Yaba Yaba

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Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

free soul food, or the Atheist food kitchen

with 2 comments

Clay Shirky asks:

Would it be possible to run an atheist soup kitchen? (This isn’t an entirely idle question…)

Easy.

A soup kitchen needs some fixed assets (space, pots, plates), and a reliable supply of three resources:

  • Perishable goods, aka groceries.
  • Manpower
  • 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 –

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.

Most important:

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.

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breaking my oath

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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.

Yours,
tirza

***

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 p@kandps.co.uk .

***

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?

Written by yishaym

May 15, 2008 at 1:19 am

Bread for the poor or circuses for the rich?

with 6 comments

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.