Saturday, March 31, 2007

What Do You Think of Carbon Offsets?

I did some research recently on how to use carbon offsets for my flight to the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington DC. I haven't taken a cross-country flight since the whole "carbon offset" thing started to gain momentum, so this was an opportunity to understand what it is all about.

Ed Begley used TerraPass on Living with Ed (which I love), so I started there. To calculate how much carbon dioxide my flight will produce, I entered where I was flying to and from (Oakland to Washington DC) and discovered that the round trip flight is 4,801 miles that produces "personal emissions" equaling 1,872 lbs of CO2.

To offset my flight, they suggested that I purchase the TerraPass Puddle Jumper for $9.95 that will balance out 2500 lbs of CO2 by investing my money into a project that reduces CO2 emissions, like a wind power, biomass or an industrial efficiency project.

You can buy carbon offsets for your car and home too. Based on our zip code, type of energy we use and how much energy we used (based on our gas and electric bill), it calculated that our home energy use emits 13,604 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to burning 695 gallons of gasoline.
We can balance one year of emissions with a Home TerraPass for $69.86, but if we wash our clothes in cold water, turn off lights when we're not using them, replace three light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescents), and unplug chargers (i.e. cell phone, laptop, iPod) when we're not using them, we can reduce our emissions to 11,784 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, which can be offset for $59.88.

To ensure that they really are investing my money in CO2 reducing projects, TerraPass is audited by the
Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), "the leading certification agency in the renewable energy market."

I bought the TerraPass Puddle Jumper for my trip, and am still thinking about the Home TerraPass.

A day or so after I'd purchased my offset, Co-op America's e-newsletter had a whole article with suggestions for how to choose a carbon offset company:
1. Reduce your impact first.
2. Look for offsets that support specific projects.
3. Look for offsets that will cause carbon reductions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
4. Look for offsets whose GHG (greenhouse gas) reductions will happen on a clear timeframe.
5. Look for offset providers that ensure your offset can’t be re-sold.
6. Look for offset providers that are independently verified.
7. Avoid offsets based on tree-planting projects.
8. Avoid offsets that purchase “allowances” on a climate exchange.
You can read the full article here. Some of the carbon offsetting companies that they recommend are The Climate Trust, MyClimate, NativeEnergy and TerraPass. EcoBusinessLinks also has a survey of carbon offset providers you can check out.

I'm willing to pay $10 for a flight and maybe even $70 for our home's yearly energy use, but a part of me wonders how much difference it will make. What do you think? Do you think carbon offsetting will make a difference?

Photo Credit: airplane_aa by Jackie.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World

As part of CARE's campaign to empower women, photographer Phil Borges created a compelling collection of photographs and stories of women leaders who brought change to their communities in Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World.

I was particularly moved by the story of Abay from Awash Fontale, Ethiopia who ended female circumcision in her village. Here is her story from Phil Borges' web site:

"Abay was born into a culture in which girls are circumcised before age 12.When it came time for her circumcision ceremony, Abay said, 'No.' Her mother insisted: An uncircumcised woman would be ostracized and could never marry, Abay was told. When her mother’s demands became unbearable, she ran away to live with a sympathetic godfather. Eight years later, Abay returned to her village and began work as a station agent for CARE, supervising the opening of a primary school and a health clinic and the construction of a well. After five years, she finally convinced one of the women to let her film a circumcision ceremony. She showed the film to the male leaders. They had never seen a female circumcision and were horrified. Two weeks later, the male leaders called a special meeting and voted fifteen to two to end female circumcision in their village."
Abay's story, which you can read with her photograph on, encapsulates why we should never give up hope that we can create positive change. The circumcision ritual was probably a part of Abay's culture for a very long time and seemed impossible to change. Through action (saying no, filming the ceremony, showing the film to the male leaders), and education (the male leaders had never seen the ceremony) Abay was able to change her community's beliefs.

Is there an issue in your community that you can change through education and action?

Book cover image from

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Help the Sigida Keneyali Project Win the International Youth In Volunteerism Challenge

Last month I posted an e-interview with Caitlin Cohen, the US coordinator and co-founder of the Sigida Keneyali Project, a community-run clinic in Sikoro for 28,000 people. It is a project of the start-up NGO, Mali Health Organizing Project.

Caitlin is part of the International Youth In Volunteerism Summit, a conference for youth activism around the globe. As part of the conference, the Sigida Keneyali Project was given an opportunity to participate in the IYVS Project Challenge on the Global Giving site.

There are 13 amazing competitors that you can view here. If the Sigida Keneyali Project can be among the top two in terms of donations, they will get the opportunity to be permanently on the Global Giving web site, and get additional funding and consulting from the IYVS.

You can give any amount, but $12 purchases 2 public trash containers, $18 provides mosquito nets and treatment for six families, and $45 purchases consultations, vaccinations and birth record books.

For your donation to qualify as part of the Challenge, you must give before March 21, 2007.

Here is the link, if you want to spread the word:

Photo of "Woman with Green Door Sikoro" provided by Caitlin Cohen.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Water is the Oil of the 21st Century: Take Action on World Water Day

World Water Day March 22, 2007

"Fortune magazine calls water the oil of the 21st century — 'the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations.'"--Food & Water Watch
The 1993 novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing, takes place in 2048 in a world where corporations control water, and Northern and Southern California are in a civil water war. Fiction could become reality unless we start making water access and water rights a top priority.

World Water Day (March 22) was adopted by the UN in 1993 to bring attention to the over 1 billion people who are without access to clean, safe drinking water. has links to film screenings, and "Walks for Water" happening in the United States and Canada March 22-24, as well as buttons and badges (like the one above) that you can put on your blog or web site.

The theme of this year's World Water Day is, "Coping with Water Scarcity." According to the United Nations Population Fund's "State of the World Population 2001",
"Worldwide, 54 per cent of the annual available fresh water is being used. If consumption per person remains steady, by 2025 we could be using 70 per cent of the total because of population growth alone. If per capita consumption everywhere reached the level of more developed countries we could be using 90 per cent of the available water by 2025."
This map presented at the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City, shows the relative "risk status" of 162 countries regarding access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Beyond World Water Day, you can:

Conserve water.
Here are tips from the EPA
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full. Hand wash dishes by filling the sink or a dishpan with water, rather than running water continuously.
  • Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth or shave.
  • Take short showers and turn off the water while you soap.
  • Choose appropriate water levels for your laundry load size.
  • Water your garden or lawn early in the morning, or late at night, to reduce evaporation.
  • Allow your grass to grow a little taller to provide shade and prevent water loss.
  • Grow plants native to your area's climate.
  • Turn off the hose between rinses when you wash your car.
  • Sweep, rather than hose off, your sidewalk.
  • Cover your outdoor pool when it isn't in use.
    Here are more tips from the EPA
Get involved with WaterAid in the UK, US or Australia.
WaterAid is an, "international non governmental organisation dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world's poorest people."

