Sunday, December 23, 2007

The List

This is a list of charitable organizations. The reason for posting this will eventually be revealed.

Peace and International Freedom and Justice

Women for Women International

Founded in 1993, Women for Women International (WWI) helps women in war-torn regions rebuild their lives by providing financial and emotional support, job skills training, rights awareness and leadership education and access to business skills, capital and markets. Through the program, women become confident, independent and productive as they embrace the importance of their roles in rebuilding their families, their communities and ultimately, their nations. We help women advance from being victims to attaining stability as survivors to becoming active citizens in their communities. Since its founding, WWI has served more than 73,000 women and distributed approximately $24 million in direct aid and microcredit loans.

Women's Action for New Directions

WAND was founded in 1982 as Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament. With the end of the cold war, we became Women's Action for New Directions, and have been dedicating our energies to redirect federal budget priorities away from the military and toward human needs.

Our goals are to:
  • Challenge and promote alternatives to militarism and violence as the solution to conflict.
  • Shift from a military to a civilian-based economy to address the threats to our real security, ensuring that human, economic and environmental needs are met.
  • Clean up environmental effects of nuclear weapons production as well as toxic waste at all military facilities, and prevent further contamination.
  • Eliminate the testing, production, sale and use of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Prevent violence against women.
  • Increase women's political leadership to further WAND's goals.

Amnesty International

Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with over 1.8 million members worldwide. Amnesty International undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights. Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is the U.S. Section of Amnesty International.

A note: AI has only a two-star rating from the Charity Navigator. However, its effective use of volunteers is extraordinary.

The Carter Center

Founded in 1982, the Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. While the program agenda may change, The Carter Center is guided by five principles: it emphasizes action and results based on careful research and analysis; it does not duplicate the effective efforts of others; it addresses difficult problems and recognizes the possibility of failure as an acceptable risk; it acts as a neutral in dispute resolution activities; and it believes that people can improve their lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries.

Each year, MSF doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other medical and non-medical professionals depart on more than 3,800 field assignments. They work alongside more than 22,500 locally hired staff to provide medical care.

In emergencies and their aftermath, MSF provides health care, rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centers for malnourished children, and offers mental health care. When needed, MSF also constructs wells and dispenses clean drinking water, and provides shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting.

Through longer-term programs, MSF treats patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and HIV/AIDS, and provides medical and psychological care to marginalized groups such as street children.

MSF was founded in 1971 as a nongovernmental organization to both provide emergency medical assistance and bear witness publicly to the plight of the people it assists. A private nonprofit association, MSF is an international network with sections in 19 countries.

Politics, Media, Freedom of Speech

Center for Defense Information

The Center for Defense Information (CDI) is dedicated to strengthening security through: international cooperation; reduced reliance on unilateral military power to resolve conflict; reduced reliance on nuclear weapons; a transformed and reformed military establishment; and, prudent oversight of, and spending on, defense programs. CDI seeks to contribute alternative views on security to promote wide-ranging discourse and debate. CDI also educates the public and informs policy-makers about issues of security policy, strategy, operations, weapon systems and defense budgeting, and pursues creative solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow. The Center for Defense Information is a division of the World Security Institute (WSI).

A note: WSI has slipped this year to a three star rating from the Charity Navigator.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation is the arm of the ACLU that conducts litigation and communication efforts. The Foundation provides legal presentation in cases involving issues of civil liberties and constitutional rights ranging from administrative hearings to trials and appeals. In addition, the Foundation educates the public as to civil liberties and constitutional rights by disseminating literature and other publications. The ACLU is the nation's guardian of liberty and works to protect the First Amendment rights, the right to equal protection, the right to due process, and the right to privacy.

National Public Radio

NPR (National Public Radio) is an internationally acclaimed producer and distributor of noncommercial news, talk, and entertainment programming. A privately supported, not-for-profit membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of 26 million Americans each week in partnership with more than 800 independently operated, noncommercial public radio stations. Each NPR Member Station serves local listeners with a distinctive combination of national and local programming. With original online content and audio streaming, offers hourly newscasts, special features and ten years of archived audio and information.

Social and Economic Justice/Community Investment


Ashoka is the global association of the world's leading social entrepreneurs-men and women with system changing solutions for the world's most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has elected over 1,800 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries.

Ashoka Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations-demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers and make a positive difference in their communities.

