Archive for the ‘One click helping’ Category

FITE from KIVA, Because it Works

FITE: (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. A breath of fresh perspective from Kiva, the micro loan organization that is already changing world poverty.

Cringe-Inducing, Crazy Partisanship

These two stories are but a couple of too many as this mid-term election cycle gets nasty. Both sides of this 2-party nation (while I don’t feel well-represented by either of the main parties, it is still the system we live with) tend to shout from the rooftops about what the founding fathers intended…but only when it is convenient and supports a particular argument (often stretched and twisted beyond the recognition of any of the founding folks). One thing I know for certain is that when this country’s political future was being planned–this was not how it looked in the dreams of a new free nation out from under the tyranny and oppression of the former homeland. We have been working so very hard to instill a whole bunch more tyranny and oppression of late, and we vote for these jokers. Or by being too lazy/busy/disinterested, we vote for the opposition simply by NOT voting. That qualifies as reprehensible in my book. There are so many oppressed people in our larger, global community, that would lop off their left arms for a chance to vote, and we can’t drag our SUVs to the local middle school or community center polling place because we have too much to do.


A fringe, radical conservative group hiding behind the benign name “Latinos for Change” bought advertising time on Univision in Nevada, to encourage Latino voters NOT TO VOTE. Univision is the #1 Spanish-language network in this country, and they thought if they reached in through the back door to viewers, they could convince them to stay home to “punish” the current administration for not enacting immigration reform quickly enough. I’m sorry–that is sick. Voting is the only power we have, and I hope Nevada voters saw through this hypocrisy and idiocy and will show up in record numbers at the polls. I don’t care how they vote, but I care that they participate.



NPR (National Public Radio) is under attack from Sara Palin, perky cheerleader for not thinking things through. I recognize Sarah is only a mouthpiece, and honestly think she’d be a blast to go out for beers with–I genuinely like who she seems to be as a woman, but the scripts she is given to recite are so very absurd. So a recent piping up of the chatter has been about NPR and other Public Broadcasting Services (PBS). Publicly-funded media. The US has one of the lowest funded public media programs in the world–we pay less dollars into public broadcasting than almost every other developed nation, less than a buck and a half per person per year, but the cry of outrage is that we are wasting our precious money on propaganda. You know, propaganda like Sesame Street, and Reading Rainbow, and Nova, and dangerous mind-control like Antiques Roadshow. C’mon–I swear if I look closely I can almost see you laughing, Sarah (and Bill O’Reilly who has also jumped on the harpie bandwagon, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who plans to introduce legislation that would slash all funds). I know you have better things to do than gut culture. I know the teabagger gang of thugs that advocates so stridently against government interference isn’t really asking government to pull the plug on people who think differently. You have the plug to pull in your own home—DON’T WATCH. I don’t watch FOX News, I don’t watch SoapNet or Game Show Network…why would you watch something that angers you? I love the inspiration–sometimes I can make a full-blown sport out of arguing with the TV, and it energizes me–but I don’t love the next-step course of action, by trying to convince Congress to become a censorship organization. There’s a FreePress Action petition here to ask Congress not to defund our nation’s only public media resources, NPR and PBS.

…and don’t forget to VOTE

World Food Day—October 16

There’s a chill in the air, which means our appetites turn toward cozy comfort food. Soups and stews and long simmering sauces, casseroles and pies, heartier fare in general. Lucky us.

There are so many people who will go to bed hungry tonight. There have never been more hungry people on the planet than there are right now. This is not to make you feel guilty for what I hope will be a bounteous and filling dinner at the end of your Saturday, but it is a call that we all have to be involved to end hunger. Thus the theme of this year’s World Hunger Day (today, Saturday, October 16). This year’s theme is “United Against Hunger.” It is a world issue, and the responsibility of our global community. There are hungry people in your neighborhood and in neighborhoods on the other side of the Earth. In addition, we have to be diligent and careful about how we try to help. “The world’s top food aid donors, including the United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union, continue to supply and finance nutritionally substandard foods to developing countries, despite conclusive scientific evidence of their ineffectiveness in reducing childhood malnutrition,” said the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Even with good intention, it turns out that some of the food we export to help starving communities is significantly LESS nutritious than grocery store dog food. The mud cookies served in Haiti to quiet empty stomachs (mud, shortening, and salt, baked in the sun, and eaten when there is nothing else, to at least fill bellies) are as good as what we send in the name of “aid.”

Find out more about malnutrition and how kids are dying of it every moment, at the website Starved for Attention. There you can take action, sign the petition, and spread the word, today, on World Food Day, and tomorrow and tomorrow.

#beatcancer Today

This is easy…

Last year, a Guinness World Record was set by Everywhere, out of Atlanta, Georgia, for the “Most Widespread Social Network Message” with #beatcancer. In 24 hours the one-word phrase #beatcancer set the record contributing to the 209,771 unique mentions on Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts.

Today, at 9AM PST, noon on the East Coast, this year’s 24-hour period begins—a chance to participate to beat the World Record AND raise some money for the cause.

To participate simply add the hashtag #beatcancer (all one word) to any tweet, Facebook status update, or blog post. That’s it. Anyone who adds this phrase ensures that in addition to a world record, money will be donated to further the efforts of selected non-profit cancer organizations. PayPal and SWAGG will donate a nickel for every mention to the organizations LIVESTRONG Foundation, Bright Pink, and Stand Up To Cancer.

