Tag Archives: Goodwill ambassador

This is How You Execute on Big Stuff to Get Big Stuff Done and Inspire the Builders of the New World

From sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure gap to organizing data on cellular neurophisiology, the world of today is filled with information challenges that only crowds of smart volunteers can help tackle.

With this, we tap into the treasure trove of cases and data that we have been gathering for you in the first six months of 2015 and sharing in our newsletter. To subscribe to the Steppes in Sync Figures and Facts That Tell The Tale newsletter, click here

In How to earn $3 per diem for applying chemicals in the field: Zimbabwe Tobacco Revival, Coal Logistics & Indigenous Hardwoods out of the door by 2050 we ask: What exactly do we do to educate Zimbabwe’s 90,000 small-scale tobacco farmers about deforestation? To promote alternative energy sources? And diversify the Southern African nation’s economy while developing healthier sources of income? And don’t forget those two-dollar wages a day for the labor toiling in the field, as you ponder similar complex problems that increasingly vie for our attention.

How do you execute on big stuff, to get big stuff done, inspire the builders of the new world?

Social entrepreneurs, says Jeremy Rifkin, will be less driven by the profit motive, and will willingly give their talents to the various networks they are in, to improve their social reputation within them. Mr Rifkin is a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business Executive Education Program, where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable economies. In this connected and collaborative world economy, the idea of the artist as an individual genius, which is so implanted in our consciousness, is “absurd”.

 [The millennials] have a different idea of freedom. My generation defines it as being autonomous, not beholden to others, and values exclusivity. Young people are all about inclusivity, access to networks, transparency. Further autonomy is death.

… Artists will no longer be so interested in creating a sense of immortality. The transitoriness of the experience, the enjoyment of the moment, will be everything. Life will be seen as a series of unique moments. And maybe we will see that reflected more in the art.

So how exactly do social entrepreneurs take to tackling the world’s complex problems once we realized that it’s up to our generation to do it now?
One important thing to remember is that if you can’t measure it you cannot make it. So it’s about reliable, real-time data.
Get Big Stuff Done and Inspire the Builders of the New World. Figures and Facts That Tell The Tale collected in 1H of 2015 by Steppes in Sync

For 38 out of 54 African countries, data on poverty and inequality are either out-dated or non-existent. Only 3 % of African citizens live in countries where governmental budgets and expenditures are made open.

You need money or, once again, loads of volunteer man/hours to collect and analyze the data in a professional way. In 2013, out of a total aid budget of $134.8bn, a mere $280m went in support of statistics.

Establishing a statistical office is less eye-catching than building a hospital or school but data driven policy will ensure that more hospital and schools are delivered more effectively and efficiently.

NeuroElectro, an open access database of electrophysiological properties of different types of neurons.  Become a neuron curator here.

Be aware that we live in a world of growing — often conflicting — needs for public funding. Space consumed more than 4 % of government spending in the US during the 1960s race to the moon. 0.5 % — the current proportion of federal spending devoted to Nasa — is reasonable. If other industrialised countries raised space spending closer to that level (the UK figure is about 0.05 %) there would be enough to fund robotic exploration and to send people further out than the moon or space station.

NeuroElectro, an open access database of electrophysiological properties of different types of neurons.
NeuroElectro, an open access database of electrophysiological properties of different types of neurons.

We have sent a probe 500M km to a comet to analyse rock samples, but virtually no geologist has yet dug his spade into the crater of the highest mountain in the planet’s largest desert.

Same applies to the ocean exploration. Some argue that we now know more about the outer space, fund more research of space that about our own oceanbed. But fields of study can be combined.

Working in the Antarctic wilderness, 630km from the South Pole, 760m under the floating glacier ice and 500km to 600km from the nearest open ocean that isn’t covered by ice, scientists recently found fish, about 15 cm long. It lends credence to the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life, as some of the environments that scientists are targeting for study lie in what are thought to be oceans under thick ice covers such as on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

The $8bn Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful atom smasher, restarted in spring after a two-year maintenance shutdown — a second round after inaugural three-year run from 2009 to 2012.

