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Altruistic Clicks

April 28, 2010
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Click-to-donate is a website model that turns each click on the website into a charitable donation without any cost to you.   Most sites will only allow one click per day from each computer so be sure to visit every day.  When you find your favorite charity site, you can make it your homepage so you never forget to click!

OneClickAtATime and The Non Profits compile many click-to-donate sites in one spot. The sites are organized by cause so you can focus in on the things that are most important to you.

The Hunger Site is a site I’ve been visiting for years that combines 6 charities in 1 site. Donate to support the causes of Hunger,  Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforests, and Animal Rescue.

Free Rice is a similar idea, but for this site you answer questions that help you build your vocabulary.  For every correct answer 10 grains of rice are donated.

Crowd Sourcing: the Benefits of Micro-Democracy

April 25, 2010

Crowdsourcing in 8 easy steps (from wikipedia.org article)

Crowd Sourcing is the mob mentality turned on it’s head.  Where a mob can escalate a bad idea into a horrible one, Crowd Sourcing has the benefit of getting an “average” from more people and therefore getting closer to an answer that is right for more people.

This has the radical possiblity of decentralizing the idea of authority and reestablishing demoracy in many, small ways.  The threat of abuse or misuse of Crowd Sourcing is not something that I have the expertise to discuss on this blog, but please take a minute to follow down the rabbit hole that is the internet and see what you can find.

Simple examples of crowd sourcing working for you:

  • Needle in a Haystack 2

    Many people lose cameras every day.  With digital camera’s you can easily upload a few of the picture and pass them around the internet until eventually someone recognizes the pictures and can then claim ownership of the camera.  Needle in a Haystack and a NiaH inspired project called Needle in a Haystack 2 which is fueled by Facebook

  • The Library of Congress asked people to visit their Flickr page and help them to identify unlabeled pictures from their archive.   Within a few days, all of them had been identified.
  • Although the “voting” process is closed, the Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting ideas of how to best spend the government money to clean up the environment.  Either submit an idea or vote for an idea that someone else posted.  OpenEPA
  • Citizen Science.  Getting empowered and impassioned volunteers to help collect data across vast areas to increase the reach and scope of research.

Make Music

April 22, 2010
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Montana State University Professor Bill Clinton created a course that challenged his architecture students to build their own instruments, learn how to play them, and then perform as a band.  Bill says of his class,”We were exploring the connection between music and architecture and in the process I tricked them into learning how to work with wood, metal and glass.”

Frank Zappa said, “Writing about Music is like dancing about Architecuture”.  Perhaps now we can say “learning about Architecture is like making Music to dance to.”

Here is a video of the class performing with their hand made instruments.

–Thanks to Jillian –

Use Recycled Material to Grow an Edible Garden in Your Window

April 19, 2010

Window Farms was started by two artists in 2009 as part of an Artist-in-Residency program as a way to make home grown food available (physically and monetarily) to people who live in cities, have limited space, or otherwise don’t have access to soil that can be used to plant food.

The website is built on the idea of crowd sourcing where every user is invited and encouraged to provide feedback and help improve the effectiveness of the project.

Visit the website to download free instructions on how to create your own Window Farm using reused materials, and join in the conversation.

– Thanks to Nancy for the Fuel –

Man with no job gives away $10 a day

April 15, 2010

$10I heard this story on the radio the other night about Reed Sandridge an unemployed man who is giving away $10 from his savings to a complete stranger, every day, for a year. He admits that $10 wont change anyone’s life, “but it’s not about the $10. It’s about the act of giving when there’s no reason to give, and that altruistic spirit.”

You can hear the story/read the transcript on Marketplace and check out the guy’s website, Year of Giving to learn more about the people who he has given the money to.

Portland Area AmeriCorps Team Getting Things Done for the Environment

April 13, 2010

Kathryn Blau, the Ecological Restoration Team Leader and AmeriCorps Member at Northwest Service Academy recently made a short film to showcase the amazing work that her team is accomplishing during their AmeriCorps Term of  Service.   Here is what she had to say about the video:

This video was created for the Northwest Service Symposium, which is a forum for AmeriCorps members and alums to create art, music, writing, and video about service experiences. As a team leader my service is centered around supporting my team in their ecological restoration work, so I wanted my piece to be about them. I asked them to sum up what environmental service means to them in less than one minute, with the backdrop of one of the sites they have been working to restore. Their responses reflect not only their dedication to healing the earth, but also their commitment to being environmental leaders in their communities.

– Thank you to Kathryn for sharing her video –

Dave DeSimone Biked Across America for the Environment!

April 11, 2010

I met Dave in Baltimore in 2007.  He was the first CouchSurfer to grace my apartment.  He has since gone on to do amazing things, one of which was to plan and execute a bicycle trip across America to raise awareness for environmental issues.  Dave took the time to share the inspiration, challenges and planning it took to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip a reality.

I had a map and motivation. Nothing else. No experience, no training, no money and perhaps most disheartening–no bike. However, I knew I for years that I had wanted to pedal across the country. So I knew it was possible. In order to achieve the goal, I made a bike trip across the country my highest priority so that no other actions, events or expenses would prevent it from happening. I returned to school in order to ensure I would have a full summer off from responsibilities. I sold my car to help fund the trip. I coordinated with a non-profit I felt strongly about in order to gain moral support. Slowly, everything else fell into place.

Often times people have stated that they would love to do a trip like that. My advice–if you truly want to do it above anything else, then do it! It is feasible. However, it is not possible if it is not a high priority. If earning a high-paying salary, purchasing an impressive car, or even getting married in the near future are your priorities, it might be difficult to make a cross-country bike trip a reality. Although these are completely acceptable goals, they might prevent you from taking three months off from the daily routine. For me, it was all about choosing priorities–including the decision to stay in on a Friday night rather than enjoying a tasty amber ale at the bar!

The rest of the planning phase was easy. Since I had a passion for it, making it work was not a chore. It was fun. Everything from learning to intregrate the live GPS tracking into the website, to designing the t-shirts, to laying out the route became my daily stress release rather than an added task. Additionally, since tasks such as web design, video editing, graphic arts and public relations were all now part of the trip (the idea of doing a cross country bike trip for an environmental non-profit got big quickly), I found out how valuable my friends were as resources. Since each of my friends had different talents and hobbies, their time and effort into the project was greatly appreciated. It really helped the project gain a professional and efficient aura. Meanwhile, through all this, I learned to trust that this project was in good hands. My friends’ true artistic abilities shined through when I delegated each task and allowed them to run with it. This was no longer me riding a bike. It was now a group-coordinated and interactive project that raised awareness for the non-profit organization, Center for Environment and Population. The name of this project — Biking for Balance.

With all the planning and preparation, it was crazy to think the trip was just starting when we took off from the east coast. But that it was. Upon leaving the east coast, I had the intentions of seeing America. I arrived on the west coast having met America. Everyone we encountered along the way–ranchers, politicians, truckers, students, businesspeople, librarians, and unemployed families–all had something to share; all had something to teach. After 13 weeks and over 4500 miles of pedaling, we arrived on the coast with more inspiration than we left with. Overall, I learned people are inherently good. Each has something to offer and many share common goals.

As for the bike trip itself, I will be honest, I haven’t pedaled since. Once I arrived on the coast the bike (and my knees) all but fell apart. However, I’ll continue to remain active with the non-profit (Center for Environment and Population) and the other non-profits we coordinated with this summer. More than anything, I am proud to say that within a couple years I went from not even owning a bike and barely understanding how to shift gears to pedaling across the country–all because I made sure to make the goal a priority.

– Thanks Dave DeSimone for being so awesome! –

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