Saturday, March 31, 2007

Walking the talk

Words are cheap. We can say anything we want, complain about this and that, gripe about everything in general and achieve what, as a result? Maybe nothing. Some people might nod their heads sagely at our words, applaud our sentiments and concern, then forget about everything we said. Others might simply be annoyed at our incessant yammering and get turned off about everything we say and write, simply because we are to them just like everyone else: all talk, no action.

I have always tried to walk the talk. In my small way, where I see some injustice, I try to do something about it. I write about it here. I write about it there. I send letters and emails. I give the occasional speech. Do any of these actions accomplish anything? Maybe. Maybe not. But, I also pick causes I like and support them monetarily. Through one of my companies, I support several foster children, and have done so for many years. I donate money every year to various charitable organizations, mostly those that I perceive to have the lowest overhead and provide the greatest bang for the buck. The Salvation Army is one organization I support. Jen, the very nice blogger and social activist who has inspired this post and the one preceding it, might be surprised to learn that I also support an organization that works with 'street people,' the disaffected youth and homeless individuals in our area who need some help from time to time. This organization is called Ark Aid, and is a small faith-based 'mission' that does a lot of good work in London, Ontario. My company paid for the website for Ark Aid, and I contribute a little money every year to help out. My brother and I have even performed there on New Year's Eve, to give the drop-in crowd some entertainment. Big deal, right? So many other people do similar things, yet we still have problems with homelessness and poverty and who knows what else.

Is there anything we can all do to make things better? If we all care so much, why can't we think of ways to generate attention and donations and facilities and volunteer hours to make a real difference?

We're a pretty bright crowd, I think, those of us who cruise around on each other's blogs. We all care about injustice and inequity, don't we? We may not all agree on who should pay for the things we would like to see, but we would all like to make a difference somehow. Why don't we do something together?

I am making a public offer, right here, to do the following:
  • I will pay to register a domain name with a name chosen from suggestions we will all make for a sort of 'clearing house' website dedicated to helping right some of the many wrongs in our world.
  • I will pay the ongoing costs of hosting the website on servers here in Canada.
  • I will donate as many hours as I can to help get the project off the ground.
That's what I will do.

Here is what you will do, if you care to help:
  • Donate time and skill to helping build a dynamic first-class, far-reaching and effective website.
  • Do research on what does and doesn't work, in the cause of helping various groups, especially:
    1. The homeless
    2. Teenage runaways, addicts, etc.
    3. Single mothers who are struggling to raise their families
    4. Those who are genuinely in need of a hand up because of illness, accident, or some calamitous occurrence in their lives.
  • Compile lists of private organizations that help these groups, first of all in the United States and Canada, and then hopefully in the rest of the world.
  • Compile lists of foundations, corporations, philanthropists, and anyone else who might be in a position to help via donations of goods, services, or money.
Together, we will plan the layout of the website and how to make it truly effective. It should be organized by country, then by specific areas within each country. There should be areas on the site to deal with specific functions, such as:
  • A section used to shine the bright light of publicity on injustice and corruption and human rights abuses.
  • A section where people can submit suggestions, success stories, essentially anything that would be motivational and positive in nature.
  • A section where users can search out what is available by way of any specific service, grouped by geographic area. For example, if we wished to find a homeless shelter in San Francisco or a temporary home for unwed mothers in Toronto, we should be able to find what we want quickly in this section.
These are just some ideas. If we are going to do this, it has to be world class. I don't want to be associated with anything that isn't done properly. I don't want this to be a way to lobby for more government largess because, in my view, taxation is theft and no-one should be deprived of the right to decide how their tax dollars should be spent. I want to concentrate on private, corporate, and foundation support.

You may have noticed that I have been very general in my descriptions. That is for a very good reason. I think we could do the most good by being a clearing house, not another charitable association. Users would visit the site to find what they are looking for, and then carry the ball from there. For example, a shelter like the one Jen works for might use the resources on the site to find donors of supplies needed at their shelter, or volunteers to help serve meals, or benefactors who might provide annual stipends that could be used to keep the place functioning.

I don't want to spend the whole of my Saturday here at my computer, so I am going to leave it at what I have written so far.

I have made my offer. I also promise to contribute $1,000 Canadian dollars towards the cost of anything that we will desperately need to achieve our goals but that no-one is prepared to donate to us.

We will also need donations of legal and accounting services, because we do not wish to spend our remaining days in jail. Our governments might have some strange ways of interpreting efforts like this, and we do not wish to be perceived as doing anything that would require payment of taxes or fees or anything else that might complicate our lives.

So, what are you waiting for? Ideas, please. Decide what you could reasonably do to help, and then let's get cracking.

I'm waiting.

22 comments:

  1. At, will you marry me? barring that:

    HELL YES. I am in. I am in.

    There are websites regionally that offer clearinghouses of services, providers, etc. there are others that show foundation and other support. i'll email a sample of what i mean to you.

    At, this is a gigantic uphill battle..in the sense that typically 3% of all submitted private applications for funding get approved. we've got competition. if we plan to actually consider some sort of non profit status, we must do it right legally. I have no idea what that means in Canada.

    girlplustwo at yahoo dot com.

