Previous month:
November 2004
Next month:
January 2005

December 2004

Age of Amateurs - David Brin

Via Lenore Ealy's TPE listserv a throught provoking, category defying article by scientist and novelist David Brin, on the coming age of amateurs. The left fears government surveillance and loss of civil liberties in a security state tightened down against terror. And the left fears the potentially authoritarian alliance of big business and compliant, but repressive, government. The right is still smarting from progressive "Great Society" programs that enforced liberal ideals through bureaucracy. Many in the South, speaking as one with 15 years in the Bible Belt, still resents the War of Northern Aggression, Carpet Baggers, and the hippies who marched south with civil rights to impose their vision of the good on those they considered to be Snopses. One interesting area for collaboration, across these divides, is the third sector, or citizen sector, intitiatives that rise from the grassroots up, and engage us as moral beings, and growup citizens, rather than cogs in someone else's machine, or merely consumers, or voters, or loyalists to a soundbite ideology. Not that we will agree, for visions of the good often differ, but that we can honor each other's efforts in the testing ground of an open society. Not non-partisan, but an honest and open partisanship that gains from the differences, and the tumult. Concordia discors, an old ideal. Good to see it being revived in the work of Lenore and those she has invited to her list.


In the old days the nobility would tip the headsman to make a clean job of it. You could say that was a conflict of interest, but it was fully disclosed, since the assembled mob could see the money change hands, and watch as the severed head bounded down the stairs. In some such spirit I accept Candidia's sponsorship of Gifthub, but I don't feel altogether right about it, even if it is an accepted practice in this, our noble trade

Live Strong Resources

Live Strong: The Ultimate Directory of Live Strong Resources. Those at Nike who created the Yellow Bracelets seem to have succeeded beyond anyone's expectation. Fad marketing par excellence. Imagine if such ingenuity, and such astute understanding of group dynamics, were used to rally our nation for, say, social justice? In emails and comments on the phenomenon among progressives I detect two worldviews. One praises Yellow Bracelet marketing for getting results, money for cancer. The other disparages it for deepening brand culture, which can be dehumanizing. I visualize a Yellow Collar, worn around millions of necks, voluntarily purchased, with proceeds to poverty relief, inscribed: "WB: Live Free."  Kerry and Bush both wore the bracelet. Would they wear the collar? And what is the difference at a buck each?

Blogging Cross Border Giving

Humanists at Budaburam Liberian Refugee Camp, Ghana is a new blog by Ted Ernst. He posts from Chicago, but soon his constituents in Ghana will post themselves. At almost no cost, Ted will bring two circles together. What a great way to build a base of contributors by involving them in the daily life of the camp. (Patriot Act? Ted, or the Humanist Movement may want to get advice, if they have not already, from someone about cross border giving, and the drills to be run.)   

Open Secrets

From Open, a database that allows you to see who (by person or industry) funds what political candidate,  Is this philanthropy? Well, no just "giving" or call it "social investing," or active citizenship. In return for what? Access, they would say. Which implies that for the rest of us, what? That we had better think strategically about how to influence the political landscape, if we are to revitalize our democracy. Just how much democracy can progressives afford? If we give enough can we bring to justice those who would turn the commons into a wealth bondage bordello, where all is for sale? (No offense meant to you, Candidia. As the generous funder of this site, I would no more insult you, than would your store bought politicians. Your gifts are much appreciated, and are a tribute to your generosity, wisdom, and public spiritedness. I can assure our readers that Candidia's money, which I desperately need,  and without which I would starve in this dumpster, in no way affects my objectivity. I would shine her boots regardless, and be glad of the privilege. As a billionaire, Fortune has smiled upon her. God loves her. The market loves her. I love her. Join with me in service to our natural superior. Long may she reign.)       

Bill Drayton on The Citizen Sector

"Everyone a Changemaker" - the goal of Ashoka, now a $30 million a year organization whose fellows form a global network - reminiscent of Rhodes Scholars, or the Jesuits, only devoted to entrepreneurial social change. A recent article in Fast Company well conveys Bill Drayton's vision. I was interested to see that he has garnered significant support from Omidyar Network. Both Bill and Pierre sees systems that can become autocatalytic, growing with their own energies, as Ebay did, for example, and as the Ashoka Fellows are now a self-catalyzing force to reckon with in global business, giving, and government. A new sector is forming that Bill calls "The Citizen Sector," where the most effective citizen is part saint, part artist, and mostly an entrepreneur.

Born to Buy, by Juliet Shor

From Social Edge, an interview with Juliet Shor. From brand culture to post rational politics. Who is raising our kids to  what ends? 

"Corporations have infiltrated the core activities and institutions of childhood, with virtually no resistance from governments or parents. Advertising is widespread in schools. Electronic media are replacing conventional play. We have become a nation that places a lower priority on teaching its children how to thrive socially, intellectually, even spiritually, than it does on training them to consume. The long-term consequences of this development are ominous."

Can a small group protest and have an impact? Well, 99.8% of FCC Complaints come, apparently, from a single, small, well organized right-wing group. If we are concerned about our children being  manipulated by brands and media, perhaps we too could raise a few bucks and a few voices.