Thursday, May 25, 2006

Media that Mobilizes: An Inconvenient Truth, ClimateCrisis and More Tales from

On Tuesday, May 30th at 4pm PDT, Micki Krimmel, the Director of Internet Outreach for Participant Productions, will be speaking about, "Media that Mobilizes: An Inconvenient Truth, ClimateCrisis and More Tales from" as part of NetSquared's remote conference. I've written about the work that Participant Productions does a couple times here before.

Even though I'll be working at the face to face Net2 Conference, I'm going to try to sneak off to the Net2 Remote Conference Chat Room to participate in this chat.

Participant Productions is the company behind socially conscious films like Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Fast Food Nation, Murderball and North Country. Not only do they produce movies with meaning, they also host a complementary web site, that give users tons of ways to get involved and create positive change around the issues they care about. You can learn more about and see an interview with Micki Krimmel on the Net2 vlog

The chat will take place using Gabbly, which is SO easy to use, especially for an accidental techie like myself. All you have to do is go to the Net2 Remote Conference Chat Room and type in your name. Gabbly works with Firefox 1.5, Internet Explorer 6.0 , Safari 2.0 or Flock.

See ya there!

Image via Participant Productions

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Solutionary Women: Heddy Nam

This week's Solutionary Woman is 24-year-old Heddy Nam, the Associate to the Chief Operating Officer of Amnesty International USA and co-founder of Never Again, an international network of young people working for peace. Heddy also writes for the Global Youth Fund blog. I came across her work while researching examples of nonprofits using the social web for social change for NetSquared and am looking forward to meeting her in person when she speaks at the NetSquared Conference next week.

When I meet young solutionary women of the next generation like Heddy, Mei-ying and DeeAnn, I feel hopeful about our world's future.

After reading the interview, Heddy has asked that I modify some of her answers. Below is the modified version as of May 24, 2006.

Describe the work you do for Amnesty International.

As the Associate to the Chief Operating Officer, I assist the COO in overseeing the work at Amnesty International USA. It is a jack-of-all trades position: I do everything from helping to maintain our Intranet, manage our internal news bulletin, work with our Board of Directors, conduct research that helps shape the strategic direction of our organization, and more. Coming from a background in developing and implementing programs, it was a challenge to shift to the operations side of the non-profit world. However, I am learning a lot about non-profit management and discovering more about the human rights movement both within the US and internationally. The next big project on the horizon is working on AIUSA’s next strategic plan. This project will tackle big questions such as: What are the most pressing human rights problems in our world? What should AIUSA’s role be in improving or resolving those situations? The outcome will hopefully improve Amnesty’s effectiveness, helping more people in the long run.

Describe the work you do with Never Again and maybe a bit about the project.

Never Again is an international network that connects young people around the world to generate ideas and action for peace. It was founded in 2001 by a group of college students from all over the world who wanted to ensure that “Never Again” became a reality rather than a rhetorical sound bite. They remembered learning in school about the Holocaust in World War II and the international commitment that genocide would never happen again. Later, they learned that it happened again and again – in the cases of Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda - and it was still happening but nobody was doing anything about it. They quickly learned that the politics of genocide intervention dictate that it’s not a problem worth prioritizing because it doesn’t serve anyone’s political or economic interests. That’s when they decided that youth, who are idealistic, energetic and open-minded, would be the engine to peacebuilding to ensure that genocide does not go unchallenged. Since then, the network has grown to include hundreds of members residing in the UK, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, China, and Canada.

I traveled to Rwanda in December 2005-January 2006 and did field work with Never Again-Rwanda. When I returned to the US, I founded the USA chapter in New York City with long-time Never Again member, Marian Hodgkin from the UK. We live together in Harlem and co-direct the chapter, which is growing fast, in our time off from our full-time endeavors. In the US context, we are focused on building an awareness of issues involved in genocide and post-conflict peacebuilding as well as connecting American youth to our partners in other parts of the globe to plug them into cross-national, cross-cultural collaboration. We also seek to problematize genocide and factors leading up to genocide to show that:
* conflict that erupts in violence is not the problem of the uncivilized, but rather it is a problem that is common to humanity
* each individual has the capacity to make a difference by acting as an ambassador of peace
* there is more to genocide prevention and intervention than sending in a peacekeeping mission. For example, resolving interpersonal conflict peacefully, examining discriminatory attitudes, and addressing genocide’s effects on society can all contribute to a world where “Never Again” is a reality.