Learn more about Corporate Water Privatization
* Check out the links and resources about corporate water privatization on the Sierra Club's web site here and here.
* Read Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water, and watch the documentary, Thirst, that inspired it.
* Watch K.Shalini's film, "Drop of Life". The film imagines a world in the near future when the lives of two women, an executive at a Manhattan-based water corporation that produces pre-paid water meters, and a school teacher in a village in India that uses the meters, intersect.

The poet, Ovid said, "There is no small pleasure in sweet water." We can make sure that all people have that pleasure through our own conservation, and by telling our leaders to make ending water poverty a priority. We may think they won't listen, but they will if enough of us ask, because as Shakespeare wrote, "The people are like water and the ruler a boat. Water can support a boat or overturn it."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Obama in Oakland

I've always wondered why people cry when they see famous people, until yesterday.

There were thousands of people packed into Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall for the Barack Obama rally on St. Patrick's Day (the San Francisco Chronicle has a great bird's eye view photo here). One of the people we were standing next to said it was like being at a Stones concert, "But we're not stoned." It had that rock concert feel. People were clutching copies of The Audacity of Hope hoping for an autograph, holding cameras over their heads to catch a photo, and filling every empty space to get just a little bit closer.

All I could really see was the back of people's heads until my friend's boyfriend offered to put me on his shoulders. Seeing Obama (the photo below was my view) confirmed what I had already felt from reading his books and listening to his podcast, that he is a leader for our time, and that he will change our world. As my friend said, "I don't think our generation has every experienced something like this." I guess that is why I started crying when I saw him.

You can watch some of the best parts of his Oakland speech here, and sign up for his mailing list to find out when he is coming to your city at

All the photos are by me. If you use them elsewhere please link back here. Thanks (:

Friday, March 16, 2007 Launches Fundraising Widget, the social network where users can find like-minded do-gooders based on shared issues that they want to change, or nonprofits that they support, has launched a fundraising widget (pictured left). The widget can be placed on a blog, MySpace, Facebook, or a website.

According to Ben Rattray, the founder of, over 200 nonprofits and NGOs like CARE, Oxfam America, Ashoka, Amnesty International, Grameen Foundation, Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, USA for UNHCR, World Wildlife Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council have signed up for accounts on

When I asked Ben to share a story about how has helped a nonprofit he said:

"I think the coolest success story thus far comes from a small, grassroots organization in Washington DC working to combat human trafficking and sex slavery called Polaris Project They invited a few of their activists to join their community on about a week ago and now have a network of over 100 supporters across the US discussing their issues on the site, and thousands of people checking out their work every day-– some of whom have emailed them saying that they never knew of how prevalent human trafficking is in the United States.

As much as I think larger organizations such as Amnesty International, The Nature Conservancy and The Humane Society have the potential to develop large and active communities on the site, I think it's these smaller organizations that don't have large marketing budgets or prominent brands, but who do great grassroots work that have the most to gain by using our platform to raise awareness and build their base of supporters."

With the creation of so many new social networks and networking tools, it will be interesting to see which ones will rise to the top and which will fall away. I feel like right now people are "dating" all of the new tools, but at some point they are going to want to commit to just a few.

Shortly after's launch, Ben received an email from a user in Missouri who said:

"I just wanted to send you a note to say: thank you. In a world where all people seem to care about is themselves and where I sometimes feel like there is nothing one person can do to make a difference, your site gives me hope. You have done a beautiful thing, and I wanted to thank you for that."

How many tech tools do you know of that give you hope? Pretty cool.

If you are in the Bay Area, you can hear Ben talk more about at San Francisco's Net Tuesday on April 10th.

Cross-posted from the NetSquared blog.

Screenshot of sample widget from site.

widget fundraising social network nonprofit

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nominate a Project for a NetSquared Innovation Fund Award

Hi Have Fun * Do Gooders!

One of my jobs is as the Community Builder for NetSquared, a project of Tech Soup that works to help nonprofits and NGOs use the social web for social change.

If you, or someone you know, is working on a tech for social impact project, please encourage them to nominate their project for a NetSquared Innovation Fund Award. We are looking for projects that:
  • Use the power of community and social networks to create change
  • Use existing/newly developed technology tools for social impact
  • Have a plausible financial model
  • Have a clear way to measure success
  • Exhibit extraordinary leadership, passion and resourcefulness
  • Exhibit a passion for social change
It's easy to submit your project, or nominate someone else's project. All you have to do is:

1. Check out the project guidelines.

2. Submit your project online.

Submissions will be accepted until Friday, April 6, 2007 at noon, U.S. PST. You can see the projects that have been nominated so far here.

April 9-14 nominated projects will be voted on by the public on the NetSquared web site. On April 16 we will announce the 20 NetSquared Featured Projects that will receive an all-expense paid trip to the NetSquared Conference in San Jose, CA May 29-30, 2007.

If you, or someone you know, has a great idea for how to use technology for social change that meets the guidelines above, this may be an opportunity to make a vision into reality.

NetSquared badges, like the one above are available on the NetSquared site.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Saving Polar Bears and the DaVersity Code

It is unusually warm in the Bay Area right now. Unusually warm for this area and unusually warm for the middle of March. As I was falling asleep last night, in our usually icy bedroom, I was thinking about how much I loved this warm weather, and then in my half asleep/half awake state I saw an image of a polar bear, and I felt less happy.

You've probably already read in other places that the loss of Arctic ice causes the polar bears to swim long distances more frequently to hunt, which can cause them to drown or starve.

Synchronistically, there was an email from the Sierra Club this morning asking people to sign a petition to Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, asking him to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

I can't imagine a world without polar bears, can you?

Listing the polar bear as threatened is also an acknowledgement of the detrimental affect of global warming. If you would like to sign the petition, here is the link.

