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The Seattle Foundation is launching its annual GiveBig campaign today, and over these next 24 hours you can have your chance to make an impact – and increase it! The campaign is supporting over 1,300 nonprofit organizations by enlarging donations made to each of those organizations today. Needless to say, we’re delighted to be one of them!

The stretch

Give to Jolkona through the Seattle Foundation’s webpage between midnight and 11.59pm (Pacific Time) today, May 2 2012, and you will receive a pro-rated portion of the matching funds from their “stretch pool”. The amount of “stretch” depends on the size of the stretch pool and how much is raised in total donations on GiveBig day. For example, if Jolkona receives 3% of the total donations during GiveBig, then it will receive 3% percent of the stretch pool.

Put more simply: the more you give to Jolkona, the more the Seattle foundation will match.

The Kona fund: help us help others

We have over 120 projects at Jolkona. And today we’re asking you to support one of our very own, the Kona fund. By giving to Jolkona via the Seattle Foundation you enable us to continue our mission: to reach out to and connect a new generation of philanthropists with our global partners and their projects through our innovative microgiving online platform.

Give Back. GiveBig

Here’s your chance to help us help others. Give to Jolkona via the Seattle Foundation webpage and watch your donation stretch. To do so, follow the very simple instructions:

  1. Go to Jolkona’page on The Seattle Foundation website today between 12am and 11.59pm (PT). (To be eligible for stretch funds, your donation must be made through The Seattle Foundation website).
  2. Click on ‘Donate Now”. Donations can only be made by credit card. Give a little – or a lot – and watch it stretch!
  3. Tell others about your donation through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Encourage your friends to GiveBIG to Jolkona.

Stretch your donation; enlarge the love. GiveBig.

 

In the world of philanthropy, World Give Day is a relatively new kid on the block compared to many of the other celebrated days of awareness. As a non-profit in our infant days ourselves, development is something we can relate to, which is why World Give Day gets our vote!

This year, World Give Day turns 2 and will be celebrating its third annual event. Friday May 4th is World Give Day 2012.

World Give Day came about when GiveForward co-founder realized that while there were a few days set aside in the philanthropic calendar to encourage people to volunteer (last week’s National Volunteer Week being one of them), there weren’t any devoted specifically to encourage people to give. She decided to fill that void, and thus World Give Day was born.

What is it about?

The idea is wonderfully simple: creating unexpected joy by giving. And similar to Earth Day, there aren’t any rules or regulations about what and how you give. You can give your time volunteering, you can give your money by donating to a project, you can even give someone a smile or a hug. It truly doesn’t matter. At its epicenter, it is about getting more people to become actively involved in their community to raise awareness about their favorite cause. If there’s something you’re passionate about, then give in that name and show how a small gift can make a big impact.

Spread the word: Crowdfunding

One of the best things you can do to participate in World Give Day is simply by telling people about World Give Day. Start a conversation with a friend, like the World Give Day Facebook page, follow World Give Day on Twitter and tweet using the #giveday hasthtag. When people start talking, things start happening. And when things start happening, then crowdfunding happens.

What is crowdfunding? It is the collective effort of people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. These supported efforts can be anything from disaster relief and non-profit support to political campaigns or startup companies seeking fundraising. Crowdfunding has preserved communities, saved lives, and transformed our capacity to give entirely with our hearts and visibly see the effect of our giving directly.

We like crowdfunding at Jolkona. It epitomizes what we’re about – people making small donations that make a big impact. And every small donation, like a drop of water, collects to make that ocean of difference.

With over 120+ projects you can be the difference and we will show the change. Be the difference, see the change here. Participate in World Give Day.

 

 

In 1969 an oil platform off the Californian coast of Santa Barbara blew out, unleashing a ghastly environmental nightmare. A nation stood appalled and watched as an entire ecosystem drowned in the toxic filth of crude oil. Out of the horror of its aftermath, and in an effort to bring a greater social consciousness of environment protection, Earth Day was born and first celebrated on April 22nd 1970.

42 years later the environmental issues that plague this planet rage ever louder, but so too does the crusading Earth Day. This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day 2012.

What is it about?

The Earth Day Network connects with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the environmental movement. On Sunday over 1 billion people will voice their love and appreciation for this planet whilst demanding for its protection. It is a campaign designed to provide people with the opportunity to unite in their call for a sustainable future, directing them toward quantifiable outcomes. One of those quantifiable outcomes is the Billion Acts of Green project. Yes, that’s one billion not one million.