To that end, we recently held a conference at Columbia University called “Teaching About Conflict, Building Towards Peace: A Comparative Forum.” The event brought together academics and practitioners in the field of education and peacebuilding from local, national and international perspectives to see what similarities and differences there were in our approaches and what we could learn from each other.

In the coming months, we will be developing a toolkit for young people to develop projects for peace within the US, planning a Genocide Awareness Month of Action in April 2007 within NYC high schools, and organizing a delegation of American university students to travel to Rwanda to conduct fieldwork in the summer of 2007.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with Amnesty International and Never Again?

It is terrific working with people who are like-minded and passionate about improving the world. On a deeper level, it is satisfying to work with organizations whose work resonates with my personal beliefs: Amnesty and Never Again place equal emphasis on the power of the ordinary individual as well as experts or powerful people. Politicians do have a responsibility to improve society as public servants, but ordinary people also have an individual responsibility to be informed and engaged citizens. Many people avoid the news because most of it is really depressing. They would rather opt for MTV. If I didn’t have the power to do anything about the world’s problems, I would probably do the same. But both organizations show us that anyone has the ability to affect change by doing something as small as signing a petition or engaging in constructive dialogue. Along the same lines, it is not only our responsibility to speak out about injustice, you lose a sense of your own humanity when you ignore the plight of others who are suffering.

What are the biggest challenges in your work with Amnesty International and Never Again?

One common challenge both organizations face is the apathy that exists about critical issues of our time. It is vital that everyone pays attention because politicians really do listen to citizens, who hold the power of the vote. On the other hand, some politicians may care a great deal about improving human rights abuses or ending the violence in Darfur, but don’t act because they don’t have constituent backing.

Specifically with Never Again, our challenges stem from the fact that we are the new kid on the block within the US non-profit market. This makes it difficult to sustain ourselves organizationally in terms of fundraising and getting American young people’s attention. American youth luckily have many options in terms of organizations within which to be active in. Another big challenge with Never Again is that we’re spread out across the world, so it’s difficult to keep up day-to-day communications with each other in terms of major issues in our work.

What keeps you motivated and energized to do this work?

When it comes to the suffering of others, I don’t have to think twice about what motivates me. When I read the papers, listen to the news, hear stories through my network of friends who are activists all over the world about injustices, I get really fired up and want to do whatever I can to help!

In addition, being a woman, an immigrant in the US, and being of a working class background, I feel close to issues of discrimination and inequality. I also grew up with domestic violence in my family. Experiencing violence firsthand makes you realize how senseless it is.

Lastly, it is rewarding to be involved in work that is making an impact on the world no matter how small my part in that work is.

What tips, resource and advice would you give to someone who wanted to do the kind of work you are doing, or just wanted to make a difference in human rights issues?

The first step is to get educated. You can’t do anything unless you are first aware of the issue and know enough about it to come up with solutions to the problem. If you don’t know enough, you might end up hurting the situation rather than being helpful. Some ways to learn more are reading the newspaper, watching documentaries, reading reports from non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, and talking to people in your community who are working on these issues. Or better yet, talk to people who are being affected by the situation if you can. Talking to survivors of genocide was what got me really fired up about the issue more than just reading books about it.

After you have done your research, don’t keep it to yourself. Use your voice! Speak with those in your community to spread awareness about injustices that you know about or write to those who are in a position to influence the situation.

Finally, find those who are like-minded and work together to contribute to a solution. It’s not only difficult to do things alone but demoralizing too, because some situations seem so bleak that you don’t believe you can make a difference. But if you combine your energy and talents with others’ and you’re all pulling in the same direction- it’s amazing what you can accomplish!

Just remember that everything you do - whether it’s writing a letter to your representative, fundraising for a non-profit organization that works on the issue, or blogging about the problem - it all adds up! Lastly, trust your gut instinct and do what you love. Chances are that you’re probably good at the things you like to do, and that will likely be the most helpful contribution!

