2012: The Year of the Cooperative
2012-02-01, Yes! Magazine
The United Nations has named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and indeed, co-ops seem poised to become a dominant business model around the world. Today, nearly one billion people worldwide are cooperative member-owners. In Ethiopia, cooperation helps women and men rise above poverty. In Germany, half of renewable energy is owned by citizens. In America, 93 million credit union member-owners control $920 billion in assets. And in Basque Country, a 50-year-old worker co-op has grown to become a multinational, cooperative corporation. Founded in 1956 ... Mondragón is the world’s largest cooperative, and Spain’s seventh largest business. Mondragón has operations in 19 countries and employs 83,000 worker-owners. Yet for every international job the company creates, it employs two people in Spain. The UN ... in 2012 will dedicate its efforts to raising awareness of co-ops, helping them grow and influencing governments to support them legislatively. Thirty percent of Americans belong to cooperatively-owned credit unions, the largest of which serves 3.4 million Department of Defense employees and has $45 billion in assets. “Cooperatives ... promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people. [They] are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty.” - UN Resolution 64/136, 2010. The cooperative model is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing business model by 2025. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon [says] “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”
Note: How sad that we've heard hardly a peep out of the major media about this inspiring trend towards cooperatives. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.
Icelandic Anger Brings Debt Forgiveness in Best Recovery Story
Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.” Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year. The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.
Note: The amazing story of the Icelandic people demanding bank reform is one of the most underreported stories in recent years. Why isn't this all over the news? To see what top journalists say about news censorship, click here. For blatant manipulations of the big banks reported in the major media, click here.
Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump, Report Finds
2012-03-07, New York Times
A World Bank report shows a broad-based reduction in extreme poverty - and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists' expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world. The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty - on less than $1.25 a day - fell in every developing region between 2005 and 2008. And the biggest recession since the Great Depression seems not to have thrown that trend off course, preliminary data from 2010 indicate. The progress is so dramatic that the world has met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline. That is contrary to the World Bank's own expectations. In a year-end 2008 report, the Washington-based development institution warned: "Unemployment is on the rise in industrial countries and poverty is set to increase across low- and middle income countries, bringing with it a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world's most vulnerable." But that did not
happen. Surveys for 2010 show that the proportion of people in the developing world living in extreme poverty fell. That is because of strong growth in countries like Brazil, India and especially China, growth that helped buoy economies in Africa and South America.
Calif. HS student devises possible cancer cure
2012-01-13, CBS News
Born to Chinese immigrants, 17-year-old Angela Zhang of Cupertino, California is a typical American teenager. She's really into shoes and is just learning how to drive. But there is one thing that separates her from every other student at Monta Vista High School, something she first shared with her chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta. It's a research paper Angela wrote in her spare time -- and it is advanced, to say the least. "Cure for cancer -- a high school student," said Gupta. "It's just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this." When she was a freshman, she started reading doctorate level papers on bio-engineering. By sophomore year she'd talked her way into the lab at Stanford, and by junior year was doing her own research. Angela's idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles -- nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI, so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought [of aiming] an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed. It'll take years to know if it works in humans -- but in mice -- the tumors almost completely disappeared. Angela recently entered her project in the national Siemens science contest. It was no contest. She got a check for $100,000.
Note: If this technique has already melted tumors in mice, why is CBS saying it will take years to know if it works in humans? Why wouldn't millions be poured in to fast track research on this exciting technology?
Two Degrees energy bars support famine relief
2012-01-13, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
For every Two Degrees energy bar purchased, the company provides a peanut-paste packet to a starving child in Malawi through its partnership with Valid Nutrition. The idea of feeding starving children through business came from a pairing of two entrepreneurs at opposite ends of their career. Will Hauser, a 2008 graduate of Harvard University, did a yearlong stint at Goldman Sachs before settling on his true passion - entrepreneurship. His business partner, Lauren Walters, is a seasoned entrepreneur. But both are fairly new to tackling some of the world's most serious problems like famine and hunger. A decade ago, Walters became involved with Boston nonprofit group Partners in Health, and six years ago he had his first encounter with malnourished children. During a trip with the organization in Rwanda, he was struck by the severity of the situation and the lack of ready-to-use therapeutic foods being made locally. The therapeutic foods are packets of a nutrition paste fortified with vitamins and minerals designed to reverse malnutrition. Four years later, Walters met Steve Collins, a doctor who had worked in famine relief for two decades, at the Oxford Skoll Forum. There, Walters' business acumen combined with Collins' humanitarian ambitions. Collins and his business partner, Paul Murphy, had started Valid Nutrition, which produces the packets of nutrition paste in Africa, relying on local farmers, labor and suppliers.
