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!


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.

Sep 15

Why Most People Couldn’t Care Less About “Social Media”

I find social media fascinating. As far as I’m concerned, we have the greatest innovation since the printing press in terms of the democratization of ideas. As you can see in this interesting experiment by Alana Taylor, most people honestly don’t know or do not care about social media. As I’ve discussed with Hugh MacLeod, social media has become something like a cult, where it’s those who “get it” and those who don’t.

Most people shouldn’t care about social media. The subject matter discussed in social media spheres does not directly impact their lives. It really is a wasteful time suck for them.

Why do I say this? I see very little in social media spheres about anything about current events, or sports, or business, or entertainment, or anything else someone actually looks to “media” for. I see a lot about cutting edge technology, which primarily affects you if you are in the technology business. Eight out of the top ten Technorati blogs are tech related. Most people just wait for technology to become affordable, so of course they don’t read blogs or care about social media. They wait for some reporter to steal a story from a blogger and then they read it there or see it when it hits TV.

This is not necessarily an assessment of blame, mind you. People who understand technology are more likely to take the time to sit at a computer to read blogs. They are more likely to set up blogs or learn how to have their own internet TV show. We just have to understand that this medium is very powerful. There’s more to the world than technology and we can spread the word a lot quicker through this medium than any other.

However, right now, my sister is sitting in Houston with no power. There are lines in Houston for generators, gasoline, and food. A friend from Galveston who is organizing this event is sitting in her Dallas friend’s home, wondering what her home town looks like and if any of her friends are dead. I’ve seen a little bit about this stuff from my Houston friends in the Twittosphere. I found about it a.) in the Houston Chronicle blog, which is a blog but is most certainly owned by a large traditional media company, b.) through email and c.) on a telephone. So no, I don’t have time to care if some “A-List” blogger tweets about a piece of cheesecake (although I’m sure some of his friends do). I need to know what the hell is going on there, and right now the most prominent social media sources are not meeting that need…

Please donate to the Red Cross. Donate to a Houston area or Austin area Food Bank. Just do something.

If there are other forms of relief or news you know of, please comment.

Sep 09

Go Ahead and Be Awesome. Donate Time and/or Food to the Capital Area Food Bank This Saturday

The American Dream is a slippery slope. You can have everything you’d ever said you wanted, and yet still feel unfulfilled.

The secret I learned from my grandfather and parents is this: as soon as you feel that weird anxious feeling like you need to be more, give back. Having the best lawn in the neighborhood feels good, but not as good as knowing that by volunteering, you’ve allowed a fellow human being in their time of need. Buying the first 3G iPhone can make you feel cooler than someone, but that feeling is fleeting compared to the feeling you get knowing that the $300 worth of food you’ve given to the Capital Area Food Bank will allow Austin children to eat nourishing meals for lunch. There is no brain candy equivalent to the kind associated with giving back.

So go ahead. Sign up to volunteer for the Capital Area Food Bank this Saturday. More details can be found here. If you can’t spend half the day at the site, swing by Costco or Sam’s, grab a bunch of food, and donate it to the Capital Area Food Bank on Saturday. You will be helping the thousands of Austinites already in need.