If you know a Solutionary Woman who works at a nonprofit or NGO who you think I should profile, please email me at britt at brittbravo dot com with their name, organization and contact info.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

People are Ready for a Vision-led Movement

Last Thursday I went to hear Majora Carter from Sustainable South Bronx, Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism and The Ecology of Commerce, Van Jones from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Geralina Fortier from People's Grocery, and Bruce Cox of the Alliance for West Oakland Development speak at the first Solutions Salon. They were brought together by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights' Reclaim the Future program to talk about how to make Oakland a model city that uses the growing green economy to lift its low-income residents out of poverty.

EBC's Director, Van Jones, opened the evening by saying, "The communities who have been locked out of the polution-based economy, must be locked into the clean, green economy. . . .We are going to make Oakland the new Silicon Valley for green capital."

MacArthur "Genius Fellow" Majora Carter talked about her work in the South Bronx, where there are 15 waste transfer stations within a one mile radius that handle about 25% percent of New York City's waste. Fifty percent of the residents live at or below poverty level, 1 in 3 children are diagnosed with asthma and the ratio of parks to people is one of the lowest. Some of the solutions that Sustainable South Bronx is working on are:

The South Bronx Greenway, a bicycle & pedestrian greenway along the South Bronx waterfront.

The Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training
, a green-collar job training program.

The Solid Waste and Energy Program, a program working to distribute NYC's waste more equitably. They are also working to convert a former dump into a Recycling Industrial Park that could create 300-500 jobs. Ironically, the city wants to put a 2,000 bed prison there instead.

Carter closed by asking the audience to use their skills and talents towards action against environmental injustice. She urged, "You are all a precious natural resource, don't waste it."

Hawken, who is writing a new book, Blessed Unrest, about the growing movement toward sustainability and social justice, estimates that 99% of the energy we use is wasted and that, "an economy that wastes its resources always wastes its people."

20-year-old Geralina Fortier exemplified how green job training can make a difference in young people's lives. Geralina started out doing the 20 hours of community service her high school required at People's Grocery, a West-Oakland based food justice nonprofit. (I recently inteviewed their Executive Director for my podcast). She described herself as coming from a "Top Ramen generation" where, "it wasn't about eating healthy, it was about eating at all." She is now the Community Education Coordinator for People's Grocery and studying to be a registered dietician.

Bruce Cox, who is the Board President of the Alliance for West Oakland Development and the founder and owner of MBC Construction, trains ex-offenders ages 17-30 in construction skills. He talked about how important it is to teach youth, "not just how to get a job, but how to hold on to a job," and not just how to build buildings, but how to build their money. Youth need training, "so that they are part of society, and not on the outside looking in."

Jones closed the evening by saying, "We are trying to bring a vision of hope back not just to our communities, but to our nation. . . .People are ready for a vision-led movement in the United States."

If you want more information about Reclaim the Future and future Solutions Salons, you can contact Alli Chagi-Starr (who I also interviewed for my podcast) at allistarr AT

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Solutionary Women: Katya Andresen

A few weeks ago Katya Andresen sent me a review copy of her new book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. I enjoyed the book so much I asked her if I could interview her about her work at Network for Good, her book and being a social marketer.

Describe the work you do for Network for Good.

My job is motivating people to give to their favorite charities through – a nonprofit that was started by Yahoo!, AOL and Cisco in the wake of 9/11 with the vision of generating more money to charities online. Just as Amazon wants you to buy all the books you like at their site, we want you to donate to all the charities you like at our site. You can give to any US-based charity at Network for Good (there are more than one million), all in one credit card transaction. Because we process so many donations for charities - $32 million worth last year – we can do it incredibly efficiently, which keeps costs down for the charities you support. We then store all your giving records for you so you can access your donation history any time. No hunting for canceled checks when you’re desperately finishing your taxes on April 14th! It’s our belief that if we can make it as easy to give money online as it is to shop online, more people will do it more often, and, as a result, more charities will get more resources.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with Network for Good?

