Archive for the 'Service' Category

National Volunteer Week 2010

April 18-24, 2010 is National Volunteer Week in the U.S. organized by Points of Light Foundation to celebrate “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities across the nation.”

Find out about more about events at HandsOn Network.

Volunteer opportunities can be found at 1-800

Get inspired and share stories, videos and photos here.

India’s Dying Beaches

I almost feel as though I am in Pondicherry.  The vicarious excitement and stress of trying to keep up with the sudden barrage of media stories and activities initiated by NDTV’s coverage of “The Death of India’s Beaches” has my adrenelin pumping as I try and support our colleagues at PondyCAN.

On 28 May, 2009, Probir Banerjee, PondyCAN’s President, was interviewed by Prannoy Roy of NDTV, fulfilling a promise Roy made months before to take up the issue of coastal erosion.  Realizing the magnitude of the problem, Roy initiated a state-by-state coverage of the issue in a series called “India’s Dying Beaches.”

Continue reading ‘India’s Dying Beaches’

Vote for Goonj’s Cloth Sanitary Napkin Project

June 7, 2009

Update:  Goonj is one of three winners in the Designing for Better Health category of the Changemakers Innovation Awards, getting US$ 5,000.  Congratulations Goonj!


What started out as a small initiative (“…a voice, an effort”) of a group of friends going door-to-door in their apartment complexes to collect pieces of clothing to give to the needy in the streets of New Delhi has become a social movement involving hundreds of volunteers and the distribution of over 20,000 kilograms of material in 20 states in India.  (Last year, Goonj celebrated its 10 year anniversary.)

During his visits to impoverished rural areas throughout India, Anshu Gupta, the founder and director of Goonj, came across a hidden problem facing women five days a month.  Many women did not have enough cloth in their homes to use during their menstrual cycles.  Some had to resort to using ash, straw, or sand, living with the livestock for that period of time.  Others shared the same piece of cloth which never saw the light of day to get properly cleaned and sanitized.

Continue reading ‘Vote for Goonj’s Cloth Sanitary Napkin Project’

Unsung Heroes: Krishnan Profile on IBNLive


Earlier this year, Mark and I met with two editors at CNN-IBN to give them suggestions of people to profile for a series on the “real heroes” of India. One of the people we recommended was Krishnan, in Madurai. CNN-IBN’s report and video are now up on IBNLive.

Krishnan serves the “uncared” – the elderly, destitute, mentally unstable – providing wholesome, good food and clean water three times a day, baths, haircuts, and clean clothing. It costs Krishnan Rs. 8,000 (approximately US$ 200) a day to provide these services for 200 people – US$1 per day per person. Krishnan operates through a registered NGO (with tax exemption under section 80G of the Indian Income Tax Code) called Akshaya Trust. This year, after 5 years of unstinted service, Akshaya Trust plans to set up a residential home on the outskirts of Madurai for 200 people for an estimated cost of Rs. 95 lakhs (US$ 238,000).  We are glad to know that the donations that have come in to Akshaya Trust from the CNN-IBN story will go towards the continued care for the “uncared” of Madurai.

Shown below are some pictures of Krishnan’s clients, taken during our “ride-along” with Krishnan in January 2005.

krishnan1.jpg krishnan3.jpg krishnan4.jpg krishnan5.jpg krishnan6.jpg

Krishnan may be contacted here:

9, West 1st Main Street,
Doak Nagar Extn.,
Madurai – 625 010.
Ph: +91-452-4353439, 2587104
Cell: +91-98433 19933


Tech Awards Call for Nominations – deadline 24 March 2008

It’s that time again – The Tech Museum is putting out a global call for nominations for the Tech Awards, which recognize technologies that benefit humanity.  Those of you who know small NGOs around the world doing great work – please nominate them.  I am always disappointed to find so many winners from the “developed” world.  While Sumitomo Chemical deserves recognition and acclaim for inventing a cost-effective technology for long-lasting mosquito nets, does it really need the award money?  And all the individuals and organizations from the U.S. and Canada who have won – again, most of these people are well connected, informed, and networked – they have the means and ability to get funding from multiple sources.  Let’s nominate those for whom this award will have tremendous impact.

