Dec 15

Keep Austin Warm this Holiday

OK. So the idea of Austin being July-like warm in December a sign that the apocalypse is nigh and perhaps the most depressing thought ever. Rest assure, Austin-lovers, the city has actually seen record cold temperatures this December. This is great if you hate the heat, but pretty brutal if you are new in town and don’t have any money for a coat.

My friend Elaine Allan helps a group of refugees in town who are in this exact situation. Many of these people have never seen or felt this sort of cold in their lives. Imagine being dropped in Siberia without proper clothing, and then having to go to work or school everyday.

If you are in Austin and have surplus coats, clothes or blankets, consider donating them to local refugees or others in need. If you don’t have extras, consider a cash donation. Simply leave a comment or email me at michelle(at)michellesblog.com. I will introduce you to Elaine. She is working tirelessly to make sure everyone who needs coats, blankets and warm clothes actually gets them.

Not in Austin? Not to worry. It’s still good karma to donate to those who need it most, and a lot more fun than the typical holiday madness anyway.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

kids

Help kids like these in your area by donating coats and blankets.

* Just a reminder: I don’t live in Austin anymore and haven’t for two years. I am just here visiting family. Please stop inviting me to your Austin events on Facebook. Thanks!

Sep 03

Leave Cancer in Our Wake by Supporting Swim Across America

debzokissAfter four years of sickness and tremendous pain, my sister Debby Greer-Costello lost her battle against leukemia in May of 2009. She was just 42 years old.

To this day, I struggle to make sense of Deb’s suffering. By the time her soul left her blistered, jaundiced body, she had been on oxygen, had a tracheotomy and dialysis, suffered from encephalitis that made her hallucinate, and couldn’t walk or eat. She was restrained to prevent her from ending her own life for six months. It has taken me years to accept that 1.) it was even ok to be angry about her treatment and 2.) eventually I could choose not to be angry and sad about this. After all, Deb raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society even while struggling with her own illnesses. She was a beautiful person who cared tremendously for others her entire life. It really is stupid to dwell on anything else but that.

So in her honor and at the coaxing of swim guru and Awesome Heroku VP of Sales Mike Pyle, I have joined the Swim Across America Salesforce team. Swim Across America is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events.

Our team is committed to a swim in the San Francisco Bay on September 29. As anyone who knows me can attest, I hate cold. I’m also not a fan of sharks and underwater creepy things. The Bay apparently has both (although sharks aren’t as common as Alcatraz guards led to believe). I’m doing this even though I’m scared because this is a cakewalk compared to what the 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women who will get cancer in America have to face. It is my honor to help them in their fight, even in this small way.

Cancer is so powerful, we can only fight it by cutting it out or injecting our bodies with poison to get rid of it. I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. We need to get rid of this disease forever. Please help me do so by donating to Swim Across America at my fundraising page, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Awareness helps, but paying researchers to destroy cancer seems like a much sounder bet.

If you have or have had cancer, feel free to drop me a line at michelle(at)michellesblog.com and I will dedicate my swim to you. If you have had a loved one pass away from cancer, I will do the same for them. Please remember that you are not alone and let me know if I can help in any other way.

Jun 19

Please Give to a Cool Kid for My Second 29th Birthday

2008-12-21 14:47:42 -0600
Guess what? Today is my second 29th birthday. And although I’m not too fond of birthdays, I’m trying to make this one rock by raising money for my niece Zoe’s college fund. She just lost her mother to leukemia and has had a rocky past four years dealing with her mom’s sickness.

If you are down for helping cool nine-year-olds who raise thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, you might want to contribute. I have high hopes for Zoe.

You can find the PayPal link on this page:

http://www.debutaunt.com/archives/000698.php#000698

May 13

Social Media Changes Nothing. YOU Change It

I was on a panel with Scoble once where he matter-of-factly declared that anyone who eventually does not use social media will become irrelevant in future generations.

God. I hope not.

There is a certain amount of optimism among social media “evangelists” that this medium can change the world. Mediums don’t change anything–people do.

