pegkerr: (Default)
I've posted about the invention of bottle lights before, the brilliant (literally!) idea that has really taken off in the developing world, particularly the Philippines. Here is an article about the inventor behind the concept. Congratulations, sir. Your humble idea is definitely making the world a better place.
pegkerr: (Default)
Here's a guy who has an immensely cool Decrease Worldsuck idea: the Civilization Starter Kit.

Civilization Starter Kit

Marcin Jakubowski built a tractor in six days. Then he told the world how to do it: he made the designs, the budget and an instructional video available free online. A farmer and technologist and the founder of Open Source Ecology, Jakubowski has identified the 50 most important machines required for modern life—from the soil pulverizer to the oven—and is working to make a prototype of a low-cost DIY version of each so that anyone anywhere can build them. “If we can lower the barriers to farming, building and manufacturing,” he says, "then we can unleash massive amounts of human potential."

pegkerr: (Default)
is to Alicia in Bolivia, who will use the money for seeds (corn, potato and onion) and fertilizer.

I have a ways to go to catch up with [ profile] jbru, who just funded his 39th loan. (Well, I have also invited seven people who've accepted my invitations to join Kiva, and they've made a total of 53 loans. So that's something!)

Kiva is offering FREE $25 trials to new lenders. Click here to learn more.
pegkerr: (Default)
This is a GREAT story. Watch this: it'll be the best ten minutes you'll spend today.

A 9-year-old boy spent the summer building a cardboard arcade in his dad’s small auto parts store in East L.A.

His first and only customer, who happened to be a filmmaker, decided to bring some more people to play.

9 year old Caine Monroy is about to have the best day of his life.

Oh, and by the way – if you go to the Caine’s Arcade site they put together, you’ll see that people have chipped in over $137,000+ for him to go to college. There's also a Facebook page.

This decreased worksuck in a major way. Kudos to the loving dad. George Monroy, who found a way to foster his son's creativity while running his business. Here's an interview done by the local NBC affiliate, which includes a short interview with the dad, and it's hilarious: "We're in a junkyard and this is the front office. So he started taking up half the office. And then he had three-quarters of the office, and I just kept moving over and over as he kept building. He kept using bigger boxes. Then he tried to make a ticket thing with a leaf blower. He made me go buy a leaf blower so he could blow tickets around inside the box. So we bought a leaf blower, we plugged it in and tickets were flying everywhere."

Kudos also to filmaker Nirvan Mullick, who took the trouble to NOTICE.

A short film by Nirvan, produced by Interconnected.
pegkerr: (Now's a chance to show your quality)
The folks who brought us the Help for Haiti campaign, Andrew Slack of The Harry Potter Alliance and the rest of fannish folks he coordinated with to create the Imagine Better project, started dreaming big when news came that The Hunger Games was going to be made into a big movie. Why not harness that activist spirit to use the movie release to talk about hunger issues? And so they dreamed up a social media campaign called Hunger is Not a Game, which seeks to connect fans of the books (and movies) to the global food justice movement. See an article about it in the New York Times here.

Fans starting from the stories they love to make the world a better place. Sounds wonderful, right? But apparently not to Lionsgate, because on the very day of the movie release, Lionsgate sent a cease and desist letter, ordering Imagine Better to stop the campaign because it “is causing damage to Lionsgate and [their] marketing efforts.” See the cease and desist letter as reported here and here; the letter ends: "We are truly making an effort to work with you on this. We have the ability to take down your sites as a violation of our trademark and other intellectual property laws. We hope that will not be necessary as this is too serious a subject." Note the juxtaposition: "We want to work with you" with "We will Shut. You. Down."

Dumb move, Lionsgate. Very, very dumb. And the internet told them so. A petition was set up and the response on social media has been swift. As the Leaky reporter puts it:
What is most startling about all of this, in my opinion, is how extremely aggressive Lionsgate is being, not even bothering to veil their threats of takedown and worse. Despite all of this, Mr. Slack has responded, cool as ever: “Fans have been changed by this story and have expressed a wish to change the world based on the message of this story. I would hope that Lionsgate would celebrate fans, not pick on them, for taking the message of their own movie seriously. It’s amazing that they’re working with two great partners already to fight hunger. But why get in the way of fans who are working with a third one?”

Do you see anything wrong with Andrew’s suggestion? No? Us neither. Finally, as Leakycon Lit-Day Organizer and Queen of the Internet Maureen Johnson puts it, “PR people and all relevant others: it’s shortsighted (and stupid) to try to protect your “brand” from positive fan involvement and charity. Also, if you (again PR and relevant types) think you can control the media narrative anymore-that kind of thinking will bite you in the ass.”
Lionsgate seems to have cottoned on. The LA Times now reports that Lionsgate is backing down.

