"Every one of us can make a contribution. And quite often we are looking for the big things and forget that, wherever we are, we can make a contribution. Sometimes I tell myself, I may only be planting a tree here, but just imagine what's happening if there are billions of people out there doing something. Just imagine the power of what we can do."
- Hon. Prof. Wangari Maathai - 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
In just two weeks since the launch of our “Connect for Change” appeal, we are proud to announce that we have already reached 25% of our fundraising goal.
That said, it is critical for us to keep this momentum going.
For those of you who have given to the “Connect for Change” appeal, we thank you for your generous support. If you haven’t already given, please help us reach our goal. With your contribution, we can continue the essential work of helping to heal the planet.
Please click here to Connect for Change.
the Marion Institute team
April 18 2005 | New Yorker | Elizabeth Kolbert
The act that designated the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was signed into law on December 2, 1980, by President Jimmy Carter, just a few weeks before he left office. Some eighteen million acres of mountainous and inaccessible terrain were declared off limits to development. But the land that actually needed protection—one and a half million acres of caribou calving grounds along the Beaufort Sea—was left in legislative limbo. A future Congress could study that area’s oil and gas potential and then, if it wished, authorize drilling. [read more]
Kids Can Learn To Eat Better
June 1, 2005 | Associated Press | Lauran Neergaard
The nation has 9 million children ages 6 to 16 who are overweight, according to federal health officials. Overweight children usually grow into overweight adults, at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other disorders — not to mention the turmoil of being teased and left out of sports and other fun activities.
And yet a new study reports that kid-friendly training in good nutrition got 8- to 10-year-olds to eat healthier for three years, although snacks, desserts and pizza still make up an astonishing third of the youngsters' diets. [read more]
The Beeb Shall Inherit the Earth
May 18, 2005 | Wired.com | Cory Doctorow
America's entertainment industry is committing slow, spectacular suicide, while one of Europe's biggest broadcasters -- the BBC -- is rushing headlong to the future, embracing innovation rather than fighting it. Unlike Hollywood, the BBC is eager and willing to work with a burgeoning group of content providers whose interests are aligned with its own: its audience. [read more]
Students and States Seek to End Genocide in Sudan Through Divestment Campaigns
June 1 2005 | SocialFunds.com | William Baue
"I found a man groaning under a tree. He had been shot in the neck and jaw and left for dead in a pile of corpses," wrote Johann Hari in a November 2004 article entitled "How Some of the World's Biggest Corporations are Fuelling the Genocide in Darfur," "And under the tree next to that was a woman whose husband had been killed, along with her seven- and four-year old sons, before she was gang-raped and mutilated."
Such testimonials prove convincing in campaigns to divest from companies doing business that supports the genocide of black Sudanese carried out by the Islamic Janjaweed [which means "devils on horses"] with the help of the Sudanese government. [read more]
Woman who lived in a redwood in logging protest plans cross-country tour
April 8, 2005 | The Press Democrat | Tobias Young
In its past life, the 1988 Prevost tour bus carried 50 passengers around Quebec as a means of public transportation. In its new life, it will be a vegetable-oil guzzling eco-bus that sleeps six and is outfitted with a custom kitchen, tile shower, bamboo floors and a high-tech rec room. And Julia Butterfly Hill [who lived in a redwood tree for 738 days as a logging protest] plans to drive the bus across America to help heal the planet. [read more]
The High Cost of Living
N.H. couple appraises philanthropy in South Africa
April 30, 2005 | Boston Globe | John Donnelly
Carol and John Thompson came to South Africa five years ago with a simple objective: ''We wanted to focus on one township and see what one couple from America, with limited resources, could do," John Thompson said. Now, they are seeing tangible results -- houses built, children on scholarships, a new library. Yet they often feel unfulfilled, worried, and exhausted, they say, by the strains that come with doing good. [read more]
One person’s trash…
The Freecycle Network was started to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. The Network provides individuals and non-profits an electronic forum to "recycle" unwanted items. Two years later, there are now 1,348,631 Freecycle members. One person's trash can truly be another's treasure…
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
- Mark Twain
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
June 14, 2005 | Steve Jobs | Stanford University commencement speech
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world.. Truth be told, I never graduated from college and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college. This was the start in my life.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5? deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.