A Billion Acts of Green

This mother of all projects encourages individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to support the campaign by performing environmental actions, such as biking to work, picking up garbage off the street, or planting a tree. The goal is to reach one billion actions by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. The accomplishment will be presented at the Rio +20 Conference to be used as a lever addressing the UN’s inaction and inspiring leaders to reach a global agreement.

What can I do?

Simple: pledge any act of green you can think of and let the people at Earth Day know here. At Jolkona we have 16 partners that are directly involved in environmental protection. With $5 your donation plants trees in countries from the Philippines, through India, Senegal, to Haiti. With $10 your donation teaches youth in Costa Rica about water conservation. With $24 your donation conserves rainforests in Tanzania. With $40 your donation builds a fuel efficient stove for a family in Nepal. With $100 your donation trains environmental youth advocates in Kenya.

Go to our projects page and select ‘Environment’ under the ‘Projects’ column to view all the appropriate projects. Join us and a billion others in the call and pledge to protect our planet Earth.

For more information, resources, and ideas go to the Earth Day website.

Follow and share the movement on Facebook and Twitter.

Tweet using the #earthday hashtag.

We all know it, “awesome” is one of the most exhaustively misused words in the English language. A video on the internet of a man falling off a chair goes viral, racking up 1 million hits in a day. This is, apparently, awesome. No, this is not awesome. If something is awesome, it is supposed to inspire awe. It should elicit a reaction of overwhelming admiration. Chances are, if something is truly awesome, you might find yourself speechless, which is why it took me one hour to find the opening line to begin this post. The Give2Girls campaign was awesome.

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we launched our second Give2Girls campaign, which ran for the full 31 days of March. Our aim was to empower girls and women the world over. We wanted to write our own chapter in the story of women’s history. This year, with the invaluable help of CRAVE and Women@Google, we had a bountiful matching fund of $6,000. Our goal was to raise $12,000. It is with much excitement – and awe – that I can announce that the total raised was:

$25,061

We are so thankful to everyone who participated – everyone. To those who donated, to those who blogged, to those who tweeted and re-tweeted, and to those who gave up their time and energy. A very special thanks must be reserved for Zanoon Nissar and Jessan Hutchison-Quillian for their munificent contribution to the matching funds. The awareness you’ve created and the impact you’ve made has been monumental. So to all of you: way to be feminists!

See the impact for yourself:

Underwrite 2 Day of Training & Counseling in Haiti
Transportation for 2 Midwives in Palestine
Training for 8 women in bio-intensive farming methods in Kenya
Training for 8 Young Woman Trainers in Nepal
Training for 6 Girls in Pakistan
Diarrhea Treatment for 2 Girls in India
2 Girls to attend Day School in China
1 Field Trip in Tanzania
1 Year of Education in Liberia
The Rescue of 6 Girls in Nepal
Transportation to Meet with 8 Weavers in Peru
School Uniforms to 3 Girls in Liberia
School Supplies to 52 Girls in Liberia
School Supplies for 4 School-aged Weavers in Peru
Oral Rehydration Salts to 20 People in Somalia
One Year of Schooling to 2 Girls in Liberia
20 Woman Access to Clothing in Seattle, WA
6 Technology Classes in USA
7 Semesters of Education in Liberia
8 Life Skills Class in USA
Medical Supplies for 15 Weeks in Bangladesh
Lower Level Literacy Education for 26 Women in Afghanistan
Health and Hygiene Training for 3 Women in Kenya
Food for 10 Weeks in Uganda
25 Health Kits in Somalia
Farm Training to 8 Women in Sudan
Clean Water to 8 Families in Guatemala
13 Water Construction Tools in Kenya
A Stipend  for 1 Week in USA
156 Months of Oral Contraceptives in Nepal
22 Week of Health Screening in Bangladesh
5 weeks of care for a mother and her baby in Guatemala
1 Stove to 2 Families in Nepal
16 Solar Lamps in Tanzania
28 Personal Hygiene Kit in Tanzania
1 Month of Transportation in Tanzania
9 Hygiene Kits in Tanzania
6 Bag of Seeds in Nicaragua
10 “Safe Birth” Kits in Palestine
20 Fruit Trees in Tanzania
1-on-1 Care to three Woman in USA
10 Girls 1 Year of Public School Education in Pakistan
Funding for a Skills Workshop for 11 Weavers for 1 Year in Peru
Food for 3 Families of 6 People for 3 Weeks in Somalia
1 Week of a Cook’s Salary in Tanzania
3 Built Stoves in Nepal
Adoption of 3 Mothers in India



 

Well known is the fact that the vast majority of the water you “drink” comes from what you eat. The amount of water it takes to produce food, however, is less well known.