Tech Museum Awarding $250,000 in Cash Prizes

Global Call For Nominations of Innovators Using Technology to Benefit Humanity

Nomination Deadline: March 24, 2008

The Tech Museum Awards is a unique and prestigious program that honors and awards innovators from around the world who use technology to benefit humanity in the categories of:

  • Education
  • Equality
  • Economic Development
  • Environment
  • Health

Reward those making a difference and nominate today. A simple nomination form can be found at Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged. Individuals, nonprofit organizations, and companies are all eligible. Program details, including judging criteria, can be found at The Tech Museum Awards website listed above.

Each year, 25 Laureates are honored at a gala dinner, invited to participate in press and media coverage, and introduced to a network of influential advisors. An inspirational and unforgettable event, the black-tie celebration will be held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, on November 12, 2008. One Laureate in each category will be granted a $50,000 cash prize.

Gillian Caldwell of WITNESS, 2003 Laureate in the Equality category and cash prize recipient, called The Tech Museum Awards”…a truly remarkable program that has given WITNESS acclaim for using technology to document human rights abuses. I was deeply honored to be recognized along with 24 other innovators from around the world who are working to improve human life through technology. The exposure generated from receiving this award and the $50,000 cash prize will surely lead to expanded services, awareness, and improved solutions for ending violations of human rights.

Change the World – Application Deadline 3 December 2007

Echoing Green

I’ve posted a version of this on the ProPoor Blog as well as the CharityFocus Blog, but wanted to post it here as well because I personally know lots of you who fit this mold.  Go ahead – do it – change the world.


  • Do you have an incredible, new idea that could change your community, country, or world?
  • Are you an entrepreneur who won’t rest until your idea has been brought to life? Or a leader who has recently started an organization to do just that?

If so, apply for an Echoing Green Fellowship. You could receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and support to launch a new organization that turns your innovative idea for social change into action.Follow in the footsteps of the founders of Teach For America, City Year, and over 400 other social change organizations and apply online by December 3, 2007.

Watch the video:

Find out whether you qualify:

Apply online:

Questions? Contact us at

Tech Laureate Venture Network Showcase – 7 November 2007

The Tech Museum Awards is an international Awards program that honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity.

For the first year since its inception in 2001, I will miss the Tech Laureate Venture Network (TLVN) Showcase – an opportunity for individuals, philanthropists, businesses and nonprofit leaders to meet the 25 Tech Laureates chosen each year for having developed successful ways to use technology to benefit people around the world.  The awards are given to five winners in each of the following categories:  Economic Development, Education, Equality, Environment, and Health.  Some are individuals, like our friends Brij Kothari (who founded PlanetRead and BookBox) and Ashok Gadgil (who founded waterhealth and with whom Mark and I worked on fuel-efficient cookstoves in Darfur), others are nonprofits, like Benetech (a two-time winner), Video Volunteers and Institute for OneWorld Health, and still others are for-profit corporations, like MBA Polymers, SELCO Solar Light Pvt. Ltd., and Seawater Greenhouse Ltd.

The TLVN will be held this year on November 7, from 8:30am to 11:00am at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center (not the Tech Museum, where it has been held in the past), 150 West San Carlos Street.  There is no fee but admission is by invitation only.  If you’d like to go, email Amanda Reilly: areilly at thetech dot org by October 31.

If you can’t make it, you might want to check out this year’s winners here:

UN Day Burma Freedom March & Rally – 24 October 2007, San Francisco

 According to Dr. Tint Swe, a National League for Democracy (NLD) Member of Parliament in exile in India, the military junta killed over 200 monks and citizens at large and detained over 6,000 people in the latest brutal crackdown to suppress peaceful pro-democracy protests throughout Burma. (The government reports that only 13 people were killed.) Reports filtering out of Burma claim that the military continues its night-time raids, rounding up monks, activists, and anyone else suspected of having anything to do with protesters, protests and rallies, including families of suspected activists and returning Burmese who may have participated in actions overseas!