Network for Good is the perfect hybrid working culture – we’re an organization that runs like a business but retains the heart of nonprofit. We have a business plan that has us on track to operate without philanthropic support within a couple of years, and everyone in our office is paid on a bonus structure. If you do your job well – defined as measurably contributing to the advancement of our mission -- you are rewarded. I’ve never worked at a nonprofit that is so results-oriented, and it’s very refreshing. At most nonprofits, if you care, that’s considered enough. I don’t think that should be enough – if we can’t show we’ve made a difference, as staff, we should not be rewarded and as organizations, maybe we should not be allowed to preserve the status quo.

What are the biggest challenges in your work with Network for Good?

People typically give to charity when there is a crisis (like the horrendous tsunamis or Hurricane Katrina), and they give money at the end of the year. And that’s about it. My biggest challenge is figuring out how to encourage steadier support. We’re approaching this in two ways. First, we ask people to consider monthly giving, with automatic credit card payments every month. This has been incredibly successful – this month, around 40% of donations are coming from this recurring giving. This ensures a steadier stream of resources for charities. Second, we’re forging some partnerships that encourage charity at other times of year. For example, we partnered with Organic Bouquet, an online florist with environmentally responsible practices, to establish We ask people to send flowers at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day through Flowers for Good, and we contribute a significant amount of money for each purchase to the charities people choose (there are nearly a dozen to choose from).

What keeps you motivated and energized to do this work?

I am profoundly impatient. I spent seven years living in developing countries, and the poverty and tragedy I saw on a daily basis left me with an acute sense of how important it is not just to help people, but to do it really well and really quickly. The child sex slave in Cambodia or the cyclone victim in Madagascar doesn’t have time for us to wordsmith our mission statements or waste time with lackluster fundraising efforts. We have a moral obligation to be extremely efficient and effective at what we do, right this minute. What gets me motivated and energized is to help well-intentioned people to do that every day, through innovative marketing. I do this at Network for Good, and I tried to do this in writing my book.

Why should nonprofit workers read your book? What will they learn?

If you’re impatient, too, read the book! The book is for anyone who’s frustrated that donors, partners or beneficiaries just aren’t listening or are failing to take action. It lays out ten sound principles (I call them “Robin Hood Rules”) behind some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history, and shows how anyone can use them to advance their cause by leaps and bounds. I wrote the book to demystify marketing so everyone from a PTA mom to a nonprofit executive could use marketing to accomplish more good in the world.

What tips, resource and advice would you give to someone who wanted to do marketing for nonprofits as a career?

First, I’d say “thank you – the world needs you!” We need more marketing people in the nonprofit world. Second, I’d highly recommend getting some solid marketing experience, even outside the nonprofit sector. In the nonprofit world, we too often hire people because of their passion for a cause. It’s okay to have passion, but you need skills, too. If you want to do public relations, you should get some journalism experience first. If you want to do marketing, go sell something first. It doesn’t matter if it’s soap or sandwiches, it will help you see that we market best when we’re somewhat dispassionate. The key to motivating people is not to preach at them, it’s to see the world from their perspective and then position our cause accordingly. That requires a dose of dispassion, because we’re putting our audience – not ourselves – at the center of our marketing efforts.

Katya will presenting a 90-minute webinar about Robin Hood Marketing on Thursday, May 18 at 10:00 am Pacific. It's $60 for N-TEN members and $85 for non-members.

You can register at:

If you know a Solutionary Woman who works at a nonprofit or NGO who you think I should profile, please email me at britt at brittbravo dot com with their name, organization and contact info.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Agape Foundation Wants You to Nominate a Peacemaker

The Agape Foundation is hosting a Peace Prize event to honor Northern California Peacemakers.

There are two prizes.

The Long Haul Prize for a Northern California peacemaker that has made a sustained effort to create peace in their community nationally, or internationally. Last year's winner was Capacitar International.

The Rising Peacemaker Prize for an up and coming Northern California peacemaker that has been working for peace for five years or less. Last year's winner was the Mosaic Project.

Nominations are due by Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m

Image via the Agape Foundation

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Solutionary Women: Mei-ying Ho

Last week I sat down with a former co-worker, Mei-ying Ho, who is now the Co-Director of SOUL, for an interview for my Big Vision podcast. The podcast isn't up yet, but here is a partially modified transcription of our conversation which you can also read along with profiles of other Solutionary Women on Blogher:

What is SOUL?

