March 3, 2011

Report from Haiti: ‘There is positive happening here’

Young girl from Jacmel, Haiti
A young girl from Jacmel, Haiti.

Sloane Berrent‘What is the one thing we can take back from Haiti with us to tell people?”

That was the question I asked people while in Haiti over the weekend. For there is a lot going on. A lot of sadness. A lot of frustration. A lot of violence. Struggles to reconstruct, rebuild, take a country that was already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and have it come back better than before.

“Tell the good. There is positive happening here. The (traditional) media only tells the stories of hardship but there are a lot of positive stories coming out of Haiti too.”

And indeed there is. Smiles and laughter. People helping each other. Community leaders stepping up. International aid organizations committed to helping in the reconstructions. Houses are being built. Schools are in session. A presidential election is right around the corner.

So that’s what I want to do. I want to honor the wishes of the people I met in Haiti during my trip last weekend. I want to tell stories that haven’t been told 100 times. It’s important for us – us in the privileged developed country – to remember that in the aftermath of a natural disaster most other countries don’t have the option to clean up like we do. Continue reading

May 17, 2010

Short takes on 10 worthy projects



Watchitoo, DoGood, ClassWish, Zynga, business ethics & more

JD LasicaWe’ve been deluged recently with updates and rollouts of interesting new sites, tools and services. There’s no way to fully do them justice, but they deserve attention, so here’s a roundup of eight worthy projects and websites that have crossed our desk:


Watchitoo: Collaborate with rich media

1At Socialbrite we have a pretty good directory of cutting-edge Web 2.0 productivity tools, so we were intrigued when a longtime friend, Brian August (who provided legal advice to, told us of a new Web conferencing service called Watchitoo. It’s a live, two-way, HD multi-streaming video platform that lets participants collaborate and share any form of rich media (video, photos, documents) in real time. Fully web-based and embeddable, Watchitoo offers any organization the ability to communicate and collaborate remotely. It also has full integration with Twitter and Facebook

Says Brian: “Watchitoo represents a portable, modular, simple way to instantly collaborate while sharing media. A candidate could use this technology to have a web-based town hall watched by hundreds (or thousands) while taking questions from constituents who will appear live on screen with the candidate. A reporter could use this to review footage/photographs with others in the field. The implications of this type of remote intimacy are profound.” I’m looking forward to seeing Watchitoo in action on June 3 at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York.


DoGood: See good. Do better.

2With DoGood, a free browser plug-in for Firefox, IE or Safari, you can turn your everyday web browsing into donations that support green initiatives and movements for positive social change, at no cost to you with no privacy or security issues. Today, for instance, DoGood “served” 172,673 good ideas. The DoGooder hides generic advertising on the Internet, and shows thoughtful green initiatives, philanthropic calls for action and health and wellness ideas instead. The site then donates 50 percent of its profits from ad sales back to good causes, effectively turning web surfing into a funding mechanism.


Zynga: $3 million to charity

3You’ve probably heard of Zynga because of Farmville, Cafe World, Mafia Wars, Fishville, PetVille, and other games in its stable of online diversions. (Disclosure: I’ve spoken on panels with Zynga CEO-founder Mark Pincus.) What I didn’t realize until recently is that Zynga has raised more than $3 million for charitable causes through its online game sites. For example, Zynga’s relief efforts for Haiti were impressive, given the size of its audience and the pledge to donate a good chunk of proceeds to the cause, although it should be noted that Zynga spends $5 million to $8 million every month just for advertising on Facebook.

Continue reading

February 1, 2010

The power of giving & corporations doing social good

Pamela Hawley

Pamela Hawley

JD LasicaFor the inaugural podcast of the new Social Causes Show on BlogTalkRadio, I interviewed Pamela Hawley, founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, with a focus on two areas: Corporations doing social good (corporate social responsibility) and how individuals can make sure their donations are making an impact in Haiti.

For my first go as a podcast host, this came out extremely well, so much so that the UniversalGiving team transcribed our conversation. (Idea: BlogTalkRadio should offer transcriptions as a premium service.)

Click the above player to listen to parts of the 40-minute podcast on the power of giving, which BlogTalkRadio featured on its own blog.

A few highlights from our talk. Pamela on donations to Haiti:

You want to make sure that the organization you’re donating to has been vetted, and that’s one of the things we do at UniversalGiving. One way to really help ensure that is going with a small or medium organization. There’s less administration; there’s less layers of personnel because they have to be scrappy. They have to be nimble, and they have to be focused and quick with their resources. One that we promote that is very strong is Action Against Hunger, which helps with the long-term and short-term sustainable solutions to hunger. And they operate in 40 countries across the world, including Haiti. They may not have the Red Cross brand but they’re extremely accomplished because they’re so focused in one area, which is combating hunger and doing that in 40 countries across the world.

Continue reading

January 19, 2010

Text a few dollars to support Haiti

Use the power of the social Web to make an impact

Sloane BerrentThe earthquake that shook Haiti last week demolished and devastated the entire nation. Looking at pictures online, reading testimonials of survivors and following the developments in the rescue and emergency response teams, I felt, like many of you, overwhelming sadness. Mere weeks after completing my Kiva Fellowship last summer, the Philippines were hit with Typhoon Ondoy, another natural disaster resulting in true devastation.

I was looking back on pictures from the Philippines and wanted to share the slideshow above from when I went to visit Bernardita Dayo, a Kiva borrower that I had actually funded before I became a Fellow. Looking at those pictures, their homes located so close to the water, I’m reminded that for every picture we see of Haiti NOW, just last week there were other pictures showing THEN.

The pictures above, that village, doesn’t exist in the same way after the Typhoon, now it is just a memory as the Filipino people work to rebuild their villages and homes so too now does Haiti have a long and turbulent road ahead of them. The “then” in their pictures were vibrant lives and villages with personality, history and culture whose path has now forever been changed.

When you give to help Haiti, and you should, $5-$10 is little to most of us but means the world to them, I’d like to ask you to remember that you’re giving not just to help the Haitian people out of their dire current situation, but investing in their future and the rebuilding of the parts of their society and community that helped define them.

Here are a few quick and easy ways from WhatGives!:

• Text HAITI to 90999. $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given to the American Red Cross.

• Text YELE to 501501. $5 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given to Yele Haiti. (see note at end of post about Yele Haiti)

• Text CERF to 90999. $5 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund.

• Text HAITI to 45678. $5 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given to The Salvation Army.

• Text QUAKE to 20222. $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

• Text SAVE to 20222 (US Only). $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given to Save the Children. Continue reading