As well they should.
pegkerr: (Light in dark places soulcollage)
Check out Emotional Bag Check. Here's an article about it in Wired magazine:
Life sucks, right? But music makes it better. That’s the worldview behind Emotional Bag Check — a site that lets you suggest songs to cheer people up.

It’s simple. Go to Emotional Bag Check, and choose whether you want to offload a problem or help out with someone else’s.

If you want to get something off your chest, all you need to do is type what the problem is, provide an e-mail address, and someone will read it and return a song they think is relevant along with (optionally) a message of support.

If everything’s going pretty well for you, and you just want to help other people out, then you’ll be confronted with someone’s problem and asked to pick a song that’ll make them feel better. Here, a sense of duty suddenly kicks in — you’ve got a direct line to someone’s heart, and you don’t want to waste it. You’ll find yourself taking a substantial amount of time to choose a song that’s just right for the situation, as if this person were a close friend.
The developer, Robyn, answers FAQ questions here. Also on Twitter at @emobagcheck.
pegkerr: (Default)
What I did this year to decrease worldsuck:

January )

February )

March )

April )

May )

June )

July )
pegkerr: (Both the sweet and the bitter)
For those of you who were around when I celebrated my fiftieth birthday, you may remember I did a campaign to raise money for Charity:Water (with your help, I raised approximately $2000, which was 2/5 of what's needed to install a well). Charity:Water promised to report back to let me know exactly how my money would be used in eighteen months. I have received the following message from them:
Hi Peg,

By now you’ve heard from us about Dollars to Projects, and that we’re sending you proof of the water projects you funded through mycharity: water. It’s been about 15 months since we sent your money to the field, and you’ve been so patient.

We need just a little more time.

We’re sorry to say it, but we need some more time to report on the individual water projects that you helped to fund. Your projects were due this December, but things are moving a bit slower than expected. We plan to send your Dollars to Projects data in mid-2012 so you can see how every dollar you raised helped fund projects for people in need.

For now, we’d like to share some info about the country, region, and partner putting your funds to work in the field )
pegkerr: (Default)
about one of my favorite decrease worldsuck ideas: solar water bottles.

pegkerr: (Default)
This was sort of impulsive, but...

I just submitted a proposal to the Imagine Better contest presented by the Harry Potter Alliance and Splashlife, suggesting that they award a $1000 grant to A Liter of Light to promote solar bottle lights.

I suggested calling it the Patronus Light Project, as the lights have always reminded me of a patronus. And hey, I like the idea of bringing light to dark places.

The solar lights cost $3.50 to make and install, so if it wins, that'd be 285 lights installed in homes in the Phillipines. Their goal is to install a million lights by 2012.

What I did today to make the world a better place )

Love Drop

Jan. 1st, 2011 12:52 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
You may remember the indefatigable Nate St. Pierre, who started the internet projects ItStartsWith.Us and Love Bomb (you may also remember that I called upon the help of the latter project when I was attempting to get help for [ profile] jemyl...and isn't it time to check back with [ profile] jemyl's website to buy some of her lovely jewelry?)

Anyway, Nate is starting out the new year with yet a new project: Love Drop. Love Bomb encourages people to send supportive blog messages to someone having a difficult time, but maybe my suggestion of [ profile] jemyl for the project started Nate thinking along new lines, that some people could really use some practical and financial assistance during a hard time, too.

Each month, Love Drop will promote one individual or family and spend the month trying to find ways to help meet their needs. You can join the network with a very low monthly buy in, as low as $1 a month via Paypal. The network will give the families financial help, but it will also be focused on giving them practical assistance, too, the way that we hooked Ellen up with a local church and found people to help cut her lawn.

From the FAQ section of the website )

The website also partners with sponsors.

The first month's designated recipient is a single mother who lost her job, then her daughter, and then all of her possessions in a fire:

So if you think you might be interested, check out Love Drop. Again, caveat: it isn't a 501(c)(3) charity, and there are administrative costs, but it is a way you can connect with someone in need and make a difference, for a very small buy in cost. Check out Love Drop at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Thanks.

What I did today to make the world a better place )
pegkerr: (Default)
What I did this year to decrease worldsuck:

January )

February )

March )

April )

May )

June )

July )

August )

September )

October )

November )

December )
pegkerr: (Default)
An interesting article on a guy who is doing something similar to my Decrease Worldsuck project: he is trying to donate something, even if just a small amount, to someone each day. Here's his blog. On Twitter as @deusexrockina and on Facebook here.

I love blogs like these. Betty Londergan's blog What Gives 365 is another one I've really enjoyed.
pegkerr: (Default)
I love the HP Alliance. Have I mentioned that I love the HP Alliance?