Today is UN’s World Water Day. On Tuesday we prefaced this event by posting an infographic about water wastage. This year the UN are highlighting this problem as connected not just to the amount of water we are frittering away down our drains, but to the kinds of food we are consuming.

Here’s why: for example, to produce one potato requires 25 liters of water. On the other hand, to produce a hamburger requires a swimmy 2400 liters of water. A little shy of one hundred times the amount. This means the production of food relies overwhelmingly on the consumption of water. Indeed:

90% of water consumption is used to produce today’s food.

Put another way, food = water. That means wasted food = wasted water. And when it’s calculated that 1/3 of the world’s food production goes to waste, the situation becomes alarmingly critical.

With the world’s mushrooming population and fresh water already in scant supply, to ignore this issue is folly. Worse, it’s tragic. This is a serious ethical problem as the people it unjustly devastates are those in developing countries.

The UN have set out some simple guidelines for the privileged, like you and I, to follow in order to reduce this appalling waste, and therefore to leave greater supplies for those whose lives depend on it:

  • Choose a healthier, sustainable diet – food of better quality with less water
  • Consume less water-intensive products
  • Reduce your food wastage

At Jolkona we support a Clean Water project for women in Kenya. The project provides essential tools for building water construction systems. The aim is to help bring clean water and a sustainable water system to communities, as well as to empower local women to participate in income-generating activities. The project is also featured in our Give2Girls campaign. So far we have reached $13,000. Help us achieve our goal of $15,000 before the end of this Women’s History Month and donate to this project here.The world is thirsty because we are hungry. Quench that thirst. Impact here.

Spread the news and bring awareness to others: –

– Share this post with the people you know

– Tweet using the #WorldWaterDay hashtag

– Follow us on Facebook

For more information and resources about World Water Day go to the UN’s website here.

Don’t invest in women and 150 million people could starve. FACT. This infographic illustrates perfectly just one of the myriad reasons why we must invest in women. Be it on our own heads if we don’t. Let’s not allow it to get to that point; Give2Girls.

Give women farmers in Sudan the resources, the education, and the chance  to be more productive here or provide sustainable bio-intensive farm training for women in Kenya to help them improve their yields  here.  Or look for our other projects with the Give2Girls logo

to see how you can empower the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today. Donate to any of these and we will match your donation up to $500!

Go to our campaign page to find out more.

Tell your friends about the Give2Girls campaign.

Follow us and share our updates on Facebook.

Tweet using the #give2girls hashtag.


 

There’s a nothing like a bit of jargon-busting from time to time, especially when it concerns a word that is heavily used. A word like empowerment, for example – we talk about it a lot at Jolkona. But why? What is it about empowerment that is so fundamental to our vision as a non-profit? The answer to that question lies in the relationship between power and justice: one of the core functions of justice is granting power to those who need it. Take any situation of injustice, chronic or temporary, and at its root will be an imbalance or abuse of power.

In America there is an imbalance of power in the meat industry. Small scale farmers are marginalized due to agricultural pressures to yield high quantity (not quality) at minimum costs. In the world there is an imbalance in the allocation of wealth, and one of the many countries that suffer interminably because of this is Sudan. Here farmers lack sufficient resources and access to agricultural education. Imbalances of power in the farming industry are local and global. So that’s why we started the Eat Local, Give Global campaign.

What was it about?

The goal was two-fold: to raise awareness of America’s overlooked local farming industry, whilst raising funds to provide tools and agricultural education for women farmers in Sudan. To do this we partnered with the brilliant and munificent Bill the Butcher, a Seattle-based chain of neighborhood butcher shops that supports sustainable farming practices by selling grass fed, natural meats from local farmers and ranchers. The funds were raised in three ways:

1) You could donate online through Jolkona via the campaign page

2) Customers could donate in any one of the six shops around Seattle

3) Bill the Butcher generously donated 10% of its sales on Thursdays and Fridays to the campaign

To throw in a bit of competition, we devised the Great Meat Race. This was a competition to see which of the six shops could raise the most of amount of money via customer and online donations.

What was the impact?

Some – but not all – of the results are in. We do not yet know the winner of the Great Meat Race, neither do we know the final amount raised including the 10% donation from Bill the Butcher’s Thursdays and Fridays sales. However, we do have the results from the donations made online and in the shops by you the donors. Remember: $30 covers the cost for one Sudanese woman to attend 2 days of farming classes, providing her with essential knowledge and tools which she can share with her entire village.