If you are in San Francisco, please join the rally tomorrow – UN Day and sign the petition listed below:

Wed Oct 24, San Francisco
4:00p – 5:00p — Rally & Meditation at the Chinese Consulate, 1450 Laguna (@ Geary)
5:00p – 5:40p — Peace March to United Nations Plaza, Market St (between 7th & 8th )
6:00p – 8:00p — Multi-faith Prayer Service and Rally at United Nations Plaza

Wear maroon (or red) in honor of the Burmese monks.

Sign the petition..
“The United Nations is Failing Burma!”

Please sign before Wednesday.

Live (Free) Webcast of Pop!Tech – 17-20 October 2007

Pop!Tech is the annual thought leadership summit convening next week in Camden Maine from October 17 to 20, 2007.

“Each year, this four day summit explores the deep forces shaping our collective future, the social impact of new scientific insights and emerging technologies, and the new approaches humanity is taking to address national and global problems. It draws together world-leading speakers and 550 attendees that include some of the highest ranks of science, technology, business, the arts, culture, law and the press; the participants include Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur ‘genius’ award winners, and uncategorizable thought leaders who come together to look collectively at the future of the world.” Andrew Zolli, Curator of Pop!Tech

This year, the entire Pop!Tech conference will be webcast LIVE AND FOR FREE at between 9am and 6.30pm, October 17-20, 2007. You can even submit questions to the stage live by emailing The 2007 Pop!Tech program and speakers are online.

Pop!Tech is a nonprofit with the mission to accelerate the impact of world-changing people and ideas. They’ve invested *heavily* to give their content away to the world for free – please “tune” in and spread the word.

The partial list of confirmed speakers is amazing:

* Ted Ames, the Macarthur-Award-Winning ecologist and Maine lobsterman, will share his work creating sustainable approaches to our management of the oceans.

* Tom Barnett, the geopolitical and military strategist and best-selling author, who will explore America’s strategic challenges in the next 25 years.

* Sam Barondes, the renowned neuropsychiatrist who will discuss the essence of human personality – what it is, where it comes from, and how it makes us who we are.

* Robert Boroffice, head of Nigeria’s space agency, NASRDA, who will speak about how satellite technology can connect Africa.

* Adrian Bowyer, creator of low-cost, open-source fabrication technologies will speak about how this breakthrough technology can be used to empower ordinary citizens around the world.

* Louann Brizendine, neuropsychiatrist and expert on gender differences in the brain, will share her provocative work on how men and women truly do think differently.

* Mustapha Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia and leading Islamic thinker, will speak about global peace.

* Caleb Chung, legendary toy designer and inventor of the Furby, will share his latest “artificially alive,” animatronic creation.

* Krista Dong, MD, a front-lines AIDS worker in South Africa, will speak about an inspiring new initiative to help HIV+ people in the poorest communities.

* Alan Dugatkin, an expert in animal behavior will share his insights into the biological underpinnings of human goodness.

* Nathan Eagle, the mobility expert from the MIT Media Lab, will share his research on the use of mobiles as a tool for social development.

* John Esposito, the preeminent Islamic-studies scholar, will lead a discussion on the history and future of Islam.

* Jeff Fisher, the healthcare psychologist will share his work on a promising new software tool in the fight in the fight against HIV.

* Cary Fowler, the world’s seed banker and director of the Global Seed Diversity Trust, will share his efforts to create a “global seed vault” deep in a mountain in Norway.

* Vanessa German, the urban slam poet will inspire us.

* Dan Gilbert, the psychologist and best-selling author, will discuss human happiness and why we rarely hold on to it.

* Jessica Hagy, superbly comic blogger will share her hilarious illustrations.

* Victoria Hale, founder of the world’s first non-profit drug company, will share her work on fighting malaria and other illnesses.

