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Want To Be Inspired? Read This!

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Beautiful, environmental housing in the midst of poverty. Samuel Mockbee was a gifted architect who devoted his life to ensuring those least able to afford it lived in the most wonderful places. In a world where only those who are already the healthiest and safest on the planet can afford organic food and clothing, non-toxic cleaners, and “green” homes, we should all imagine Mockbee looking down upon us. Here’s an excerpt from an article on Mockbee that appeared in Architectural Record:

 

Architect Samuel Mockbee was convinced that "everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul" and that architects should lead in procuring social and environmental change. But he believed they had lost their moral compass. The profession needed reform, he believed, and education was the place to start. "If architecture is going to nudge, cajole, and inspire a community to challenge the status quo into making responsible changes, it will take the subversive leadership of academics and practitioners who keep reminding students of the profession’s responsibilities," he said. He wanted to get students away from the academic classroom into what he called the classroom of the community.

 

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Everyone is Included In the Environmental Wave.

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Author: Kendra Sibilia

The University of Vermont had the honor of hosting a talk led by Van Jones. Van Jones was one of the founding directors of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. He is also very concerned with the environment. He is a member of many organizations such as, Rainforest Action Network, WITNESS, Bioneers, the New Apollo Project and the Social Venture Network. The University was very thankful fortunate to have such a passionate figure come and grace us with some of his knowledge.

The speech was titled “The New Dream” presented by “Reclaim the Future.” Van began by telling us we were part of the 3rd wave of Environmentalism. The first wave was conservation which began with the Native Americans. During this time a squirrel could climb up a tree in California and jump from branch to branch and make it to the Mississippi River. The second wave was Regulation which was started with Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Now in the 3rd wave called, Investment. The result of an investment is hoped and assumed to be a positive one bringing many progressive results to the investor. We are in a wave of hope and optimism.

The amount of money our Country is spending on alternative energy, green cars and green products is on the rise. We are currently spending $229 billion dollars a year on all of these materials. These are amazing numbers and they are only on the rise. However the most astonishing fact is that the Green wave is the most racially segregated economy in the United States. The work being put forth to encourage this Green wave is so that it will last forever. If it doesn’t include everyone, then we won’t last very long.

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Fair WAGES At Work

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Every once in a while you are privileged to be able to work with people who have found a way to tackle some of the toughest challenges our society faces. While I’m passionate about politics, the environment, and health care, nothing is of greater concern to me than issues of justice & equity. And while we know that systemically all these issues are related, choosing to work on creating a new paradigm for low income, minority women is work that most of us are simply unable or unwilling to do.

Creating the opportunity for women to build a life for them selves and their families on a foundation of secure, respectable, and reasonably-paid employment is a dream that is beyond the reach of many Americans. WAGES is succeeding in creating this new possibility. Working with over 50 Latino women in the East Bay area of San Francisco, they have created three successful, worker-owned home cleaning business cooperatives that have changed lives and created hope.

Seventh Generation has been challenged to find ways to reach out to the low-income community. WAGES has provided us with the opportunity to provide education and to ensure these women benefit from using safer and healthier products in the work they do every day.

While our partnership is in it’s infancy, it’s one that fills me with hope and possibility. Check them out. And if you live where they’ve got a coop and need some healthy cleaning help, give them a call!

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How Much Of What We Make Should We Give Away?

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This Sunday’s New York Times magazine had an exceptionally thought provoking article entitled What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You? While I have often pondered the limits of my own generosity, this story created a whole new framework for me to think about what I am willing or at least aspire to do.

As you open all those requests for money you get in the final weeks of the year consider this: The United Nations estimates that the total annual global cost of halving hunger and extreme poverty, halting & reversing the spread of aids, and ensuring that all children attend primary school would be less than $300 billion. Peter Singer’s proposal in the New York Times would generate $404 billion dollars from the wealthiest 10% of Americans!

Check out his plan. The article is long but well worth the read. Singer proposes that the more you earn, the more you give away. He suggests that those who earn over $92,000 give away 10% while the richest 0.01%, whose average income is $12.7 million, donate 1/3 of what they make. Hey, who’s going to miss $4.3 million when you’re making that much?

I’m considering stepping up to the plate, but giving away 15% of what I make would take me well beyond the 10% I’ve been working up to!

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Global Giving's Gold Medal Winner Is...

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Author: the Inkslinger

Hey all... GlobalGiving's John Heckinger dropped the Inspired Protagonist a line this morning to let us know who won his organization's GlobalGiving Olympics. John writes:

Thanks again for the guest blog spot. India took the gold in a landslide, and all the results are on our home page. The "100 Slum Children of Sex Workers" were the big winners. During the competition, we had a visit from a legend, Inderjit Khurana, featured in the New Heroes Documentary, and her amazingly motivated son, Anoop. Inderjit's project came in second, but Anoop used the occasion to mobilize the extensive Indian diaspora community in California.

Our next big thing will be gift certificates. Just in time for the holidays! They're a great viral tool for folks who want to spread the good around.

Thanks to all who voted, all who helped, and all who are keeping Earth's needful many in their hearts and at the center of their deeds this holiday season. You're making the world spin in a good direction.

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Inspired Protagonists Wanted

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Do you have an incredible new idea that could change your community, your country, or your world?

