Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Small Business Saturday - November 26th - Boosting Our Local Economies


You know about Black Friday but have you heard about Small Business Saturday? Across America people are pledging to do some of their holiday shopping at locally owned businesses on November 26th.

Why shop local? Recent research reveals how buying local benefits our regional economies. David Boyle of The New Economic Foundation told Time Magazine, "Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going". He added that when money is spent at non-locally owned giants or online: "it flows out, like a wound."   And, locally owned businesses create two out of every three new jobs, they contribute more to charities and local fundraisers than national chains, and, as we say in Louisville - small businesses keep local communities "weird" (aka unique). Simply put, buying local revives ghost towns and spares us that Any Town, USA quality of life.

Every Christmas my church collects toys for needy children. On Small Business Saturday I will purchase our contribution at Amazing Green Planet, a locally owned  store that sells environmentally friendly goods, including toys. American Express will give us cash back for every $25.00 we spend at such participating small businesses.   To learn more visit The Small Business Saturday website.

*This is not a sponsored post. It is inspired by my passion for local self-reliance.

Further Reading:

Buying Local: How it Boosts the Economy - Time Magazine

Why Buy Local? An Assessment of the Economic Advantage of Shopping at Locally Owned Businesses -  Michigan State University

Small Business Saturday on Facebook

Small Business Saturday main website

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kiva Changes the World, One Person at a Time

Kiva - loans that change lives

Do you ever dream about all the good you would do if you were rich? Perhaps you'd travel the world making a difference? Or maybe, like Bill Gates, you'd start a foundation that funds your favorite causes? Well that's soooo 20th century. The Internet changed everything. Now you can be that foundation and you don't have to be rich. You just need twenty-five bucks.

Here's the story of how my family became a mini global financier. We loaned twenty-five dollars through Kiva to Chum Vuthy of  Phnom Penh City, Cambodia , who needed a motor bike to expand her cake delivery business. Our loan was bundled with twenty-five dollar loans from dozens of people around the world and Mrs. Vuthy was a step closer to her dream - to shore up the family home against deadly monsoons. Instead of withdrawing the money once she made repayment, we lent it to a Pakistani family looking to add variety to their fruit vending cart. The cycle of lending continues, as our two $25 dollar donations have morphed into $200 and counting. We've lent to a food co-op in The Congo, a taxi driver in Bolivia, an electronics saleswoman in The Sudana wood products manufacturer in Viet Nam, and to a family in Afghanistan. And I am pleased to report that every one of our borrowers has repaid his or her loan. In fact, Kiva borrowers have an excellent track record for repayment -98.36%.

Kiva provides a unique opportunity for families to lift themselves out of poverty, since typical banks dismiss these folks for lack of collateral. Many families have been able to send their children to school for the first time and make additions to their one room homes. Now there is hope where once there was only struggle and grinding poverty.

Kiva - loans that change lives

There are so many would be entrepreneurs listed with Kiva that choosing among them is difficult. To narrow it down I typically lend to people from recently traumatized regions. When beloved former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated I attempted to issue a loan in Pakistan, only to find something remarkable had happened. There wasn't anyone to loan to in the entire world. Every Kiva loan had been filled! That doesn't happen often, if at all. Could thousands of souls around the world have shared the same yearning - to spread hope during a time of tragedy? I cried that day. Twice.

Our most recent loan thrills me. It is to Abisunganye, a group of shoe saleswomen in Rwanda. Since the genocide there killed 800,000 people, mostly men, women of Rwanda were left to rebuild their country. And rebuild they have! They picked up the mantel in government and the economy, leaving those who follow their story in awe.

I also like how Kiva lets lenders link up in affinity teams. And I have no compunction to pitting rival groups against each other if it means more money for Kiva. Hey Christians, the Atheists are the top lending team and you are number three. Go get 'em! While I'm at it, Norway, Canada is really cleaning your clock over there.

With the holidays coming up check out my content related store and affiliate links. 100% of my profits will be donated to Kiva. Even if you're not an environmentalist or some over-the-top New Ager there are gift cards and gadgets listed too.

Or, better yet, direct loans can be made to Kiva borrowers by visiting the site.

Kiva - loans that change lives

Further Reading:

Women Rise in Rwanda's Economic Revival - The Washington Post

Clinton Launches Micro-Lending Drive (Kiva in the US) - The Wall Street Journal

List of Articles Written About Kiva in Newspapers and Periodicals World-Wide

Moving video where a journalist meets his Kiva borrower:

*This is not a sponsored post.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Med Mobs: Evolving Consciousness, One Flash Mob at a Time

I never thought I'd use the words meditation and flash mob in the same sentence but it is happening. In cities across the world bands of peaceful meditators are sitting together at Occupy events, capital domes, and even on the Washington Mall. Their purpose is not protest, but the elevation of consciousness.

This might sound to some like hippie-dippy woo, but is it really? Dozens of controlled studies find that areas occupied by trained meditators have significant reductions in violent crime. Reports have even been published in peer reviewed journals such as Yale's Journal of Conflict Resolution and The Journal of Crime and Justice. The Med Mobsters might be onto something after all.

There is a map on the Med Mob website identifying current flash mob active cities and contact information for those interested in organizing in their own areas. 

Med Mob in Austin Capital Dome:

Med Mob Meditation on the Mall Easter Sunday - The Washington Times

Update: Louisville, Kentucky Med Mob now has its own Facebook Page

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