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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Bring me & other Indiana authors to your K-12 school courtesy of The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation

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“What’s your favorite color?”

“Do you drive an El Camino?”

Students say the darnedest things. These were just a few of the questions I was asked when I visited the Friends School in Richmond, Indiana, two week ago. I talked for about 20 minutes, answered questions for about 20 minutes and then visited an English class,

(For the record, I don’t drive an El Camino. But why don’t they bring it back? It has all the strengths of a truck and a car. It’s like the Blade of automobiles.)

Last week I had the opportunity to speak in an auditorium in Greenville, Ohio, where I went as a student to watch others share stories from its stage. Whether presenting to grade schoolers,…

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Is the Pope wrong about beggars?

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This week Pope Francis offered what to do when we pass beggars on the street: We should give to them without a thought. We should look them in the eye and maybe shake their hand. To give without engaging is robbing them of their human dignity.

The Catholic News Service reported on the Pope’s comments:

People who don’t give money to the homeless because they think it will be spent on alcohol and not food should ask themselves what guilty pleasures they are secretly spending money on, Pope Francis said.

“There are many excuses” to justify why one doesn’t lend a hand when asked by a person begging on the street, he said in an interview published the day before the beginning of Lent.

But giving something to someone in need “is always right,” and it should be done with respect and compassion because “tossing money and not looking in (their) eyes is not a Christian” way of behaving, he said.

Is he right?

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Thanks for the inspiration, Donald Trump. Let’s get to work!

There are a lot of reasons I didn’t want Donald J. Trump to be our next president, but there is one reason (and probably only one) that I’m glad he won.

The night of the election, I went to a watch party hosted at The Downtown Farm Stand. (Can you get more liberal than drinking organic beer and eating organic free-range, potato chips with your GMO-free friends? Probably not.) Like everyone else we expected to watch the election of the first female president. I can’t say I was a vigorous supporter of Hillary Clinton (there’s something rather unappealing about political dynasties), but earlier that day when I cast a vote for her I did get the “feels.” I have a daughter and if her fascination…

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