Help my Neighborhood win $50,000

Summary: If you like me and want to support the things that I do, sign-up at, to take less then a minute each day in April to vote for my community to win $50,000.

A short video explanation:

Longer Explanation: This is one of those internet voting contest, the kind I usually think are pretty annoying. However, in my research about it, I think we have a good chance of winning if we can get 500 committed people who will vote each day in April. I’m hoping not to spam facebook or twitter constantly with pleas to vote.

If won, I’d have the opportunity to help give $50,000 in small grants to all kinds of cool organizations and individuals with creative ideas and visions for building community in my neighborhood. It seems like an amazing opportunity. Even if we don’t win, encouraging the community to come together in an organized fashion toward a specific action has great benefits and can prepare us for other future actions.

The April contest is also just a trial run. In May, we hope to have 10 organizations from our neighborhood to support in the contest with their separate grant applications. Since each individual visiting the site can vote 10 times each day, we can support all 10 organizations at the same time. But that’s next month, for now we’re trying to see if we can actually come up with 500 supporters in April.

I’ve written a lot more on the actual site I created for rallying our efforts, you can read more about it there.


Sponsored Links:

Uncluttering, Spring, and Life

Okay, so a bit of a random check-in post since I couldn’t think of any pressing thing to write about. Mostly I tend to avoid personal update posts on this blog, but occasionally I like to check in, so here you go. And yes, I’m gonna bullet point it.

  • Someone in the past year recommend this book, Unclutter Your Life in One Week. It was at the library the other day so I picked it up and I’m gonna give it a whirl. I’ve always tried to keep a minimal amount of stuff around, and until now we’ve moved nearly every year (and big moves with only what fit in our car). But, having a house and being in the same place (that and having kids) for more then a year has definitely allowed me to accumulate more then I need, mostly of randomness. Anyone have tips on how and what they keep and what they purge? Throw them my way.
  • Yesterday we celebrated my son’s one year homecoming anniversary. It’s amazing to think he’s been with us one year already, and we look forward to many many more. Adoption is a beautiful thing. Ask me about it if you want to know more.
  • Spring is here (I hope) quite early for Minnesota. We’ve been out on the bikes (with the kids in tow), walking the neighborhood and more. With two toddlers it’s nice to be able to play and wander the neighborhood. And it’s great to see neighbors out and about.
  • I’ve been plugging away on still. Not sure yet if it’s a good idea or not, but still spreading the word. The benefits (connections I’ve made, the site itself) of it have definitely outweighed the cost (time mostly), but sometimes I wonder if it will ever get more buy-in and function the way it really could. Sorry rambling.
  • Semi-related, I entered a grant contest in hopes to win $50k for northside community projects. It’s a social voting contest, so if you want to help me by voting, you can sign-up for a daily (starting April 1st) reminder email here. Another random tangential endeavor (seems like I have a lot of those lately).
  • I’m writing for a collaborative of non-profits in my neighborhood. The stories and videos are going up here:
  • We went to The Wedge, a local co-op, last week. Sort of scoped it out (I wrote down prices), in another step toward some sort of intentional considerations in our eating habits.
  • And that’s the word.

Help Create a Collaborative Significant Events Calendar

Spurred on by my failure to realize Monday was International Women’s Day, I’ve decided to start a small project to create a significant events calendar. Several years ago I had one of those pocket daily calendars with a random quote on each day, and those 365 calendars with a random fact or puzzle each day where quite popular. My idea back then was to create a similar calendar with historically significant events related to social justice (Juneteenth, end of S. Africa Apartheid, Assassination of Oscar Romero), and have that published as a planner.
Anyways, I’m going to start the project again, and this time I’m going to use a Google calendar, so it will have immediate use for those who are interested in using it, and allow for collaboration for those who’d like to help make it a complete 365 calendar. If you’d like to help create the calendar, just let me know and I’ll add you as an admin to it so you can add entries. If you’d just like to subscribe and get tidbits of information each day, you can view and then subscribe to the calendar here:

Oh, and if you already have or know of something like this that exist, do let me know, I’d love to have it.

International Women’s Day

It’s 10:36pm on March 8th, and I just realized, thanks to my wife pointing it out, that’s it’s International Women’s Day. I’ll blame my own ignorance primarily, but it’s both sad and surprising that in my web browsing and activities of the day I didn’t notice a single recognition of this global celebration of women. I was well aware, thanks to several status updates, that yesterday was the Oscars, and I’ve already been reminded that St. Patty’s day is coming up, so how is it that we as a community can’t get it together to take one day to celebrate women? Okay, I know there is Mother’s day coming up, but apparently Minnesota officially believes catching fish trumps motherhood and regularly schedules fishing opener to conflict.

