Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amrita Devi and the Bishnois of Rajasthan

In the 1705 the Maharajah sent his soldiers to cut trees for the palace. Amrita Devi hugged the tree to prevent its destruction, the soldiers decapitated her. She was followed by other women who encountered the same fate at the hand of the soldiers. Amrita Devi's action and the action of another 366 Bishnoi women, children and men was to become the most profound expression of their commitment to their beliefs and Amrita and the others are martyred by the Bishnois to this day.
The Bishnoi community have lived in the Thar desert of Rajasthan in northern India for over 500 hundred years. Jambeshwar Bhagavan created 29 principles in the 15th century, a combination of Hindu and Muslim beliefs and practices, which are maintained by the Bishnoi to this day. Among them is an adherence to the discipline of leaving all trees and animals unharmed. Remarkably, they have adapted to their harsh conditions in a way that seems to do more than sustain them, they have achieved a level of coexistence with nature that satisfies their own needs and the needs of others even during periods of drought.

"Any change in the world has to begin within the society. All this talk about nature and wildlife protection would be more effective if each individual was to believe in the earth as a living, breathing entity and fight for its survival the way we do."J. Ram a member of the Bishnois community

Ben Goldhirsh - Founder of Good Magazine

Ben Goldhirsh started it in 2006. It seems like it's been around much longer.
"GOOD was born out of a frustration that there was no media platform celebrating, covering, and elevating the emerging movement of individuals, businesses, and organizations pushing the world forward. The mission has evolved over time. We now see ourselves as an editorial led, member driven community, with a mission to provide content that coalesces this community, experiences that deepen the relationships within the community, and utilities that empower the community." B. Goldhirsh

Saturday, November 7, 2009

José Antonio Abreu - El Sistema

José Antonio Abreu started teaching music to the poor in Venezuela in 1975. Children who had nothing, living in the barrio, stacked homes of brick and corrugated metal, were introduced to classical music at what was to become the Foundation for the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela. Starting with 11 children Abreu began with the belief that music would change the social conditions for the children. It is currently attended by 350,000 children, with 180 orchestras while the the senior youth orchestra tours the world. "An orchestra is a community where the essential and exclusive feature is that it is the only community that comes together with the fundamental objective of agreeing with itself. Therefore the person who plays in an orchestra begins to live the experience of agreement. And what does the experience of agreement mean? Team practice - the practice of the group that recognizes itself as interdependent, where everyone is responsible for others and the others are responsible for oneself. Agree on what? To create beauty." J.A. Abreu

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mardy McGarry - Possibility Playground

Her goal in 2007 was to create a playground for kids with special needs. $450,000 and over 2,000 volunteers later the playground was built by May 31, 2009. "Traditional playgrounds are often inaccessible to children with disabilities. Or at the most, offering one or two pieces of equipment that they may be able to negotiate. At Possibility Playground, ALL children are able to play shoulder to shoulder." from the Possibility Playground website.

“My children have taught me so much and have challenged me to always think outside the box and imagine the possibilities.” Mardy McGarry (on the left).

Ursula Rakova - Sailing the waves on our own

Climate is changing, these are among its first refugees. As global water levels rise, islands are beginning to disappear. If they are occupied, where do the people go? How will they prepare? Who will convince them to leave an island they have occupied for generations. Ursula Rakova has created an organization to deal with relocation in the Carteret Islands for those who must face the inevitable, it's called Tulele Peisa Inc.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nicholas Negroponte - "A mission not a market."

OK as head of MIT Media, Negroponte is no ordinary guy. However, the power of his idea and his ability to involve the contributions of many others in the development of an inexpensive laptop, generated an intelligent solution with extraordinary capacity. The video below on the OLPC idea is a powerful model for social enterprise, any social enterprise.

The Rwandan example in the following video is a powerful illustration of the results. The computer itself has a more powerful wireless capability than your computer, it has a water resistant keyboard, it can be powered by a solar device or a crank generator, it has no hard drive and it is capable of computer to computer networking which extends its distance for more distributed communities. These are just a few of the features that make it suitable for the rigours of remote or extreme conditions.

Jessica Jackley opportunity can change a life.

Jessica Jackley wanted to connect friends and family in the U.S. with friends and family in Africa. raises over a million dollars every 9 days, with 300,00 lenders, and 95 partner lending institutions for microfinance loans for businesses in impoverished countries. All to say, the internet allowed her to participate in the lives of people she cared about by providing opportunity for them. Kiva means unity in Swahili.

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

Majora Carter makes "Green is the new Black."

She chooses to fix a neighbourhood, the South Bronx. She seeks a new normal, a reasonable one that has grass instead of garbage, clean parks instead of dumping grounds and a waterfront for people instead of a collection of derelict warehouses. There is a tendency to think of her activism as a solution soley for impoverished urban areas, but her ideas apply to any area where people want to participate in how they live wherever they live. After all of her South Bronx development efforts and successes she has left the Sustainable South Bronx organization to run on its own, to begin the Majora Carter Group with the following mission: "Majora Carter Group builds efficient relationships between organizations and across sectors, helping civic, business and nonprofit organizations meet their individual interests via green economic projects."

Leymah Gbowee had "a crazy dream"

This is Leymah Gbowee, a citizen of Liberia. She decided the war in her country had gotten to the point of "ridiculous." Then she had a dream about peace. In the beginning she cannot accept herself as the leader in the dream. After overcoming her denial, she began her mission to stop the war by sharing her frustration with the killing and raping, announcing that it must stop.

Abigail Disney, Walt's grandaughter, a philanthropist and filmmaker, made this documentary called Pray the Devil Back to Hell. I highly recommend watching this interview with Leymah Gbowee and Abigail Disney. Leymah Gbwoee is now the Executive Director of Women's, Peace & Security Network.