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The kindness of strangers–and the power of video

Posted by mari on December 21st, 2007

So when Dennis and I left the World Bank to start GlobalGiving, we left a pretty impressive infrastructure of support. And by infrastructure I mean not just IT and administrative support, I also mean access to an in-house printing shop, large format printers, in-house photographers, video equipment … But what has been amazing here at GlobalGiving is that we sometimes have access to world-class resources because of the kindness of strangers.

The two strangers are Petra Dilthey, and Uli Schwarz, who virtually showed up at our doorstep on a day in October this year via an email after reading Bill Easterly‘s book White Man’s Burden. Here’s what they said:

From our point of view the projects, you are supporting and promoting are worth while to be shown to as much viewers as possible. We are a German filmmaker couple which dedicates their life to poor children and would like to discuss fields of possible collaboration with you.

I got this email 3 days before my colleague Donna and I were headed out to Los Angeles to try and somehow get our minds around how to get more video integrated into the GlobalGiving experience, thinking about getting more video footage from our project leaders, developing footage for a public service announcement, and seeking advice from our advisory board member Carole Bayer Sager. And here are their first videos, from Andhra Pradesh. They are beautiful and moving, and come a lot closer to our original vision for GlobalGiving–bringing the daily drama and excitement of succeeding against all the odds in all the disadvantaged communities around the world straight to the screen. And an opportunity to help.

Enjoy:

The 50 Brides of Prajwala: Shattered Dreams Reborn

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=okZBJwx-z_g[/youtube]

Providing Education for 100 girls in Andhra

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=GliEQ_8CDrg&feature=user[/youtube]

A Trifecta

Posted by mari on November 29th, 2007

As most of my friends and colleagues know, one of my favorite columns of my favorite online publication is The Dismal Science column on Slate. And I muse often–and out loud–about how women do (or do not) behave differently at work than men, or whether they have greater chances at happiness today than before, because I’ve come to a feminist consciousness late in life and I feel like I need to make up for lost time. And I love the science of economics, despite not having chosen it in college or in graduate school–again, making up for lost time.

So this latest article from Slate started talking about how when legislative mandates forced more women into leadership positions in village councils, the delivery of public goods increased (and the quality of such goods stayed as high as when men were in leadership positions) but residents of villages headed by women were actually less satisfied with the public goods, I thought I’d hit the trifecta. [Icing on the cake: the Slate article cited the work of Esther Duflo, whse work at the Poverty Action Lab at MIT I have really admired over the years.]

My trivial little delight at finding an article that was as relevant as any Google ad served up to me in my Gmail account using entirely analog searching techniques aside, this finding really makes me pause. Because the implications are startling. Either we have really not understood the nature of public goods (and they aren’t really good for people), or we have hardwired biases against being able to perceive objective reality (which means those biases are extremely difficult to overcome, or …

It’s something I actually often wonder about international development. There’s a small group of people in the world (and I hang out with them all the time, so my own perspective is warped) who have the privilege of knowing about, and participating in, the adventure that development can be. How we can communicate the drama and the incredible high that comes from hard-won success to people who don’t know about it–and perhaps even have a bias against learning more about it?

But I’m a liberal at heart–I do believe human nature can change. After all, if I can gain feminist consciousness and an appreciation of the dismal science late in life, why not?

GlobalGoodness: Welcome to the new GlobalGiving blog!

Posted by mari on November 16th, 2007

I’m both excited and impatient about making this inaugural post–it falls into the category of things we’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to having another way to communicate with anyone in the GlobalGiving community, and can’t wait to start hearing back from people, and on the other hand I know blogs take time to become a good–and reliable–channel of communication. Patience is not really one of my virtues.

So what will we do on this blog? Here, we will announce new features, reveal our peccadilloes, highlight our community, explain what we were thinking (or not), and look to get feedback from you.

And speaking of getting feedback, this blog was named by friends of GlobalGiving. The community’s top choice was actually “What Gives?” but through our polling we discovered that someone in our community has already called dibs on it. GlobalGoodness came in second–so here goes. Let’s get started!