Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami, Blogs and The Philanthropic Class

Towards a Poor Theatre


These seem like end-times. The eschaton. Amerigeddon. There are locusts in Egypt, trihurricanes, megaquakes, floods, brothers killing brothers, death on a mass scale.
Howard Zinn and others have suggested that America become a "humanitarian superpower", and what better time than the present? The big natural event that could unite all people...has occurred. Are we mobilizing? Are we going above and beyond the proverbial call of duty? Or are we giving lip-service, and tossing out a few painless dollars?

And what are "painless dollars"?


In order to support my life of heady leisure, I sometimes do work for a well-to-do family here in town. Some of it is painless, but some of it is quite painful. It is impossible that my pay causes any pain whatsoever to the payer, and the other day, I was ruminating on how it would be if people exchanged pain for pain. Pay 'til it hurts. In equal degree. Wouldn't that be nice! So 10k for a day's work makes you cringe? Well carry these barbells to the attic, and then let's talk.

My New Year's wish is that people start considering such matters, and, at least occasionally, act on it.


Speaking of pain...I have noticed that, in America, the truly philanthropic class, as strange as it sounds, are the poor. The poor will give their entire fortune that another may live, and then trust that they will somehow get along without it. Who, in the upper stratophere even gives 'til it hurts? No one, that's who!

I am reminded of the story of Indra and the Ants. The ants will be king, and the king will be an ant. What is full empties, and what is empty gets filled.

But who lives like this...other than the poor?


It is good to give. Brings good karma. And many poor folks would like to be able to help when others suffer much greater tragedies, such as in the case of tsunami. And yet, there may not be an easy way for them to participate in global relief. This is where microphilanthropies come to the rescue. Who knows? The totals may well exceed that given by those with means. Recall Dean and MoveOn, and how they were able to generate massive funds for good causes...a dollar here and a dollar there.


BlogAid. As I said after the election loss: Just because we lost, doesn't mean we cannot still do things. Well, here's something to do...and fashion it after a flashmob, or Ed Cone's instaconference. Time is of the essence.

An enterprising blogger can create a portal for bloggers and non-Bs to... give 'til it hurts. Maybe even have a quick tutorial on Paypal, or some other useful e-payment system. Networks, such as the Street can tie in with ProgBlogs and other groups and networks.

If ever there were a place where bloggers are is in the heart of the inundation. Cannot a flashmob of sorts convene at ground zero and offer their blog up for bulletins?

Will someone create an aggregator for ground zero blogs?


We need one.

Some places to give.

(Originally published on The American Street)


Kevin Hayden of American Street popped me a note, and shared these links where you can help:
Regarding several things Dave's written recently...

On Giving:

There are several groups already underway.

An explanation:
The site:

I'm at a fledgling level of involvement here. Because of the tsunami, we've discussed setting up a blog (temporarily titled Emergency Action Blog) which will be set up for emergencies across the globe. A crisis in your country? (Or state?) We'd quickly set up an aggregate newsfeed using media sources in the the area, blogroll any agencies and relief organizations working the area, and let people from the area blog about what's going on and what's needed. With the bandwidth to meet the demand.

(More at bottom of this list)

Global Voices Online
Draft Manifesto

CivicSpace Labs
A continuation of the Dean-motivated technology build. It seems to be more a platform than an activist group, but it has sponsored I Do and a couple of others:
I Do:

Strengthen The Good
An unusual one, its interests can only be described as eclectic, as they find local micro-causes around the world, advertise it on their blogs and raise funds for them. Among some I've seen: one that raised money to pay funeral expenses for child murder victims, books for schoolkids in the Czech Republic, etc.

Many of its members are Righty bloggers, so it may be a good way to fraternize and develop dialogues. I joined this last summer but have never followed through (The election took too much effort)
Alan Nelson of Command Post set it up.

Project Apollonia
Provides grade school level books to Costa Rican schoolkids.

Omidyar Network
Don't know much about this but they have an impressive list of partners

Bottom of This List
No group by this title, but it circles back to BloggerCorps, because I think several of the same folks are involved in the two below:
They apparently helped set up the Tsunami blog
The Tsunami Blog:

Emergency Action Blog
As noted in the first entry, this is the project that got underway in the past 48 hours. It'll be designed to handle future relief coordination activities, within a few hours of an arising need. Worldchanging, BloggerCorps members - and me - are involved in this. And there's a mailing list.

Individuals involved: Besides Rebecca MacKinnon, others include the following, but there are more on the email list, so this isn't all-inclusive.

Nick Lewis of the Progressive Blog Alliance is heavily involved, and likely is a better source of info (he has tech skills to match his aims; I do not.)

I also suspect it was a comment I left on his blog that got me onto a mailing list about all this stuff. So if you're interested in any of it, he's the person to approach.

Other people involved (some real heavyweights)

Joi Ito

Aldon Hynes and
and bio:

Jon Lebkowsky

Ah, the promise of technology!