SOUL is a training center based here in Oakland. We just recently moved to downtown Oakland, and we talk about ourselves as a school to build a movement. We place ourselves in the social justice work here in the Bay Area as a training center. We focus on political education and organizer skills trainings, and we definitely think it is critical to see the fusion of those two things.

Our political education starts on a very basic level by identifying the systems of oppression that we live under here in the United States. We see four primary systems of oppression that we need to address on a very basic level to get through to the subsequent systems. We start talking about classism, as it relates to capitalism, and then move to heterosexism, also talked about more broadly as homophobia. We talk about male supremacy, known more loosely as sexism, and then white supremacy as it relates to racism.

In focusing on those four systems, we recognize institutionally how critical it is to merge the discussion about these various systems and political education to organizing, and how organizing is one method to initiate change for a more just world. We work with a lot of young organizers as well as elder organizers, and we have about seven different programs to speak to that fusion. We definitely promote an organizing orientation to education work.

How did you get involved with this kind of work?

I feel like I was really born into it. Both my parents and my older brother, just on a very early, early, early level started introducing me to concepts. I really feel like I was bred that way. I think my first political action was, just to age myself, I was in the 5th grade, against the first Gulf War. So I’m only 26. And in terms of how I got involved with SOUL, I was actually teaching for a very brief period in the Oakland middle schools. I was teaching 8th grade, and once I realized that I needed to live a little longer before I just jumped right in, I enrolled in SOUL’s organizing 101 Program, and then immediately, the next season, enrolled in SOUL’s Movement 101. It was during that time that I was recruited to participate in the volunteer-based program, The Teaching Collective, which actually helps to facilitate introductory level political education workshops in various high schools and youth organizing groups. I was a volunteer for maybe 8 or 9 months and was then recruited to take a position at the organization, or at least to apply for a position here.

I was at that time working at a wonderful organization called Streetside Stories, which is a literacy arts organization with programming in various Title 1 middle schools in San Francisco. Given that I grew up in San Francisco, born and raised, it was a really unique opportunity to get to work, and get more hands on experience in the schools. After the school year ended, I ended up taking the job with SOUL and I’ve been here almost three years now. For the first year and a half I was working as the coordinator of the educational alternative program that goes out into the high schools, and then was recruited to apply for the position of co-directorship here. For the past year and a half I’ve been the Co-Director of Organizational Development and Communications here at SOUL.

What do you enjoy the most about your work at SOUL?

I think what I enjoy the most about working here at SOUL is having the opportunity to work with a really amazing group of folks here on staff, but then just more broadly having an eye to the different organizations doing the work on the ground here in the Bay Area, and all over the country: service institutions, advocacy organizations and on the ground base-building groups that do the outreach to build the membership to sustain the fight. It’s been a really incredible ride. There are challenging moments, for sure, but it’s definitely been exciting for me and really humbling for me as a young woman of color to come into this work and recognize that I also have something to give and so much to learn. It’s really exciting to be in community with people in this way.

And what’s the most challenging thing about your work?

I actually feel like probably the most challenging thing for me here is kinda recognizing what I have to offer, you know. I think that’s probably one of the main things I come into contact with on a regular basis is my own self-doubt, and recognizing that the ways in which the systems of oppression affect us all on an individual level, also affect us on a community level. It definitely has had an impact on the way that I have learned about myself and learned about my ability to fight and to fight back. Lucky for me, I have an amazing community to fall back on and to also push me to recognize my strength. There is day-to-day stuff that’s hard and crises that come up with people, and with myself, that are hard, but I think probably the main stuff is getting over the personal impact that the political has on us every day.

And if someone you were working with said to you that the hardest thing about the organizing work I’m doing is the personal impact that the political has on me every day, what advice would you give them?

