that caught my attention was imported grapes.

I started looking into overseas pesticides.  Have you ever heard of the Circle of Poison? Pesticides like DDT get banned from the U.S., so producers sell it abroad instead. Overseas growers spray the produce and sell it back to the U.S.

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What makes an entrepreneur social?

Social entrepreneur” is a term with many definitions and one that keeps changing. But, in my own words, a social entrepreneur is a leader and someone who innovates to meet a need and solve human and environmental problems.

The Huffington Post has joined the Schwab Foundation to dedicate an entire page to social entrepreneurs. You can check it out, and follow it on Twitter, here:

HuffPost Social Entrepreneurship

One evolving change in the perception of social entrepreneurship has to do with profit. With the advent of social business and social venture capital, a venture can be for profit or nonprofit but in either case there needs to be a social return on investment.

Some continue to feel that social ventures have been traditionally nonprofit and should stay that way. They feel uncomfortable with “making money off of the poor”.

What do you think? Should an entrepreneur with a social venture make money?

Catch the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship TODAY

Sadly, the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, March 28-30, 2012 at the University of Oxford, England,  is by invitation only. Sadly, I won’t be there. But I can live vicariously through the Internet!

Why have a world forum on social entrepreneurship? Because it matters! A lot.  By the way, this link is to Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg’s post on the Huffington Post.  And Ariana Huffington is a featured speaker at the forum this year.



For those of us who can’t be in Oxford, video recordings of select presentations are available online and also in live stream. Here’s the schedule:

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Let’s bring clean water to 100 people! (It’s World Water Day. And it’s my birthday present!)

Water is for the global good!

For my birthday, April 6, I want to get clean water to 100 people. Want to help?

You can give $43 now (my age, ugh!) or anything at all. Hey,  $10 is great.

Go to:

All – 100% – will go to a clean water project like a well or a filtering system. If we reach our big goal of $2000, we will bring clean drinking water to 100 people.  Clean water to drink, and not for one day either. Every day. As they say, “Water changes everything.”




I know it sounds silly, but ever since I read the novel Dune, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a planet– our planet– without water. I’m a sci-fi fan. When clean drinking water becomes so rare and so precious, what does that look like? Who owns the water?

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1.4 Billion Reasons

A daunting fact: 1.4 billion people in the world live on less than $1.25 per day. They live in “extreme poverty”. 

The Global Poverty Project aims to educate and catalyze a world movement to end extreme poverty.

So they  developed a multimedia presentation called 1.4 Billion Reasons  to explain extreme poverty and what you can do about it.

You can do something. We all can. Check it out.

Recommended Reading

This book should top the list for anyone in global development:

 Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Authors Banerjee and Duflo, both MIT economists, take a close look at the poor and the decisions they make. With over fifteen years  research in dozens of countries, they suggest that poverty programs and actions should be “radically rethought”. To be effective, these programs need to change to to reflect the reality of poverty as evidenced.

Maybe…we had it all wrong? Some of these insights really challenge basic assumptions. For example, we assume the poor don’t have enough to eat, right? But Banerjee and Duflo observed that given more money, the poor didn’t buy more food, they bought better food (in similar amounts).

I don’t pretend to know all the implications of Banerjee and Duflo’s work, but I find it fascinating and think the impacts, if and when applied to poverty programs, could be profound.

For more, go to the book’s companion website:

Companion Website — Poor Economics

Have you read a great book on development lately? Recommend it here!!

50% Fewer Live in Extreme Poverty…and….

Five years before the 2015 deadline, the world has achieved one of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce extreme poverty by half.

Check out the New York Times article on March 6, 2012:

Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump

Definitely this is a huge achievement to be celebrated!!  And a word of caution comes from the Trickle Up President Bill Abrams. One caveat is how we understand and define poverty. The gross numbers for poverty have fallen, but the numbers of the ultra-poor (living on $1.25/day or less) haven’t improved all that much.

Why would that be? Continue reading

Hey, I’ve got some new shoes on…

Here is one of those inspiring stories about people making a difference with simple, yet powerful ideas.  Take a couple minutes to listen to this audio of an interview with Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes.

It’s BOGO philanthropy! And I gotta love it. Continue reading