The spoof of Coca-Cola's polar bear commercial above was created by Greenpeace. Here is the YouTube link if you want to pass it on, or post it on your web site.

The Sierra Club has also joined with The Harvard Medical School, World Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense, Audobon, Center for Biological Diversity, Species Alliance, Buckminster Fuller Institute, The World Conservation Union and the Endangered Species Coalition to create a new Free Range Studios online film, 'The DaVersity Code," a spoof of The DaVinci Code.

In the film, Robert Penguin, the world’s leading expert on biodiversity, is contacted to investigate the murder of a polar bear at the Natural History Museum. He works with Sophie Minnow to discover the ancient, “Priory of Species” and unravel ”The Greatest Lie Ever Told.” During their investigation, they learn that the web of life, or the "Priory of Species" has existed for millions of years, but that it is being dismantled by human activities that destroy key habitats, release greenhouse gases which cause global warming, introduce invasive species, and over-harvest species to the point of extinction.

They learn that the "The Greatest Lie Ever Told" is that humans are not part of the web of life and that they can survive apart from it. For example, they don't realize that if a tree dies, then the frog that lives in it dies, and the mosquitoes that the frog would have eaten live, which can cause an epidemic of mosquitoes and potentially, illness for humans.

The solution? We all need to realize that we are part of the web of life and that we need it to survive,

You can watch the film at or on YouTube.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Media Consumption Meme

A couple weeks ago Tara Hunt of HorsePigCow tagged me to be a part of the media consumption meme that has been flying around. It's been a pretty busy couple weeks, so I'm just now getting to it:

Books: My favorite category! I don't get to read as much now that I work from home--one of the advantages of commuting by bus or BART is lots of reading time! I keep track of what I read each year and have posted lists of my favorite books in 2006 and 2005.

This year I've read Momentum by Allison Fine, WorldChanging by Alex Steffen, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood, and am finishing up The Spiritual Activist by Claudia Horwitz. I try to buy books from independent bookstores, we have a lot of great ones in the Bay Area, but I do love to order from Amazon or Powells for the "Santa Factor." You know, gift arriving on your doorstep--it's hard to beat the rush.

The next book on my list is Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World by Isabel Allende (Contributor), Madeleine Albright (Contributor) and Phil Borges (Photographer).

Magazines: My two favorites that I read cover to cover are Ode and GOOD. I also flip through my monthly subscription to Harper's Bazaar so I don't become a complete frump.

Movies: We always say that we are going to watch the small, independent films in the independent theaters and rent the blockbusters, but the reality is, we see the blockbusters on the big screen at chain theaters, and rent the rest from Netflix. The last movie we rented, which I highly recommend, was Shut Up and Sing, a documentary about the Dixie Chicks' life after lead singer, Natalie Maines', anti-George Bush statement at a 2003 concert. I had no idea that her life was threatened because of it. What is wrong with people?

Not only is it a documentary about their experience, but also about the rise and fall of support for the war, and for Bush over the last four years. It is particularly poignant to watch the film while knowing that they would go on to win five Grammys this year, including Song of the Year for "“Not Ready to Make Nice".

Music: I buy CDs sometimes, but mostly I download music from the iTunes Music Store. My most recent download, after seeing, Shut up and Sing, was the Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice," and "Travelin' Soldier." The most recent concert I went to was to see Michael Franti at the Warfield in San Francisco--awesome.

Radio: I don't listen to the radio, but I do listen to podcasts. Some of my favs are from UNICEF, 501c3Cast and Barack Obama.

TV: I watch more TV than I like to admit. We have TiVo so it allows me to see my favorites whenever I want which are, The Daily Show (never miss an episode), Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Psych and Living with Ed. I like Numb3rs too, but it has been conflicting with Psych, so Psych wins. I am really looking forward to the launch of the Sundance Channel's new series, The Green.

Web: I use Firefox for my browser, for social bookmarking and Bloglines for my blog and news feeds.

Communication: I use Apple's Mail program for my personal email and read email online from my Electric Embers account for work. I use Skype for instant messaging, and some phone calls. I use my landline and cell phone for the rest of my calls. I haven't started to use Twitter yet, but would love to hear people's opinion about it.

I'd like to hear about the media consumption of Green LA Girl, Vale of Evening Fog, Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog and ext337.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Interview with Jodie Van Horn of Freedom from Oil and Plug-in Bay Area

In September 2006, Marin County soft ordered 22 Plug-in Hybrids Electric Vehicles. In October the City of Berkeley soft ordered 40 plug-ins and in December the city of Alameda soft ordered 98. What's going on? The three Bay Area municipalities, along with Oakland and San Francisco (who haven't placed their orders yet) have all signed-on to be part of Plug-In Bay Area, an initiative to put more plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road.

I talked with Jodie Van Horn, a campaigner for Rainforest Action Network's Freedom From Oil campaign, and the coordinator for Plug-In Bay Area about the plug-in campaign in the Bay Area as well as the national Freedom from Oil Campaign. Below is a transcript from the interview, which you can also listen to on the Big Vision Podcast.

Jodie Van Horn: Plug-In Bay Area is a national grassroots effort to try to commercialize plug-in hybrid vehicles. We do that by pressuring automakers to start rolling these vehicles off of their assembly lines.

This was an initiative that began in the city of Austin, Texas with the municipally owned utility company, Austin Energy. They saw a need for a mode of ultra-efficient transportation that would plug in to a clean grid, and shift our fuel source off of gasoline, and provide us with an opportunity to find a cleaner, cheaper, domestic source of fuel and energy specifically for the transportation sector.

They began by setting a target of 50 U.S. cities. They were going to go out to those cities and try to form partnerships with the cities, to get the Mayors or the council members of those cities, at a policy level, to endorse the Plug-In Partner campaign, and then subsequently to get them to place a soft fleet order. A soft fleet order is an indication on the part of the municipality that were these vehicles to be commercially produced by the automakers, that municipality would buy "x" number of them the day they become available.

The desire of Austin Energy, and of this national initiative was to demonstrate that there is an existing market for a cleaner electric source of transportation, and that there is a recognition on the part of municipalities, businesses and consumers that technologies exist that will enable us to wean ourselves off of oil, and shift over to a new paradigm for our transportation needs.

