Freshman’s Guide to Going Glocal
What happens in our community happens to the rest of the world. And what happens to the rest of the world happens to us. The global is local. The local is global. In tough times we must be global citizens as well as local citizens, neighbors and volunteers as well as donors. We need to Go Glocal!
In 2010 the number of unemployed worldwide grew by 34 million people. Sixty-four million people fell into extreme poverty. Families face foreclosures and states and countries near bankruptcy. As we near the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” the proposed 2012 national budget will likely include cuts that literally leave the poorest Americans out in the cold. Seven out of ten students in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, receive subsidized lunches. In tough times it’s only natural to look inward. The closer to home the problems, the harder it is to see a world beyond them. I know this all too well. I’ve going through a bit of worldview crisis myself.
We can’t focus on global poverty without focusing on poverty in our own community. But so often we focus on one or the other. Only 3% of all giving in the United States goes to international aid – far too little. And there is rising sentiment to give only locally to face our own problems. Recently-elected Congressman Rand Paul is calling for an end to all U.S. foreign aid. In turn, Philosopher Peter Singer says we should find the most cost-effective method in which our financial gifts save a life and give 1-5% of our income, but this method ignores giving locally.
If we think only globally we ignore the problems that surround us because our “first world problems” pale in comparison to the developing world. If we think only locally we ignore the life and death reality of extreme poverty. If we think glocally, we strike a balance, and acknowledge that what happens in the bubble we live in effects others and what happens outside that bubble effects us.
Our local goes global.
Donations to the largest American charities declined 11% in 2009 while food prices around the globe soared 43% causing 82 million more people to go hungry. Americans bought less clothes and unemployed garment workers in Cambodia turned to prostitution.
The global becomes local.
We spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year fighting poverty around the world. We’ve spent more than a trillion dollars fighting the War on Terror.
Because it’s our responsibility.
When you graduate college you will be more educated than 95% of the rest of the world. One-sixth of the world lives on less than $1.25 per day. Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and social scientist, estimated that “social capital” (a functioning government, access to technology, abundant natural resources) is responsible for at least 90% of what people earn in wealthy societies like the United States. Warren Buffett said, “If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru, you’ll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil.” We were born in the right kind of soil.
Where we give our time and money says more about us as people than where we earn our paycheck. How we define our world and our place in it will define our future.
Are you ready to Go Glocal?
Let’s get started
College is the perfect time to go glocal. I never had as much free time as when I was in college. Unfortunately I didn’t get engaged with my community until after college when I had less time, kids, and a job!
Going glocal requires volunteering, traveling, and being an engaged consumer. I’ll explore each of these items below. It also involved giving, but, I haven’t included that in this guide because, if you’re like me in college, you don’t exactly have a lot of extra cash. Still, here’s a blog post about giving that you might find useful How to Give Like Bill Gates.
As you read this ask yourself the following question :
- What are our responsibilities as a local and global citizens?
- How much money time should I give to what kind of causes?
- How much of myself should I give?
- How can I be a better neighbor to the dude living next door with the dog that craps in my yard and to the single mother in Uganda who is HIV+ and feeds her kids by making hooch for the nearby bar (I actually met this lady).
Go Glocal & Volunteer
What are you good at? What do you like to do?
How do these two things line up with the needs of your local and global community? Let your answers guide your volunteering experience.
Each hour we volunteer in the United States equals about $20 in value to the organization. Volunteering plays a key roll in going glocal. The best place to find volunteering opportunities are your existing contacts at school, church, or any organizations you belong to already. Ask around. You’ll be amazed to learn how connected your acquaintances are to your community and the world. My mother-in-law is a hairdresser in a town with a population under 5,000 and she’s put me in touch with people in places from France to Ethiopia.
If you’re still not sure where to start, here are some resources to help you find the right volunteering opportunity for you locally and around the world.
VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 76,000 nonprofit organizations.
My take/Tips: This is the Mac-daddy of them all. There are so many awesome opportunities here, I wish I had more time to give. You can search by your interest homelessness, environment, mentor. Sort by “distance” to find opportunities the most “local” to you.
HandsOn Network inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. Our network, now the largest in the nation, is leading people from impulse to action, turning their ideas for change into impactful projects, like wheelchair ramp construction, watershed protection projects and tutoring programs.
My Take/Tips: I couldn’t believe how many opportunities the search found in my childhood hometown (Greenville, Ohio). But my current hometown yielded no opportunities. I think this site is a bit of a hit and miss and depends on how strong HandsOn is in your are. There’s talk of this program receiving some budget cuts too. The site offers great guidelines for starting your own project. The project recipes are very in-depth and walk you through everything from organizing a school supply drive to leading a resume preparation workshop.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including the mobilization of volunteers. It serves the causes of peace and development by enhancing opportunities for participation by all peoples. It is universal, inclusive and embraces volunteer action in all its diversity. It values free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism.
My Take: The UN is everywhere. I especially like the ability to find tasks that organizations around the world need completed. As a writer, this allows me to contribute to important programs around the world from my office in Indiana.
VolunteerSpot launched in Spring, 2009 with the mission of enabling ANYONE to quickly mobilize and coordinate volunteers in their community, congregation and social network. VolunteerSpot’s simple sign up application makes it easy for community members to participate and say YES to volunteering. No waiting for approvals and passwords, no software to install, just easy, free scheduling and sign up tools for everyday heroes making a difference.