Be aware of industrial megatrends and timings. IMS Health, the healthcare information group, expects almost 200 drugs to be launched worldwide in the next five years, the highest level since the mid-2000s. The length of time it takes to get a new product to market is highest in pharmaceuticals, at 10-12 years, beating the 6-8 years taken to develop an aeroplane. The cost of launching a drug, at $1.25bn, says Deloitte, is equal to that of developing a new car and behind only the $3.75bn cost of a new aeroplane.

With this in mind, don’t forget that timing and setting the right, meetable deadlines is a skill to develop throughout your career as a strategic volunteer, social entrepreneur.

NASA says its Mars campaign is aimed at sending humans to the Red Planet and its moons by the 2030s — but Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, says there’s a downside to having such a stretched-out timeline.

You can’t do this on a 24-year timeline because God’s patience is not infinite, and the U.S. Congress is considerably worse.

Meanwhile a mission plan is being discussed that calls for a 9-month cruise to Mars; 12 months in orbit, with a potential landing on Phobos or Deimos; and nine months back to Earth. The orbital odysseys could open the way for sending a two-person crew for a 30-day stay on the Martian surface in 2039 — and then putting four astronauts on Mars for a yearlong stay in 2043. NASA is committed to supporting the International Space Station through 2024, and the agency has not yet spelled out what will happen after that.

Get the science, technology of it, be a science communicator.

Towers of height 15-25 km could be easily built using present-day materials. Space launch from the top of such a tower would have a long list of advantages.
Keep training your brain in chartering the most efficient route from A to B. Cunard, a luxury brand, saves money on fuel by propelling its hulls through the waves at a slower pace. Trans-Atlantic voyages that decades ago took 5.5 days are now taking 8. Compare it to trans-Saharan camel caravans that began in Southern Morocco and ended their 52-day journey in Timbuktu, Mali.

This is how you care for stray pets as your city is shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. A testimony by animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Ukraine

From December 2014 till end of March 2015, working in the climate of increasing geopolitical tensions and worsening economic conditions Droog, an animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine, provided with shelter and returned to their families 200 dogs and 234 cats. On February 10, 2015 Kramatorsk was shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. Droog persisted undeterred with their mission.

The charitable fund was created in January 2008, with the active phase of operations staring in 2011. The first sterilization took place on April 19, 2012. That same year the total number of sterilized animals reached 115. From April 2013 till April 2014 the number grew to 181. Starting from end of April 2014 till now — a period when Eastern Ukraine saw the intensification of pro-Russian warfare — a total of 360 animals were sterilized.

Alexey Holub, a lawyer with the Droog (БФ “Друг”) charity explains:

Research conducted by scientists in Russia and Western Europe proves that sterilization is the only effective way to decrease — and eventually bring to zero — the number of homeless animals on our streets. All other methods like poisoning and shooting are inhumane, illegal and ineffective. The effect delivered by such ‘solutions’ is illusionary and short-term.

Droog’s volunteers found families for 900 cats and 750 dogs from January 2013 till December 2014.

Emergency rescue operations are not rare in their day-to-day work. They pick up the animals that became road traffic casualties, extract those animals that happened into the carelessly open manholes, got themselves on the roofs, high trees.

A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
As part of Droog’s awareness raising and behaviour change campaign, the charity is making its presence felt on the locally popular social media like Vkontakte (almost 5,000 members) and Odnoklassniki (almost 3,000 members).

Alexey Holub adds:

Our volunteers organized a number of public events to raise awareness about sterilization, adopting animals and thus taking them off the streets. Parallel to talking to the residents and distributing fliers, we held a number of charity auctions. The lots for those were hand-made by our volunteers.

Droog is no stranger to the local mass media either. Publications in such local newspapers as Vostochnyy Proekt, Tekhnopolis and Novosti Kramatorska are accompanied by billboard ads throughout the city. Numerous times, Droog reached out to school-age kids with goodwill classes for the 22nd school students; at New Year’s Eve galas in downtown Kramatorsk and in the city suburbs, to name just a few events.

Supported by active residents and institutional partners we held several larger events. On May 30, 2013 the Donbass State Engineering Academy (“ДГМА”) hosted our charitable event to raise awareness among college students about cruelty against animals in Kramatorsk. The students and faculty of the Academy signed an appeal to the mayor advocating for the creation of a centralized animal shelter in Kramatorsk. Our volunteers used the occasion to distribute fliers and solicit donations.

Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Surely much more needs to be done to reach significant results in decreasing the number of homeless animals while practicing humane methods. It’s doable once we join our efforts. With support from overseas donors we are readying a facility for the Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre.

The following activities are to take place in the Centre:

  • The ongoing Catch, Sterilize, Release work. We are currently in talks with the veterinarians in Kramatorsk to increase the number of surgeries. We aim at  a minimum of 30 sterilization surgeries per month (360 per year). All of the animals that undergo surgery will be marked accordingly with bright clips on the ears. These animals will also be vaccinated (including vaccination against rabies) and treated against parasites, which will defuse the risks posed to the people.
  • We will partner with an international charity Four Pаws. This NGO engages in mass sterilizations if there is a city-wide centre for homeless animals and if they receive an official confirmation by the local authorities of the official ban on homeless animal extermination across the municipality. Back in 2012 Droog staff were trained by the Four Paws on the issues of mass sterilization and received a preliminary confirmation of their vets’ interest to come to Eastern Ukraine.
  • Droog will continue to seek partnerships with other animal welfare charities in Ukraine to join efforts to improve the existing legislation regarding homeless animal protection.
  • The Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre will be a great place to visualize Droog’s work for the welfare of the people and our four-pawed friends through monthly visits by groups of the youths, local and national media practitioners.
Our goal is to take homeless animals off the streets of Kramatorsk in a compassionate way while securing the residents from all the usual problems caused by homeless animals.

Our additional goal is to educate a new generation of people that are free from violence, a compassionate generation, empathetic with the weak, acting with responsibility towards animals. And certainly other human beings.

“We believe these are inalienable features of a developed society that Ukrainians aspire to be,” concludes Kramatorsk lawyer Alexey Holub.

He can be reached at patronat2009@yandex.ru

Sao Tomean-Estonian Elsa Figueira creates positive role-models, keeps anti-violence discussion going

by Andy Kozlov @KozlovAndy

As one could expect from checking the international calendar, yesterday the internet burst up from an inflow of awareness-raising info against domestic violence. As every year, on November 25 we were reminded that women and children around the world shouldn’t undergo violence in their homes or anywhere for that matter. ‘Thank you!’ you could roll your eyes in exasperation , “As if I didn’t no that hitting my wife’s index finger with a hammer is a savage thing to do.”

Well apparently, such annual reminder campaigns should not go obsolete just yet. Even those who you think are in the driving seat of behaviour change in there respective nations do their best to surprise you.

Elsa Figueira, a Sao-Tomean-Estonian transmedia initiative against gender-based violence
Elsa Figueira, a Sao-Tomean-Estonian transmedia initiative against gender-based violence

A curious press statement was sent out by the South African presidency on November 24. Mail & Guardian associate editor Verashni Pillay @verashni reports:

This year is significant because we’ve been doing this for 16 years. There were a few possibilities the press release could have played around with in terms of phrasing, given this neat numerical coincidence. [Instead the] Presidency celebrates 16 years of ‘raising gender-based violence’

Raising the violence, not the awareness about it. And celebrating the perversity. Really?

Speaking of observances, less than five years from now, the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe lying off the west coast of Africa will be the stage for  a centennial celebration of a revalation that — just like geneder-based violence in our time — was reported in newspapers all over the world as a major story. On 29 May 1919, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, a British astrophysicist and popularizer of science, travelled to the island of Príncipe to watch a solar eclipse that provided one of the earliest confirmations of relativity.

This stamp by São Tomé and Príncipe celebrates the 90th anniversary of the milestone solar eclipse observation by Sir Arthur Eddington
This stamp by São Tomé and Príncipe celebrates the 90th anniversary of the milestone solar eclipse observation by Sir Arthur Eddington

The theory of relativity is an universally accepted episteme today. Brought to its completion during the First World War — that the humanity recalled throughout the whole 2014 — this theory  has successfully superseded a 200-year-old paradigm created primarily by Isaac Newton. Smashing a beer bottle over a woman’s head is somehow still one of those ideas that doesn’t want to vanish in the thin air.

The issue of violence is certainly an universal one, a primordial issue. People everywhere try to figure out a strategy to change violent behaviours in humans.