Let me give you one example. Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4, 000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and thankfully I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept: No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.
Students and States Seek to End Genocide in Sudan Through Divestment Campaigns
June 1, 2005 | SocialFunds.com | William Baue
"I found a man groaning under a tree. He had been shot in the neck and jaw and left for dead in a pile of corpses," wrote Johann Hari in a November 2004 article entitled "How Some of the World's Biggest Corporations are Fuelling the Genocide in Darfur." "And under the tree next to that was a woman whose husband had been killed, along with her seven- and four-year old sons, before she was gang-raped and mutilated."
Such testimonials prove convincing in campaigns to divest from companies doing business that supports the genocide of black Sudanese carried out by the Islamic Janjaweed [which means "devils on horses"] with the help of the Sudanese government. This quotation leads a report submitted by Students Taking Action Now: Darfur STAND asking the Stanford University Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility [APIR] to review investment in four companies.
The panel, which is charged with gauging the university community's opinions on social and environmental issues as they pertain to investment, voted last week to recommend divestment from ABB [ticker: ABB], PetroChina PTR], Sinopec [SNP], and Tatneft [TNT].
"The panel's role is totally advisory--it's the eyes and ears of the campus--but the locus of the decision resides with the Board of Directors Subcommittee on Investment Responsibility, which makes its own recommendation to the full Board," APIR Chair and Finance Professor George Parker told SocialFunds.com. The Board is expected to address this recommendation when it meets on June 8.
STAND confirmed that Stanford's $12 billion endowment holds at least $1 million in PetroChina, a subsidiary of the Chinese National Petroleum Company [CPNC] that is owned by the People's Republic of China. The STAND report cites Human Rights Watch research that China and Sudan engage in "guns for oil" exchanges that fuel the genocide, as Sudanese military typically bomb villages before Janjaweed militia on the ground rape and murder surviving villagers.
"According to Sudan's former Transportation Minister Lam Akol, 80 percent of these oil revenues are used to buy weapons," said Ben Elberger, a Stanford junior majoring in public policy who co-authored the report with Seth Silverman, a Stanford freshman. "These weapons have, in turn, been documented as being used against Darfurian civilians."
"These companies know that they are fueling a genocidal regime, but have done nothing to pressure this regime," Mr. Elberger told SocialFunds.com.
In early April, Harvard University divested its 67,200 shares [worth $4.4 million of its $23 billion endowment] of PetroChina on the New York Stock Exchange [NYSE], though the university may hold more on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange [SEHK].
"Harvard's decision, which followed months of patient student activism, got the divestment ball rolling, and offers an inspiring example of the role that universities can play in the fight against terrorism," said Cassidy DeLine, a Stanford freshman and STAND's public relations director. "However, even Harvard's actions are incomplete: PetroChina is just one corporation that is profiting from and promulgating genocide in Darfur."
Just yesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich applauded the General Assembly for passing Senate Bill 23 to make it the first state to prohibit investing in foreign companies doing business with Sudan.
"Illinois's decision to divest proves the role that states can play in stopping genocide," Ms. DeLine told SocialFunds.com. "It shows an alternative to passive inertia, and helps to build momentum--both Harvard and Illinois's decisions are commendable and hopfully will be echoed across the country."
STAND members spent yesterday lobbying all 40 California senators to support Assembly Concurrent Resolution #11. ACR11 urges the California Public Employees Retirement System [CalPERS] and California State Teachers Retirement System [CalSTRS] to encourage their portfolio companies doing business in Sudan "to act responsibly and not take actions that promote or otherwise enable human rights violations in the Sudan." At its May 16 meeting, the CalPERS board found no reason to oppose the resolution and issued a neutral recommendation on it. On May 18, the resolution received a supporting vote of 64 to 7 on the Assembly Floor, sending it to the Senate.