From there, these efforts were springing up all over the country. They began with their approach of municipalities, mostly cities and counties. They were extremely successful in generating the support of politicians all over the country.

At a grassroots level, there had also been support for solution-based organizing around oil addiction, and around transportation, fermenting from some time. When this program sprang up, Rainforest Action Network, had been involved in campaigns surrounding the crushing of the EV1 a decade ago, which happened here in California -- with the car mandate -- many people have now seen Who Killed The Electric Car, and it goes into explaining that story quite well. So we had a history of organizing around transportation through our Jumpstart Ford campaign, which now has transitioned into our Freedom From Oil campaign.

With that history we recognized that plug-in hybrid vehicles are an immediate and viable solution to the issues that we have been trying to pressure automakers to acknowledge over the course of this campaign here at RAN. We picked this up and we dedicated a staff person to coordinate a local effort to get Bay Area cities and counties on board to support the national effort, and to contribute their soft fleet orders to the national demand for plug-in hybrids.

Britt Bravo: What are some things that are happening with plug-ins here in the Bay Area?

JVH: In the first six months we had five Bay Area partner municipalities; San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and Marin County have all sign on. Out of those, Marin County, Alameda and Berkeley have all placed their soft fleet orders. We're also working with those cities on generating some demonstration projects.

It's a really exciting time. We've had announcements out of some of the automakers that there is a potential that they're building this platform for these plug-in hybrid vehicles to be produced. They haven't set any production dates, or indicated any numbers for their production. We don't want this to become a niche market. We see this as a potential future for transportation, or at least an immediate step to having ultra-efficient choices in vehicles for the public.

What we're trying to do is generate enough support to indicate that we need these announcements out of the auto industry to translate into something tangible. We're doing that by trying to bide our time until that promise comes, or until that commitment comes, by actually putting as many of these vehicles out on the road as possible and watching them operate in a real-world function; generating data on their emissions, reductions and fuel savings; educating the public about their potential to help us solve our oil addiction, and really getting them out into the hands of fleet operators; holding educational conferences and demo projects where people can rally behind this technology and continue to build that pressure on automakers so that they actually come through with some commitments on when and how many they're going to build.

BB: What is a plug-in hybrid?

JVN: A plug-in hybrid is essentially a conventional hybrid vehicle, like a Toyota Prius, with an additional battery pack that extends the range of the vehicle in all electric mode, and then adds a plug for overnight charging. It's a little bit like having an electric vehicle with a back-up gas tank. You can drive all electric for the extended range of your battery charge, and then when you reach the end of your battery capacity you have a backup engine in case you need to do long-distance driving. You always have the support of a back-up engine that ideally is a flexible fuel engine, which could be powered with bio-fuels or domestically grown cellulosic ethanol or some other more sustainable fuels than gasoline. It makes a much more sustainable vehicle and it doubles your fuel efficiency.

Additionally it decreases your carbon footprint and your tailpipe emissions significantly. Especially if you are plugging your vehicle into a clean grid, you're powering your car literally with renewable energy like wind or solar, that's coming directly from the grid and into your car, as opposed to filling your car with dirty gasoline, that's a foreign source of oil, and that has all of the implications of the chain of production of oil. It's much cheaper for the consumer; it's under a dollar a gallon to fuel your vehicle with electricity as opposed to gasoline, so there's a real consumer incentive to support this technology. Environment aside, from a consumers standpoint it makes a tremendous amount of sense.

BB: What's preventing this from happening? What is the argument against plug-in hybrids?

JVH: The primary argument coming out of the automakers at this time is I believe a bit of a cover-up for a larger problem, which is simply the inertia on the part of companies to change their model of business; to change their way of doing things. It would not require a huge investment on the part of automakers and what investment it incurs will be paid back over time in the savings from switching over to more highly efficient vehicles. This has been proven through studies that have been done of the current vehicles on the market and that demonstrate that even with existing technologies, we could improve the overall fuel efficiency of vehicle fleets to 40 miles per gallon without even implementing new technologies.

Plug-in hybrids fit into that, and the one piece that automakers are claiming is an impediment to putting these cars on the road is the battery technology. So we are looking at finding batteries that hold a charge for a long period of time, that give people the extended range that they need to do their commuting, and new technology such as the lithium ion battery have the potential to do that, but right now they are very expensive because automakers haven't invested the R&D money into those battery technologies to really stimulate the change that is needed for them to be able to use those batteries in the application of the plug-in hybrid. So it is sort of a chicken and the egg. They need to put the money into making the battery technology available, but they are claiming that they can't do that. They can't produce the vehicles because the battery technology isn't there.

We are seeing some breakthroughs on this. They have applied for federal money for battery research and development, which is promising, it indicates that they are serious about looking into electric transportation and they are exploring the battery question, but I think that the other issue is simply just the larger issue that it is hard to get corporations to change their behavior, and as we saw with Who Killed the Electric Car, there is a strong relationship between the oil industry and the transportation industry, and until we are able to shift transportation away from the oil companies, it's going to be difficult for us to make major headway in defeating oil as our primary source of fuel and so the more that we can pressure automakers into believing that there is a public perception that oil is a fuel of the past, and that there is an urgency with climate change, with national security, and with the price of oil to get ourselves off of it, I don't think the automakers are going to change out of the goodness of their hearts.

BB: Can you talk a little bit about the other aspects of the Freedom from Oil campaign?

JVH: So Freedom from Oil is a campaign that looks at the behaviors of automakers and tries to pressure them and negotiate with them in order to have them change their behavior and really be the leaders in weaning America off of oil.

Transportation in this country represents 70% of American oil consumption and so it is a major piece of the pie if we are talking about switching over to renewable energies and getting off of this very dirty fuel source. This is why we have chosen the transportation sector as the area where we really feel we need to focus our efforts if we are going to have an impact on climate change, and on national security, and so what we have done is taken an approach to try to convince automakers that they need to do a variety of things in order to maintain their positions as leaders of an industry, so looking especially at the behaviors of Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota, which are the major players, the four out of the big six in our country that are producing vehicles, and asking one of them to step out in front of the industry and really make commitments to fuel economy, make commitments to greenhouse gas reductions across their fleet, make commitments to producing ultra fuel efficient vehicles, and harnessing the technologies that exist today that would enable them to do so.

