Tag Archives: half the sky

collaborative giving

i’m really excited about the potential of a small change-the-world collaborative effort my extended family is undertaking together. and i think it offers a raft of potential impacts and benefits that go far beyond an individual donation i would make.

here’s the backstory:

sometime last year, i heard about the (then) new book, half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide (i’d heard about it because my teenage friend and ys author, zach hunter, is profiled in the book). see my review of the book here. before i could read it, my wife swiped it, and suggested it for a reading group she’s part of with a couple of my aunts, my sister, and my cousin. it’s not a “christian” book, and the reading group has a couple christians in it, but also a few deeply wonderful people who are non-religious.

after reading the book, the group felt they needed some kind of collective response. so they formed “the full sky club”, a small, private response. they crafted an invitation to everyone in our extended family (there are families, including adult children and teenage grandchildren, from four sisters, my mom being one of them). they explained the need, and invited the clan into their collaborative giving project. then, once the money was pooled, they invested the funds on our behalf.

i received this email about the giving project:

Subject: The Full Sky Club donations

Thank you all for your generous donations to the Full Sky Club, supporting “turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide”. We raised $954.00 which was donated as follows:

Microloan through Kiva.org to Margaret K. of Sierra Leone, for her used clothing business in the anount of $350, distributed through Association for Rural Development Sierra Leone.

Microloan through Kiva.org to Hin P. in Srae Vong Village, Cambodia, for her pig and chicken business in the amount of $100.00, distribuated through Angkow micro finance Kampuchea.

donation to Kiva.org for furthering the cause of microloans throughout the world in the amount of $56.79. (we had a credit of $2.79 from a previous loan the bookclub made and repayment by the borrower has been made in the amount of $2.79)

A donation to The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia in the amount of $450.00 through the Fistula Foundation. You can look up info about the Fistula foundation at fistulafoundation.org. They keep 20% to further the cause of fistula hospitals and surgeries free of charge, around the world. In 2009 they gave direct support to Hamlin Fistula Hospitals in Ethiopia in the amount of $1.083 million. Dr. Hamlin started the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital .

Total of $956.79. We will periodically send you updates on the microloan repayments and reinvestments. Again, thank you so much for being a part of this- it’s very exciting to think we are in a small way helping women and children rise up from their oppression.

here’s what i’m thinking:

1. the amount isn’t huge, but that’s not really the point. certainly, the amount of the donation(s) is higher than any one of us would have likely given to any one of these causes. but even collectively, we wouldn’t qualify as a major donor. but there’s more to this than the size of the donation.

2. there’s a flywheel aspect to this — in fact, more than one flywheel. there’s a relational flywheel: this project is something we’re doing together, and it’s progress gives us reason to interact. there’s an awareness flywheel: the collaborative nature raises the water level of understanding for all of us who are involved. more people will be aware of the issues we’re giving to, and even those who pushed the flywheel to get it moving have a higher awareness than they would have if they’d merely made a donation on their own, since they’re reporting to the rest of us. and there’s an impact flywheel: this is partially true because the donations through kiva will be re-invested as they’re paid back. but since the whole effort is from ‘we’ rather than ‘me’, there’s a natural built-in impetus to take further steps, in donations or other forms of involvement.

3. everyone gets blessed. it’s a win on every front. this is always possible when giving, of course. but giving collaboratively increases both the quantity and quality of the blessing.

i think this is a model of giving that many of us should explore more, with our friendship groups, our families (extended or nuclear), our co-workers, our youth groups. what experiences have you had with this kind of thing?

mini book reviews, part 1 (of 2)

i’ve got a couple days of 3 mini-reviews each. and i’m kind of cracking up at the mix. seriously, i doubt these three books have ever been reviewed together in the same space before. what can i say? i like to read diversely.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
5 stars

acclaimed (and married) journalists kristof and wudunn take readers on a round-the-world exploration to visit oppressed, violated and mistreated girls and women, as well as girls and women who have — sometimes on their own, sometimes with the help of others — risen out of oppression, violence and mistreatment. the authors document, with research and hard data, as well as dozens of amazing stories, the power of women to change the reality of a family or a nation. it was fairly convincing to me — so much so that i can hardly imagine a more productive way to change the world than to invest in girls and women in developing nations. if you care about the world at all, if you ever look past your windowsill or border, please read this book. while not a “christian book” (thought certainly fair in profiling christians — and others of faith — who are making a difference for the girls and women of the world), it’s critical reading for any christian who hopes to have an even remotely informed worldview.

Survivor: A Novel, by Chuck Palahniuk
4 stars

palahniuk, if his name is familiar to you but you can’t remember why, is the novelist who wrote fight club. his books, as i’m finding (now that i’ve read a couple of them, as well as watched fight club a few times), are dark — to be sure — but always have a very strong undercurrent of social commentary. survivor is the story of a “death cult” survivor, the last of his kind. he was raised on a compound, somewhere in nebraska, by a group that seems somewhere in the space between mormonism, amish, and waco. he was trained, as all but the first son and elder-chosen daughters are in this group, to be a ‘labor missionary’. and, in his young adult life, he’s earning slave wages that are sent back to the tribe. but, after the self-inflicted death of all the group’s followers, he life takes an odd shift. he becomes an agent-shaped media darling, a self-styled swami of religious kitcsh, and a stadium-filling, product-selling machine. then it all crumbles; and he finds himself alone on a jumbo jet he’s hijacked, heading toward his own death. yeah. it’s a wild story. and it’s not all perfectly told, though the majority is very well written. but more than the story, it’s a brutal upper-cut to american popularity culture. and, for those willing to read between the lines, there are all kinds of implications for the brand of hero worship we practice in american christianity.

Hope within History, by Walter Brueggemann
4.5 stars

how do i rate a book like this? i mean, it’s certainly not a “reader”. no one’s gonna curl up by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate and read this puppy, finding it to be a page-turner. it’s an intro, followed by a collection of 5 theological talks, presented by brueggemann at one theological symposium or another. and, unless you live in that world, much of the language is so dry and pithy, i literally laughed out loud when i noticed that the back cover said that the author was known for how readable he is. yet, that said, there were some theological gems in this baby that just blew me away. like, there were ideas in this little book that will shape things i think and say and write for — well — the rest of my life. it’s that kind of framing book. i’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about christian hope, and scot mcknight had recommended this (and a couple other brueggemann books) as part of my background reading. brueggemann has, in 100 pages, given me a new biblical framing for understanding how hope plays out in our lives.