That’s a hard one. I think everybody has different things that we all utilize to take care of ourselves, but I think beyond that, I’ve definitely learned that it’s important to always push ourselves too, to not just get caught up in all the self-care this, and self-care that, ’cause it’s so easy here in the Bay Area to fall into that trap. I think it is also important to recognize that we have a community to stay accountable to, and they’ll help us to be accountable to ourselves. So I often encourage myself and my comrades and my friends and family to lean on each other and to build community, whether that’s like creating a woman’s circle or a study group, I think there are different ways in which we can push each other and then, therefore, ourselves. Even it’s like, lets’ go for a hike and talk about the main issues that we’re having right now in the work. I think it’s important ‘cause we all have lessons to learn, but we all have lessons to teach, and I think sometimes we forget that it’s not easy for any one of us.

What are some resources you can recommend to people who are interested in this kind of work, or your favorite book?

I don’t know if I have a favorite book. I think the different writers who have been really helpful for me in trying to find out my own light amid the darkness, is definitely writing myself, you know, definitely taking the time to journal myself, but I also find a lot of inspiration from different feminist writers, Bell Hooks, June Jordan and Suheir Hammad. I like novels, Julia Alvarez, different people. I read a lot of theory stuff, too.

If there is a person who is interested in organizing, but they can’t come to your trainings, what are some action steps they can take?

Well, actually this organization, POWER, People Organized to Win Employment Rights, just came out with a great book called Towards Land Work and Power that’s super, super accessible. It’s actually in three different languages, Chinese, Spanish and English. It’s written for conscious organizers, by conscious organizers. I think it is a really good breakdown of what is currently happening in San Francisco in terms of the gentrification. Even if you’re not in San Francisco, even if you’re somebody who lives on the other side of the country, or the other side of the world, I think it’s a really good eye into the current state of imperialism in the Bay Area.

We also here at SOUL sell manuals. We have a political education workshop manual that we utilize for our introductory level workshop. We also have a global justice training manual that was written after 9/11, and then we have our training for trainers manual which is exactly the curriculum for our training for trainers program. Also, this year, we’re going to be coming out with our national youth organizing manual, as well as a revised version of our political education training manual, and our supervision manual,that speaks more to organizational development stuff.

We really encourage here at SOUL that people get involved with organizations, even if it is on a volunteer level to just get involved either with an organization doing outreach stuff, or even if it’s data entry, just to get an eye into the feel of an organization, ‘cause all organizations are different. Their culture. Their method. Their practice. If it’s a base-building organization, or if it’s a service organization, get involved to get a feel about what fits your personality. It definitely takes some getting used to to get involved on a volunteer level and to step back, because a lot of us that want to get involved are already leaders in different capacities, so to just humble ourselves and to enter in from a space of learning sometimes can be challenging, but it can be really helpful towards finding our path: what’s most interesting, what are we good at, how can we best utilize our skills and how can we best be helpful. And there’s such a wealth of organizations here in the Bay Area to plug into.

How do you prevent burn out?

I have definitely learned in the past year and a half to take my weekends as weekends, even if it’s just one day. I like to hang out with my friends and the babies in our community, to spend time with the little ones. I like to volunteer with other organizations, which sometimes feels like work if I’m not in a good headspace, but oftentimes can feel very rejuvenating for me, even if it's just tutoring or something like that. Spending time with my family. You know, just being a regular person, too.

What do you feel hopeful about?

I definitely take hope from fights that are happening on an international level and I try to remind myself always on a human level how we can build power. I mean it starts with us, but it’s also about like what’s happening on the immigrant rights front right now. It’s totally amazing, definitely inspiring. Being able to march in the streets on May Day! I definitely feel like recognizing the beauty in the communities that we work in and that I’m immersed in all the time is really, really fresh. I think also just recognizing that the community that I’ve had the opportunity to build for myself on a personal level is also the community that I’ve built trying to help out on a political level, it is super overlapped for me, is helpful to feel inspired.

I don’t think there’s any one answer. I feel really blessed to be able to live here in the Bay Area still and still actually pay rent in San Francisco. It’s hard, but being able to take walks in the Mission, in the part of the Mission that still exists, being able to walk around Chinatown, like all that stuff is really, really cool. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

I think this work is a work in progress. It’s progressive work in progress. I definitely, at the ripe age of 26, don’t have all the answers, but we’re learning it together, you know, and it’s really cool to be able to do this work for my life, you know. It’s pretty cool. I just feel really lucky.