Additionally, there has been a lot of rhetoric on the part of the automakers regarding the greenness of their operations, when in fact what we are seeing is a lot of green-washing. They recognize that green is very vogue right now. They recognize that citizens are extremely concerned about global warming. They recognize that consumers have made the connection between climate change and transportation, and so they are trying to portray their vehicles as green choices.

And we have seen, in the case of Toyota, we've seen them come out with a hold on the hybrid market, and look like a very green company, but at last month's Detroit auto show the premier vehicle that they displayed was one of the largest trucks in the industry, and so until we see actual production matching the PR that is coming out of these companies, we don't feel that we can afford to take the pressure off of them to create commitments instead of faulty promises, or to create commitments instead of PR, and we do that in a number of ways. We do that by showing up at auto shows and giving voice to the public, and you know just the old fashioned stand out there with your banners and get heard, and get heard by the media and be the dissenting voice that calls out their green-washing and that makes it clear that there's a lot more that these companies could be doing.

Additionally, many of the large automakers are involved in the State of California in a lawsuit to sue the State of California for trying to impose regulations on tailpipe emissions, and for companies that are trying to portray themselves as green companies, it is unacceptable that they are trying to impede progress in the State of California for us to have healthier air for California consumers and California citizens and to try to regulate our state greenhouse gas impacts.

So it is highlighting those hypocrisies and working to spread the word and generate more support amongst the public, and to put more consumer and reputational pressure on automakers for them to clean up their act and match their words to their deeds.

BB: How can people who are listening get involved?

JVH: To get involved in the Freedom from Oil campaign, there are a variety of ways that we hope to work with communities, work with labor, work with effected oil communities and work with grassroots activists to try to mobilize a movement to pressure automakers and on our Freedom Fom Oil website which is just, there is a list of tactics that we use that we hope to engage people in, and it ranges from fun and creative actions like the Oil Enforcement Agency, which is going out and starting to take the specs on big SUVs and writing them tickets for their gas guzzling and for their emissions, to holding an Oil Addicts Anonymous meeting in your town to bring community members together to talk about oil addiction, and to figure out how you can organize to get involved in the campaign, and in the movement. That would look like a meeting to first admit our addiction to oil, and then to talk about some of the ways in your community that you can either pass a resolution; for example, through the City Council to wean your city or county off of oil, and to adopt more fuel efficient purchasing for city fleets, which brings in the plug-in hybrid work. So in many cases we have worked with Council members to try to draw up a resolution to pass through City Council that mandates a city to place fleet orders for the most fuel efficient vehicles available, and to place soft fleet orders for those that aren't yet there, but are on their way, like the plug-in hybrid vehicle.

If there is interest in starting a local campaign to promote plug-in hybrids, this can be done in a variety of ways either through working with a municipality, or initially getting businesses to sign on. Businesses often have fleet vehicles, or at least have ideal lobbying power for creating rebate programs or incentives for employees to purchase fuel efficient vehicles, and there is kind of a campaign-plan menu of options available through the Plug-in Partners web site, or by contacting me at to discuss the plug-in work or the Freedom from Oil work.

BB: How did you get involved in this kind of work?

JVH: Well, I really started out as kind of a college activist who felt that things weren't right in the world. I wanted to see them improve and I was looking for ways to get involved. I came about it by way of fair trade and economic justice issues and got very concerned with the growing climate justice movement and how that not only affects generations to come, but it affects people, communities living on the ground today, and became increasingly concerned about resource extraction and its impact on those communities, and how that ties in so strongly to these climate issues and to resource extraction.

I was very fortunate to come across the Rainforest Action Network, which has been working on these issues for decades, and to find a niche within this organization to be able to carry out the work that I felt passionate about. I applied for this job with the Freedom from Oil campaign because I see climate change, in particular, as one of the most pressing issues of our time. I see that there is a major tipping point happening in the global climate change movement and consciousness of global warming, thanks in part to Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, and simply the manifestations that we have seen from hurricanes to melting icecaps, and that it's a time that I could not be working on anything else but this.

I am so pleased that an organization like Rainforest Action Network exists that is working on these issues with a variety of other allies and key organizations that are really working with people on the ground to make a difference and to shift our economy off of destructive, extractive fuels and resources, and provide a more sustainable future.

BB: How do you keep inspired?

JVH: I think I am most consistently inspired by the people that I meet when I am traveling around this country who are working in their own capacity on various aspects of these issues. When I realize that I am this small person in the midst of a growing, global movement that is so massive and so important, and when I travel to college campuses and I see students who are putting school work aside to be engaged in campaigns to promote a healthier future for all of us, and when I go to affected communities, and I see the destruction on the ground translating into action and hope among the people most affected, and I hear them speak, I know that my place needs to be participating in that in some way.

I am most purely given hope by all those folks out there that I work with on a day-to-day basis, or that I interact with at some juncture in this movement, who make me feel not alone in the work that I do and help me know that there is an alternative that many people are working towards, and we are working against a difficult system, but we're in it together. Through that, I believe it is possible.

BB: Is there anything else you want people to know about the Freedom from Oil campaign or Plug-in Partners, or Plug-in Bay Area?

JVH: The bigger vision specifically for the plug-in work, but how it really ties into a lot of other work we do, ties into rainforests, which is clearly in our mission statement and in our name as the Rainforest Action Network, and ties into climate justice issues and economic justice issues, and that is with the plug-in work there is an opportunity to not only plug our vehicles in, and drive on electric power, but to stimulate a greening of the grid so that we can get off of fossil fuels. That is where we see the real momentum behind this particular technology being is that it has implications for our grid energy to be able to green the grid.

You can't green gasoline, you can't green fossil fuels, but you can make the grid greener over time, and if we create an economy that is poised to do so then we are actually able to see a chain effect, stimulate an economy for renewables and we eliminate a lot of the chain of production issues and we get oil companies off of indigenous lands, and we get pipelines out of rainforests. There is a bigger picture here that we have acknowledged, that we feel if executed properly, there are wide-ranging implications that can help us achieve our commitments to forests, to climate, and to the people that live in those places that are most affected by these types of projects.

I guess the only other thing I would add is that we, as an organization, really hope to provide a grassroots network of activists with the tools or the training, or simply the support, to make change. We dedicate a lot of time intentionally to supporting other campaigns and supporting other efforts, and working in solidarity with groups who have a similar mission in mind, and a similar vision for this planet.