You can use a medium to help someone find a job or you can use it to spread horrible lies about people. It’s a tool. Social media is a tool like a cell phone is a tool. If you spend your time talking about that tool or about iPhone apps or traffic, you aren’t really changing anything. Which means the church group who got together to clean up Austin ghettos or run a soup kitchen did a whole lot more than you did with lesser technology. Is Adela Ben-Yakar, a pioneer in nanosurgery that would essentially treat disease in a non-invasive manner, somehow irrelevant because she doesn’t have time to Twitter? If you produce a brilliant film or product, and SOMEONE got light of it via a blog or network of some stripe, would it matter if you used social media? This is a ridiculous notion that I hope no one else holds.

Change comes about because someone feels compelled enough about a problem to do something about it. You can be a highly documented irrelevant person or a non-documented person who is highly relevant. Or you can be a balance of both.

Where is this post coming from? Because “through the wisdom of social media crowds”, apparently finding wifi is more important to Austin geeks voting on OpenAustin than keeping people safe or getting clean air. Something tells me that kind of change isn’t one worth pursuing.

Jan 30

Everyone Deserves Clean Water

Get banners like this one and their embed codes for your blog at charity:water’s site.

Jan

Why Water Relief?

There are a lot of causes out there. So why pay so much attention to this one? I am just some two-bit tech marketer, but check out this video charity:water made on the subject:

charity: water promo featuring “Time Bomb” by Beck from charity: water on Vimeo.

If you think water relief is a complete no-brainer issue as I do, consider embedding this on your blog. Thanks.

Jan 29

Sponsorship and “The Tweet-for-Wells Twestival Auction”

**Note: I’m putting the Sponsorship Information for Twestival on my blog because the London Twestival webmaster implemented a version of WordPress that makes this information very difficult to read. We will have it up on a much more formal, permanent site (www.austintwestival.com) when Austin/Chicago based Stalelife unveils it. Thank God for locals. I welcome you to publish this on your blog as well and I certainly encourage you to come to Twestival. Buy a ticket on Amiando.”

One in six citizens of the world does not have clean drinking water. The lack of clean drinking water is the source of wars, famine, and disease, and now millions of Twitter users have decided to do something about it.

On February, 12, 2009, over 100 cities around the world are hosting “Twestivals”, which are meetings of Twitter* users to benefit charity:water. We are asking you to take part in this historic event by helping make Austin’s Twestival the most memorable and beneficial. This packet will outline what is occurring at Twestival Austin as well as the benefits of being a sponsor. Mashable is touting this as the world’s biggest Twitter-driven charity drive ever, and we would appreciate if you would take part.

*Note: if you don’t know what Twitter is or does, watch this video.

What is Happening at Austin Twestival?

Raising money for people in need is a wonderful thing and we intend to show the world that Austin knows how to have a good time. We are meeting at Ace’s Lounge on Sixth Street at 8 pm. This venue fits 700 people in it and the manager Jason is doing everything to accommodate a successful event. What does this entail?

  • A meeting of Austin’s most influential people in the tech, business, and philanthropic spaces.
  • Entertainment in the form of sumo suit wrestling by party-goers.
  • A performance by one of Austin’s premiere bands, T-Bird and the Breaks. This band came on the scene just last year and was already recognized by the Austin Music Awards as one of Austin’s Best New Bands and won accolades at ACL in the “Sound and the Jury” Awards. This will be one of their first performances of the songs from their new album,
  • A presentation by Glimmer of Hope, a non-profit partner of charity:water that drills wells in Ethiopia.
  • An internet livestream which will be broadcast with other notable worldwide Twestivals.
  • A professional photo shoot of party-goers as well as onsite photographers.
  • A silent auction and raffle to raise money.

The schedule is as follows:

8:00 Meet and mingle
8:50 A word from sponsors
9:00 Twestival Sumo Smackdown
10:00 Presentation by Glimmer of Hope
10:45 Performance by T-Bird and the Breaks

Sponsorship Levels
a.k.a. “The Tweet-for-Wells Twestival Auction”

Becoming a socially conscious business is more important than ever and sponsoring Twestival is a great way to introduce yourself to the increasing numbers of people using social networking while supporting a great cause. Since the lack of clean drinking water is a big problem across the world, we didn’t want to cap levels and risk filling them up. We are essentially auctioning off the most prominent branding spots to the highest donors in hopes that together, the Austin community will be able to donate multiple wells to the places that need them most.