Note: For many other highly inspiring articles reported in the major media, click here.
2009-07-05, New York Times
Like others in the so-called good-food movement, [Will] Allen, who is 60, asserts that our industrial food system is depleting soil, poisoning water, gobbling fossil fuels and stuffing us with bad calories. Like others, he advocates eating locally grown food. But to Allen, local doesn't mean a rolling pasture or even a suburban garden: it means 14 greenhouses crammed onto two acres in a working-class neighborhood on Milwaukee's northwest side, less than half a mile from the city's largest public-housing project. And this is why Allen is so fond of his worms. When you're producing a quarter of a million dollars' worth of food in such a small space, soil fertility is everything. Without microbe- and nutrient-rich worm castings (poop, that is), Allen's Growing Power farm couldn't provide healthful food to 10,000 urbanites — through his on-farm retail store, in schools and restaurants, at farmers' markets and in low-cost market baskets delivered to neighborhood pickup points. He couldn't employ scores of people, some from the nearby housing project; continually train farmers in intensive polyculture; or convert millions of pounds of food waste into a version of black gold. With seeds planted at quadruple density and nearly every inch of space maximized to generate exceptional bounty, Growing Power is an agricultural Mumbai, a supercity of upward-thrusting tendrils and duct-taped infrastructure.
Note: For another excellent article on this most amazing man and the urban farming movement, click here.
‘Wild Old Women’ Close San Francisco Bank Of America Branch
2012-01-05, KCBS (CBS News San Francisco Affiliate)
It was a slow-moving Occupy Wall Street protest, but it was an effective one. A dozen senior citizens calling themselves “the wild old women” succeeded in closing a Bank of America branch in Bernal Heights Thursday. The women, aged 69 to 82, who live at the senior home up Mission street from the Bernal Heights Bank of America branch, decided to hold their own protest by doing what they called a “run on the bank.” Tita Caldwell, 80, who led the charge of women with walkers and wheelchairs, said that they’re demanding the bank lower fees, pay higher taxes, and stop foreclosing on, and evicting, homeowners. ”We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” said Caldwell. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.” As they arrived, Bank of America closed and locked its doors, to the surprise and delight of the elderly protestors, who said that they had no intention of storming the bank. The women waved signs, but didn’t march or chant, with one woman on supplemental oxygen adding that the group was too old for that.
A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles
2011-10-24, New York Times
“Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program ... distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments. Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. [Host Amy] Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed. The media, Ms. Goodman said in an interview last week, can be “the greatest force for peace on earth” for “it is how we come to understand each other.” But she asserted that the views of a majority of Americans had been “silenced by the corporate media.” “Which is why we have to take it back,” she said.
Note: Up until now, there has been a virtual ban on mentioning the important work of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Could this be a signal of some real change?
US sees big drop in violence despite economic woes
2011-09-17, MSNBC/Associated Press
The number of violent crimes fell by a surprising 12 percent in the United States last year, a far bigger drop than the nation has been averaging since 2001, the Justice Department said. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009. Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010. The big drop dwarfs the 3 percent yearly decline in violent crimes the nation averaged from 2001 through 2009. More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a plunge in simple assaults, by 15 percent. Those assaults accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent crimes in 2010. The combined total of property crimes and violent crimes was down 6.6 percent last year, from 20 million to 18.7 million. From 1993 through 2010, the rate of violent crime has declined by a whopping 70 percent: from 49.9 violent crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to only 14.9 per 1,000 in 2010.
Note: A 70 percent drop in violent crime in the last 20 years - that's amazing! Why isn't this inspiring news making top headlines? For excellent FBI graphs and more showing this dramatic decrease in crime, click here.
Shocking photo created a hero, but not to his family
2011-05-16, CNN News
The mob was already waiting for James Zwerg by the time the Greyhound bus eased into the station in Montgomery, Alabama. Looking out the window, Zwerg could see men gripping baseball bats, chains and clubs. They had sealed off the streets leading to the bus station and chased away news photographers. They didn't want anyone to witness what they were about to do. Zwerg accepted his worst fear: He was going to die today. Only the night before, Zwerg had prayed for the strength to not strike back in anger. He was among the 18 white and black college students from Nashville who had decided to take the bus trip through the segregated South in 1961. They called themselves Freedom Riders. Their goal was to desegregate public transportation. Zwerg had not planned to go, but the night before, some students had asked him to join them. To summon his courage, Zwerg stayed up late, reading Psalm 27, the scripture that the students had picked to read during a group prayer before their trip. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?" the Psalm began. But there was another passage at the end that touched Zwerg in a place the other students didn't know about: "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." Zwerg's parents had forsaken him for joining the civil rights movement.
