The Impossible is Possible

Six months ago, I posted something on a TED talk by Hans Rosling, and I’m happy to be subscribed to The TED Blog, because Hans Rosling came up again. Remember last time he had some fabulous software for plotting four variables on a single graph? I just stare at the screen and do my best Jack Nicholson, “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” This time he’s got more still.

Subsaharan Africa has done well in the past 50 years, Rosling says, moving from medieval standards to now be equivalent to Europe of 100 years ago. The theme of his presentation as he confirms that we can end poverty: “The seemingly impossible is possible.”

Tales of Urban Renewal in the South Bronx

I’m a big fan of TED Talks, and here’s another TED talks moment; this one is Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto about her work as a resident in the South Bronx, what went wrong there, and how she’s trying to change it. She also talks about her brief conversation with Al Gore and getting help from the top down (aka, from the outside). Inspiring and instructional stuff for those wanting to undertake significant community transformation efforts with or without missional hopes. Since there’s nothing like a soundbyte, how about when at 7:20, Majora imparts this insight about inner cities:

“Economic degradation begets environmental degradation, which begets social degradation.”

100 Days

If you’ve followed along this blog for more than the past three months, you might recall a post and some discussion we had about the movie Hotel Rwanda, about the Rwandan Genocide, and related matters.

That was 100 days ago today. The Rwandan Genocide in 1994 lasted 100 days and left a wake of 800,000 corpses… probably the most “efficient” genocide in history. And it was just long enough to forget about before it was over.

100 days.

Random Acts of Linkage #12

  • Family-to-Family is a

    nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting families with more to families with less. The program creates a bridge between suburban communities with enough to share and some of [the USA]’s most impoverished areas.

    [Their] members welcome the concrete responsibility of shopping for, packing, and sending a carton of fundamental necessities to a family they “sponsor.” Husbands, wives and children in blessed corners of the world are eager to link themselves, over time, to moms, dads and kids living in abject poverty. They share the sentiment of anthropologist Margaret Mead, who once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

  • Not too certain of the veracity of Robbymac’s investigative journalism… but I’m not confirming nor denying anything.
  • The Secret Life of Gummy Bears: has a certain Calvin-&-Hobbes-ian quality to it.

Yes, but what *kind* of ‘poor’ have you been?

I’m listening to talk radio on CBC, and they’re discussing child poverty. Following the intro, the host asked the first pundit, “Have you ever been poor?” He answered yes, but that he had the gifts to work himself out of it.

Hmmm. I’m thinking no, he hasn’t been poor… and he doesn’t understand what poor really is. First off, I want to say that “poor student” doesn’t count. Sorry, you don’t get any points for that. Nada. If you were poor, you wouldn’t be able to afford to be a student. You don’t get it. Besides, the tight financial circumstances in which a student finds themselves is almost more a kind of right of passage, something that most of us experience. It’s also something that when we’re in the midst of it, we still know it’s going to end. That’s not poor, that’s temporarily cash-strapped. Oh, it helps us understand to some degree, but it’s fundamentally not the same thing.

Poppy quarter led to U.S. spy warnings

Far be it from me to suggest that the US preoccupation with terrorism is reaching alarming heights of paranoia, but when the US Army suggests that Canadian currency is embedded with some kind of nanotechnology which Canadians were putting into the army officers’ pockets for espionage purposes, I think perhaps there really is something wrong.

(Associated Press) WASHINGTON — An odd-looking Canadian coin with a bright red flower was the culprit behind the U.S. Defence Department’s false espionage warning earlier this year, The Associated Press has learned.

The odd-looking — but harmless — “poppy coin” was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors travelling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as “anomalous” and “filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology,” according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.

To Those Who Care

I saw this mentioned in a couple of places, but I’m not one to do the rapid-click at the mention of Nickelback… isn’t that one of them group the kids are listenin’ to these days? Huh? What do they sing, anyway? I stepped past that impression and finally clicked on it on Kay’s post.

The video is well done, made me think…. As small as any of our efforts might seem, it’s impossible to tell beforehand which grain of sand begins the avalanche.

And then just to drive the point home for me, I noticed something Amy Palmer posted:

A Passover reflection by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld

Who knows one? One is the Janjaweed militia
Who knows one? Six is the over 400,000 people who have already died.
These and more are the plagues of Darfur.

Live-Blogged Conferences

This weekend Pat Loughry live-blogged the Missional Matrix conference in Seattle with Scot McKnight and Todd Hunter. I let the entries all pile up from Friday and from Saturday without reading, so now there’s an entire set of conference notes to catch up on… looks like some good stuff. These guys work fast though, so I can already skip straight to the podcasts woo-hoo!

Elsewhere on the planet at the same time, Darryl Dash was live-blogging the Evolving Church Conference on Restoring Justice. Thanks to the magic of tags on his blog, just one click can get you a list of all the posts in the series. Plenary and workshop sessions included Ron Sider, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, and David Fitch.