Through donations made online and in the shops, over $1170 was raised, providing training for 39 women.

Returning, then, to complete my jargon-busting: the crux of empowerment is not exercising power on someone’s behalf; rather, it is the placing of power into their own hands. And in this campaign the power was education and tools, both of which the women farmers in Sudan can utilize to change their own lives, that of their families, and that of their entire community. This is empowerment. Sincerest thanks to all who donated.

Stay tuned to find out which shop wins the Great Meat Race, and also for the final total raised and impact made….

And don’t forget: you are what you meat.

 

 

 

 

One of the things we’re encouraged to do here at Jolkona is to find projects that resonate with us personally. Jolkona has some 120 projects, so that’s not so hard a thing to do. And the idea is to really invest ourselves in those favorite projects: to learn about them, to draw attention to them, to love them. Our motto – Your choice. Your world. Your impact. – is not just an alluring marketing slogan; it’s an attitude, creed, and work ethic that is congruent with our very own grassroots. And the 12 Days of Giving Campaign epitomizes that spirit. (To understand more about those grassroots, watch this excellent talk given by our CEO, Adnan Mahmud, at last year’s TEDXRainier conference.)

What was the campaign about?

The 12 Days of Giving Campaign saw all of us at Jolkona split into 12 teams. Each team picked a project they wanted to support and set a target for how much they wanted to raise. To promote the project, every team made a video regarding what the project was about and why they were supporting it. Then each on each of the 12 days leading up to December 25th one project was revealed on our campaign page. The goal was to raise as much support as we could to achieve the targets each team set for themselves. Take a look at the creative videos promoting the projects at our campaign page.

What was the impact?

The figures are in. The efforts were sterling. Here is the impact:

6 months of psychological care for 12 orphaned children in Bolivia. Project partner: Friends of Orphans.

12 children in India medicated against life threatening diarrhea. Project partner: Calcutta Kids.

1 month of education for 22 disabled children in Nepal. Project partner: The Rose International Fund for Children.

1 month’s literacy education for 9 children in India. Project partner: India Rural Development Fund.

28 children received night classes in the tsunami-ravaged Prefecture of Migayi in Japan. Project partner: iLeap/Katariba.

7 publications in the Snowland Tibetan Women’s Journal. Project partner: Machik.

8 full lunches for Peruvian weavers and their families. Project partner: Awamaki.

2 semesters of text-books, midday meals, and uniform for a child in India. Project partner: Inida Rural Development Fund.

$489 in working capital for aspiring entrepreneurs in India. Project partner: Upaya.

7 Notebooks for youth classes at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. Project partner: Pacific Science Center.

6 months of schooling and medical costs for 2 children in Bangladesh. Project partner: Distressed Children & Infants International.

3 months of peer tutoring for a child in the U.S. Project partner: Soccer in the Streets.

The lives of many have been touched; the lives of real people with real needs. Thank you to everyone who participated and donated their time, money, and energy.

The 2011 holiday season, then, was truly a season for giving the gift of impact. Quarter 4 was our best quarter yet at Jolkona, sending $70k to our partners.  And here’s the challenge: that our giving not be something purely seasonal, because the ability to choose is not seasonal; it’s perennial. It’s your choice, your world, your impact.

Make a choice here.

 

Has your Mum ever sent you a Valentine’s card? I’m quite certain mine has – and on many occasions. You see, there was a period in my life from when I was about eleven to when I was seventeen or eighteen years old, where on every February 14th I would receive a blank Valentine’s card in the mail. Sweet but also mysterious. More intriguing was the fact that each year the handwriting on the envelope was different. The plot thickens, though. Not only was the handwriting different, but by looking at the stamp I could see that each year the card had been mailed from a different location. Now, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I’m pretty sure only my Mum could have been so diligent – and kind – to prepare with such consistent aforethought. Mind you, I’ve never asked her, so I could be wrong. Nevertheless, it was a pretty original idea, you have to agree.

And here’s another original idea for Valentine’s Day: a Jolkona gift card.

How do they work?

It’s really very simple:

Choose your template

Purchase the gift card for your desired amount

Send the gift card to someone you love

The recipient redeems the gift card via any of our projects

In short, you’re giving so someone else can give. And if love is a gift, then this is love.

Forget not: actions speak louder than words. So this year, tell someone you love them by empowering them to take action. Besides, nothing says I love you like empowerment.

Send a Jolkona gift card and cultivate change here.

