Archive for the ‘social’ Category
Would it be possible to run an atheist soup kitchen? (This isn’t an entirely idle question…)
A soup kitchen needs some fixed assets (space, pots, plates), and a reliable supply of three resources:
- Perishable goods, aka groceries.
- Modest finances to cover operating costs.
Let’s assume we have an intitial investment to cover fixed costs (from municipalities, foundations, etc.). The main challenge is sustaining a flow of resources over time. So –
- Use http://www.freecycle.org/ to allow businesses and individuals to contribute borderline dated consumables. There’s more going down the drains than you need, and you’d be helping the environment at the same time. Might need to liaise with the http://www.freecycle.org/ guys to tweak their terms of service, but I don’t see a problem there.
- Use http://www.timebank.org.uk/ to recruit and time-manage volunteers.
- Use facebook causes, http://www.justgiving.com/ and similar to raise money. You can also use these and other social-net’ing tools to recruit and promote.
Now, for some administrative health:
- Use a wiki (such as wikia or google sites) to share organisational knowledge among kitchens.
- Maintain a public facing blog, with at least 2 posts a day: one informational, one opinion.
- Use google app engine to construct and manage your operations database.
- Use ZohoCRM to manage supply chains.
- List locations of your soup kitchens on http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter
And some PR:
- Get the right people to blog about you.
- Get some good viral videos out there on youtube.
- Publish a constant flow of heart-warming stories of champion volonteers and some heart-breaking stories of your clients.
Make a habit of innovation. Make your core service 5% more eficient each year, and use the residue to develop new services.
By the way, here in the civilised world we have an atheist soup kitchen, its called a welfare state. Not as streamlined, not as sexy, but it does keep people from freezing in the streets.
Written by yishaym
December 1, 2008 at 3:37 pm
As a rule, I bluntly turn down sponsorship requests. If you can show me the logical link between you bungee jumping of Victoria falls and the welfare of blind cats, I’ll pay you a tenner. Otherwise, I’m happy to pay for you not to go. If you really want to help those cats, get a job, make some money, and do what you please with it.
But rules are made to be broken:
My dear friends,
As most of you know, Barnet Refugee Service is “my” organization. I was involved with it since its conception, was pregnant with it (as a team member and as an acting-coordinator of one of its parents organizations, which I had joined first as a volunteer in January 1999), and has been active in it in different capacities from the day it was born.
In the last 2 years I have been one of the trustees of this wonderful organization, and saw it going from strength to strength, recruiting more staff for more projects, assisting more and more clients, who – due to tightening of immigration legislation and withdrawing of support from asylum seekers – are becoming more and more destitute and desperate.
One of the things we offer our clients is legal advice – an invaluable stuff in times when most of the good immigration solicitors had withdrew their services, yet again because of bad government policy. A newish piece of legislation limits Legal Aid funding to such a few hours per asylum case, that the good law firms declared that under these conditions they cannot possibly prepare a strong asylum claim or represent clients in Home Office interviews and further legal proceedings. The disastrous result of this is that many asylum seekers are being refused asylum and returned to their countries to face persecution and possible death.
Another frustrating fact which we need to address now is huge funding cuts that we recently suffered, and that is despite our commended services and successful outcomes year by year. We are not the only charity who suffered these cuts of public funding from the Lottery Fund and I guess we can thank the Olympic games for that…
SO, we need your help. I won´t go on about our great aims and ethos and won´t go into further details of the services we offer – you can read all that on our website at http://www.barnetrefugeeservice.org.uk/.
I would just ask you to sponsor me (and/or Rony…) in a 10 km walk we will join ON 19th May as detailed below,
TO RAISE MONEY FOR BARNET REFUGEE SERVICE LEGAL ADVICE SERVICES.
PLEASE SPONSOR ME GENEROUSLY.
The 4th London Legal Support Trust sponsored walk is a 10 km circle round London’s legal landmarks which starts at the Royal Courts of Justice at 5.30 and ends at the Law Society.
Last year 1,800 walkers raised over £200,000.
Your donation will go directly to BRS and will help us to provide advice and support to asylum seekers who have fled persecution.