As a Freedom from Oil campaign, we really hope to work with more activists and provide what we can to support efforts that are happening on the ground to solve some of these issues. By contacting Rainforest Action Network, or by contacting the campaign, or by contacting our coalition partner, Global Exchange, activists out there working on these issues, should feel empowered to tap into a network, and should help empower us to tap into their network so that we can all work together to solve some of these problems. We have mandated ourselves to do what we can to support those groups because that's really where change is happening, is from the ground up.

For more information about Rainforest Action Network's Freedom from Oil campaign, go to For more information about a plug-in campaign in your area, go to

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Women Rise Up Against War: Rae Abileah of CODEPINK

According to UNIFEM's, "Gender Profile-Iraq-Women, War & Peace,":

"[M]ore than 90 women become widows each day due to continuing violence countrywide. The Ministry of Women's Affairs estimates that there are at least 300,000 widows in Baghdad alone, with another eight million throughout the country."

Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day. March 20th is the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War.

To celebrate the first day, and hopefully prevent the recurrence of the second, here is an e-interview with Rae Abileah, the Local Groups Coordinator of CODEPINK.

1. What is CODEPINK?

CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects the Bush administration's fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence. Check us out at!

2. What do you do as the Local Groups Coordinator?

As local groups coordinator, I connect CODEPINK's national campaigns with the grassroots women's movement for peace, and brings organizing resources to local coordinators. In a practical sense, that means that I: answer dozens of emails, write action alerts, facilitate training conference calls, paint on giant pink slip banners, coordinate activist trainings and national events in DC, empower women to take a risk and speak up for peace, think of creative ideas to get our message out, counsel women on how to effectively and peacefully work together (and avoid needless infighting), and help get new local groups started.

A lot of my organizing is done over the Internet, though I am most nourished by my direct face-to-face experiences working with women around the country. It’s so inspiring to see people I’ve spoken with on the phone and chatted with over email in action marching around the Capitol, speaking up in hearings in Congress, making lasting sisterly bonds at a national organizing retreat, and to virtually take part in grassroots actions around the country by posting action report backs and photos to our website. Check out our local spotlight with great action photos on our site.

3. How did you get involved with CODEPINK?

This an exciting story. I graduated college in New York City the summer of 2004 and went to the Republican National Convention (RNC) protest at the end of that August. I looked on Craigslist to find a ride back home to California, where I grew up, and found a post for a woman with a CODEPINK truck who was offering her truck as a moving service to help fund her trip from California, and her activist work. I emailed her and asked if she’d take a person in addition to my stuff, and we met up at one of the RNC protests outside a courthouse. We knew instantly that it would work well to travel together.

The phenomenal woman with the giant CODEPINK truck, Sam Zanne Joi, and I traveled through the deep South and Southwest, weaving our way through little towns in the Appalachian mountains with names like War, West Virginia, and Truth and Consequences, Texas. Everywhere we stopped (and I mean everywhere, from coffee shops to gas stations to parks) we talked with women about the importance of voting and firing Bush. I learned the CODEPINK rap—about how we must stand up for peace in the face of the color-coded terror alerts and other government scare tactics, and how as women we can empower ourselves to be strong leaders for justice in our communities—from Sam as we traveled. We blogged every step of the way, uploading our travel stories at libraries and free Internet cafes. You can read about the trip on our blogs listed below.

When we reached California, Sam was adamant that we needed to go to Ohio to continue registering voters, so I joined her for the northern trip on I-80 and we spent two weeks in Ohio going to concerts and riding the subways, registering voters all the while. From there I went up to Wisconsin to continue voter outreach efforts, this time targeted at getting out the youth vote. The day after the election (my birthday, actually), I flew home to California, feeling defeated, and met with CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, who inspired me to stay active and continue the struggle. I traveled to DC for the second inauguration of Bush, protested with CODEPINK, and got inside the inauguration ceremony and Bush’s Black Tie and Boots Ball for some powerful disruptions.

I have worked with CODEPINK’s counter-recruitment campaign, coordinated our book tour, assisted with every national campaign over the past two years, and now serve as the local groups coordinator. My work is deeply fulfilling and is the best medicine for hopelessness—I am daily inspired to truly believe that another world is possible.

4. What is the biggest challenge of your work?

The biggest challenge we face is achieving our goal—stopping the war in Iraq, bringing home our troops, and supporting Iraqis to build peace—in the face of US apathy, misguided belief, and a wealthy ruling class that is addicted to oil interests and power. We face the challenge of learning how to build a diverse movement that is inviting, warm, serious, and also playful and compassionate.

Currently we are facing the challenge of pushing the newly elected Congress to stop buying Bush’s war by voting against the supplemental spending bill. Unfortunately, our representatives easily speak out against Bush and his troop escalation, but get tripped up about the funding because they fear that they will not be supporting our troops. Our task is to help them, and the American people, see that supporting the troops is cutting funding for the continuation of the war, and caring for our troops with adequate healthcare services when they get home. If Congress buys the war again, we must make them aware that now they own it, and all the responsibility that comes with being at the helm of an occupation—the blood will be on their hands.

5. What is Code Pink's biggest success story?

Our biggest success is that a group of visionary women came together with the intention of preventing an attack on Iraq, sat outside the White House every day and reclaimed the color pink as a powerful color for peace, in the face of a government based on fear and lies... And their actions caught like wildfire and have spread throughout the country (and world!) to create the foundations of a women’s movement for peace and justice. That movement has achieved wonders in the past four years: a pink slip campaign to fire the president that included dropping giant pink slips (large banners shaped like ladies’ lingerie), speaking out inside the Republican National Convention and inside of numerous speaking events with Bush and Co., hosting a tour of Iraqi women who visited over 100 US cities speaking about the need for the US to leave their country,

The real success is the mom with a son in Iraq who emails me and says, “I want to do something. Please let me know how I can help.” The tenth grader who wants to show a film about Iraq in school and calls us for support. The security guards in Congress who whisper that they feel blessed when they see us entering the building day after day.

