10 Ways to Change the World from Your Keyboard

Spend too much time staring at a screen ?

1              Free Rice

Free Rice is a website run by the United Nations World Food Programme. Users play educational multiple-choice games, and for every question answered correctly 10 grains are rice are donated to the food programme by advertisers on the site. Since the sites launch in 2007, enough rice has been donated to feed over 4 million people, for one day.

2              38 Degrees

38 Degrees is a UK non-profit site that coordinates and promotes political activism campaigns and awareness raising across a wide range of issues; such as tackling climate change, democratic media ownership and child poverty. It takes it’s name from the angle at which human triggered avalanches are most likely to occur.

3              Sparked

Sparked is a micro-volunteering network, providing convenient online volunteering opportunities in support of a range of good causes. It aims to provide meaningful opportunities that can be carried out in about the same amount of time most people spend updating Facebook, Farmville or Twitter. No particular skills are required for many of the micro-volunteering tasks.

4              Give Positive Feedback and Encouragement

We all enjoy receiving positive support and encouragement – it can help push us on and revitalise us, improve our mood and make us feel more positive and generous towards others. Yet many of us are slow in offering support and encouragement to others, with the internet in particular prone to an excess of critical and aggressive comments. We have internet trolls, but there’s no equivalent word for people who regularly spread ‘good vibes’ over the web. Make someone’s day – email, post, or Twitter them some love.

5              Amnesty

Amnesty has been working to demand justice for those suffering human rights abuses since 1961, winning the Nobel Peace Prize as an organisation in 1977 for its work against torture. Amnesty have always encouraged their members to write letters on behalf of political prisoners and others throughout the world, and they now have an email action facility on their website.

6              World Community Grid

There are several grid-computing organisations that seek volunteers to ‘donate’ their computer’s processing power when not in use for different projects, at no cost to those volunteering. World Community Grid partners with IBM to support a variety of research projects, including medical research into cancer, muscular dystrophy and HIV.

7              Avoid Junkmail with the MPS and Royal Mail

We all complain about it, over 17.5 billion items of unsolicited junk mail drops through our letterboxes every year, 650 items per letterbox on average. Over half a million tonnes of paper are used, requiring more than 16 billion litres of water, not to mention the energy requirements. Most of it goes straight into the bin.

8              Change.org

Change .org is an American based international online social activism site, similar to 38 Degrees, but different in that campaigns are launched by members themselves. Recent campaign have included fighting wrongful deportations, environmental protection, and various alleged human rights abuses.

9              Register as a Blood or Organ Donor

It’s now easier than ever to register online as a blood or organ donor. You can book a blood donation session at a convenient location, and the site will send you reminder emails. There is a severe shortage of donated organs in the UK, and the NHS Blood and Transplant Service is actively encouraging many more donors to register, to assist next of kin with difficult decision making.

10           Kiva

Kiva is a microfinance organisation that allows people to lend money to specific entrepreneurs and projects in the developing world. It is based on the microfinance principles developed by the Nobel Prizewinning economist Muhammad Yunus, loaning small amounts of money, typically a few hundred dollars, to small business owners, who would otherwise have no access to capital to expand. Loans to Kiva can be made for only $25, and are then repaid back to donors over a number of months. Since its creation in 2005, Kiva has lent over 211 million dollars to small entrepreneurs in the developing world.


Photo attribution : http://www.flickr.com/photos/spadgy/313251515/

Does the World Really Need Another Blog ?

There are more than 160 million blogs on the internet. Another 50,000 new blogs begin every day.

Does the world really need another one ?

What more can there possibly be to say ?

Something to ponder when starting a new blog, but I finally decided on the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. There are over two billion people connected to the internet after all, with another quarter of a million joining daily. That’s a lot of people wanting something to read – so long as it’s relevant, interesting and different !

This is a blog about changing the world.

We live in a time of staggering contrast between the worlds’s rich and poor. According to UNICEF 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. There is sufficient wealth in the world to change this, but 75% of the world’s income goes to the 20% of the global population who are already the richest. If like me you live in the Western world then that probably includes you.

We are also living unsustainably. Our rising appetite for energy, water, food and raw materials is already causing problems and risks outstripping our current supply. If we want to lift billions of people out of poverty across the world we will need to use even more. Yet we are already struggling with environmental damage, climate change and conflict.

Is this ‘just the way things are’ ?

How much should we care about people we don’t know, who live far away ?

What changes should we make in our own life for the benefit of the wider environment ?

I am personally challenged by these questions. My motivation for this blog is to encourage a shift of our attention, away from the seemingly impossible scale of these problems, and away from what we’re all not doing, and focus instead on what we can do.

It’s not about ‘saving the world’; it’s about doing things differently.

It’s not about guilt or fear; it’s about optimism and enjoyment.

I personally think many environmental and social justice messages are more than a little ‘preachy’, and sometimes lacking perspective, or don’t seem sufficiently grounded in reality. I hope this blog will be different. That’s not to deny the significance and urgency of the issues, the 22,000 children who will die from poverty today are not faceless, nameless abstracts, but real children who will leave grieving families behind, but I don’t believe we can change things just by adopting an attitude of guilt and personal sacrifice. That’s not how we motivate ourselves, either as individuals or societies, we need something else.

I believe we need to feel positive and enthusiastic if we’re going to make permanent significant changes in our lives, and make a meaningful contribution to the issues we care about.

Hope you keep reading.


Photo attribution http://www.flickr.com/photos/aah-yeah/3616672468/in/photostream/