By unleashing the same innovative and entrepreneurial mindset which has driven business sector growth over the last two centuries, Ashoka is leading a dramatic transformation in society, fueling the citizen sector's unprecedented growth. With our global community of social entrepreneurs, Ashoka develops models for collaboration and designs infrastructure needed for this growth.

Co-op America

Founded in 1982, Co-op America's mission is to harness economic power-- the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace-- to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. We work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come. Co-op America is leading the way toward a more just and sustainable society. Together we have directed over $100 million in purchases to socially and environmentally responsible businesses that are the core of the living economy and channeled over $500 million in investments to community development financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and loan funds.

What Makes Co-op America Unique
  • We focus on economic strategies-economic action to solve social and environmental problems.
  • We mobilize people in their economic roles-as consumers, investors, workers, business leaders.
  • We work to stop abusive practices and to create healthy, just and sustainable practices.

A note: Co-op America has slipped this year to a three star rating from the Charity Navigator.

Association for Enterprise Opportunity

Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) was founded in 1991 and remains the only national member-based association dedicated to microenterprise development. We provide our members with a forum, information and a voice to promote enterprise opportunity for people and communities with limited access to economic resources. AEO also represents the US microenterprise agenda in the growing international community. Membership in AEO is open to all those who are committed to microenterprise development including practitioners, advocates, public agencies, funders, and others. AEO supports the development of strong and effective U.S. microenterprise programs to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing, and expanding businesses.

Water for People

Founded in 1991, Water For People (WFP) helps people in developing countries improve their quality of life by supporting the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities and health and hygiene education programs. WFP is committed to the long-term impact of increased access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation and health. Time after time, WFP finds that providing safe drinking water serves as a catalyst for greater community development. Projects include community hand pumps, school hand-washing stations, gravity-fed water systems, household latrines, and health and hygiene education. WFP was able to serve a more than 98,000 people in 2006 and has partnered with nongovernmental organizations and communities in 43 countries around the world.


Scholarship America

Founded in 1958, Scholarship America has distributed more than one billion dollars to more than one million students. Scholarship America is the nation's largest private scholarship and educational support organization. We work to expand access to educational opportunities by involving and assisting communities, corporations, foundations, organizations and individuals in the support of students and in the encouragement of educational achievement. Scholarship America programs include Dollars for Scholars, Scholarship Management Services, and ScholarShop.

The Posse Foundation

The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains student leaders from public high schools to form multicultural teams called "Posses." These teams are then prepared, through an intensive eight-month Pre-Collegiate Training Program, for enrollment at top-tier universities nationwide to pursue their academics and to help promote cross-cultural communication on campus. The Posse Program has exhibited great success over the past 17 years placing 1,521 students into colleges and universities. These students have won over $142 million in scholarships from Posse partner universities and are persisting and graduating at 90 percent-a rate higher than the national averages at institutions of higher education. Posse currently has sites in five major cities across the United States: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

The concept of a Posse works for both students and college campuses, and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students-a Posse-carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development. As the United States becomes an increasingly multicultural society, Posse believes that the leaders of this new century should reflect the country's rich demographic mix, and that the key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems. One of the primary aims of the Posse Program is to train these leaders of tomorrow. (Oberlin and many of our peer institutions participate in Posse)

Environment and Animal welfare

Animal Welfare Institute

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), founded in 1951, works to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. In the organization's early years our particular emphasis was on the desperate needs of animals used for experimentation. Since then we expanded the scope of our work to address many other areas of animal suffering. Today one of our greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals. Another major AWI effort is our quest to end the torture inflicted on furbearing animals. AWI protects animals in laboratories including promotion of development of non-animal testing methods and prevention of painful experiments on animals by high school students.

Conservation International

Founded in 1987, Conservation International (CI) is an innovative leader in global biodiversity conservation. Our mission is to conserve the Earth's living heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature. We apply innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas as well as important marine regions around the globe. CI believes that Earth's natural heritage must be maintained if future generations are to thrive spiritually, culturally and economically. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents.

Natural Resource Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council's purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends. We work to restore the integrity of the elements that sustain life -- air, land and water -- and to defend endangered natural places. We seek to establish sustainability and good stewardship of the Earth as central ethical imperatives of human society. NRDC affirms the integral place of human beings in the environment. We strive to protect nature in ways that advance the long-term welfare of present and future generations. We work to foster the fundamental right of all people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment.

