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Blessed Unrest

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I just finished reading Paul Hawken’s new book Blessed Unrest. It is a beautifully written, extensively researched, deeply thoughtful but in the end unsatisfying read. While Hawken talks convincingly about the convergence of the environmental/sustainability movement with the social justice and indigenous rights movements (collectively described as “the movement,”) and the significance of the millions of organizations that have arisen world-wide to tackle the many issues that all these movements encompass, I don’t believe that this alone will adequately address our challenges.

The role and responsibility of business is for the most part sadly minimized and its potential unconsidered.

In the last pages of the book, Hawken writes:

“The only spiritually responsible way I know to be a citizen, artist, or activist in these strange times is by giving little or no thought to ‘great things’ such as saving the planet, achieving world peace, or stopping neocon greed. Great things tend to be undoable things.”

While I understand the sentiment, I disagree wholeheartedly. To face the challenges that confront us today, we need a symphony of commitment and possibility. From those of us that are only willing to make small adjustments to our lifestyle to those of us willing to ensure that the world’s largest corporations become a source of hope and positive impact, only by believing that we can, as Hawken says, re-make the world into a better place, will that possibility come into existence.

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Why I Support Heifer…

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’re back from the holiday break. It’s been quiet in these parts, but much good can come from such a siesta. Here’s hoping everyone had a great week and that we were all able to catch up on the things that matter most to us. Picking up where we left off, which was in the middle of a debate about the merits of Heifer International…Here’s a guest post from Daniel Shearer at the DREAM Program that came in while we were away…

I find compelling ideas in many of these posts. I don't think people will resolve differences in the ethics of animal husbandry here, but we should accept that all of these posts include well meaning and good ideas on helping people, and animals, survive or improve their quality of life.

I was particularly interested in the desertification point and I hope that my experience with Heifer's model demonstrates that they are a qualified organization to take these issues into account and to successfully facilitate community development by being a trusted member of the neighborhood.

My account is based on one site visit in rural eastern Bolivia. As with any organization so large, I'm sure project management varies from place to place.

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Animal Rights vs. Livestock Donations: What’s the Right Thing To Do?

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Author: the Inkslinger

In the new edition of our newsletter, we recommend Heifer International as a great place to shop for the holidays. A gift there, made in the name of someone on your list, helps an impoverished family somewhere in the world become self-sustaining through a donation of livestock and/or other related things. That suggestion drew a thought-provoking rebuke from Eric at An Animal Friendly Life.

Sounds to us like a call to dialogue. So we asked Heifer International to start one by sharing their perspective. What’s yours?

I am Ray White, public information director at Heifer. I just read the animalfriendlylife.com posting, and I must say this is the most reasonable-sounding objection to our work from the animal-rights position I have ever seen. It seems odd that the writer says once people decide human rights are more important than animal rights that then those people become intractable in their thinking, because I can tell you that is how animal-rights groups are viewed – as fanatical. Heifer is not fanatical. Heifer is mainly practical.

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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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Odds and Ends From Out There

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Author: the Inkslinger

Random objects of actionable reflection are careening in large number across my perennially cluttered plane of existence this fine morning. All you have to do is reach out with a net and see what you catch. Here’s a few I just reeled in:

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Pebbles in the Pond

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Author: the Inkslinger

Gregor is on the road this week, but he took a quick break today to phone home with some news about two wonderful programs we're helping out and some dedicated change-makers who are working to build a new and better future.


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Here’s more information on both the Community Change Program and Green Across the Pacific.

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Floating Through the Jungle Primeval

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Author: Gregor

Sorry we couldn't post until now. We were hoping to get an audio log entry out last night, but as you can imagine, 20th century communications are a spotty proposition in a place as far removed from the beaten path as the Amazon basin.

We had perhaps the most incredible day yesterday that it's possible to have in this life. Like Marlow in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, we have gone far upriver into a world you can't imagine unless your own eyes take it in. Extraordinary sights and sounds met us around every bend in the river. This is a place primeval, a realm of deep and unfathomable beauty nature has taken millions of years to create. We have never seen or experienced anything even remotely like it.

That this riotous crucible of life is profoundly precious is a dramatic understatement. So it is that we were heartened by the other half of our experiences these past 24 hours: our encounters with Greenpeace projects and the people who are working with unwavering dedication to preserve the Amazon rainforest and make sure that it forever remains a place of wonder.


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On Board With Greenpeace

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I grew up thinking that Greenpeace was the coolest environmental group around. They were willing to do stuff I only dreamed about. I wanted to be hanging banners from smokestacks that were emitting carcinogenic chemicals and fighting for the preservation of endangered species on a little rubber boat in the Antarctic.

Today the group is more relevant than ever, and through our Change It partnership with Greenpeace we're working to teach the next generation how to effect meaningful social and environmental change. For these and other reasons, I am thrilled to announce that I have just been elected to their Board of Directors. It's a huge honor, and it marks the fulfillment of my longtime wish to become part of Greenpeace and contribute to their work.

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