Are you an entrepreneur who won't rest until your idea has been brought to life? Or a leader who has recently started an organization to do just that?

If so, apply for an Echoing Green Fellowship. You could receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and support to launch a new organization that turns your innovative idea for social change into action. Think about it... How often does an offer like this come along?

Echoing Green is a great organization run by Cheryl Dorsey. Launched in 1987, its mission is to spark social change by identifying, investing in and supporting the world's most exceptional emerging leaders and the organizations they launch. Through a two-year fellowship program, the group is helping a network of visionaries develop new solutions to society’s most difficult problems. These social entrepreneurs are working to close deeply-rooted social, economic and political inequities in order to ensure equal access and help all individuals reach their potential. To date, Echoing Green has invested nearly $25 million in seed and start up grants to over 400 social entrepreneurs

Apply online for a fellowship by December 1, 2006 and you could follow in the footsteps of the founders of Teach For America, City Year, and over 400 other social change organizations. Watch the video here and then find out whether you qualify. Have any questions? Contact Echoing Green's Jeremy Schifeling at jeremy@echoinggreen.org.

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Our Latest Guest Blogger Invites You to Join the Games for Good

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Author: the Inkslinger

We're big fans of the people at GlobalGiving. We love the work they're doing and the results its producing for those in need around the world. So we’ve invited GlobalGiving's own John Heckinger to be a guest blogger. Welcome, John!

Hi, everyone. I wanted to drop in and let everyone here know about our special GlobalGiving Olympics, an event that’s bringing people together to lend a hand to some people who could use the help.

Between October 9, 2006 and October 31, 2006, all projects on GlobalGiving are competing for $75,000 in prizes. In the places where we spend our funds, this is a large and powerful sum.

It could create access to clean water for 250,000 rural villagers in India, where poor water quality is the leading cause of death for children under 5. Or it could save 10,000 people from treatable illnesses at health clinics across Sub-Saharan Africa, where 25,000 die each day from such diseases. Or it could lift 250 families out of poverty in Kenya, where 13 million people live on less than $1/day.

The big question is who gets to decide who gets the prizes and what good gets done. The answer is everybody in the world. That’s because anyone anywhere can come to the GlobalGiving Olympics and vote by making a donation. The GlobalGiving project that generates the most donations will receive the $50,000 grand prize. The choice is in everybody’s hands.

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A Country that Works... Wow, What a Great Idea!

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I got to spend some time during the week hanging out with Andy Stern, the visionary President of the Service Employees International Union, the biggest, fastest-growing union in North America. I have often joked that “unions” are like a bad brand. Either someone needs to reinvent them or they will continue to die. Well Andy Stern is the man.

He thinks systemically about whole solutions that benefit all stakeholders. He knows than unions can’t thrive if they put companies out of business and that redesigning our health care system (we spend twice as much as the UK and we’re half as healthy) is perhaps the most critical change we need to make to ensure we can continue to create an environment that allows America to compete in the global marketplace. Wal-Mart Watch is also his brain child and while controversial, he deserves lots of credit for getting Wal-Mart headed in the right direction. His new book is just out,
A Country that Works – Getting America Back on Track. I can’t wait to read it! In the meantime, I’ve been checking out his blog entries
at the Huffington Post

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From Amazon Clearcut to the Vermont Forest

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As I reflect on our week in Brazil, I have struggled to find a context to hold the experience we had. I am still struggling so this is a work in process. First, the world is a big, big place, and the challenges it faces take on a new dimension when you see them with your own eyes. How many times have I said that I am committed to making the world a better place without having seen most of the world I'm referring to? Without understanding what a better place means for most of the people living in that world?

I am humbled by the experience of joy and community I had within what I assumed would be dreadful poverty. In the shanty towns outside Rio, there is garbage in the streets and men with machine guns making life far less certain that I could have ever imagined, but there are also smiles on the faces of the children.

In the Amazonian rainforest, where at least 20% of the land has been clearcut, a huge Cargill facility was recently constructed that will attract ever more clearcutting to supply the company with soy. This is a place where homes are burned, priests have their lives threatened, and everyone has their own story of corruption. Yet communities are successfully reinventing themselves, hope is not lost, and a beauty that is more than your eye’s can hold remains to nourish your soul.

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Hero of the Forest

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We are in Manahus, the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Today we flew over hundreds of miles of virgin forest, punctuated by huge tracts of land that have been deforested for logging, cattle or soy production. (Much of the land ends up growing soy beans to be sold to Cargill.) 20% of the forest has been lost. What's left is breathtaking. What's gone a disaster. In the town of Santarem, in Para, we met Father Edilberto Sena, who works in partnership with Greenpeace Brazil.

Here is a man whose life has been threatened for his efforts to save the forest and honor the rights of the native population that is being forced out. A man who has dedicated his life to saving the local community. A leader as inspiring as Gandhi. A man who has inspired the whole local community to stand up, stop the sale of land to those who will destroy it, and protect the forest that has provided for it for generations untold.

But he is also a man with a price tag on his head. Edilberto has summoned the authority of the bishop and the Pope to his cause. He is a testiment to the potential and possibility of leadership and local organizing. It was an honor to meet him and to be able to experience the possibility of the power of local communities to fight multinational corporations.

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