 

Note from the editor: Post is written by Jordan Belmonte while in Bolivia.

Visiting the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Home in Bolivia, I was reminded of the importance of community and the special bond of a family.  Pequenos Hermanos means Our Little Brothers and Sisters. It is a home that supports 102 orphaned or abandoned children and teenagers. NPH is founded on the four pillars of unconditional love, work, responsibility and service to the community.

The NPH home, staff and children surprised me at every moment.  NPH Bolivia faces many challenges—funding, government regulations (government restrictions will not allow NPH to show any photos of the children, making fundraising difficult)–even the weekly grocery shopping is a challenge due to the need for special tax receipts. Despite all the practical difficulties with operating a home for over 100 children, Jolkona sat down and asked the program’s national director, Jose Luis, about the biggest challenges they faced at NPH Bolivia. He said, without hesitation, that the greatest challenge was always to make the children feel loved and that everyone at NPH is really their family.

Continuous focus on creating a safe space filled with unconditional love for these children is truly inspiring.  In addition to basic housing, food, and education the NPH home ensures that the children are taken care spiritually and emotionally. One of the NPH programs, which Jolkona supports, helps sponsor the children’s emotional well-being by providing personal and group counseling services. Many of the children have seen the death of their family members or have come from physically or sexually abusive homes. They are placed with NPH by Bolivia’s child protective services.  The psychologists at NPH help the children understand by moving past these experiences, providing weekly individual counseling services so that the children can live normal and healthy lives. The counselors also host group sessions on conflict resolution, values, sexual education, and positive behavioral skills.

When I think of the term “orphanage,” many words and associations come to mind. NPH surprised me and defied all these associations with its responsible children, dedicated staff and supportive programs.  It proved its namesake as a ‘home’ by truly providing a household environment for Bolivia’s must vulnerable children, and ensuring that despite their tragedies, their lives were once again filled with the support and comfort of family.

Allow me to introduce to you Andrew Abumoussa. As an accessibility engineer, Andrew is wired to notice things a little differently. What drives many of his passions as a software engineer, as an entrepreneur, and as a graduate student is the effect universal design has on entire populations. Having witnessed how many people lack the opportunities, resources or the apparatus to explore or grow their tools, Andrew’s committed to doing everything he can to level the playing fields. “Having a tool that allows me to see exactly what need is being served, and then receive a tangible confirmation, well, that’s beautiful.” Andrew is the Director of Engineering for SimplyHome, where he has been featured on Extreme Makeover:Home Edition, and he’s a member of the University of Rochester’s Human-Computer Interaction group. And now he is part of the new generation of philanthropists donating through Jolkona. Here, in his words, is what he has to say about his Jolkona experience.

Among the projects you support through Jolkona, which are particularly meaningful to you?
For me it was the BRAC USA project. I could not believe that the cost of a prosthetic limb for someone in Bangladesh was so low. Professionally, as an engineer, I work with people and I know how small changes in software or hardware have the potential to enable a person to complete a given task or goal. Personally, having been raised for a part of my life in Egypt, I’ve seen the devastation that not having a limb has on a person’s ability to participate in society. So, providing a person with an entire limb to empower them with something so basic was the reason I gave Jolkona a try in the first place.

What do you like most about donating through Jolkona?
I remember spending a week looking through all the avenues and organizations through which I could donate. I mean, one day after work, I literally spent about 5 hours sifting through all the sites, reading statistics, benefits, etc. But there seemed to be an entire industry around the concept of philanthropy and that really bothered me. Between all the nebulous descriptions and bureaucracy, the whole experience of giving continued to remain less than rewarding, almost habitual and mindless.

Discovering Jolkona changed all of that. The mystery behind the path of your money is removed. I was able to choose exactly what I funded, and when Jolkona sent me my first email, I was floored to see the speed of execution and the results and value of my donation. The honesty, simplicity, and accountability of Jolkona’s concept is why I’m in love with their experience.

What would you like others to know about Jolkona?
Two things. As a developer, I’ve been taught to adapt systems to people’s tastes and habits rather than having users adapt to a system. With that being said, Jolkona is the system most adept to my preferences in giving. The ability to pinpoint which cause you want to support, as well as deciding what level of commitment, really allows for anyone to give to what they feel passionate about.

Second, it’s addicting! Jolkona does an amazing job of curating the data and presenting it to you so that you can follow and watch the impacts that you choose to have. It’s genius, really, and keeps me coming back to give. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about, right?

 

Be like Andrew, and join the new generation philanthropists changing the world – and seeing the change – one donation at time. Start here.