You may remember the post I did last month about their Deathly Hallows Campaign. The Horcrux last month was the Starvation Horcrux, and the campaign was a push to get Warner Brothers to use Fair Trade chocolate in all of their products.

Now they have announced the next Horcrux, and this campaign is near and dear to my heart:
All of us know the "dementor horcrux" first hand: that awful voice within that tells us that we suck. Mean and predictable, this "dementor horcrux" will always try to convince us that we’re horrible for the way we look, think, feel, act, etc. Like Harry, who was sensitive to dementor attacks, many of us may feel debilitated by the dementor-like experiences of anxiety, depression, low body image, and lots of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that knock us off balance.

Though the Dementor tries to make us feel alone so that we’ll stay within its grip, the reality is that we are surrounded by people going through similar challenges to us as well as those who have gone through dark and difficult times, feelings, and experiences. Together we can go beyond the Muggle Mindset and tap into the magic of our power and creativity. And so the HPA is working together as a community to cast Patronuses. Each of us was with Harry and members of Dumbledore’s Army when they cast a glowing corporeal Patronus of such light, such beauty, and such fierce power that it sent the dementors running, and each of us has the same breathtaking power within.

How to Participate
In partnership with, we’re asking you to create individual Patronuses in the form of writing, photos, drawings, paintings, videos, songs- basically any piece of art that expresses an element of your Patronus. You can submit you Patronus through the submissions page on our tumblr or by emailing it to us at Check out Tumblr every day for more updates.

We want as many Patronuses created as possible. Once they are all made, we’ll be taking many of them to create a collective Patronus that we will send as a message of our community’s hope and inner-power to a group who needs that message (the specific group is to be determined).

Please make sure to follow our ground rules and also PLEASE keep in mind that:

- No one here is a substitute for a professional mental health counselor.
- Internal emotional/mental change normally happens slowly. A month long campaign is here to lay positive seeds but is by no means a solution for everything.
- The Internet is a public space and please respect yourself and remember that.
- This is a sensitive issue for most of us and we ask that people are positive and supportive as we focus less on the Dementors that bother us and more on the Patronuses.
- Please read more here

Thank you all and Expecto Patronum!
I have submitted my own patronus, which I created a couple years ago as part of my soul collage deck. I will also send them an email about my Decrease Worldsuck project.

Expecto Patronum - Council Suit

Expecto Patronum - Council Suit
Expecto Patronum - Council Suit
am the One created from the magic that springs from the happiest memory, who shines in the darkness and protects against that which would destroy the soul. I am a shining silver shield of hope against encroaching darkness, despair and evil, and I can communicate with the souls of others. My form is beautiful, a reflection of the true self within. I am the embodiment of Light in dark places.

What I did today to make the world a better place )
pegkerr: (Default)
Broadway stars rock out in a celebration of life, in the wake of LGBT suicides across the nation. Please SHARE this original song and video to help send a message of hope and support. Available October 19th on iTunes, with all download proceeds benefiting The Trevor Project. (c) 2010 Jay Kuo & Blair Shepard. Inquiries:

What I did today to make the world a better place )
pegkerr: (Default)
This is a great story, and wonderful example of Decrease Worldsuck.
Quick — what’s your worst memory from high school?

Try to narrow it down to just one. Does it involve being bullied? Made fun of for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? Does it involve getting called names, laughed at, ostracized, reviled, and demeaned?

We all, in the LGBT community, have some of those memories. Whether they happened when we were five or 14 or in college or even later, those moments scarred us, they bred fear, they held us back. They damaged our lives. And for all too many of us, they may even have convinced us that life as an LGBT person was not worth living, and caused us to attempt suicide.

Even in this era when the LGBT community is more visible and more positively regarded than ever before in the U.S. — when the federal courts are beginning to rule in favor of equality, the vast majority of the population supports our right to serve openly in the military, and an increasing number of states and cities have found ways to legally recognize our unions and our families — the suicide rate among LGBT youth is still many times that of the general population. Among transgender youth, the rate of attempted suicide may be as high as 50 percent. Of all kids in the U.S. who actually do kill themselves, fully 30 percent are estimated to be gay, lesbian, or transgender.

Thirty percent. Nearly one-third of people between the ages of five and 24 who kill themselves identify as LGBT. When we comprise only 10 percent at most of the total population. Those numbers are huge, and horrifying.

But of course, as all of us who have survived know very well, it gets better. And that is the point of a new project begun by columnist and author Dan Savage on YouTube. Dan and his husband Terry were moved by the recent story of Billy Lucas, a gay teen in Indiana who hanged himself after ongoing bullying. They realized that what kids like Billy need is to hear from adult gays and lesbians who have lived through the misery they’re experiencing, and who have come through it to discover a great life on the other side.