A note: NRDC does excellent work, but one of us (Jerry) is unhappy that they continue to use Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as a spokesman and senior attorney. Kennedy has been a vocal opponent of the proposed Cape Wind energy project. To its credit, NRDC as an organization has been supportive of Cape Wind, but their continued association with Kennedy is, in my opinion, unfortunate. If you elect to donate to NRDC, you may want to send them a note about this.

Sustainable Harvest International

Founded in 1997 by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Florence Reed, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) addresses the tropical deforestation crisis in Central America by providing farmers with sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture. SHI is building a global network of local partners working toward environmental, economic and social sustainability. SHI facilitates long-term collaboration among trained local staff, farmers and communities to implement sustainable land-use practices that alleviate poverty by restoring ecological stability. The 17 members of SHI's Central American staff work with more than 891 participating families in 90 communities in Honduras, Panamá, Belize and Nicaragua.

Heifer Project International

Founded in 1944, Heifer Project International is a humanitarian assistance organization that works to end world hunger and protect the earth. Through livestock, training and "passing on the gift," Heifer has helped seven million families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life and move toward greater self-reliance. Heifer helps build strong communities because each project participant agrees to pass on the gift of animal offspring, training, or skills to another family in need.

Update: This year my brother-in-law and I gave the older kids in our extended family "the gift of giving." We have them each a chunk of money to donate to the charitable cause of their choice. The organizations above were ideas to help them get started.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

First Turns

We've had 3 winter storms in the past 10 days, leaving a lot of snow on the ground. This morning Katy and I loaded skis into the back of the Jetta and headed out to the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (GMNWR) in Sudbury for some turns. We weren't disappointed. The snow was untracked, and there was enough depth to let us ski without worrying much about scarring our bases. Wheeeeeeee!

We started off with a little touring to get ourselves used to being back on skis, first south and eastward in the woods...

...and then north along the Sudbury River...

...and eventually west into what I call the "back bowl," where turns can be had.

GMNWR is a beautiful place, especially in winter. I'm glad Katy brought her camera.

And so, my first turns of the winter were gotten the way I like them best: earned without a lift in the quiet and solitude of the New England woods. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saying good-bye to Hyderabad

I'm finally sorting through pictures from the last few weeks in Hyderabad and our travels in northern India. This particular set of pictures is difficult for me to post, as they bring back a wash of feelings that I've not really worked through yet. My half-year in India is already starting to attain a certain dream-like quality - did it really happen? And what now?

These first few pictures really belong with my posting about Dasara; they're from Katy's camera, and I didn't have them available earlier.

This next picture is Katy and Srinivas having lunch. They spent a lot of time together in the last week before I stopped working and tried out a number of places for lunch. Srinivas was especially amused/pleased that Katy was willing to try eating rice with her fingers.

A few days after this was taken we left for Hampi, which was a sort of training trip for our later travels to Agra and Jaipur. Upon return, we had dinner with Preethi's family, and Katy got a new mehndi.

Then it was off to Dehli and 5 days that I have yet to write about. When we got back to Hyderabad it was time to sift through the trappings of my stay and say my good-byes. We motored around on Anu's scooter quite a bit, which enabled me to see a sunset from the park at Durgam Cheruvu - something I'd never done before, because I never wanted to be out on my bike after dark.

We also took some pictures of the temple near my home - which, amazingly, I hadn't done in the 6 months I lived here.

On the morning of our last day it was finally time to deliver my bicycle to Anil. I was pretty choked up for most of the ride.

Our last day was crazy: we also had to return Anu's scooter, complete some last-minute shopping and pay off my final BSNL bill - which turned into an insanely complicated process. We left the house later than planned, dropped a final load of cruft on Anil, had a farewell dinner at Chutneys and drove, at last, to the airport. Parting from Srinivas was really hard. Dealing with our excess baggage wasn't as difficult (or expensive...) as I had feared, and we were soon chilling in the business-class departure lounge. Here are a few lines from my journal entry:

We're through check-in, passport control and security screening, and now it's just a matter of waiting. In about 2 hours I'm leaving India, for a long time.

The past month has been a blur. Since Katy's arrival my orderly routine has been shot to hell, and since I stopped working on the October 25th (or whenever it was) and started traveling, complete chaos has set in.

And so I left India much as I arrived - dazed and confused, and a bit fretful about what was to come.

20 hours or so later we were back in Boston and waiting for a taxi at the airport.

I'll try to get to the Agra/Jaipur pictures soon.

One last comment: it snowed here on Thursday (2 days ago), and as I sit here in my home office, looking out at a monochromatic Cambridge winter, I feel very adrift. My Hyderabad friends - I miss you.