    I am also grabbing this post for our Just Post Roundtable. I will also put something on my blog tomorrow linking it to this.

    I don't know what it means, At. But I am on board.

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  2. I'll give it my best shot and help as I can. I can research and offer resources in this and other areas. All to be decided together.


    Peace,

    ~Chani

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  3. I will add what I can...info, time, writing, ideas. I'm rich with those but cash poor.

    What a great idea.

    I have been wanting...well, I have three single women families at risk of becoming homeless very soon. I have wanted to be able to do some Oprah Pay It Forward (she's got loads and likes to help, right?) deal where I can get them adequate, stable housing.

    I keep trying to reach agencies and nobody ever calls me back.

    We have some Amex cash rewards. You can donate those to charity, too.

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  4. I have sent Jen an email with some ideas and a general outline of how we might proceed from here. What we need is talent. Lots of talent. The writers among us will provide great content but the techies among us will provide a way to display the content, search it, sort it, cross-reference it and ultimately help make everything useful.

    Thanks to you all, and in advance to everyone who is going to join up later. This can work.

    Let's make this something special.

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  5. I hope the two of you are able to come up with something wonderful. Wishing you the best luck with it. :)


    Peace,

    ~Chani

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  6. i agree w/ chani - perhaps those of us who express interest in the next few days can be part of an email user group that we can create and then we can lay out some ideas for moving forward??

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  7. I am absolutely, definitely in. I've been thinking about it since you posted.

    I am just entering finals, but I will give you my spare time this week.

    super p underscore at hotmail dot com, no spaces, all lowercase

    I think you are fantastic, Atavist.

    Give me a few days to gather some info.

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  8. I am working at getting some support of various types, but we will need many, many participants to do a good job of this. We need a good name that we can register as a website and desperately need world-class coders/programmers. Jen says she knows someone, but we will need as much help as we can get. If we are going to do this, we may as well strive for the absolute best.

    A friend of mine (see 'Under the Radar' blog in my sidebar, has already promised domain registration and DNS services for the project from his company EasyDNS.com, for as long as we operate. This is very generous gift. If we all contribute what we can, this can be a success. We don't need money, really, we need time and talent and services. Tell your friends, pump this up, get people involved, and let's see what we can do.

    Thank you to everyone!!

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  9. Brainstorming for a name, inbetween reading my texts.. 'supe' was me, by the way.

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  10. i asked my blogging friend who excels in html and the like to come take a look and see if he's interested.

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  11. A local college prof here in London, Ontario has volunteered to help with research of various types, details of which will be worked out. She has considerable experience with non-profits and with marketing/advertsing, so I'm sure she will be helpful in many ways.

    First, we need a way for all of us to communicate effectively in one central place. Ideas welcome. We need nerds and geeks to help with all the technical stuff. Come on guys and gals, help us out!

    I have server space we can use, in a Linux environment. What we need is a way that all of us can contribute ideas and communicate with each other, perhaps via some sort of private bulletin board software. Anyone know of how to use/install something like that?

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  12. Hi, 'Supe' - I figured that had to be you, Superkitty, aka Penny. By whichever name, your help is welcome and appreciated.

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  13. Keep it simple. Just set up a Yahoogroup. It is something that everyone can use and no special technical knowledge is required.

    Just an idea...


    ~Chani

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  14. I do a little web design, if that would help... just let me know: physsie [at] gmail.com

    I'll probably have some free time to help at some point over the Summer, if need be.

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  15. Chani: Would you be interested in setting up a Yahoo group for us? I don't know how much work that is, never having done it myself, but it would be nice to have a place where we can 'meet' and exchange ideas and where anything posted would immediately both be in one central place and available for everyone to see.

    What would be a good name for the group? Would we need a moderator or something for such a group, someone to oversee things? How does that work?

    Jennifer: I had a look at your design work. You are a talented gal. I'm sure we will be able to tap your creativity in some way. Once we all start posting to a group and are able to refine and define exactly what we want to do, we can start getting people to volunteer for specific tasks. Thanks for volunteering. I will add you to my blogroll.

    Julie: Thanks for volunteering too. We will need all the help we can get and once we have all thrown ouir ideas into the ring, we can proceed from there. I have added you to my blogroll as well.

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  16. Unless Chani bites, I would be glad to help set up a yahoo group. I'm already a member of several.

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  17. Is there a yahoo group yet?

    Still thinking..

    I'm coming, too!

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  18. Bob: Chani has said that you could go ahead and create the group and she will help with other things. Thanks! Your help is much appreciated. Any ideas for a name?

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  19. I was going to ask you that! Maybe Jen has some input?

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  20. Yeah, Jen: Do you have any name suggestions? Anyone else? If not let's set up some generic central place at Yahoo and we can always chnage it or move it later.

    Thanks, Bob, for your help!

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  21. names...

    walk the talk. it evokes putting money where your mouth is...which is the point, so it's good.

    the justice project?
    tipping the balance?

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  22. Hey, landed on your blog, nice stuff. I found a cool new tool for our blogs... www.widgetmate.com It helps get latest news for our keywords directly on to our blog. I added it on mine. Worked like a charm.

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