Self Improvement · Teamwork

You and Your Neighbours Can!

I really like talking with eager, talented neighbors about social change. Maybe, too much. Conversation, discussion, debate, brainstorming, ideation, evaluation, analysis are all great tools but without action and disruption, it is only empty rhetoric or worse self-absolution.

I heard Mark Lakeman speak last night at a Resilient Community event. He made many provocative statements and offered dozens of actions that he and his village have taken in Portland, Oregon. My paraphrase of the one that stuck with me was ” We don’t deserve to talk about sustainability if we can’t solve issues of abuse and injustice towards women.” I would add that we don’t have the right or reason to survive as a species if we can’t solve abuse of children, women, and seniors.

Action

I recognize that issues can be wickedly complicated. But when we use the complexity as an excuse for inaction, we become complicit in the issue and its impact. When we delay our action, hoping to find the best options, we leave people struggling and in danger. Many readers know that I have a significant action bias and that I have made hundreds of decisions that later need adaptation and improvement. But by acting, the ball started rolling and its momentum, direction, and scale could be altered.

I recall seeing a sign in the airport in San Francisco, a number of years ago. ” If you see something, say something”, resonates with my action focus and I would amend it to read ” If you see something, say something, and do something”. Do anything, do the best that you can in the moment, do the least that you can do in the moment, just do something.

You/I may not be able to solve the issue for all sufferers or even solve the problem completely for one person, but we can act. And we can surround ourselves with like-minded, willing and able, neighbours. What if four concerned citizens all agreed that there should be no child hunger at their community school? Or that the two children from their block would always have lunch. Or that the senior, living alone, would have someone to have a cup of tea with and talk with, every afternoon. Or the woman from the house where there is always shouting would have a safe place? If you look at your world and see something amiss, can you ask ” what can I do?” And then can you imagine you and your ‘team’ taking some meaningful action?

Every day in thousands of communities, millions of neighbours have come together to make it their problem. Their ‘it’ is different from yours, their response isn’t the same each time, but they are all acting and in their action they are making themselves and their villages a better place.

Make Today Remarkable, by beginning a conversation with a commitment to act together,
B

Self Improvement · Teamwork

Are You Exercising Due Consideration?

What if you took as much time and consideration about your next charity donation as you do about your next smartphone? (Samsung Note 7 aside). Would you check out available options that would meet the issue itch you are trying to scratch? Did you know that there are pros and cons to every charity? Do you just ‘buy’ the default without thinking about how your gift might be used? Do you visit websites and read reports and stories? Compelling narratives about how and why individual organizations enact their mission and the difference it is making are easily available or they should be. If I can’t find them regarding a specific agency, I drop them from my list of potential recipients.

I have heard friends talk about how they visited the Apple store 4 times and talked to 3 different geniuses and read consumer reviews about a product they were considering that might make their lives marginally better (or worse). They then rush to the Red Cross website in response to news coverage of Hurricane Matthew hitting Haiti and without consideration donate money to a life and death situation. I asked ” Did you consider Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)?” ” or Oxfam?” ” or Care Canada?” They shrug and indicate that it isn’t their job to investigate if they money would be put to good use. With that attitude (and no judgement of the agencies named here) they might just as well be throwing the money in the air.

Each opportunity to make a difference that we discover should be given the IRC test. Is the action immediate? You are ready to do something and putting off the action will not benefit you or those people that are impacted by the issue or problem. If an action meets the immediate criteria, it will also immediately cause ripples. Not all actions are going to make the same ripple and while we can never be sure how the ripples will grow, we can anticipate what the results might be.
The second criteria is relevance. We can get caught up doing things that are not relevant to the issue or a solution. In order to be relevant, the action needs to have significant bearing on or connection to the act. Don’t be fooled into doing ‘busy work’ just for the sake of doing something. Ask questions about the effect of your actions. “What difference does this acton make?”
The third and possibly most important criteria for choosing everyday action that the action needs to be concrete. While it is important to raise your awareness of an issue, attending an information session does not constitute concrete action. After your awareness has been raised the next step becomes action.

Donating money as a humanitarian response to a catastrophe or a chronic social problem is a type of action that many opt to exercise. What if you just did a simple IRC test – will the money have an immediate impact, will it be relevant to the issue and the anxiety that I am feeling, and is the money going to make a concrete difference for the impacted population? If yes – proceed. If no – look for a better way or a different cause.