* Jonathan Harris, the mind-blowing interactive design star, will share his breathtaking work.

* Carl Honoré, celebrated journalist and chronicler of the Slow Food movement, will speak about the new dynamics of human culture.

* Nina Jablonski, the renowned anthropologist, will share her work studying the biology and meaning of human skin.

* Jessica Jackley Flannery, Internet microfinance pioneer, will discuss the future of ‘bottom up’ solutions to poverty.

* Van Jones, inner-city eco-activist, will speak about his work on a new “green collar” revolution in America’s inner cities.

* Chris Jordan, the celebrated photographer, will share his breathtaking photographs which document of the human impact.

* Sarah Joseph, the founder of Emel magazine, Britain’s leading Muslim lifestyle publication, will discuss emerging dialogues within the Islamic community.

* Jay Keasling, one of the founding fathers of synthetic biology, will share his path-breaking work on new health and energy technologies.

* Zoë Keating, the mesmerizing techno-cellist, will perform for us.

* Sheila Kennedy, the architect and product designer, will relate her work on breakthrough new lighting technologies designed for the developing world.

* Daoud Kuttab, the pioneering Palestinian journalist and new media expert, will share his thoughts on the impact of new media in the Middle East.

* John Legend, the Grammy Award-winning R&B artist, will perform and share his work on global poverty alleviation.

* Joe McCarthy, global mobility researcher, will share his insights into how mobile devices are empowering people around the world.

* Christian Nold, a technology artist, will demonstrate his work on “emotional mapping” technologies that show how people react to places.

* Claire Nouvian, the noted deep-sea conservationist, will share some of her breathtaking work documents the deepest layers of the biosphere.

* Kelly Joe Phelps, the mesmerizing blues guitarist, will perform.

* Dan Pink, the noted journalist will share his thoughts on the rise of the creative economy.

* Steven Pinker, the preeminent cognitive scientist and New York Times-best-selling author will speak on the nature and essence of human thought.

* Paul Polak, founding father of market-based solutions to poverty and development, will speak about his efforts to built ultra-low-cost products for the bottom of the global pyramid.

* Davy Rothbart, the founder of Found magazine, will share some his hilarious findings.

* Enric Sala, the rising star of marine ecology, will share his work documenting the human impact on the oceans.

* Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women International, will share lessons from her efforts helping women in post-conflict regions.

* Bill Shannon, the indescribably talented street dancer will speak and perform.

* John Shearer, technology entrepreneur, will share his potentially breakthrough ways of distributing electricity.

* Paul Shuper, psychologist and HIV behavioral researcher, will share his work on a promising new software tool in the fight in the fight against HIV.

* Elizabeth Streb, the award-winning choreographer will share her visions.

* Charles Swift, the Navy lawyer charged with defending terrorists at Guantanamo, will share lessons on balancing human rights with security in the post 9/11 world.

* Zinhle Thabethe, the front-line AIDS worker from KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa, will return to Pop!Tech to announce a significant new initiative to fight the epidemic in her home country.

* Katrin Verclas, mobile activism researcher, will share her research on the many ways mobiles are being used a tool for social change.

Celebrate Young Environmental Leaders: Brower Youth Awards – 24 October 2007

You’ll laugh…you’ll cry, you’ll be educated…you’ll be amazed, you’ll be proud…you’ll be inspired – go and be!

I’m sorry to be missing this year’s celebration of six young (ages 14 to 23) environmental activists who are making our world safer and cleaner.  The Brower Youth Awards is usually one of the highlights of my year and an amazing night of inspiration.  This year, it is being held at the Herbst Theatre and Green Room at the War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco (the ceremony is moving up in the world – last year it was at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the year before that, at a college auditorium in Oakland), and hosted by Adrienne Maree Brown of the Ruckus Society.

The program starts at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm), and will be followed by a dessert reception where you can meet the honorees.

The awards ceremony and reception are free, but you need to RSVP.

If you go, do let me know how you enjoyed it.


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