We asked the producers of a São Toméan-Estonian film Elsa Figueira about how replicable their project’s model could be in other countries.

Pekagboom says:

This project started with the Humanist vision that my musical style is spreading in the world, rapping with a social intervention message with constructive criticism. Through life stories we see happen to us every day around us. We started by a conversation about musical art and visual art in the capital city of STP. Me and the filmmaker Kris Haamer I had a talk about a track from my album that is coming out.

During our conversation I told Kris I’d like to make a video about domestic violence in Sao Tome and Principe because it’s something of great concern to society, because of the cases of deaths that have happened in the country, so I invited him to make a music video with a high quality, let’s say a super production to call the attention of people around the world.

So we decided to unite and do something more than a simple video clip but a short film using the story from my music. That’s where Elsa Figueira came to life.

As we all know to make quality requires investment and we know that Elsa Figueira has everything to be a world reference. To inspire women in a similar situation to gain courage to report these cases of crime. That’s why it’s very important to have the funding to complete this project with help from all around the world we can make a positive difference so it’s a chance to be proud of saying that together with Elsa you’re helping women around the world to combat domestic violence.

Vivalda Cravid Dos Prazeres adds:

Making this film to a broader audience will help raise consciousness of a range of problems, raise questions and promote discussion about the current level of knowledge about domestic violence and the gaps that still need to be addressed.

From the beginning, comprehensive evaluation has been seen as an important part of this movie, since the moment it was conceived to the moment it was last edited as a way to maximize the ability for learning from the diverse strands of the initiative and to guide future activities to address and prevent domestic violence in Sao Tome and Principe and in other countries.

Global Estonian Kris Haamer @krishaamer, a transmedia expert , explains:

Elsa Figueira isn’t easily replicable because she’s a unique a personality. We don’t know how to make copies of her, so we’re trying to make herself spreadable. The approach we’re taking is to create a fictional character that people can interact with, talk to, on Facebook. At one point she might learn to speak other languages, for now she’s just speaking Portuguese and subtitled in the film to languages like Estonian and Norwegian, Italian, Spanish, English, etc.

She’s someone who should inspire women all over the world to realize that if they are in an abusive relationship, there’s a way out and you can empower yourself and take that way. That is kind of universal.

What could be possible ways to cluster the awareness raising and behavior change solutions through media in the context of the domestic violence issue?

There’s hashtag activism and there are social media movements and there are examples of this working. Common signs that members of the movement recognize and gives each one more courage to keep moving forward towards the goal, which in the case of domestic violence obviously is a future without violence.

Looking around and seeing other people who care about this helps all of us remember the goal. This film isn’t going to stop violence or stop anyone from abusing his or her partner. When that happens, it’s already too late. What it may do, is use popular media to get a discussion going and create positive role-models that influence people earlier in their youth, so they don’t grow up to be someone abusive.

Please consider supporting the film here.

Let us know your ideas about making behaviour change campaigns stick.

Andy Kozlov can be reached on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

Support Elsa Figueira via Kickstarter
Support Elsa Figueira via Kickstarter

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Zimbabwean sculpture raises funds in 12th century Prague monastery, for Kenyan kids

MIRO Gallery, situated on the grounds of the mid-12th century Strahov Monastery, is one of the most popular galleries in Prague, Czech Republic.

Transferred to Prague from Berlin in April 1994, this creative space is accommodated by the Renaissance era Church of St. Rochus.

Home to European Trebbia Awards, on October 29 the gallery gave tribute to a master of stone from Zimbabwe whose statue auctioned out and raised  ca USD9,500 for the kids of Rusinga Island in the eastern part of Lake Victoria, Western Kenya.

Inspired by friendship with Zimbabwe sculpture artist Lovemore Bonjisi and support she extends to his creations, Dr. Marie Imbrová, an expert on Africa and founding member of the Tengenenge Friends Club in the Czech Republic, donated one of Mr Bonjisi pieces to The Centre Narovinu, the organizer of the auction.

The proceeds from the auction will help repair the dining hall at the community center Island of Hope. This covers construction of a new kitchen to improve the situation with providing food for 400 kids from low-income families.

November 13-20, Dr. Imbrova will be in Nairobi to visit the International Charity Bazaar, handover of the Christmas presents to a local NGOs.

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