My Take/Tips: If you want to lead and make stuff happen on your own, this is the site to help you. Gives you the tools to manager volunteers. Start with their great selection of free ebooks on everything from how to raise money by having a bake sale or talent show to kid-friendly fund raisers. The target of the site is school-age kids, parents, and teachers, but the tools and resources could be applied to all volunteer organizing.
DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US that helps young people rock causes they care about. A driving force in creating a culture of volunteerism, DoSomething.org is on track to activate two million young people in 2011. By leveraging the web, television, mobile, and pop culture, DoSomething.org inspires, empowers and celebrates a generation of doers: teenagers who recognize the need to do something, believe in their ability to get it done, and then take action.
My Take/Tips: This is geared at teens, but the site allows you to easily find what’s important to you, education on that subject, and actions to take. I think that do-it-yourself projects can be inefficient because they come with a learning curve, but getting students engaged in positive action at an early age is priceless.
Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
A Note on Volunteering Abroad: There are many organizations that help you find and facilitate volunteering abroad. Cross-Cultural Solutions
and International Volunteer HQ are two examples. These placement services do a lot of the logistics for you, but can be pricey. If you’re new to traveling and volunteering and have some cash to spend, they might be the right option for you, but I think giving your time shouldn’t cost you a lot of money.
Want to talk to a volunteer expert?
Meet Joshua Berman, author and tranquilo traveler. Joshua worked in the Peace Corps and spent his year-long honeymoon vacationing with his wife. Hop over to his blog, stop by his facebook page, and ask him your volunteer-related questions.
Go Glocal! See the world! Travel!
Travel makes us give a sh#!
I can’t think of a better way to make us care about the world, see how similar we all are, understand how our lives influence one another’s, and gain a better understanding of where our home fits into the world, than traveling.
You think about travel wrong
It’s not as dangerous as you think: I’ve been to 50 some countries and the worst thing that has happened to me was that my socks were stolen…in Hawaii!
It’s cheaper than you think: If you’ve got money and you’re into history go to Western Europe, by all means. Otherwise go somewhere where you can stretch a dollar and interact with a present-day culture that is vastly different than your own.
There are many parts of the world where you can live on less than $30/day. When I was in Cambodia researching my book Where Am I Wearing? I paid $11/night for an apartment with kitchen, laundry service, internet, and TV. Often the most expensive part is getting to these places, but you can offset those expenses with some smart travel planning and some travel hacking.
Become a Travel Hacker
Travel hacking, the art of wracking up frequent flyer miles, is something I should have paid attention to a long time ago. I cringe a bit when I think about all of the miles that have slipped through my hands. There are many ways to earn miles.
Credit cards provide the biggest boost often from 25,000-75,000 miles in one shot. That said, being without debt allows you to travel more than a free plane ticket. So be responsible. If you can’t handle credit cards, stay away.
Flying & Sleeping & Shopping: The most traditional way to earn miles is to spend money.
Promotions – This week I’ve earned 1,300 miles for just registering at certain websites and filling out a survey.
I’m a member of the Travel Hacking Cartel founded by Chris Guillebeau. I get regular updates on ways to pickup easy frequent flyer miles. In the past month I’ve earned several thousand frequent flyer miles and a free night in a hotel. I pay $15/month to receive updates about how to earn reward points. I highly recommend joining the Cartel, if only for a month or two to learn from the knowledgebase there and to learn the hacking fundamentals.
And volunteering can be a great way to interact with the world while traveling on the cheap.
Learn from fellow travelers
Become a Glocal Consumer
What we buy impacts our world for better and worse. Things like sweatshops and child labor are symptoms of the immense poverty that exists in our world. I believe the apparel industry should play an important role in lifting families out of poverty, but it has a long way to go.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to be an engaged consumer.
How to think
- Check the tags of your clothing everyday before you put them on. Take a moment and think about the hard work, sacrifice, and skill that went into making your garments. If you can’t locate the country on a map, find it.
- Become a brand champion – Be intentional about what you buy. Don’t buy on a whim. Checkout the brands or the stores before you buy to see if their ethics line up with yours. Find a brand and support it.
- Visit Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles
- Listen to my report on an Ethiopian shoe manufacturer changing lives one job at a time.
How to make a difference
- Arrange for your group/class to chat with garment workers at the first living wage factory in the developing world – the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic. Chat with a garment worker
- Encourage your city, county, school, or university to purchase products made in factories approved by the Worker’s Rights Consortium.
- What would Jesus buy? Check out the Christian argument for Just Purchasing: Practicing Our Faith at the Market.
Where to shop
- SoleRebels – company pays 3-times typical wage in Ethiopia, sends children of employees to school, shoes are made out of recycled tires, supports indigenous weaving tradition
- Patagonia – One of the largest companies willing to have an honest discussion about where their clothes come from.
- Ethix Merch – A host of ethical products for your company.
- Cotton of the Carolinas – My favorite T-shirt! From shirt to dirt the manufacturing process doesn’t leave the Carolinas.
- Discover ethical companies and great deals (think Groupon with a conscience) at Roozt.com.
- The Sweatfree Communities Shopping Guide
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at Kelsey@kelseytimmerman.com. You have an impact on the world. Now get out their and makes sure that it’s a positive one!