 

Note from editor: Post written by Chi Do, a passionate Jolkona volunteer.

Nested in the foothill of the mountains leading to Machu Picchu is a small town called Ollantaytambo. We visited Awamaki, a non-profit grass roots organization that was revamped in 2009, yet its beginnings are decades old. Their mission is to provide support for highland communities, especially of benefit to the women and children who reside there.

Awamaki’s aesthetically decorated store brings weaving and knitting products to consumers. These materials and pieces come from communities deep in the mountainside, handmade by the local families. It is truly a family business with help from the wife, husband and their children. In this way, Awamaki provides business opportunities that strengthen the whole community. Awamaki has recently implemented a mobile clinic program which provides medical assistance in remote areas. This fulfills a great need, as horses are the only mode of transportation for these locations. Sustainable tourism is another interesting aspect of Awamaki. It makes perfect sense as Ollantaytambo is a town that relies heavily on tourism. It is a great idea for incorporating social enterprise in their strategies, as well as generating a stable source of funding for Awamaki’s programs.

What stuck out to me the most was the high number of volunteers Awamaki gets every year.  We met only 5 volunteers during their quieter season, but they can get up to 25 volunteers at peak time. Most are young adults from the United States; high school or college graduates, young professionals who look for a change in their career directions, or just wanting to learn about a different world than their own. We spoke to Amy, a current volunteer. She gave up a job offer right after college to volunteer with Awamaki for 6 months. She desired to pursue a passion of serving the underprivileged.  There was also Jon and Emily, a couple from Chicago who are spending the next 6 months contributing to the programs at Awamaki in any way they can. As I hear more stories from the volunteers, I feel proud. We are the young generation who think about others, who want to make a difference in this world, and who do something to keep that passion going.

Awamaki became a partner of Jolkona in late 2011. As I see it, this partnership has the potential to provide additional opportunities for volunteer exchange or connection with sustainable tourism.

Check out their work here and provide any support as you see fit.

Participate in our Jolkona campaign for Awamaki.

Join the Twitter conversation with Jolkona, or stay connected with Facebook.

Earlier today we visited ADCAM in Manaus. Manaus is the 4th major economic zone in Brazil after Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. The factories of major companies Suzuki, Sony, and Nokia are driving the growth of Manaus. Favorable tax rates have attracted many companies to this region over the last 30 years. As companies set up their factories, the opportunity for labor positions surfaced. Many people from the surrounding regions migrated to Manaus in hopes for a job. However, they faced very difficult circumstances. Many of them didn’t get hired due to lack of experience or qualification. Those who did get jobs did not earn enough income to provide basic necessities to their families.

Non-profit organizations started springing up in Manaus to help support these workers and their families. One such organization is ADCAM. Since its inception in 1984, ADCAM has grown from a small daycare to an education entity. Spanning a high school, a college, and a vocational institute, the organization is providing education services to over 5,000 students every day. We had a chance to spend an entire day at ADCAM in Manaus. We spent time with some students, some of the teachers, and the founder. Many of the students had started working as early as 14 years of age, the legal age in Brazil. They receive vocational training at ADCAM which then can be used when they pursue their career.

One of the questions I had during this trip was to understand how the boom in industries over the last 30 years is affecting the environment thus, and the impact in the future. While both the teachers and founder acknowledged the challenge, I felt they did not provide a clear answer about how their program will specifically address this challenge. They also mentioned that they will start environmental training courses soon.

Over the last 30 years, ADCAM has responded to the needs of the Manaus community and growing number of factories. I am confident they will continue to evolve, preparing the next generation to answer the environment challenges I had hoped to gain insight into.

The future of Amazon might not be decided by board rooms in New York or London. Rather, if organizations like ADCAM expand, the future of Amazon may be determined in the classrooms in Manaus and other areas.

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.

Education has always been one of the primary methods of empowering individuals to improve their conditions in life. The United Nations even list it as part of their Millennium Development Goals, aiming to provide universal education by 2015.

Brazil, a rapidly developing country, unfortunately falls short when faced with issues in educational disparities. It’s aiming to provide public and private education for all citizens, yet there is still a large gap between the privileged and the poor. Public schools especially are unable to provide adequate education and ensuring a student’s future with college acceptances. Instead, it is only through more expensive private schools that most Brazilian children can hope to attend a fully funded university. I was shocked to hear that only private school, which costs more than some families can afford, are essentially the only way that students would achieve the test scores necessary to get into higher education programs. Public schools just aren’t good enough.