To sponsor me please go to www.justgiving.com/BarnetRefugeeService
If you prefer to send a cheque, please make it payable to “Barnet Refugee Service” and send it with a completed GiftAid form (attached) to:
BRS, c/o Peter Salomon, 30 Gurney Drive, London, N2 0DG
To join the walk and find your own sponsors please contact Peter Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org .
PS. as it happens, we are also looking for new trustees to join us in our AGM in July. If I got you interested in BRS – why not volunteer a few hours per month and offer your skills and experience to better the lives of those fleeing persecution?
Justin asks: Global Food Crisis: The Limits of Free Market Thinking? The current tide is definitely a wake-up call. But I think Victor Lebow carries more blame than Milton Freedman or Adam Smith (if you haven’t yet, go see the story of stuff. It gives a lot to think about in this context).
The problem is not with the invisible hand, its with the strong hand, which promotes over-consumption of non-sustainable goods, subsidizes meat production (which feeds much less people per hectare) and prioritizes bio-fuelled humvees over wind-farm powered powered public transport. The problem is not with the economic system (there’s frankly very little difference between one and the other nowadays). The problem is with base values.
Google is king. My latest discovery is their sweet forms gadget for spreadsheets. Need to collect some data? Get the vibe? Enlist troops for a cause? Here you go.
FaceBook’s strategy may be genius, or it may be bonkers. I’m betting on bonkers – and praying for it too. Yes, privacy is dead, it has been for a while now. But this is taking it to an extreme. There an old line from an old radio sketch that comes to mind: yes, everyone pisses in the pool, but they don’t do it from the top of the jumping board.
Google has been serving me ads tailored for my behaviour for ages. Whether it’s adsense or the little clips on my gmail. Amazon tells me that people who bought this book also liked that one. The big difference is that whatever is personal, stays personal. No one tells my friends what I bought unless I do.
Mr. Zuckerberg thinks we’re ready to cross that bridge: hand over whatever is left of our dignity to the noble cause of making corporates richer. It kinda makes sense with the MS deal. Funny, how the same people who will go to great lengths to protect “their” intellectual property (read: DRM) are so eager to violate ours.
The irony is that FaceBook will fail, but not because the masses will awake. It will fail for the same reason that Friendster, Yahoo360 and so many of its predecessors failed: our short span of attention, and our low tolerance of bad products. And let’s say it once and for all: FaceBook is a crap product. Don’t give me the 800M users can’t all be wrong. They’re not. They came, had some fun, and will soon move on to something new. Why? Because FB gives you very little in terms of actual social value. Ok, you threw a fish at me, I joined your save the penguins cause. Now what? What does FB give me, in terms of managing my life, that email doesn’t? In fact, in most cases – it’s just a pain compared to email. Even the big API hoo-ha turned out to be an embarrassment. The only FB applications that carry any weight are those that point you to external services, like Zoho. Believe me, I’ve tried them.
Now google, that’s a different story. I can communicate with my friends with gmail, share document and edit them collaboratively, coordinate social activities with my calender and mailing lists. And you know what? I don’t mind their targeted ads, because their targeting actually works: most of the content that gets pushed my way is actually of interest (compare FB: I’m still getting dating ads. Please someone tell them I’m in a relationship, been happily in one for decades. Oh – that’s on my profile).
Mr. Zuckerberg is a genius social engineer, but as a software engineer he sucks. He was smart to start with college kids and expand upwards. He rode the wave of carnival for a year, now the party’s over. Which is why he’s resorting to hysterical business strategies.
(originally posted as a comment on
Ontologies are beautiful, but no-one uses them.
Folksonomies are used by everyone, but impossible to make sense of.
Enter Folksontology; a Folksonomy on the edges and onthology in the core. Driven by two way dynamics of tags flowing in and being restructrued and concepts flowing out and being repurposed. Kind of like a dynamical-system algoritmical model of Wittgenstein’s language games.
Hans Rosling takes on common myths about east-west, north-south, and tears them to shreds. And he does it using brilliant visualizations of undeniable facts. Statistics as you’ve never seen it before.
The only divide is in our prejudice. Not between Africa and Europe or North America and Asia, but between countries which tend to their citizen’s health and welfare, and those that don’t.
And some of the tools he uses are available online: http://tools.google.com/gapminder/