On Climate Change: Finding Hope in the Lack of Hope

Unharvested corn field

I went for a three-mile run down my Indiana country road yesterday on December 31st, 2018. It was 60-degrees. That’s not okay normal. It’s a terrifying new normal to which I still can’t adjust. Even though I knew the temperature, I still dressed for a December run.

I ran past a field of unharvested corn, each stalk broken or bent, sewed but not reaped.

I was hot and wished I had worn shorts…in December…in Indiana…while running outside.

The realities of our changing climate are no different than they were a few months ago, but humanity’s understanding of them has made the prognosis even more dire.

We’re now aware that the world is in worse shape than we thought it was.

The

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What’s a volunteer worth?

LGBTQ performers

According to the Independent Sector, a membership organization of nonprofits, the value of volunteer time is “the average wage of non-management, non-agricultural workers.” So actually the stat is pretty meaningless and simply an average wage of an American worker.

Not every volunteer or volunteer task is equal.

I worked summers at my parents’ wood truss manufacturing plant swinging a hammer, pushing a broom, and cutting and stacking boards. But I am by no means a carpenter. When I built a bookshelf in shop class in high school, the cuts were rounded and it was a rocking bookshelf, which really isn’t a very desirable quality for a bookshelf. My father, on the other hand, can build anything. If Dad…

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What are the Human Rights anyhow?

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Yesterday Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, announced that the United States was withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

George W. Bush thought about doing the same thing. The Obama administration recognized the group wasn’t the most effective, but decided to work from within it.

But putting the politics aside…do you have any idea what the human rights actually are?

I bet you can’t name all 25 articles. I bet you didn’t even know that there aren’t 25 articles but 30. Ha! Got ya! I certainly couldn’t until I looked them up while researching WHERE AM I GIVING? Here’s an excerpt–probably…

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Happy Red Nose Day?

photo by Bryan Ledgard Flickr Creative Commons

If you’ve shopped at Walgreens recently, no doubt you’ve seen red clown noses for sale. They fight poverty or something, whatever that means.

“60 percent didn’t quite understand what we did,” says Janet Scardino, CEO of  Comic Relief USA  that partners with Walgreens to sell the noses.

Between the US and the UK, the campaign has raised more than $1.4 billion, which goes to organizations like Save the Children, Feeding America, and the Boys & Girls Club to help children in need.

NPR’s Goats & Soda reported on the campaign: “But how does buying a red foam nose at a drugstore for a buck help the cause? And does this charity with the silly name really do good work? We…

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4 Questions one of the most effective NGOs asks before giving

 

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Benter showing me her greenhouse in Kenya

I visited GiveDirectly in Kenya this summer and write about them in Where Am I Giving? GiveWell ranks GD as one of the most effective nonprofits in the world. GD gives direct cash payments to extremely poor families and allows them to make their own decisions on how to spend that money.

I don’t think all giving can be measured, but GD’s impact can, and they measure it better than almost any other NGO. So when it comes to asking question about how to give and whom to give to it’s worth listening to their advice.

GD’s 4 questions to ask before giving:

1. Can I tell where my dollar (or pound, mark, etc.) will go? This…

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Fake News Even Worse in Developing Countries

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(Me reporting in Nairobi)

I was in Kenya for the election in August.

The day of the election and for a few days after, most places were closed and most people were holed up in their homes watching the election play out on the news and on social media.

The network news only reported on the results and the leaders’ opinions of those results. One candidate said that it was rigged and mishandled. The supreme court later agreed with him.

Meanwhile, friends who lived in slum communities across Nairobi were sending me pictures via WhatsApp of people who had been shot and killed by the police, or taken out of their homes and beaten.

None of this was on the news.

Some images on Twitter…

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What being a (privileged) minority abroad has taught me about race

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Could I be any more of a mzungu?

“Mzungu! Mzungu! How are you?” The Kenyan kids holler. Or they just stare.

Other kids yell, “Chinese!” Yes, that’s right, they mistake blond-haired, blue-eyed me as a Chinese person. This has also happened to me in Central America several times, which speaks to China’s expanding reach and influence.

This week a new friend told me that I was the first white person he’d ever had a conversation with.

I’ve spent 60 of the last 90 days traveling in Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia and years of my traveling life as a minority. Not only am I majorly a minority in many of the places I travel, I’m a novelty. Sometimes I…

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The Makers of Muncie’s MadJax

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I work in a factory in Muncie, Indiana. Not many people can say that these days.

In fact, many believe that Muncie’s best days–our factory days–are behind us. Our schools are going through budget and transportation issues and a third of our citizens live in poverty.  There’s a lack of hope that we can’t be more than our struggles. That we can’t thrive without factories.

I don’t work on a factory line, but I do make things. I create stories.

For the last ten years I’ve traveled around the world to meet the people who produce many of the things in our lives that we take for granted. I’ve worked alongside coffee farmers…

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A bird crapped on me from 33,000 feet, this is what it says about my life

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It felt like someone had chucked a marble, hitting me in the shoulder. It stung. But it also stunk because it wasn’t a marble; it was bird shit.

Now I’m no expert in physics, but given the velocity of the bird poop, the bird must’ve been somewhere in the stratosphere, which starts at 33,000′.

I was hobbling down Main Street from my breakfast date at the Downtown Farm Stand with Annie after our morning CrossFit work out. Since I’ve been traveling for my latest book, it has essentially been a month since I did a workout of much significance, hence the hobbling. It doesn’t hurt to sit or lie in one place and not move. But if Rick Grimes saw me walking down the…

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Participating in Chicago’s Fashion Revolution

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I’m participating at several events as part of Chicago’s Fashion Revolution week. Fashion Revolution was inspired by the Rana Plaza factory disaster, which I wrote about yesterday.

 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26

Noon CST

I’ll be on NPR affiliate WBEZ’s program WorldView with Jerome McDonnell. Wait, WBEZ? Isn’t that the station that produces This American Life? If I see Ira Glass, he’s totally getting a high-five.

6-9 PM

Explore alternatives! Fashion Show and Panel with Keynote Speaker Kelsey Timmerman at Columbia College. Chicago Fair Trade and Columbia are hosting an ethical fashion show, interactive displays, and a panel. I’ll give a quick keynote before the panel begins.  Located at 618 S. Michigan . The fashion show…

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