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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Solutions vs. Relief

It is good to provide relief to those in need, but that’s far from enough. Providing just relief to poor countries has the negative effect of making them to depend on help, and not being capable to manage on their own. What we need is to find permanent solutions, so we help the poor people to manage on their own. We have to get to the core of things, to get to the cause and that will fix the effects.

Unfortunately, most of the charities in this world are not coming with solutions. They just provide temporary relief.

For example, the World Food Programme is just giving food to the poor, making them to depend on external help. Instead, it should focus on buying or renting land in the countries where people need help (or in the neighboring countries – in case the governments don’t allow them), in order to involve the poor people in the agriculture and food making process, giving them jobs and teach them how to manage themselves. Also, they should involve into creating food processing facilities and chains of food shops, giving more jobs, and creating a complete infrastructure for food.

Another example: Habitat for Humanity is giving houses to the poor for free. Instead, they should rent the houses to the poor, and not only to the poor. Once Habitat for Humanity owns a house, it can rent it at a decent price. Doing so, it will protect people to be victims of real estate speculation, and in the same time, it can generate a constant revenue to keep building more houses. Of course they don’t need to make an unlimited number of houses, because a limited population needs only a limited number of houses. They should not rent two houses to a single family, of course. Therefore, they should start renting houses (or better, apartments) to the people who can afford, protecting them from speculation, and making a sustainable revenue in order to build houses for the poor. Another benefit of that approach is that once the people are protected from speculation, that will create a more stable society, preventing financial crisis, that means even more protection for the poor and the middle class. Unfortunately, what Habitat for Humanity is doing is: it gives a house for free to a poor family, and then the poor family can sell the house and then go back to live in poverty or in the slums. The poor family is tempted to sell the house, because it’s a lot of money. Even worse, after a few years, if they want to buy a house, they have to pay more money, because of the real estate speculation. Unfortunately, Habitat for Humanity is helping the real estate speculation, because instead of renting the houses, they give them for free.

If you try to dig a bit, you will see that most of the charities in this world work very similar: they provide relief, instead of coming with solutions. The vast majority of those charities are not capable of organic growth, they don’t have forums, blogs, and most of them don’t even answer to e-mails when you ask them questions. They lack the capacity to communicate.


Organic growth

The most important thing about an organization is the capacity to grow organically. That means, the organization is capable to grow and to be more efficient at any time. Also, another feature of the organic growth is the fact that your effort will leave something behind, something that will be used or reused later, something that later will be grown into something bigger and better.

Until now, the best example of a system capable of organic growth is Wikipedia. No matter how smart or “not so smart” you are, no matter how much time you have, you can still help Wikipedia. Even if you have only 2 hours available per month, you can still be useful for the project. You can always add new information, or at least make minor corrections, thus helping the project to grow and to be more accurate. Wikipedia is not only important for the education it provides. It is equally important the fact that it offers to anyone the opportunity to help and contribute, no matter how skilled they are or how much time they have. Also, once you added a useful information, it will stay there, or even if it will be moved to another page (many times the articles grow too large and they are split into more articles), it will still be used in the project. Therefore, your effort is not wasted.

That’s something very rare.

By contrast, most of the charities in this world are not capable to grow organically, they don’t offer you the opportunity to help, adjusted to your capacity and availability. Also, many times you can expect them to waste your energy, money and time. Simply because they are not coming with permanent solutions, but instead they just offer temporary relief.

Another important feature of an organization capable to grow organically is the communication. The members and supporters of the organization should be encouraged to communicate and to exchange ideas.  Such an organization will have a web forum where the supporters can come and answer questions and get answers, where they can share their experience with others, where they can learn about how the organization works and what the other members think about it, where they can exchange useful ideas, where they can find others to start doing adjacent sub-projects that help the organization. If the organization doesn’t have a web forum, then at least it should have a well maintained blog, where they allow supporters to post comments, and where the organization is not leaving their questions in the posts unanswered. Communication is extremely important and vital in an organization, because it will give it’s members the opportunity to better learn, associate and to do things together, improving it’s capacity to grow organically.

By contrast, most of the charities, organizations and foundations in this world have terrible communication. They do not help their members and supporters to communicate and to learn, they do not answer questions, and they are not transparent. The biggest and the most prominent organizations in the world are a disaster when we talk about communication. For example, Red Cross, Green Peace, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, do not have forums. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have a forum but they don’t answer to people’s questions in the posts comments. also has a blog, but it won’t even allow you to post a comment. Even worse than that, they won’t bother to answer your emails ( doesn’t even have a e-mail contact).

At the other end of the spectrum, the best example of an organization capable of organic growth is Open Source Ecology, which has a forum, a blog, and a wiki, it allows the people to participate, they have camps where people can help, they need people with various skills to help them.

Unfortunately, most of the charities in this world do not allow you to help them with your time and effort, and when they use your help, your effort will not leave something behind, because it’s wasted on relief, instead of being used to build solutions. Also they don’t help their supporters to communicate, they don’t accept feedback, they are not answering questions, and they are not transparent. That’s the sad situation of the majority of charity and activism in this world.

As a conclusion, when you choose an organization to help, check if they are capable of organic growth. That will make the difference between leaving something behind with the energy you invest in it, or simply wasting it.

What are the solutions?

The solution for improving the world is not any ideology, politician or political party. The solution is the people. The solution is people being active, therefore becoming activists.

Don’t expect your government to create a wonderful society for you. Instead, do your part of the job to create a sustainable human community.