Here are the levels of sponsorship. 100% of your donation will go to charity:water.

“RIO GRANDE” DONORS
(Goes to Top Three Donors by dollar amount)

Rio Grande donors will receive:

  1. One of two banners above the stage where the band will play or next to the DJ booth, where the sumo suit wrestling will take place. These areas are sure to offer the most photo opportunities.
  2. A text link as well as a banner ad on the front page of austintwestival.com. All footage will be livestreamed from this site and we will put archived footage for people to see later here as well. This site will be up and running for at least one year and will hopefully be revisited for Twestival II.
  3. A text link as well as a logo on a separate “Photos” page on the austintwestival.com. We will archive our favorite Twestival photos here for at least a year.
  4. The opportunity to speak for one minute during the “Thanks to Our Sponsors” time before sumo chaos ensues.
  5. The ability to put shwag at a table at the event.
  6. Your Twitter name in a tag cloud of all those involved. This tag cloud will go on a “Contributors” page on the site.
  7. Crazy good karma. The idea that thousands of people are being saved because of your generosity.

“RED” DONORS
(Goes to Donors Four-Six by dollar amount)

Red Donors will receive:

  1. A banner at the event either upstairs or in the front bar at Ace’s Lounge.
  2. A text link as well as a logo on a separate “Photos” page on austintwestival.com. We will archive our favorite Twestival photos here for at least a year.
  3. Your company name will be mentioned in our “thanks to our sponsors” session before sumo chaos ensues.
  4. The ability to put shwag at table at the event.
  5. Your Twitter name in a tag cloud of all those involved. This tag cloud will go on a “Contributors” page on the site.
  6. Crazy good karma. The idea that thousands of people are being saved because of your generosity.

“BRAZOS” DONORS
(Goes to Donors seven-twelve by dollar amount)

Brazos donors will receive:

  1. A text link at the bottom of a separate “Photos” page on austintwestival.com. We will archive our favorite Twestival photos here for a year.
  2. Your company’s name will be mentioned in our “thanks to our sponsors” section before sumo ensues.
  3. Your Twitter name in a tag cloud of all those involved. This tag cloud will go on a “Contributors” page on the site.
  4. Crazy good karma. The idea that thousands of people are being saved because of your generosity.

“COLORADO” DONORS
($150 and above)

Colorado Donors will receive:

  1. A text link and logo on a separate “Contributor” page on austintwestival.com. This will include a tag cloud of all those present and all those who donated.
  2. Crazy good karma. The idea that thousands of people are being saved because of your generosity.

“NUECES” DONORS
($1-$150)

  1. Your Twitter name in a tag cloud of all those involved. This tag cloud will go on a “Contributors” page on the site.
  2. Crazy good karma. The idea that thousands of people are being saved because of your generosity.

HOW TO DONATE
(It’s easier than it sounds)

1.) Go to www.charitywater.org/twestival, make your donation while being sure to select “Austin” from the dropdown.
2.) Send your email receipt to the official Tweet-for-Wells Twestival Auctioneer, Brian Buser (@brianbuser) at brianbuser(at)gmail.com.
3.) Check the blog at http://austin.twestival.com periodically. Brian will be updating the blog with the top donors as we go along. On February 9th, he will announce how much money we’ve raised from the “Tweet-For-Wells Twestival Auction”..

We will consider donor amounts for www.austintwestival.com banner space and links well through the event. In order to get your banner up at the event though, please make all donations before February 9, 2009.

RAFFLE SPONSORSHIP
(no money required.)

Austin Twestival will feature a raffle where party goers can place tickets in boxes next to items they would like to win. We will draw from each box to pick winners. This way, any item they win is something they would actually choose. We will feature all donors in an “Raffle Donors” section of the Austin Twestival website. To submit items to our raffle, please email Debbie Cerda at snaxxx(at)gmail.com.

For items worth over $300, you will be considered a sponsor. Please consider this.

MEDIA COVERAGE BEFORE WE’VE EVEN SOLD TICKETS
This event was already covered in TechCrunch and is sponsored by Mashable, one of the biggest blogs in the world. We currently have support from the Austin Chronicle and the event is already featured in do512.com. As this is a “tweetup”, many bloggers will be there taking pictures, sending messages via Twitter, and video recording the event. It is the biggest “tweetup” on record and it just feels good to take part.

