Blog Action Day 2011 – Food, For Thought

Refugees in EthiopiaToday, October 16, 2011, is global Blog Action Day where bloggers from all over the world blog about a singular topic and this year, falling on World Food Day, it’s food (or lack thereof). (Ed. note: 2011 participation: 2,710 bloggers located in  109 countries).

As I write this entry, one of my daughters, Adriane, is flying to Ethiopia as part of a United Nations Foundation global health observation team. Situated between the Sudan to the west and Somalia to the east, I hope she has a safe, informational and inspirational journey.

Ethiopia has the dual distinction of being both besieged by famine, poverty, health crises (TB, Malaria; HIV/AIDS), the worst drought in 60 years as well as the added burden of refugees arriving daily from its neighbors.

The United Nations defines famine as a region or country where:
• At least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages
• Acute malnutrition affects more than 30 percent of the population
Malnutrition leads to at least two deaths per 10,000 people every day

Ethiopia easily qualifies. There, as elsewhere in the famine-torn  Horn of Africa, foreign aid is essential to bringing relief to this humanitarian crisis.

What YOU can do to help
Contribute to a reputable disaster relief organization. The American Institute of Philanthropy rates a list of charities that best help East Africans. So, the next time you push yourself away from the dinner table, complaining that you “ate too much,”pick one, donate and think of those who suffer hunger everyday.

Until then, chew on this for a while

Click here for more Global Blog Day 2011 entries. On Twitter search #bad2011

Of Jobs, Jobs and Social Media as Disruptor

Three points I’d like to touch upon:

  1. Jobs, Steve Jobs, that is. The passing of a tech giant.
  2. Jobs, lack thereof, that is. And bringing socio-economic change via protest.
  3. The job social media has as disruptive agent, and the blame it doesn’t deserve.

I was saddened to hear of Steve Job’s passing last week. Not as a Mac fanboi; I have always used Windows-based PCs, have an Android smartphone and except for a video iPod none of my gadgets begin with a lower-case “i”. But there is no denying his greatness as a tech visionary and pioneer. My Facebook post acknowledging his transition said it all:

When we were young, we learned about the great explorers: Magellan; Balboa; da Gama and later Lewis and Clark; Byrd and Amundsen. And the great inventors: Da Vinci; Franklin; Marconi; Babbage. Steve Jobs was a little of them all.

Jobs, and the lack thereof. Mark these words: More change comes about in this country by protest than by working within the system. Think about it. Women’s suffrage in the U.S. culminating in their right to vote in 1920; the Civil Right’s Movement’s victory in 1964; the end of the Viet Nam war, until last week the longest war in U.S. history; equal marriage rights and military rights And now we have Occupy Wall Street, sounding the clarion for increased employment and narrowing the gap between the haves and have-nots by exercising their constitutional right to free speech and assembly. You may not agree with what they’re saying, but you must admire the way they’ve made themselves heard. Their movement has spread to other cities across the U.S. The Arab Spring has given way to the American Autumn.

Which brings us to social media’s job as disruptive agent. They key to this is, social media is not the causal factor for disruption. It is a tool. Like the telephone (and cell phone) before it, the radio before that and the newspapers even before that. Silencing, censoring or otherwise attempting to control social media is a losing proposition.

Riots in London? Squatters on Wall Street? Don’t blame social media for fomenting the masses. It is simply a tool like the ones before it. Instead, look to cure the disease, not the symptom.

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