The world needs us all to become more discerning and diligent in the choices we make.
You can start today.

B

Monday 168 report Sleep 18, Workout 3, Learn 4, walk 6, Read 3, Eat 2, Netflix 6, Work 6

Tuesday Sleep 14, Learn 4, Workout 4, walk 2, travel 2, Read 4, Work 10, Eat 2, Write 2, TV 4

Uncategorized

Take Action Today

The world we live in is full of good people that have stopped trying to make a difference. The unimaginable tragedies of the 21st century may have left them overwhelmed. They may have experienced dishonesty, deceit, or negligence in a previous experience and are afraid that will be the case again. Maybe they have encountered barriers to assisting others from processes, procedures, policies, or bureaucracy from government, agencies or charitable organizations. Maybe they are just tired of banging their head against a wall.

There is hope. There are everyday actions that individuals can take that will make a difference. Sometimes these actions will be small with a small ripple. Other times they may be bigger and generate a huge ripple. There are everyday actions that are being taken by small nonprofits and grassroots groups that are causing gigantic waves.

The purpose of Makeityourproblem.com is to help you find opportunities in your area, to generate fresh discussions on the issues and encourage you to become part of the solution. The issues of child hunger, homelessness, death from preventable diseases, climate change, torture, abuse, violence and all the other tragedies we face are unimaginable considering our resources and experience – yet they still persist. These unimaginable problems requires many as yet unimagined solutions. Are you ready to begin imagining?

Uncategorized

Are they Entitled?

About a year ago, CanadaHelps published an article Canada’s charities deserve better on their website written by Brad Offman, Managing Director of the Mackenzie Charitable Giving Fund. While I agree with some of his assertions that community benefit investors (donors) have been coached to use some largely irrelevant metrics like admin or fundraising %s, I think he has missed the mark. 

the fact remains that over 85,000 other charities are doing precisely the work that most of us admire: feeding the needy, housing the homeless, nursing the sick and educating the young.” doesn’t earn them exclusive and ongoing support without discernment and investigation. 

I wrote a comment to the blog that was posted on the site for a short time but has disappeared. Their post, their rules – I accept that.

I need to make the case that any metric other than impact towards solving the issue is largely irrelevant. Homeless shelters can warehouse people for a much lower cost per head than transition housing but if you are paid for the heads on mats there is little incentive to lift these people off the mats and onto their own feet. If I could find a shelter that was rapidly raising men, women and families from poverty to sustainability while honouring their dignity, it wouldn’t matter to me what their administration costs were as a percentage of expenses.Helping people out of homelessness rather than helping them live in their homelessness is something I would support.

Raising awareness about an issue is important but if it doesn’t lead to immediate, relevant and concrete action, it is just more air being blown in the wind.I understand that reinforcement and multiple messages are important factors but if you stand on your soapbox for a year and nothing changes, you need to think about your message and your tactics.

Tom Suddes post this week Does it Make the Boat Go Faster drove me back to this article and has me wondering if urgency should be the measure.

Uncategorized

Make it Your Problem

Make it your problem (miyp) means accepting that your personal and shared responsibility are intrinsically woven. Together they empower and lead to a higher level of self awareness. We all need to stop delegating responsibility until and unless we have done our share. Even after ‘doing your share’ there may still be more that needs to be done. Asking “what can I do?” and then acting on it is admirable, asking “what else can I do?” is amazing.

Today, look at your world, neighbourhood, home with a new set of eyes. Eyes that will see a problem, an issue, a conflict and not shirk, shiver or hide but step into the void and take some action – almost any action is better than the status). No excuses, no if onlys (if only they would …).

For 7 years, I got to be part of feeding up to 2000 hungry kids in Calgary and on my best days I begin that action with the question “if your brother’s child was hungry, what would you do?” I tried to find the most immediate, relevant and concrete action I could take and jumped in with both feet. At least I was doing something that I could then improve upon.

Your action may not be an everyday routine. It might appear as a walk that needs shovelling, a friend that needs a coffee, trash that needs to be picked up, using reusable grocery bags, planting/weeding a community garden …

If your eyes and ears are open, your specific miyp will make itself known and then you get to act, in the best way you can.

Make Today Remarkable by making it your problem,

B

PS: I just realized that I am past 50 days of posting everyday – 365 doesn’t seem so far away.