We invite you to take part of this powerful demonstration of collaboration for the sake of the common good. Please email Michelle Greer at michelle(at)michellesblog.net if you have any questions. Thank you.

Jan 02

Help Build a Water Project in Africa, $2 at a Time

Laura Fitton is a blogger who always seems to be picking up good causes to champion. Today I saw no exception as she is trying to raise money to build a water project in Africa.

OK, it’s really messed up that there are people on the same earth as us who don’t have the basic necessity of clean water so they can properly function. Come on, now.

(Steps off soapbox) But you knew that already, right?

If you’d like to be awesome by helping, donate at least $2 to this cause. If you tweet it out by just following these directions, TipJoy will match up to $10,000. Sweet.

And just to let you know, often when people like Laura put themselves out there by championing a cause, they tend to get a lot of people who see that they actually care about something who then ask them for more help for other causes. And when you put yourself out there and you see people coming to you for more help instead of with help, it just breaks your heart. As the Bible says, “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few”. Remember that.

Oct 20

Using Your Talent for Good, Linearb Style

Lynn Bender at GeekAustin (aka @linearb to many other circles) is a phenomenal piano player. He heard about my sister Debby’s financial strife while trying to overcome graft-vs-host disease, and decided he’d like to play to help her raise some money to cover her expenses. Right now her health insurance is over $700 a month and she cannot work because she is too sick. She only collects disability right now. It is so difficult for her to overcome this disease which has killed many of her friends, so finances is the last thing she should really have to worry about.

If you appreciate Lynn’s awesome playing of the organ, please consider donating to my sister’s PayPal account. The link is at the bottom:

Take a look at my sister’s blog if you’d like to get to know the person you’d be helping. Please pass this around as well. On behalf of my sister and my family, thank you and God Bless!



debzokiss

Oct 15

Do We or Our Congresspeople Know the Face of Poverty?

This post is part of Blog Action Day.

You see them. They pass by you on the street. They are the ones sitting, waiting for a bus. They clean your tables and serve your breakfast tacos. Do you know them?

Do you know the man that makes minimum wage who cuts your sushi? He narrowly escaped the jungles and oppressive military regime of Burma to a refugee camp in Thailand. He barely speaks English because he had no idea if he was going to be here or in Norway or any other country that accepts refugees. Did you know he has two children he has to support and that he has no idea if his brothers and sisters survived a deadly cyclone? You see this man several times a week. You might even smile at him and ask him how his day was.

Do you know that man who sits on the corner and asks for change? He is a Viet Nam vet who was 19 when he left for war. He did not want to go but was pressured out of going to Canada. He watched the best friends that he depended on to survive get ambushed in plain site. He has nightmares, has severe stomach issues, and struggle as he may, he cannot hold a decent job. Do you realize he has spent the majority of his life as a scared, bitter person? You see this man, but do you know him?

Do you know the woman who was impregnated and dumped at 16, who struggles to make a life for herself and her child? “Daddy” wants no involvement and has enough troubles paying for himself, much less a child. One night of fun, years of being shunned for her irresponsibility.

Do you know the busboy who nearly died of thirst in the desert coming to America? Do you understand why he works so hard? He left because the leaders in his Mexican village didn’t like him, and wouldn’t give him a chance. He left so he didn’t have to pay the police for justice.

You see the 15% of Austin’s population that falls under the poverty level, but do you know anything about their lives and what they’ve faced? Do you actually understand how truly difficult it can be to escape poverty when you make a little less than half of the living wage?

Do you understand that outside this nation, children are dying of malaria and yellow fever because they can’t afford vaccines against simple mosquito bites? Do you know there are places in the world without clean water to drink, and that people are still getting typhoid?

When you complain about how high your taxes are, have you ever stopped to think that if your politicians just spent your money more efficiently, we would be able to help these people out so they could contribute more to our society and to our world?

If you think this post is relevant, blog about it or send it to your Congressperson. If you have an iPhone or Blackberry, check out Congress in your Pocket. Consider contributing some of your earnings on this day.