There are certain things we need to do in order to reduce poverty:

  • Public housing
  • Open specification machinery
  • Publications to monitor the governments

1. Public housing. We need good public housing, allowing people and families to rent a house or apartment at a decent price, protecting them from speculation. If the government is not doing it, then the charities and activists should do it. Until now, I only found the “Habitat for Humanity” (HfH) organization, which is not on the right direction. HfH is giving houses to poor people so they can own, at a low price. Unfortunately, that means the poor people will be tempted to sell those houses for a profit. Therefore, while HfH is doing a humanitarian thing, it is not coming with a solution, but instead it is draining the money and energy of those who donate. We need a serious organization that takes the issue seriously and come with a solution. And the solution is to rent the houses to the people, protecting them from real estate speculation, and in the same time protecting them from their own greed.

2. Open specification machinery. We need to have open specification (or better – open source) machines and appliances. Poor people can’t afford to buy another washing machine just because it’s door broke. They need to buy just another door for the washing machine, which has to cost much less. The approach is improving recycling, reducing waste and it creates a lot of job opportunities, as poorer people can easier start production facilities to make parts for the appliances.

3. Publications to monitor the governments. We need to have publications that monitor the Governments and the Public Administrations.  Such newspapers can create a map of the public agencies, monitor how much money they consume and produce, and present that data to the public. Newspaper articles can contain interviews with the bosses of the government agencies and ask them to provide basic data but also some more complex and detailed information abut the agency they represent. Such publications can improve transparency a lot, helping people to understand how efficient their governments work. Certain information from the publications can help to build better Wikipeida articles about governments and their agencies. The present and the past of a country’s government and it’s actions can be always accessible through Wikipedia articles.

All these things can be done by activists, there is no need for the governments to do it. The people have the real power. They just have to decide if they want to use it. There is no need for any political ideology to make the above things to exist and to work.

These are the three things the activists should do in order to make a better world.

Global activism web forum

We need a web forum for all the activists in the world.

We need a central hub where all activists are welcomed to talk, share thoughts, ideas and advice.

Why we need a global activism web forum:

  • People having experience with a particular charity can tell their stories and show their work and experience to others, to help them to better understand that particular charity
  • People can talk about major issues in the world and try to come with creative ideas for solving each issue
  • People can try to find others who think similar with them, in order to start new organizations, focused on specific issues
  • People can ask questions and get answers, getting advice for solving particular issues or for finding the organizations that better fits them
  • The forum should have sub-sections for each continent, country and for each major issue (e.g. health, housing, environment)

No matter what kind of activist you are and what you are doing in order to improve the world, it’s a very good thing to have a place where you can come and meet others who want to do the same thing – to improve the world.

That can only help activists to get more friends, to get more people involved, and to better solve the issues they want to address.

How to improve things in the world?

What you can do to improve the things in the world:

Try to join a well-known charitable organization that is doing something useful. You can join organizations like Green Peace, Red Cross, Amnesty International, etc. and you can either pay a small sum of money each month, or you can do some voluntary work for them in case you have the time. Or you can do both, of course.

After doing something like that, start talking with your friends about it. Tell them that you are giving something to charity each month and you think that’s the right thing to do. See how they react. If they think what you do is ridiculous or naive, then there is a big chance that they are not exactly the friends you need. Try to find friends people like you, that want to do something to improve the world. Find such people (it won’t be easy, by the way), and talk as much as you can about improving things. It’s not enough to do just charity. It’s even more important to talk about it, to promote talking, to promote exchanging useful ideas and to search for better ideas.

Try to involve into activities that come with solutions, and with solutions on the long term, don’t involve just in providing relief. Relief is very important, but even more important than providing relief, it’s to come with solutions.

However, at the beginning, the most important thing is to start with something. There are very few organizations that come with sustainable solutions, and many charities that come with relief. But even if you start with providing relief, that very important. Because you can give an example to others, you have something to talk about, you can encourage others to do something similar, you will be concerned about issues of this world, you will think about solutions. And that’s the most important thing for you: to think about solutions. After a while, you might find better charities and better organizations and people that come with reliable long term solutions. But in order to become capable to find solutions, you have to start with something. So, starting to provide relief is vital, because you can make a better difference if you practice charity.

Try to gather more people to talk with. Find some web forums where people can come with creative ideas and solutions. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any forum that tries to unite all the activists until now. So there is a big need for such a thing.

You can also add information on Wikipedia. That will help education. Even if you add information and articles about computing, art, literature, etc., that’s very good, because it improves people’s access to education. However, you might want to add articles about things in the public interest: about public persons, about government institutions and agencies. Come with basic data about them. Try to find information about corruption, about controversies, things that politicians try to hide. There are lots of very good investigation newspapers. Check them, and give a great use to the work of journalists that risk their life to expose corruption: Add information about corruption in the articles about politicians and government agencies. That will help the people to better understand who are the most corrupt politicians, how good or bad the government works, and so on.

Not only exposing corruption is important. It’s also important to add information about government’s actions and institutions: basic data like budget, number of employees, activities, results of their efforts, efficiency. You can add data about vital sectors of your country’s economy. That kind of contribution is very important because it will improve transparency. And more transparency will lead to a better society, and to less corruption.

The most prominent organizations that I found until now and where you can contribute are:

  • Open Source Ecology
  • Red Cross
  • Amnesty International
  • Green Peace
  • World Food Programme
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Wikipedia

Also check organizations like the following, in order to educate yourself and find new ideas:

  • TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) – the only organization that I found until now which encourages the people to come with new ideas to improve the world. The rest of the organizations just come with public speeches and talk to the people but they don’t want to hear from the people.
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The Venus Project
  • Charity Navigator

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