So what are you waiting for? Post away.

Happy Birthday Kiva

Essi Félicité Adzamua in Togo, Photo: Abby Gray/Kiva

My investment in Kiva, as a loaner to a small business, is one of my favorite things. A simple donation of as little as $25 can radically change a life in poverty regions around the world. Kiva makes micro-loans to entrepreneurs for whom loans that would seem quite small and insignificant to us can stock a small shop with vital goods for a community, buy a sewing machine to launch a clothing business, purchase drugs for a medical clinic, or more. Borrowers pay back the micro-loans with regular installment payments, and then you can roll over your small investment to another borrower who is changing their world. Peruse the online profiles and loan requests to find a project that inspires and moves you. You can also give a micro-loan in the name of a loved one.

For Kiva’s fifth birthday (having loaned over $150 million dollars so far to nearly 400,000 entrepreneurs around the world), there is a special promotion going on through October. If you refer five others who invest, again, as little as a base investment of 25 bucks, the Omidyar Network will invest a $25 dollar credit for you to put into a community. Click here to learn about the October birthday offer, and here to get the full Kiva story. October is a great birthday celebration for these game-changers, but think about a charitable gift to another in the approaching holiday season as well…or do BOTH.

It Gets Better

Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist for so many regional papers and author of book “The Kid” (recently turned into a Broadway musical) has launched a YouTube channel I think you/we all need to know about and support, perhaps contribute.

Earlier this month, we had National Suicide Prevention Week (September 5-11), and September 10 was National Suicide Prevention Day. The day before, on September 9, 15-year-old Billy Lucas hanged himself in his parents’ barn. reported:

The 15-year-old never told anyone he was gay but students at Greensburg High School thought he was and so they picked on him.

“People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” said student Dillen Swango.

Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy’s mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself.

Students said on that same day, some students told Billy to kill himself.”

In response to this sickening tragedy, Savage has launched a video called It Gets Better wishing he could have just talked to this kid, any kid who doesn’t see a future and rather than endure unending pain and torture from those around them, seek any way out they can find. If only they had role models to tell them, It Gets Better. In just a few days since launching the channel, thousands have joined and hundreds are posting their own message of hope. From Savage’s column:

I just read about a gay teenager in Indiana—Billy Lucas—who killed himself after being taunted by his classmates. Now his Facebook memorial page is being defaced by people posting homophobic comments. It’s just heartbreaking and sickening. What the hell can we do? -Gay Bullying Victim Who Survived

Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself—hope you’re pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other “Christians” out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).

Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother’s property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

“My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas,” a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. “I wish I could have told you that things get better.”

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

So here’s what you can do, GBVWS: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

I’ve launched a channel on YouTube—www ­—to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don’t dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we’ve gone and things we’ve experienced—that we would’ve missed out on if we’d killed ourselves then.

“You gotta give ’em hope,” Harvey Milk said.

Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can’t picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can’t imagine a future for themselves. So let’s show them what our lives are like, let’s show them what the future may hold in store for them.

The video my husband and I made is up now—all by itself. I’d like to add submissions from other gay and lesbian adults—singles and couples, with kids or without, established in careers or just starting out, urban and rural, of all races and religious backgrounds. (Go to to find instructions for submitting your video.) If you’re gay or lesbian or bi or trans and you’ve ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, “Fuck, I wish I could’ve told him that it gets better,” this is your chance. We can’t help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don’t think they have a future—and we can help them.

They need to know that it gets better. Submit a video. Give them hope.

Back to School With Less (Financial) Pain

I have lots of friends experiencing the growing sense of dread that comes each year as summer wanes. Back to School sales begin and wallets hemorrhage cash and plastic, nests continue to empty, teachers ready themselves for the battlefield, and kids of course are in mourning (while as a kid I was usually pretty bored by the time school started, I still hated to close the door on the possibilities summer laid at my feet). This year I know a few families sending freshly graduated young adults off to college out of state. That situation is, of course, fraught with all sorts of extra layers of drama for parents and kids, so it adds insult to emotional injury when you, as a new college student or new college parents, have to spend arm, leg, and internal organs for textbooks. What a huge scam college textbooks are, and the pricing is akin to highway robbery. When I was at my university, as soon as a booklist came out we tried to get to the campus bookstore and prayed we could find used versions for at least somewhat of a discount (how they justify those prices I’ll never know. The pages are the same paper and the cover the same hard or soft stock as every ten- or twenty-buck bestseller in the pleasure reading sections).

I was pleased to learn about Chegg this year. Chegg is an online textbook rental resource so you rent the books just like a Netflix account. They are mailed to you for flat rate postage, and your return postage at the end of the semester is free. You can also sell your used textbooks to Chegg if you got roped into buying list price books. The best part? For each rental transaction, Chegg plants a tree—over 3 million planted so far by this upstart company daring to do it differently. That’s 4,000 acres of trees already planted, and thus far, hundreds of millions of dollars saved by students (there’s a counter on the website that runs a tally…and it’s rising pretty quickly).

So it takes a bit of the sting out of school and budgets, and reforests the United States. Actually cracking those books before midterms is something nobody can do for you.