Jul 13

Quit Complaining About Society. Support Non-Profits and Volunteer.


I am amazed at how many pats on the back I get for trying to support Elaine Allan’s efforts to help Burmese refugees here in town. All these people, all Obama supporters. All clamoring for change. Few choose to step up and actually help out.

Awareness is great. People willing to “get their hands dirty” are so much more useful though.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I suppose awareness is better than indifference. But when I see a kid who is a year old who isn’t wearing a diaper because his mother can’t afford them, and I meet a man who doesn’t have a job, can’t speak English, and has sought political asylum here in the States, I have a hard time settling with awareness. I met a family that was down to six eggs to eat right here in Austin, Texas.

How excited should I really be about the new iPhone apps? Why should I follow your dogs on Twitter? I love geeky people and feel they want nothing but the best for this world. I just don’t think they quite get the disparity in our world, and how little effort it takes from each individual to fix it.

So please support Obama. Support change. Just appreciate that you, and not your government, are responsible for the change that this world needs. Whether you believe that we need to find the cure for cancer, or bridge the digital divide, or solve world hunger, you cannot rely on your government to fix these problems. It doesn’t matter how many tax dollars you throw at it. Anyone who’s dealt with the government knows that their programs are wasteful, inconvenient, and run by people who are rewarded for being tenured rather than competent. Try this on for size: I am still dealing with crime victim’s compensation paperwork A YEAR AFTER the the situation that warranted it. When I asked a woman who worked for this division to just email me a fax number, she said she was unable to do this. EVERYTHING IS PAPERWORK WITH THE GOVERNMENT, AND THIS IS A WASTE OF YOUR TIME AND MONEY.

Change isn’t just a buzzword. It is an action that we all have to take to make society better.

BTW, if you want to improve the Burmese people’s situation here in Austin, please email Elaine at borntohelp(at)earthlink.net. She will tell you everything they need.

  • http://nicefishfilms.com/blog Michael Sean Wright

    Love your “action” post! The real revolution happens when WE rethink the idea of community. When we gather we can rehash the latest headlines or choose to reshape reality through involvement. The developments of Non Governmental Originations (NGO’s) are proving that the individuals are the instruments of change. May I recomend- http://www.youngfoundation.org/node/460 The concept of Social Innovation must be accelerated. Thank you again for the “inspiration.”


    Michael Sean Wrights last blog post..Twitter Stops the Traffic

  • http://jeffgehlbach.com/ jeffg

    Do your own research and vote period. You hired the clowns who perpetuate the stupidity, you can fire them too!

    Don’t forget that one of your senators is up for reelection this year, and in Georgia at least the primary for that election is tomorrow, 15 July 2008.

  • http://www.kevinkoym.com/blog/ Kevin Koym

    Hey Michelle,

    You are right on about pushing us all to get involved, to take action, to put our money (and actions) where our mouths are.

    Given that you are publicizing this thread, and I assume that you are going to have a number of people see this thread- I have a suggestion- let’s post here what we ourselves are doing in the comments (versus making a commentary on the content of your post). In that vane, I will share the following- what I am doing.

    I have decided that my place to “make my mark” is with entrepreneurs. Instead of starting another high tech startup (which I have been involved in my whole career, starting in 1989) my “work” has become helping entrepreneurs get going. I am writing a book about this (http://www.kevinkoym.com/blog/book ) and I am holding events around this. I have done this work in Mexico, Chile, and of course in Texas. Although financially I am still consulting around building websites / software, my go forward plan is not just to volunteer my time to causes, but to turn my career and my cause into the same thing. At some point, within the next ten years, I want to have supported some humongous number of entrepreneurs to get going- get their businesses off the ground and successful… in this country, and in the developing world. For me, it is no longer good enough to have a job and also volunteer. For me to “hit the mark” I have decided that I must make my work be about the cause that I want to create…. creating economic freedom for around 100,000 people in the Americas has a nice start of a ring to it.

    I believe, following in the footsteps of Muhammad Yunus, a great number of us can build socially conscious businesses- like he did by building Grameen Bank (microfinance to the poorest of the poor). Doing good and good business can go hand in hand- making a profit and making a difference in the world. I am learning to follow his lead- I encourage you and others to look how we can use the engine of capitalism, the heart of entrepreneurship, to give our businesses soul (being socially conscious) and make a difference in the world.

    Thanks for your post.

  • http://twitter.com/RoundSparrow RoundSparrow

    I know this sounds like a broken record… but why aren’t we all pushing for Ron Paul in 2008? A local Texan who GETS IT.

    yes, he is a little odd, kind of like Ross Perot was – but can’t people see that Ross Perot was right in 1992 about what ails the USA (big central government). I don’t agree with either Ross or Ron on all issues (I believe NAFTA was actually good for the USA in the long run, we should give more power to states and merge with Mexico and Canada by 2050 if we had any sense)

    I’m helping people on an individual level here in Austin – but frankly, Austin is doing pretty well. Give it another 12 to 36 months, things are going to get a lot worse in the USA. A LOT WORSE. Job losses on a massive scale, that’s next.

    yes, I.Could.Be.Wrong – but George.Bush.Was.Wrong.For.USA. Few of our leaders are leaders. They are all public entertainment and issue button pushers (popular issues, not hard work issues).

    Michelle, some of us help with the hard thinking and money to support your causes. We do observe what you do with it 😉 Fight the good fight. But don’t really expect Obama isn’t just more of the paperwork waste of time and money you talk about. The system, the entire societal system, has become corrupt / damaged.

    RoundSparrows last blog post..RoundSparrow: @jonatne Sorry man, I’ll take it off your hands for $25 😉 let me know if you find a source with them in stock.

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    @roundsparrow i would support Ron Paul if he evangelized volunteerism, but he doesn’t. He just preaches that government is broken, which is the first step of many steps to recovery. To me, this is a distraction from mobilizing people and a waste of energy.

  • http://voluntopia.org Thai Huynh

    Hey Michelle,

    We're an Austin, TX based company who just launched a beta social network (Voluntopia) where volunteers, nonprofits, and business leaders meet to make a world of difference. Our purpose is to provide the best tools and services for volunteers to find perfect opportunities and for nonprofits alike to recruit the best people for their causes. Come check us out! It's 100% free to join.


    • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

      I’d hit up Tech Soup, NetSquared and 501Tech groups around the country. Should be able to help you out.