What if we were all connected?

25 04 2015

I have recently learned about http://www.internet.org, described as “a Facebook-led initiative bringing together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access”. The projects it supports are aimed at removing barriers for the 2 out of every 3 people who can’t get online. It’s got powerful potential, and it’s a collective effort that spans the globe.internet

It’s the people, however, that really make internet.org so compelling. The first I read about were Erika and Esmeralda, two young girls in Bolivia who share a friendship and a love for inventing. Using scraps and ingenuity, they are inspiring and pushing each other towards a better future. Without the internet. Wow.

Check out their story here: http://connect.internet.org/story/erika-esmeralda

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Happiness…can change the world

18 03 2014

March 20 marks the United Nations International Day of Happiness. The Kingdom of Bhutan, known for adopting Gross National Happiness as a measurement of its people’s prosperity, started the initiative for a day devoted to happiness. All 193 UN member states then adopted the resolution creating a day to inspire action for a happier world. On the first celebration of the Day, in 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”

This year, March 20 will also mark the long-awaited first day of Spring (spring equinox) –  something to be very happy about after a long and snowy winter!

For more, visit http://www.dayofhappiness.net or www.facebook.com/Intl.DayofHappiness





GoldieBlox – engineering for little girls

14 02 2014

Debbie Sterling, an engineer from Stanford, found few women in her university class and decided young girls needed more encouragement to experiment with engineering and innovative design concepts. Her research led to the revelation that 87% of the world’s engineers are males, and to the development of a combination storybook and toy building set designed specifically for little girls – Goldie Blox. Her original crowdfunding launch successfully reached its $150,000 target in less than 5 days (watch the launch video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AtZfNU3zw) and GoldieBlox is now a series. The first building set, incorporating a belt drive, is available online and at select Target and ToysRUs stores along with #2  (wheel and axle) and #3 (hinge) in the series. goldieblox

For more about GoldieBlox, check out the web site: www.goldieblox.com

Thanks, Debbie, for recognizing the need to cheer on young inventors, and for tapping into young female minds with something more than pink packaging.





The Power of Empathy

16 12 2013

Power of Empathy RSA ShortLove this collaboration that brings together the wise and powerful words of Brene Brown with the simple yet poignant animation of Katy Davis…

http://brenebrown.com/2013/12/10/rsabear/





Happy International Women’s Day!

8 03 2013

Borrowing from another excellent message distributed today by Miss Representation (www.missrepresentation.org), here’s a reminder to think about change as we celebrate women and girls in all their potential…

toddlers and tiaras

Today is International Women’s Day, so let’s take this collective moment to pledge to end the oppression of women worldwide – in all its forms. Let’s pledge to end not only the overt violence directed at women daily, but the institutional sexism holding us back and the destructive representations of women in the media which contribute to that same culture of negating women and denying them their equal seat at the tables of power. After all, as long as the media hypersexualizes and objectifies women, they normalize treating women as second-class citizens and objects for the male gaze, which further contributes to violence against women.

Katy Couric

We encourage you to spend this special day not only supporting those organizations creating change in the treatment of women globally, but thinking personally about how you can make an impact on the lives of women and girls everywhere. Each of us can play a small part in transforming the way our culture views, values, and treats women and girls.





This Valentine’s Day, spread the love and spread the word

8 02 2013

www.missrepresentation.orgLast Sunday, during the biggest media event of the year, supporters of Miss Representation came together to put sexism in advertising in the spotlight and make it a topic of conversation. As a result, over 4 million people heard or saw their critiques of Super Bowl commercials and their message was picked up by numerous major news outlets, including CNN and National Public Radio (NPR). As a result, countless thousands have been inspired to be more aware of the representations of gender they consume daily. That’s what I love about Miss Representation – they’re continually bringing solid information to new audiences what are then able to decide for themselves about the values that are important to them.

Go Daddy alone received more than 7,500 tweets in just 5 hours concerning their stereotypical and demeaning Super Bowl ad. This was accomplished by thousands of individuals deciding to take a break from watching the big game to use their consumer voice to let advertisers know: when it comes to using sexism to sell, we’re #NotBuyingIt! (that’s the Miss Representation campaign, by the way).

And it works. After Teleflora’s highly offensive and degrading Super Bowl commercial, which implied that women would exchange sex with any man who could afford a few flowers, hundreds of folks took to Twitter to express their dismay and disgust. In a show of the increasing ability of social media to create real change, Harrod’s in London removed two children’s books from their children’s reading room after users on Twitter, with the help of the #NotBuyingIt hashtag, let the store know that the items promoted gender stereotypes.

Next Thursday, on Valentine’s Day, Miss Representation is helping to coordinate another effort aimed at showing what we’re capable of when we band together under a common cause. On February 14th, Eve Ensler’s V-Day organization is organizing one billion women, and those who love them, to rise up and demand an end to violence against women.obr_logo-web

“Today, on the planet, a billion women – one of every three women on the planet – will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION mothers, daughters, sisters, partners, and friends violated. V-Day REFUSES to stand by as more than a billion women experience violence.”

The worldwide event, One Billion Rising, is being held in cities and towns across the globe, and will feature performances, dances and women speaking out against violence in unity. To find out more, go to http://www.onebillionrising.org – and if you haven’t already become familiar with Miss Representation, visit their site at http://www.missrepresentation.org.

The Valentine’s Day, spread the love and spread the word – 1 billion women violated is an atrocity. 1 billion women dancing is a revolution.





Extra baggage…priceless

1 02 2012

I was fortunate to attend the 26th Annual San Diego Conference on Child Maltreatment last week in San Diego, where some 1,500 professionals from 30+ countries gathered to consider the latest developments, research, and practices in the fields related to child maltreatment. It was an overwhelming opportunity to immerse myself in the diverse content and myriad approaches shared by an impressive line-up of presenters. I brought back some excellent ideas and resources, and made some valuable contacts. But the weightiest item in my luggage on the return flight wasn’t a book, a manual, a DVD, or any other tangible item. It was the insight I gained from one particular speaker, and it is more precious to me than anything else I learned or experienced during the entire conference.

Pam Toohey

This would probably be a good place to insert a “spoiler alert” to protect those who might be lucky enough to be in a future audience being addressed by Pam Toohey. But I won’t spoil anything. It wouldn’t be right. The impact of sitting in that audience, hearing Pam speak, and taking away her powerful message is just too valuable to risk diminishing it for anyone else. Suffice it to say that Pam found a way to share “lived experience” in a way that was both unique and inspiring. I have never experienced anything quite like it before. More than the story she told, it was the way she told it and also the ways she chose to deliver it to an audience of “in the know” professionals. Their reactions, like my own, are a tribute to Pam’s amazing contribution to the conference… spontaneous, thunderous, on-your-feet applause. I have no doubt that most of them left with the same indelible messages Pam left with me.

I had the honour of telling Pam, in person, how much I appreciated her presentation. I joked with her that any excess baggage fees I might have to pay on my flight home would be due to the incredible gift she had given me, and that I would happily pay them in exchange for coming away with such an inspiring message. Pam laughed at that, then blushed when I told her that her presentation alone had made the conference for me. In the midst of the clinical trials, the stats and outcomes, the new approaches, and the policy discussions, Pam had painted the whole experience with a very personal, very provocative brush. It coloured my entire conference experience for the better, and it will stay with me in my work and in my life for a long time to come.

Thank you Pam. I’m asking the right questions now.