As with the report to Stanford's APIR, which narrowed its focus on four specific foreign companies and documented their connections to the genocide, STAND members focused their advocacy with California Senators on a limited number of companies as well. In addition to the abovementioned four, STAND has identified three other companies with links to the Sudanese government: Lundin Petroleum [LNDNF.PK], Total SA [TOT], and Marathon Oil [MRO].
"In many cases, we got the sense that California senators wanted to take a stand, but didn't really know what to do at the state level," said Ms. DeLine. "Instead of pushing for broad divestment, we targeted specific companies that we have found directly bankroll the military and weaponry, making divestment more feasible and efficient."
CalPERS has surveyed the 1,800 portfolio companies in its $186 billion pension fund and found only a handful with indirect investments in Sudan, according to a Reuters report. STAND is recommending that the state and its pension funds go further than ACR11 by actually divesting from companies operating in Sudan that do not cease propping up a regime that assists in the genocide of its own people.
"With the biggest public pension fund in the nation, California has significant political legs, and hence responsibility," added Ms. DeLine.
However, since both ACR11 and the APIR's recommendation are non-binding, it remains to be seen whether CalPERS and Stanford ultimately divest from the companies in question, and whether divestment can help effect the end of genocide in Sudan.
Kids Can Learn To Eat Better
June 1, 2005 | Associated Press | Lauran Neergaard
Washington — Simple kid-friendly training in good nutrition got 8- to 10-year-olds to eat healthier for three years, although snacks, desserts and pizza still make up an astonishing third of the youngsters' diets, researchers reported Wednesday.
It's the biggest study ever to track the impact of childhood nutrition education, and it backs a major new government campaign that aims to keep preteens from getting fat by using some of the same tactics — through training programs and real-world tips directed at their parents.
"It suggests that kids who learn to eat healthy during their adolescence will continue to eat healthy," said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, chief of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which sponsored the research and on Wednesday begins the "We Can!" program to spread the results.
One key: Don't forbid the foods that children find yummy, but teach balance — that there are "go foods" for every day, "slow foods" for a few times a week, and "whoa foods" to eat only once in a while.
Getting grade-school children in the habit of drinking lowfat milk instead of whole milk, eating an apple a day, or choosing carrot sticks or raisins as an after-school snack makes them more likely to continue those habits when they're old enough to choose foods on their own, said Northwestern University dietitian Linda Van Horn, who led the new study.
But children must have access to tasty, healthy choices, stressed Van Horn: If only hot dogs are served at the baseball game, that's what they'll eat. Noses turn up when the only choice at the school lunch program is mushy beans.
Already, the nation has 9 million children ages 6 to 16 who are overweight, according to federal health officials. Overweight children usually grow into overweight adults, at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other disorders — not to mention the turmoil of being teased and left out of sports and other fun activities.
The new study tracked 595 children, half of whom had received, with their parents, special education on how to make healthier food choices. Three years later, the kids who had attended the nutrition classes were eating more "go" foods than their peers in every food group except fruit, Van Horn reports in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.
They also ate fewer "whoa" foods with one exception: pizza. And for desserts, they were more likely to pick lower-fat options like frozen yogurt.
Still, neither group ate enough fruits or vegetables, and the high amount of daily snacking and pizza was stunning, said Van Horn.
Now the $2.6 million "We Can!" campaign aims to extend those food lessons — and tips on fitting in more physical activity — to all 8- to 13-year-olds.
It's a two-pronged program. First, more than 35 communities so far have signed up to offer youth and parent education materials, or to offer hands-on activities such as summer camps that teach nutrition and after-school programs that promise healthy snacks.
Second, a government website aimed at parents provides education on ways to fight obesity.
Also today, the National Institutes of Health is bringing together researchers to debate how much a child's environment increases the risk for obesity, and how to help.