For more information about SOUL go to

If you know a Solutionary Woman who works at a nonprofit or NGO who you think I should profile, please email me at britt at brittbravo dot com with their name, organization and contact info.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Murderball & Buzz Marketing

I got an email from an interesting company last week called Buzztone letting me know that Participant Productions is launching a social action campaign called Get Into the Game that uses the documentary, Murderball, to raise funds for the U.S. Paralympics ( Olympics for people with disabilities). If you haven't seen it, the film is about some seriously hard-core quadriplegic rugby players who go to the Paralympics. I highly recommend it.

Campaign participants are encouraged to host a screening of the film, and they can order a Murderball Screening Kit from the web site which includes a free DVD of the movie along with screening tips and discussion points. It's a similar campaign model to the New Heroes House Party that I wrote about last August.

You can see a trailer for the movie here:

You can also donate money directly to the campaign by clicking here. $215 will buy one aspiring quadrapalegic rugby player the wheelchair they need to compete.

What I find particularly interesting about Buzztone is how they get people to "buzz". For example, on their web site you can sign up for:

Murmurz "Thoughts, ideas and rants about marketing, branding, popular culture and everything in between."

The Buzz if you are, "always trying to be the first to find out about the latest and greatest movies, music and entertainment."

Buzzstreet if you have, "the chops and want to be a member of our web or street teams."

And The Hookup if you want your web site to be a part of the Buzz network. You can be,"the first to get at new promotions, contests and content from Buzztone."

I'll admit, I signed up for Murmurz and The Buzz 'cause I like to know about campaigns like this one, which I suppose is why they sent me a press release. They knew I would like it because, "the essence of marketing well . . . is less about pursuing a sale than about creating a customer." By offering content that interests me and that relates to Have Fun * Do Good, Buzztone has made me a customer of their press releases which in turn will help them to do their work. Is there anyone else out there who finds that equation interesting, or am I just a marketing geek?

The quote above is from a review copy of a book I was sent recently, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. I just started it this morning and will let you know more about it when I finish, but I gotta tell you, I am just happy to see someone writing an accessible book about marketing for nonprofits. In a time where people are being bombarded with organizations to contribute to, nonprofits need more than grantwriting skills to raise money and a good cause to attract volunteers.

Images via Participant Productions and ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Big Vision Podcast 5: Interview with Abby Rosenheck

The fifth Big Vision podcast is an interview with my friend Abby Rosenheck, the co-founder and Executive Director of Urban Sprouts, an urban school gardening program. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the "Big Vision podcast" link above, or by listening on the Gcast player in the right-hand column of this blog, or on iTunes. Just search for "big vision" in the podcast section of the iTunes Music Store.

You can also see a video interview with Abby on the NetSquared vlog.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Nobelity: A Look at the Future Through the Eyes of Nobel Laureates

I was reading Treehugger this morning, and their post about the film, Nobelity, caught my eye.

Similar to the movies Outfoxed and Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, Nobelity is also encouraging communities to host screenings.

The film interviews nine Nobel Laureates about their ideas for how to face some of the world's greatest problems. Here are the people they interview:

Steven Weinberg, Theoretical Physicist. Nobel Prize in Physics, 1979.

Jody Williams
, International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Nobel Peace Prize, 1997.

Ahmed Zewail, Femtochemistry Pioneer. Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1999.

Rick Smalley, Nanotechnology Pioneer. Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996.

Wangari Maathai, The Green Belt Movement. Nobel Peace Prize, 2004.

Sir Joseph Rotblat
, Nuclear Physicist/Disarmament Activist. Nobel Peace Prize, 1995.

Dr. Harold Varmus, Director, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1989.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Head of South African Reconciliation. Nobel Peace Prize, 1984.

Amartya Sen, Professor, Harvard University/Author, Development as Freedom. Nobel Prize in Economics, 1998.

The trailer gave me shivers. A physical reaction to hearing people speak the truth.

image via Treehugger

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Solutionary Women: DeeAnn Resk

Shortly after I posted my first Solutionary Women profile, I got an email from a young woman named Tiara who was a student with Up with People last year. She sent me the names of four women from Up with People with descriptions of their work and why she thought they were Solutionary Women.