Note: For another amazingly inspiring story of a man in the civil rights movement who faced death by hatred with compassion, click here. And for a powerfully inspiring New York Times article on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, click here. We have clearly come a long way in building more harmony between races.
Marc Gold travels Asia paying it forward through little acts of kindness
2011-04-04, Christian Science Monitor
Marc Gold spends most of his time on the road. One month he may be in India or Afghanistan; the next he's in Cambodia or Vietnam, both of which he's visited numerous times. But he doesn't travel to see the sights. The retired community-college professor from San Francisco pursues his own brand of tourism: philanthropic travel. "I go where the poor people are," Mr. Gold says. Everywhere he goes, Gold performs acts of kindness, both random and preplanned. He rarely spends more than a few hundred dollars. "For people who live on a dollar or less a day, $50 can make a big difference," says Gold, who has been dubbed "the shoestring philanthropist." [Traveling to India in 1989] led to an epiphany. "I'd thought you had to be rich to do such things," he recalls. "I realized I had the power to help change people's lives." Back home, he asked a hundred friends for small donations and was soon back in India with $2,200. He then set up a nonprofit charity and called it 100 Friends. Two decades later, 100 Friends has some 4,000 members worldwide, and last year Gold raised $200,000. He continues fundraising via his portable office: a laptop, a digital camera, and a cellphone. "This is 80 percent of what I own," Gold says during a stopover in Bangkok, pointing at two duffel bags stuffed with his clothes, dog-eared paperbacks, and his large collection of wacky rubber masks. The latter he uses for clowning around with children from Tibet to Thailand. "I don't need much, and I'm free."
Note: For a great collection of highly inspiring news articles, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring resources calling us all to our greatness, click here.
The myth of the panicking disaster victim
2011-03-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Before the Second World War, the Ministry of War confidently predicted what would happen when London was bombed from the air by Nazi planes. There would be, they warned, "a mass outbreak of hysterical neurosis among the civilian population". The same predictions are made about every disaster – that once the lid of a tightly policed civilization is knocked off for a second, humans will become beasts. But the opposite is the case. It sounds grotesque to say we should see reasons for hope as we watch in real time while the earth is shaken six inches on its axis, tsunamis roar, and nuclear power stations teeter on meltdown. But it is true. From this disaster, we can learn something fundamental about our species. The evidence gathered over centuries of disasters, natural and man-made, is overwhelming. The vast majority of people, when a disaster hits, behave in the aftermath as altruists. They organise spontaneously to save their fellow human beings, to share what they have, and to show kindness. They reveal themselves to be better people than they ever expected. When the social scientist Enrico Quarantelli tried to write a thesis on how people descend into chaos and panic after disasters, he concluded: "My God! I can't find any instances of it." On the contrary, he wrote, in disasters "the social order does not break down... Co-operative rather than selfish behaviour predominates".
Note: For a beautiful example of how people come together to help and support each other in the face of a major crisis, read the inspiring "Letter from Sendai" which has gone viral on the Internet at this link.
Equal Rights Takes to the Barricades
2011-02-01, New York Times
CAIRO — People here are not afraid anymore — and it just may be that a woman helped break that barrier of fear. Asmaa Mahfouz was celebrating her 26th birthday on Tuesday among tens of thousands of Egyptians as they took to the streets, parting with old fears in a bid to end President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian, single-party rule. “As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope.” That was what Ms. Mahfouz had to say in a video she posted online more than two weeks ago. She spoke straight to the camera and held a sign saying she would go out and protest to try to bring down Mr. Mubarak’s regime. It was a woman who dared put a face to the message, unfazed by the possibility of arrest for her defiance. “Do not be afraid,” she said. To her surprise, dozens of other people picked up on the spirit of her message and started to post their own pictures, holding similar signs to their chests that declared their intent to take to the streets. Ms. Mahfouz is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group of young, Internet-savvy activists who have been credited with a leading role in organizing the mass protests. She uses Facebook and Twitter as convenient methods for organizing and disseminating messages but finds that talking to people face to face is the best way to motivate them. Although it is still overwhelmingly men demonstrating, there is a new quality to the way Egyptians walk the streets now. “Everyone used to say there is no hope, that no one will turn up on the street, that the people are passive,” Ms. Mahfouz said. “But the barrier of fear was broken!”