6. How can readers get involved with CODEPINK?

Visit our website,, to sign up for our weekly action alerts and find out how to get involved with CODEPINK. You can find a local pink group in your area, see our current campaigns and photos from actions, and sign onto the Give Peace a Vote pledge. You can also start by being CODEPINK—speak with people you meet everyday about the important and urgent need to bring our troops home from Iraq; join local peace rallies and marches; use creativity and feminine energy to bring truth to power. Most importantly, your Congressperson NEEDS to hear from YOU! Call, email, and visit your rep’s office and urge them to vote to stop funding the US occupation of Iraq. Find contact info for your elected leaders at and Join us in DC in the months ahead to pressure Congress to defund the war in Iraq! CODEPINK will have a house and will be taking action daily in the halls of Congress and around town.

7. What are some of your favorite blogs written by women?

Sam Zanne Joi’s blog about her travels around the country spreading the CODEPINK peace message.

CODEPINK’s Iraqi Women’s Tour in the US

Posts by Linda Milazzo, especially this one.

Faiza, an Iraqi writer, has a blog, A Family in Baghdad.

Divine Caroline, a new site dedicated to publishing writing by women, has a great Changemakers category in their Neighborhood and World section.


Check out CODEPINK’s favorite pink blogs (and advice for how to start your own).

My newest favorite thing to peruse is this site called—it’s a program that searches blogs, myspace, etc. by characteristics (gender, age, country, weather) for emotions. Check it out.

Rae can be reached at

Cross-posted from BlogHer.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Oxfam Uses Flickr To Advocate for Ethiopian Coffee Famers

Through just one cup of coffee, we are inextricably connected to the livelihoods of millions of people around the world who are struggling to survive.--from the Director's Statement, Black Gold

Oxfam America has joined the movement to give Ethiopian coffee growers a greater percentage of coffee profits:

"Oxfam is calling on coffee industry leaders to sign agreements that recognize Ethiopia’s right to control the use of its coffee ’brand names.’ With these agreements in place, Ethiopians could occupy a stronger negotiating position with foreign buyers, capture a larger share of the value associated with their names, and better protect their brands – regardless of whether the trademarks were granted."

One aspect of the campaign is a Starbucks Flickr petition. Supporters have uploaded photos of themselves with a sign that says, "I support Ethiopian farmers." So far, 186 photos have been posted. My only criticism of the campaign is that very few of the photos have a Creative Commons license that allows bloggers and other supporters to share the photos and spread the word.

For more information about Oxfam's Starbuck's campaign click here.

For more information about Ethiopia's efforts to trademark its coffee names, check out Green LA Girl's posts about Ethiopia vs. Starbucks.

To find out when the documentary Black Gold is playing at a theater near you, click here. It will also have its broadcast premiere on PBS April 10th on Independent Lens.

Cross-posted from the NetSquared blog.
Hat tip to the NTEN Flickr Affinity Group for the story.

Photo Credit: "" by David Poe.

flickr petition coffee fair trade oxfam

Sunday, March 04, 2007

10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs and Bloggers to Support Their Cause

Last March I was on a blogging panel for an event put on by the Alliance of Technology and Women. To prepare for the panel, I wrote up 10 Ways Nonprofit Can Use Blogs.

Next week, I will be participating in a session entitled, "Reach Out and Blog Someone" along with Steve Swenson of the Bakersfield Californian at the United Way of Kern County's Professional Development Conference for Nonprofits. You can read Steve's blog at the Eye of Bakersfield.

A lot of nonprofit blogs have come on the scene in the year between these events and I feel like it is time to revise and update my "10 Ways" post to include not only ways that nonprofits can use blogs, but also engage bloggers to support their cause. Blogs fall under the category of "social media" because they are, well, social. They are a tool that allows for a conversation between the reader and the writer, and for information to reach people quickly all over the world. It only makes sense that if your nonprofit is going to include a blog in its communications strategy that it includes other bloggers too.

So here it goes . . .10 Ways Nonprofit Can Use Blogs and Bloggers to Support Their Cause

1. Include bloggers on your press list.

There are a lot of people out there reading and writing blogs.

According to the blog search engine, Technorati's, "State of the Blogosphere" in October 2006:
Technorati is tracking more than 57 Million blogs.
Today, the blogosphere is doubling in size approximately every 230 days.
About 100,000 new weblogs were created each day
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project report, "Bloggers: A Portrait of the Internet’s New Storytellers" from July 2006:
8% of Internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog.
39% of Internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs.
90% of bloggers say they have read someone else’s blog
That's a lot of folks who are including blogs in their media consumption list. When you are creating your press list, be sure to search on Technorati and Google Blog Search to find bloggers who are writing about your organization's issues and send them your press release as well.

2. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Create Your Own Media Coverage

When the men accused of murdering Gwen Araujo, a woman they beat, bound and strangled after they discovered that she was biologically male, went to trial, the Community United Against Violence decided to use a blog to document the trial.

Because many of CUAV's volunteer bloggers were more knowledgeable about issues such as the trans-phobic tactics that were being used by the lawyers, they were able to address many issues that the mainstream media missed. The blog also kept people informed during the second trial, when media coverage had diminished, and eventually drew attention to the trial when the blog got news coverage.

3. Provide bloggers, and your supporters, with an RSS feed of news related to your organization so that they can spread the word for you.

Don't be afraid of RSS feeds. First of all, what are they? From Yahoo! News:
RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" -- it's a format for distributing and gathering content from sources across the Web, including newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Web publishers use RSS to easily create and distribute news feeds that include links, headlines, and summaries. The Christian Science Monitor, CNN, and CNET News are among the many sites that now deliver updated online content via RSS.

Human Rights Watch doesn’t have a blog, but they offer RSS feeds of human rights news to supporters so that they can blog about, and share information with others, about human rights issues.

For more information, check out the Tech Soup article, "Easy Ways to Publish Your Own RSS: Use RSS to Help Your Constituents Stay On Top of News and Announcements," and the Social Signal article, "Make Your Nonprofit More Effective with RSS Aggregation."

4. Include outreach to bloggers as part of your online fundraising campaigns.

As I mentioned in my post about "extra-organizational activists", there are bloggers out there who would love to raise money for your cause:
Beth Kanter raised $800 for the Sharing Foundation using the ChipIn widget plus her blog, social networks, Flickr and video in 26 days.

Darren Rowse celebrated ProBlogger's two year anniversary by using his blog to raise $830 US ($100 AU) for Oxfam Australia with his Blogging for Chickens campaign.

Beth Kanter raised $50,000 for the Sharing Foundation using a Network for Good Badge and similar tools to the ChipIn campaign, in three weeks.