One of the women, DeeAnn Resk, is originally from California and used to work at an international development office in Washington D.C. before coming to Up with People. While in D.C., she worked on a program called the “African Peace and Development Initiative” at the NGO, World Learning for International Development, doing project backstopping for peacebuilding initiatives in East Africa. She is an alumna of Up With People and traveled as an Applied Education facilitator with Up with People last fall.

DeeAnn was kind enough to do an e-interview with me:

Describe what Up with People does and a little about the work you do with them.

Up with People is a global education program whose mission is to train young people in global leadership and to spark them to action in meeting the needs of their communities, countries, and the world while building bridges of understanding as a foundation for world peace. For over forty years, international young people ages 18-29 have traveled with the UWP program, living with host families in each community visited, volunteering for various community service projects, connecting with each community through performing arts, and engaging in various internships while developing skills in cross-cultural communication, leadership, and global perspective. We currently travel throughout North America, Asia, and Europe, and some college credit is available. Up with People is apolitical and nonsectarian with no ties to any government, religious or political organization.

I’ve currently been working on developing the Stand for Peace project and collaborating with the Programs Manager on the program’s education curriculum. The Stand for Peace project teaches elementary school kids about diversity, respect, and peace. Beginning in July, I will be traveling as part of the Up with People road-staff again as the Applied Education Department Manager.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with Up with People?

The biggest thing I enjoy about working for UWP is the people I work with and the people I meet through the organization. I work with a talented and diverse team of good-hearted, hard-working, dedicated people who are passionate about making a difference in their communities and the world. I also get to meet many amazing individuals from the communities we work with around the world and the participants who travel in our program.

What are the biggest challenges in your work with UWP?

I’d say the biggest challenge, like many non-profits, is limited time and resources.

What keeps you motivated and energized to do this work?

• To paraphrase Margaret Mead, it’s the belief that we really can make differences, no matter how big or small.

• My colleagues’ teamwork; there is sort of a “can-do” attitude here where people work hard to come up with creative solutions to inevitable challenges.

• Continual learning.

What tips, resource and advice would you give to someone who wanted to do the kind of work you are doing?

• Find what makes you passionate.

• Educate yourself on the world around you.

• Learn about what work is being done out there, explore your options and network.

• Don’t be afraid to try new things or to fail.


If you know a young person who might be interested in working with Up with People, they are accepting applications for their programs in July 2006, January 2007 and July 2007. You can get more info at

And if you know a Solutionary Woman who works at a nonprofit or NGO who you think I should profile, please email me at britt at brittbravo dot com with their name, organization and contact info.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Who Will be the Next Secretary-General?

I am part of an online group called the Nonprofit Blog Exchange , a group of over 100 blogs written by nonprofits, or that are about nonprofit related projects.

Once in a while the Exchange asks its members to write about another blog in the Exchange to help expose it to new readers so . . . I was assigned the Who Will Be the Next Secretary General blog.

Here's a little background for folks like me who didn't realize that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's term expires on December 31, 2006. The Secretary-General is appointed to a five year term. Usually he or she serves two terms, but sometimes only one. Typically, the position rotates by geographic region and the next Secretary-General is supposed to come from Asia. Wikipedia (where I got the above info.) has a cool chart with info. about who the former UN Secretary-Generals have been.

In addition to its blog, the web site has lists and bios of official, and possible, candidates for the position, and explains the selection process.

Considering that the UN Secretary General is supposed to be:
Equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO, the Secretary-General is a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesman for the interests of the world's peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them.

It seems important to keep an eye on the selection process and to learn more about the calls for reform of that process.

image via

Monday, May 01, 2006

Big Vision Podcast 4: An Interview with Brahm Ahmadi

I've posted my fourth Big Vision podcast. It's an interview with Brahm Ahmadi, the Executive Director of People's Grocery, a West Oakland, community-based food justice organization.

I've posted about them before because I think they are a great organization that is tackling an issue in an intergrated way that can be a model for other nonprofits.

You can also check out Brahm's blog at