Note: Watch this video and learn how without this one woman, Mubarak might still be in power. One person can make a huge difference. For powerful and inspiring information on the military/industrial complex and what we can do to make a difference, click here.
Children who lend a helping hand show they can make a difference and change the world
2010-12-27, Christian Science Monitor
Parents want their kids and teens to care about others. The good news is that children "are sort of hard-wired" to want to help others, says Michael Ungar, author of "The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids." While adults do wonderful things to help others, even more amazing is the number of children and teens who are "making a difference". Danielle Gram spent her childhood in Maryland in the years following the 9/11 attacks. "I really didn't understand why people from different cultures wanted to kill each other," says Ms. Gram, now 21 years old and a senior at Harvard University. In 2006, together with Jill McManigal ... Gram, then 16, founded Kids for Peace, a nonprofit, child-led group that inspires kids to work together toward a more peaceful world. Today Kids for Peace has more than 75 chapters. In August, its Great Kindness Challenge, where children try to see how many acts of kindness they can perform in a single day, drew thousands of participants in 50 countries. In November, she was named a winner of the World of Children award. "The passion to create a less violent world has really followed me throughout my life," Gram says. But a family tragedy last year brought it closer to home. Her only brother was murdered while on vacation. "It's certainly been a struggle. But every single one of my immediate family members has a deeper conviction that nonviolence is the way to respond." After graduation next spring, Gram hopes to work on peace issues in Bangladesh or at a refugee camp in Africa. Either way, she'll carry on with Kids for Peace, too.
Note: For a great collection of other inspiring news articles, click here.
Once a rising star, chef now feeds hungry
Narayanan Krishnan was a bright, young, award-winning chef with a five-star hotel group, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. But a quick family visit home before heading to Europe changed everything. "I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food," Krishnan said. "It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime." Haunted by the image, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new destiny. "That spark and that inspiration is a driving force still inside me as a flame -- to serve all the mentally ill destitutes and people who cannot take care of themselves," Krishnan said. Krishnan founded his nonprofit Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- to India's homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people abandoned by their families and often abused. Krishnan said the name Akshaya is Sanskrit for "undecaying" or "imperishable," and was chosen "to signify [that] human compassion should never decay or perish. The spirit of helping others must prevail for ever." He seeks out the homeless under bridges and in the nooks and crannies between the city's temples. The hot meals he delivers are simple, tasty vegetarian fare he personally prepares, packs and often hand-feeds to nearly 400 clients each day. Krishnan carries a comb, scissors and razor and is trained in eight haircut styles that, along with a fresh shave, provide extra dignity to those he serves.
Note: For other inspiring stories of everyday heroes like this, click here.
The Giving Pledge: Billionaires Promise to Donate at Least Half Their Fortunes to Charity
2010-08-04, ABC News
At the urging of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, forty of the world's richest families have promised to give at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy. By taking the "Giving Pledge," the forty families or individuals, most of whom are billionaires, are promising a collective sum of at least $125 billion to charitable causes, based on Forbes' current estimates of their net worth and other data sources. According to the pledge, the giving can occur either during donors' lifetimes or after their passing. Each has committed at least 50 percent of their net worth, but many have committed to larger percentages, Buffett said. The men and women taking the pledge are free to direct their money to causes of their choice, and the organization is not pooling any money or dictating areas of need. In fact, the pledge is non-binding, though the organizers say the billionaires are making a "moral commitment," publicly signing their names to letters posted on a website, GivingPledge.org. Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates reached out to some 80 members of the Forbes billionaires list, asking them to sign on. Buffett wrote that by spending any more than one percent of his fortune on his own family, "neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others."
Note: For one of the great organizations behind this cause, click here.
Five-year-old's 911 call saves dad's life
2010-01-06, WTHR-TV (Indianapolis NBC affiliate)
It took a five-year-old girl to save her father's life. She talked to 911 dispatchers when she thought her father was having a heart attack. About 9:30 Monday night, Hancock county dispatcher Jason Bonham got a call. At first, he couldn't understand the person who was on the line. A man was in distress and unable to speak. That's when Savannah, the man's five-year-old daughter, picked up the phone. "My dad can't hardly breathe," she told Bonham. The call to 911 came from a cell phone, so dispatchers didn't automatically have an address. With her father's help, the little voice clearly repeated their street address, and with time of the essence, gave dispatchers all the information they needed. "Is your Daddy still awake?"