I have become, over the years, increasingly passionate about the issues and injustices that face women in our society and world. Both my amazing wife’s continual reminders and the past three years of raising our daughter have given me a greater passion and desire to speak out and act in solidarity with women against injustice. I know I probably won’t be the most eloquent or even accurate, but I encourage you, men and women, to step up and make your voices heard. I’m going to keep this from turning into a rambling rant and simply post some links to some random blogposts I’ve written on topics I think you should be concerned about:

The Celebrity. A short story.

The Celebrity

Carrie Bloom was used to being a star, it came with the territory. Like others in her profession, her stardom hadn’t diminished over time, if anything, it actually had increased. The truth was, she had always appreciated the perks, it was a reminder to her that what she did was important. It had been her husband, many years ago at the beginning of her career, that had taken a while to come around.

“I’m not saying what you do isn’t important, honestly.” He had said that evening twenty years ago, “I just think I deserve a little more credit that’s all.” And he’d had good reason. Starting his career too, he’d been voted rookie of the year for the New York Yankees. A million dollar signing bonus, thousands of fans coming to games every day hoping to see him hit a homerun, pining for his autograph. A guy of his prestige isn’t used to being out shined by his wife, but without fail, every time they went out together, he felt like chopped liver.

“I love your work Mrs. Bloom!” The people would say. “Thank you so much for what you’ve given to the city, there’s no way we could ever repay you.” But that didn’t stop them from trying. Her husband rarely had the chance to pay for a meal, the chef or manager always coming to their table declaring the meal was “on the house” and spending a few minutes praising Carrie for her work.

It was odd to imagine a time, just a few years before Carrie had started her career, when men and women in her profession weren’t treated with the respect and reverence she’d come to take for granted. They pay had certainly increased, but it was the honor and accolades for the work that she did that she really valued and appreciated. You can only give yourself so many peptalks before you start to question the real value you have to society when your work is rarely acknowledge and, more often then not, blamed instead for societal problems.

“I want to teach third grade.” Carrie had told her parents at Thanksgiving her first year of college. Her father, an extremely successful lawyer, had been unimpressed. It had been her mother that encouraged her to follow her heart. And her mother was right. Even if the pay and respect hadn’t suddenly and amazingly increased, she knew in her heart that what she and the thousands of other teachers she worked with was important. Educating the next generation is by far and away the most important task of any society and teachers are commissioned to do just that. They are not and should not be alone in that task, parents, family, neighbors and community members need to heed the call as well, as it is said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

(This was simply a fun writing exercise I did this morning that I wanted to share. First draft, welcome to critiques, but thought some might enjoy)

Dedicated and inspired by all the teachers I know, thank you for your selfless commitment to our children.

Want to honor a teacher? Or get involved? Leave a comment and ask me how.

Enough For Everyone’s Need

“There is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

You’ve probably heard this quote before, as have I, but somewhere amidst the recent earthquake, tsunami warnings, or more foreclosures news, the quote hit me afresh. There really is enough.
We as a global society have enough resources to rescue the hundreds and thousands from the rubble of natural disasters. We have enough food to feed every hungry mouth on the planet. We have access and the ability and knowledge to produce medicine and vaccinations to stop preventable diseases that kill millions each year. We have the resources to build schools and wells so that every child can grow up with clean drinking water and a solid education. We absolutely have enough, right now to do all of that and more.
Yet, in a neighborhood like mine, we sit with thousands of homes empty while hundreds of men, women and children, spend their nights in shelters and on the street.  Nations like Haiti are ravaged and desolated by oppression and greed before any earthquake even came. And while global needs continue to mount, we sit around with millions wanting gainful employment, eager to contribute, resources no less plentiful to address needs, feed bellies, heal illnesses… we wait. We wait for the economy to bounce back, for numbers on stock tickers and data sheets to add up. We all wait.  For what? We aren’t even sure.
And I’m well aware that capitalism, which functions on a main tenant that man will act in his own self interest, has had a hand in creating the wealth and resources to make many of the innovations possible, it doesn’t seem to be solving anything now. I’m not necessarily calling for global anarchy, but maybe global generosity. And maybe not global, maybe local, maybe just me. You’ve got to start somewhere.