Community in Action (Comunidade em Ação) is a non-profit organization located in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas, Complexo do Alemão, and aims to partner with local programs to empower its residents by embracing a better life. As part of the Jolkona team visiting South America, it was a wonderful opportunity to visit a non-profit working in the field. While visiting Community in Action, it was easy to see how motivated their founder, Zak Paster, and his team of dedicated volunteers were to improving conditions in the favelas. We also observed some of their current partners, many of them working to improve education opportunities for the children of the favelas.

One of the most inspiring visits was to Centro Educacional Leandro, a school in the favela run by Marcia and Marcelo and an organization that Community in Action is partnered with. Not only does this organization provide private-school education for less, but it also empowers children to help others. Marcia and Marcelo’s passion bleeds through everything they do. For the last twenty years, they have provided integral services to kids in need because of a desire to help their community. During the holiday time, Centro Educacional Leandro spearheaded a food drive, where their underprivileged students went door to door in the favela and received kilos of food from other needy families. It was inspiring to see young people help each other and want to make the community a better place, even during tough times.

Community in Action helps organizations like this one become better equipped to help empower the local community. The students at Centro Educacional Leandro had tiny, cramped schoolrooms and a stuffy computer lab. As an American growing up in the American education system, it is easy to forget how many more resources I had access to that these students do not. With Community in Action’s support, they can provide a much larger facility for students to learn the computer skills necessary to survive in today’s global economy.

Watching Community in Action was a unique opportunity to see a grassroots non-profit organization affect real change. Their strong relationship with the local community means they will continue to do good work for years to come.

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.

“OK Gabriel,” I say to myself, “Don’t make a fool of yourself now. Just take it easy, alright?” I’m waiting to interview Bill the Butcher CEO, J’Amy Owens. For some reason – or perhaps good reason – I’m as nervous as hell. She is, after all, one of the most successful business women in the whole of America. We’re sitting in the apartment below hers on Queen Anne Hill, waiting to go up. Things are running a little behind schedule; she’s taking a conference call. Of course she is -  she’s a CEO. We pass the time talking meat and quality cows, but really I’m worried about how much of a bumbling buffoon I’ll end up being.

It’s time.

“OK, mate, just pretend she’s any other person.”

We enter a gorgeous apartment and I shuffle through to the living room like a nervous school kid. Down the stairs comes J’Amy. She greets us with great charm and aplomb. I think I hold it together for about 12 seconds, and then the Brit in me escapes: I’m thanking her effusively for her kindness, for taking the time to see us, for anything I can think of. If I could apologize for something, I probably would. She offers us a glass of water. Foolishly I decline (my throat will be as parched as the Moroccan desert by the time we’re finished).  Again, that’s the Brit in me; I’m quite certain it would be rude to accept, or that it would cause her far too much trouble.

We sit down to begin. All the other interviews I previously did for this series lasted a few minutes, tops. This lasts twenty five. As an interviewee, J’Amy is incredibly engaged – and engaging. I quickly realize she is in no way just trying to get this over with. Indeed, her answers are full, expansive, and remarkably illuminating. I admit it, I’m quite spellbound. OK so she’s been in marketing and retail all her life, but it’s more than just a way with words; it’s a conviction. I learn this early on when she talks of her childhood on her family’s farm in North Dakota. She grew up surrounded by livestock. We start off with a few light-hearted get-to-know-you questions, but, as you’ll see, by the time we get to hobbies, things get serious. And this is a serious matter. It’s the future of our food system.

J’Amy what’s the first thing you do when your alarm goes off in the morning?
Ugh, I curse. I tend to stay up very late. I like to work long into the night. The alarm goes off usually because New York starts to call. They can’t help themselves.

And how do you take your coffee?
Always made in a French Press, Starbucks extra bold French Roast. I make it black as tar. I put a little organic half and half in, and then I fundamentally try and get my whole body into the cup!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Black because I like to make one mark and I like it to be indelible; I like everyone to see it. And I like it to make the difference, and I like it to be the outline.

Summer or Winter?
Depends on where I am. If there’s only one season to choose, though, it has to be summer because I’m the original Barefoot Contessa.

Do you have any major hobbies?
I’m obsessed with figuring out how to take the pain I can see in life and create antidotes for it in business. And it’s my driving passion and need. Right now, I see a real pain in the small farmers and ranchers that have been excluded from working in big agribusiness, and I’ve watched them make less and less money each year. I’ve watched it my whole life, and it’s wrong. We need those farmers; we need them as stewards to the land. Without them doing that and raising animals for us locally, we’re toast as humans.