Of course, as Dan points out, gay adults are not invited into schools and churches to offer encouragement to gay youth. But why wait for permission when there’s the Internet?

Dan and Terry launched a channel on YouTube. They made its first video together, telling stories about their struggles as teenagers and, much more important, how happy their lives are now, as adults, partners, and parents. They are soliciting more videos from all of us who have good stories to tell.

Growing up gay often continues to be horrible, even as our community’s situation overall is getting steadily better. Being an outcast, being different, means you’re going to be abused in school. To be gay in a society where issues of gender and sexuality are as incendiary as they are in the US means you’re a magnet for every cruelty your peers have ready to spew out. Those of us who have made it through have a responsibility to share our stories, to tell LGBT youth that life does get better, and to let them know that there is an entire community out here ready and eager to welcome them.

pegkerr: (I spoke in the trouble of my heart)
Sometimes things happen that just seem so wrong, so cruel.

Here are ten people who were working to decrease worldsuck. They didn't just do a little something every day. They were devoting their lives to it.

On Thursday, August 5, in the Hindu Kush mountains of northern Afghanistan in Badakhshan province, 10 aid workers were ambushed and killed by Taliban gunmen for being “spies and Christian missionaries.” This group of unpaid volunteer doctors, nurses and technicians comprised the Nuristan Eye Camp and were returning from a 100-mile trek with pack horses to offer eye, dental and medical care to some of the poorest and most remote communities in Afghanistan as part of International Assistance Mission, a Christian aid group that has operated in Afghanistan since 1966. Here are a few facts on each person we lost (clockwise from top left):

Glen Lapp, 40, of Pennsylvania, was an intensive-care nurse who came to Afghanistan in 2008 and was working with NOOR (the National Organization for Opthalmic Rehabilitation) to organize mobile eye camps to serve communities in remote Afghanistan.

Dr. Tom Little, 61, of New York, was an Optometrist, Manager of the NOOR Eye Care Program in Afghanistan, and leader of the expedition. He came to Afghanistan with his wife Libby and three daughters in 1976, and set up numerous clinics, eye camps, training workshops and hospitals to serve the Afghan people over the past 35 years.

Dan Terry, 63, of Wisconsin, has been doing aid work in Afghanistan since 1971, bringing health and development services to remote communities. Although he just completed knee surgery, he was eager to make the 100 mile walk into the roadless Parun Valley. He is survived by a wife, three daughters and one granddaughter.

Dr. Tom Grams, 51, of Colorado was a personal friend of Dr. Little and a dentist from Durango whose passion to serve remote communities included a trek halfway up Mt. Everest, and practice in the etiquette of the burka, so he could offer Afghan women essential dental care.

Cheryl Beckett, 32, of Tennessee had worked in Afghanistan since 2005 on nutrition, gardening, and mother/child health. She was on the mission to provide translation for women patients, and is survived by her parents and 3 siblings.

Ahmed Jawed, 24, of Afghanistan was the cook at NOOR who often accompanied the team on Eye Camp trips. He was beloved for his good nature and sense of humor and is survived by a wife and three small children.

Mahram Ali, 51, of Afghanistan was a watchman at NOOR since 2007, who was on the mission to provide security for the vehicles while the group was trekking. He is survived by a wife and 3 children, two of them disabled.

Daniela Beyer, 35, of Germany was a linguist and translator who was fluent in Dari and had worked for IAM from 2007-9. She had joined the Eye Camp to translate for women patients and is survived by her parents and three siblings.

Dr. Karen Woo, 36, of England was a dancer, performer and General Surgeon who had moved to Afghanistan two years ago. She joined the Eye Camp as team doctor and to bring maternal health care to the Nuristan communities. She was to be married in a few weeks.

Brian Carderelli, 25, of Pennsylvania, was an Eagle Scout, professional videographer and PR manager for the International School in Kabul. Since he moved to Kabul in September, he’d volunteered with a number of humanitarian and development organizations.

Look at the devotion these people displayed. Look at the education, the selflessness, the family ties, the heart. All laid waste by monsters who murdered them and then told lies about them. Everyone who knows them vehemently denies that any of these aid workers were proselytizing. Some of them had worked in Afghanistan for decades, showing boundless respect for the people they worked with. No, they were only doing good, helping the poorest of the poor. And they were murdered for it. Because the thugs who attacked them don't want anyone from the West to be seen as kind or selfless or merciful.

There can be no excuse that could ever possibly justify this.

Sometimes evil seems to be just too much to bear. It's so sickeningly cruel, so infuriating. I am just irate that these shining people, who only wanted to help others, were cut down like this. I've tried to set an example in my journal of making the world a better place. And I feel so small next to these saints. They put my puny efforts to shame.

And their reward was the spilling of their blood into the dust of the country that they had worked so hard to help.


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