We’re suckers for a good Kickstarter project — all that hope and passion and entrepreneurship, and you can be part of it for less than the cost of a dinner out. The most recent one we heard of is called The Placebo Chocolate Effect (we’re fans based on the name alone). The story reads like the dude version of Eat, Pray, Love: Daniel Jacobs set off on a trip around the world in search of a cure for a deep sadness he felt (hang in there, it gets better). Along the way he met a bunch of people who inspired him, including an old lady in Scotland who gave him a “prescription” for love — actually it was just these words scribbled on a piece of paper: “Take this love I give you, use it as often as you need, and share it when you are ready.” After meditating in Spain, volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala, building a sustainable farm in Argentina, and writing beside painters in Chile (we’re not kidding), Daniel finally found love (of course he did), and then he discovered that love had been inside him all along (of course it was).
Got a minimalist on the gift list? Someone living simply who really doesn’t want anything for the holidays? Yep, they can be difficult… just ask my wife.
While baked goods or experiences can work well for this crowd, another option has sprung up over the past few years: charity gift cards. Just like the consumption-oriented versions, these cards allow you to purchase a certain amount of monetary value… which the recipient can then donate to a favorite charity.
We’re as guilty as anyone else of promoting gift-giving at this time of year. (Then again, who else is going to tell you about that perfectly tasteful vibrator that will fit in a Christmas stocking?) To find a bit of inner calm amidst the gift-wrapping storm, here are five ways to give back, whether with time or money.
Give to the National Breast Cancer Foundation: We know you tinted your Facebook profile picture pink and did a cutesy status update about where you keep your handbag, but did that really do anything to help the cause of women with breast cancer? Donate money; run a race (or jump out of a plane) so you can ask your friends to donate sponsor money; or just donate your time.
Get Involved with Planned Parenthood: Thanks to the mid-term election results, things are looking pretty dire when it comes to reproductive rights. Help Planned Parenthood keep fighting the good fight by donating your money or time — and sign up for their newsletters so you know when they need you to write to your representatives (usually it’s as simply as cutting and pasting and clicking your mouse).
Jacob Colker In 2008 Jacob Colker co-founded The Extraordinaries with a simple mission: making volunteerism less daunting to working people. Colker understood that many people wanted to give their free time but were intimidated by the complexity of finding causes. And through his own experience, he knew that most nonprofits needed all the unpaid help…
Last week, Lafayette, Louisiana crawfisherman Drew Landry brought a meeting of the White House oil spill commission to awed silence as he sang a song he’d written about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the economic environment in Southern Louisiana. Landry’s become a bit of an internet sensation… watch the video above, and you’ll see why — but he’s just one of numerous musicians that have tried to encapsulate the Gulf tragedy in song.
A match made in heaven.
..of a heifer, llama or sheep to a family in need. Heifer International is non-profit organization with nearly 900 ongoing projects in over 50 countries. They teach “environmentally sound agricultural techniques,” help people build and expand small businesses, provide HIV/AIDS education and, instead of just giving money to small communities, they give gifts in the form of livestock. There are several organizations that do this, but Heifer is one of the few that doesn’t just airlift a water buffalo into a village and leave it with a family that’s not equipped to care for it.
Think of a blogger as some crazy guy/gal who sits around in their pajamas all day composing half-sane rants? OK, that’s probably not far off in some cases; most of us, though, do get dressed, and do give a lot of thought to the ideas we share.
No matter how passionate we are about those ideas, though, that’s where many of us stop — it’s our version of “doing our part.” David Quilty, founder of the long-running blog The Good Human, recently noted “As writers, we know that part of good stewardship is sharing information, but even the most intelligent among us can not make change without DOING something.”