What’s your personal story in becoming involved with Bill the Butcher?
I’ve worked retail for about 30 years. I’ve developed 400 retail businesses in America, they’re in about 20,000 locations now. I was in the coffee business for a very long time. And when I heard the term “grass fed beef” in 2006, I knew in my knower that it was going to be like coffee – that meat would have a renaissance and revolution which would make it grow up and be as complex and as compelling as coffee. Because remember, in 1989 coffee was Fulgers in a can in a grocery store. And now it’s an $80 billion industry. So having had that as being a big part of my own journey, I knew when I heard this term that it was going to happen for me. And I thought, “I bet I could influence that.” So in 2006 I wrote the business plan for Bill the Butcher, and have endeavored to make it go ever since.

How does this compare to your previous work experience?
It’s quite similar in that both coffee and meat are commodities – they’re consumables; people use them every day. People buy them every day. People buy different qualities and quantities every day. And what we’re doing with meat is a lot like what happened to coffee. There was a new language of coffee introduced to consumers. What’s a latte? What’s a cappuccino? What type of bean is it? Where do they come from? How are they roasted? It turns out the same is true for meat: do you want a Shorthorn Brahman raised in open range in Nevada that was finished on clover or legumes? That is a different kind of flavor profile than a Belted Galloway that comes from the Prairie grasslands in central Illinois. And once you experience them side by each, and you can tell the difference, you will have a preference. And that preference will drive your behavior. But us American consumers have been Angus-ed to death by the grocery store. And we’re made to think that all meat is equal, or that it’s Prime, Choice, or Select, which really means nothing.

Could you tell us about how Bill the Butcher has simultaneously built “the world’s shortest supply chain” and a created new market place for meat?
We go the shortest distance to get enough meat to sell. So if we can get it from Washington, we do. If we have to get it from Montana, Idaho, OK. But why put a cow on a box cart and send it from Whatcom County to a feed lot and then have it slaughtered somewhere else, to then have it come back on a truck in a box? It adds layers of cost and carbon footprint. So our idea is creating the world’s shortest supply chain by knitting together small farms and ranchers that really cannot sell to grocery stores, because they’re too small. The big conglomerates don’t give them the time of day. Our market place, then, is above the farmer’s market and below the grocery stores. So we’ve created a new supply and we’ve created a new market at the same time. And I think that’s what people will talk about when they write about this business. Yes, we brought back the neighborhood butcher shop, and isn’t that groovy and cool. But behind that, the thing that really makes it work, is the distribution and the idea of how to coalesce a new supply chain.

What are your thoughts on Jolkona’s Eat Local, Give Global campaign and its partnership with the Bill the Butcher stores?
Well I’m horrified, as I’m sure we all are, by what I watch and read on the news. There is an inequality in how food is distributed around the planet, as well as an inequality in where food is grown. And you’re addressing that in places where there is perhaps the most need, and I truly have such respect for you. We’re doing this on a local scale; you’re doing it on a global scale. In many ways, though, our philosophies are a dead match.

Local food, sustainable farming, grass fed beef: these have been dubbed as “megatrends.” Are these indeed just megatrends, or is there more to it than that this, is there more meat on the bone, as it were?
Well I’ll say this: it’s much better to be a trend than a fad. The truth is that when 46 million people are doing it at once, it’s a megatrend. You see the organic food market has grown 100% in volume year after year for the past 20 years. And it is the only food sector in the business that is growing. The rest of them are flat. So that’s a big indication that more people are leaning in this direction. And listen, the barometer is Walmart: when Walmart was forced to put in an organic food section, that said to me, “OK, we’re really at the tipping point here.” Because they serve a customer base that is considered low income, but the demand for organic milk was unprecedented; they couldn’t stem the tide. Of course, our desire is for these trends to become normality, but all things that become “standard” start out as the “irreverent upstart.”

OK, so if you were a cut of meat, which would you be?
Depends from which animal! I think I would be the hanging tender on a cow. It is a very rare piece of meat and it connects all the other important pieces of meat on the animal.

If I gave you a herd of cattle, where would you hide it?
I’d hide it in plain sight on our family’s farm in North Dakota.

3 words to describe natural grass fed beef:
Vital. Delicious. Required.

The Eat Local, Give Global campaign is all about raising money to empower and educate women farmers in Sudan with sustainable farming techniques. We’re running the campaign in partnership with Bill the Butcher and its six shops in and around Seattle. Donate online, or go directly to your local shop, meet the friendly butchers themselves, and donate there.

Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

 

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