"Yeah." "Most people when you talk to them, they're hysterical," said Bonham. Her calm was not nearly as surprising as her tender age. "How old are you?" "I'm five years old." For nearly ten minutes she stayed on the line, handling a scary situation with courage and grace. "He looks like he's real shaky," Savannah said.
"You're doing a good job, all right, Savannah? They should be there in a few minutes." "How many minutes?" "Okay, you have to stay awake they'll be here in a couple minutes." "It's okay, Dad." Savannah is now credited for saving her father's life. The girl's father was back at work Wednesday as doctors try to figure out what happened.
Note: For an awesome four-minute video of this inspiring event, click here.
Ballard man recalls pulling girl from fiery car and a vision days later
2010-10-27, Seattle Times
It would take an unusual man to decide, in a split second after witnessing a car crash, to crawl into the Subaru that had erupted into flames 8 feet high to try to save a little girl and her dad. Early Thursday evening in Ballard, that is what Kenny Johnson did. He remembers talking to himself as he went into the Subaru: "Oh, my God, this car is gonna blow up and I'm going to be in it. Well, if does blow up, I guess I'm going straight to heaven because I'm trying to save that little girl." He did save the 3-year-old, Anna Kotowicz, who suffered a broken arm and some bruising. Her dad, Andy Kotowicz, 37, who had just picked up his daughter at day care, died at Harborview Medical Center three days later. Amid the crackling and popping of the car on fire, Johnson says he heard the cries of the 3-year-old, "a beautiful princess with blonde hair and blue eyes. I go to the passenger side. I don't remember this, but people afterward told me that when I couldn't open the door, I ripped it off the hinges. I jump into the car. For a few seconds, it's like there is no sound, no smell, everything is in slow motion. I can't explain it any other way." Days passed, and Johnson went back to his routine. That is, until Tuesday morning around 6, he says. "Then there is this man standing right by the bed. He says he needs help with a few things. He says he wants me to give a message to his wife and to his daughter. He also tells me to talk to the people at Sub Pop [his workplace], he wants to let them know not to be mad at the driver that caused the accident. That's his message." Johnson says that later that day, he went to the Sub Pop website, and there it was, a memorial photo of the man who had stood by his bed: Kotowicz.
A town crier in the global village
2010-09-02, The Economist magazine
Nearly four years ago, a web-based political movement set itself the modest task of “closing the gap between the world we have and world most people everywhere want”. Calling their group Avaaz, which means “voice” in several languages, ... the movement, using 14 languages and engaged in a mind-boggling list of causes, has had some spectacular successes. Within the next few months, membership will top 6m. The number of individual actions taken (from bombarding a politician with a well-aimed message, or funding a poster campaign, to helping provide satellite phones to Burmese monks) is estimated at over 23m. Among the recent developments Avaaz claims to have influenced are a new anti-corruption law in Brazil; a move by Britain to create a marine-conservation zone in the Indian Ocean; and the spiking of a proposal to allow more hunting of whales. Avaaz’s campaign against the death sentence for adultery imposed on an Iranian woman asks members to phone Iranian embassies (and provides numbers); members are also being urged to put pressure on the leaders of Brazil and Turkey to intercede with Iran. Avaaz is collecting funds for a campaign in the Brazilian and Turkish press, too. Avaaz’s other demands range from the simple -— close Guantánamo -— to the very broad: fight climate change, avoid a clash of civilisations. Despite the risk of blurred signals, the variety of causes is also a strength.
Note: Consider signing up at Avaaz.org to join in the powerful advocacy work they are doing.
Baltimore Artist's Art, Spirit Triumph Over Disability
Dan Keplinger was born with severe cerebral palsy. But at 30, he's already a successful artist, the subject of an Oscar-winning film called "King Gimp," and he's finishing his second college degree. Keplinger insists on doing everything for himself. To paint, Keplinger wiggles into headgear, then kneels over a canvas, hugging himself tightly to keep his arms from flailing. Many of Keplinger's works are self-portraits or reference his disability. "King Gimp" charts Keplinger's experience in a regular public school, his discovery of art and his entry into college. The 40-minute film won an Oscar in 1999 for best short subject documentary. His art continues to garner fans and critical acclaim. "Many of Keplinger's paintings are in some way autobiographical," [NPR reporter Neda] Ulaby says. "His bearded face flickers from the canvas, the eyes empty hollows. He looks both vulnerable and blank. It isn't easy to separate Keplinger's story from his art." Keplinger explains it simply: "Art... is... my... life."
Note: For one of the most inspiring one-minute videos ever made, watch the clip featuring Dan at this link.