Chez Pim raised almost $62,000 with her Menu for Hope Campaign in 2.5 weeks using her food blog and an online auction.
Why not ask your supporters how many of them have a blog or web site where they would be willing to promote your fundraising campaign? Widgets like ChipIn and Network for Good Badges, and services like Firstgiving make it easy for them to support your cause. (Full disclosure: I am on ChipIn's nonprofit advisory board).

5. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Raise Money

Many blog readers have money to give. Why not ask them?

According to BlogAds 2005 Blog Reader Survey, 43% of blog readers had incomes greater than $90,000. In 2006, BlogAds broke down the reader demographics even more:
The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 70% have contributed to a campaign.

The median gossip reader is a 27 year old woman with annual family income $60,000. She reads 4 blogs a day, five hours a week.

The median mom blog reader is a 29 year old woman with an annual family income of $70,000, reading 5 blogs a day for 4 hours a week.

The median music blog reader is a 26 year old man with an annual family income of $60,000 reading 5 blogs a day four hours a week.
According to the 2005 article, "Blog Readers Spend More Time and Money Online,” by Sean Michael Kerner:
Blog readers tend to make more online purchases. In the first quarter of 2005, less than 40 percent of the total Internet population made online purchases. By contrast, 51 percent of blog readers shopped online. Blog readers also spent six percent more than the average Internet user.
6. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Involve Volunteers and Supporters

Nonprofit workers often tell me that they don't have time to write a blog. Depending on your organization's work and audience, you may not have to. I write for the NetSquared blog each day (it takes me anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the topic), but it is also designed to be a community blog, so any registered user can post on it about how nonprofits are using the social web for social change.

Interplast, an international humanitarian organization that provides free reconstructive surgery in developing countries asks their surgical volunteer staff to upload posts to the blog from their worksite.

Urban Sprouts
, a school gardening program, allows volunteers, as well as staff, to post on their blog.

The Best Friends Animal Society
allows its supporters to create blogs on their Best Friends Network around animal, and animal adoption issues that they care about.

March of Dimes' Share Your Story blog allows families with children in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) to share their experiences with one another.

7. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Report Back From an Event, Trip or Disaster

Do you have staff or constituents going to a conference that your supporters would be interested in hearing about? Ask them to blog during conference sessions and post photos. For example, here is a post that I wrote from Aspiration Tech's Nonprofit Developer's Summit for NetSquared blog readers.

Perhaps your staff makes a lot of international trips. Witness for Peace has a blog for their team in Mexico and for their team in Nicaragua to report back on their work there.

Blogs can also provide ways for people to find out information about loved ones if your organization works in disaster relief situations. Gregg Swanson, the Executive Director of HumaniNet, blogged and uploaded photos to HumaniNet's Flickr account using a satellite connection as part of a disaster response simulation exercise in Asia.

8. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Work Smarter

Would you like to avoid the crunch when it comes time to write the annual report or quarterly newsletter? If you post organizational news on your blog regularly, when it comes time to pull stories together for other publications, you will already have a lot of the material written.

For example, for this post, and to prepare for this session, I am drawing from other posts that I've already written. When we publish the NetSquared e-newsletter, we often draw from the NetSquared blog for material.

You can also use reader comments, or posts by volunteers or constituents in grant applications. Urban Sprouts Executive Director, Abby Jaramillo, brought her laptop to one meeting with a funder and showed them the positive comments written on a post by teachers and students who were being served by the program.

9. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Build Trust with Supporters

In a time when donors are being asked for money from more organizations than ever, when nonprofit scandals are in the news, and when funders want more accountability for where their money is going, it is important that they trust your organization and see that there are real people, like them, working there. A blog can give them a glimpse behind the scenes, and provide a transparency and authenticity that an annual report or brochure may not.

Dave Rochlin, the COO of TransFair USA, the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, recently started a blog for their organization. In his first post entitled, "A Fair Trade blog . . .so why now? Rochlin writes, "So why start blogging? We decided that since we're more than just a label, it would make sense to let you see what's behind it."

If your organization decides to start a blog, I highly recommend that you allow readers to see who the individual or individuals are who write each post, rather than saying, "posted by organization x."

Blogs also build trust because readers can write comments and correspond with the writer(s). In a world where web sites offer only an anonymous address, or make you go through a maze of automated messages and "press 2 now" in their phone system, the value of human connection can't be underestimated.

The Ann Arbor District Library System uses a blog for the front page of their site. Library users can ask questions and make suggestions about library news, announcements and events in the comments of each post.

10. Use Your Nonprofit Blog to Build a Broad-Based Movement

There is a lot of talk these days about nonprofit "silos." There are groups that are working on environmental issues, groups that are working on women's issues, groups that are working on disability issues and groups that are working on poverty issues, but really, aren't all the issues connected? Aren't we all trying to create positive change?

Part of a blog's structure is something called a blog roll, a list of blogs in the sidebar that the blogger reads, or feels is related to the topic of their blog. Something I don't see enough of is nonprofit bloggers listing other nonprofit blogs in their blog roll, referencing other nonprofit bloggers posts in their posts, and commenting on each other's blogs. Cross-referencing between organizations' blogs can add supporters to both organization's lists and paves the way for future collaborations.

Take a look below at this quick round-up of nonprofits blogs. Are there any you could add to your blogroll? (Big thanks to the Have Fun * Do Good and NetSquared readers who sent me some of these links).

AARP Issues Blog
Amnesty International Death Penalty Blog
Ann Arbor District Library System
Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids
Center for Global Development
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Environmental Defense
First Book Blog
Foothills United Way Blog
Generation Why/Oxfam Blog
iAbolish-American Anti-Slavery Group
Jane Goodall Institute’s Gombe Chimpanzee Blog
Jubilee USA

Mile High United Way Blog
ONE Campaign Blog
People’s Grocery
Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary
Rainforest Action Network
Streetside Stories
SOS Community Services
Sustainable TableTransFair USA
Urban Sprouts
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Way of Central Florida
Walker Art Center
Witness for Peace Mexico Blog
Witness for Peace Nicaragua Blog
WITNESS Video Hub Blog

What are some other ways that you have seen nonprofits use blogs?

If you are excited to start a blog for your nonprofit, check out 5 Tips to Start a Nonprofit Blog.