Today is Blog Action Day where over 11,000 bloggers/sites around the world will publish, donate, or promote the issue of poverty. The event will certainly spread awareness of the issue. Global issues like poverty are extremely complex and seem huge. There is no simple, clear answers. And, it is probably easy to feel that our efforts won't make impact. So, that's why I wanted to focus on the The Uncultured Project.
The project started by a college student named Shawn whose wants to make the world a better place one small personal action at a time. His goal was to inspire other people, just like him, to be the generation that helps end extreme poverty. He is doing this on his own as a free agent - and not as a nonprofit organization, fundraiser, or charity. He says it better in his own words:
I’m a 27 year old Canadian from Toronto. I don’t consider myself to be an activist or adventure seeker. I’m just a guy who - like a lot of people - was always concerned about important issues like global poverty but wasn’t really sure what I could do. In school and university my background was in sociology, political science, and economics. In the classroom, I got to hear a lot of theories as to why poverty exists - but that actually made things seem more confusing.
In 2005, I got a scholarship to pursue a Masters & PhD in Sociology at Notre Dame University One day, in September of 2006, Notre Dame closed all of its classes so that students could learn more about the important issue of global health and global poverty. Among the scholars Notre Dame invited to speak to us was Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (author of the book “The End of Poverty”).
It was only after I heard Dr. Sachs’s speech that I had reason to be optimistic. Because, according to Dr. Sachs, we can end poverty within our lifetime. It doesn’t require us to have a dramatic revolution, turn into communists, or all become like Mother Theresa. Simple and small changes in our global, political, and personal priorities can make a huge difference.
“We can end extreme poverty - but I have to tell the students the bad news: it’s your homework” - Dr. Jeffrey Sachs
After that speech, my life took a turn. I decided to withdraw from Notre Dame, pack my bags, liquidated my meager savings, and go abroad to try and see what I could do to make the world a better place by helping the poorest of the poor. I don’t claim to have all the answers - in fact, part of this journey is about putting my classroom knowledge to the test. I also don’t have a set plan or any previous experience doing something like this. That’s why this project is called “uncultured”.
Shawn's goal was to change the conversation about ending poverty. He chronicled his story and work in Bangladesh using social media tools and engaging story telling techniques. One thing that I've discovered that if you want to be an effective user of social media - watch people who are good at engaging audiences in the conversation. You can learn some valuable techniques about social media engagement AND be inspired about his effort. Just study his YouTube Channel which has millions of views and lots of audience participation. Watch how tells the story of what he did and how it had impact. Observe is his photos in flickr, read his blog, follow him on Twitter, join his Ning community, and learn why you should care about poverty.
This is just one person's small effort to use the social web to change the world! What will you do today?
Not sure? Skelliwag has some awesome tips on how to fight poverty with technology. Here's few:
- Give social media votes to articles and news dealing with poverty.
- Use Twitter to share a good article on poverty (and reducing it).
- Use Twitter to share one important fact about poverty.
- Share Blog Action Day posts in Google Reader.
- Participate in Blog Action Day! (if it’s still October the 15th, it’s not too late).
In addition, I'd add:
6. Invite your friends to take action on Change.org or CauseCast
7. Join Change Bloggers and share what you're doing today with other social change bloggers.
8. Use one of Social Actions take actions widgets or TwitterFeed tool
9. Have a meet up in your area like they did in Birmingham, UK
With some advanced planning, some social media local communities are coming together to take collective on Blog Action Day. Check out what the Austin area social media activists are doing to raise awareness about hunger and poverty in their local community.
For my part, I'm loaning $25 to Prom Phal, a Cambodian woman, via Kiva.
I'm not just doing something for today ... I'm loosing weight to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin.
What have you done for Blog Action Day?