Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘activism’

29 OCTOBER, 2010

KOMAZA: Fighting Poverty Through “Microforestry”


What 2,000 trees have to do with your weekly mocha frappuccino budget.

Deforestation and poverty are two of today’s most pressing socio-environmental problems, but most people don’t realize they’re closely connected. In Africa, the average dryland farmer will cut down 2,000 trees in her lifetime in order to power her home and farm, a necessity of basic economic survival. KOMAZA, Africa’s first nonprofit forestry company, is an inspired social enterprise that addresses this correlation through “microforestry” — small tree farms that offer profoundly lifechanging sustainable economic opportunities for farmers.

KOMAZA spends less than $1 to plant a tree, and each tree returns at least $20 to the family. That’s over $6,000 from half an acre — you can imagine the powerful impact this income can have on people many of whom live on under $1.25 a day.

Komaza is Swahili for “promote development” or “encourage growth.”

Please consider supporting KOMAZA with a modest donation — think about the negligible cost of going without Starbucks for a week and the remarkable gift this change allocation would be for an Elizabeth.

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28 OCTOBER, 2010

Oil + Water: Posters Printed with Oil from The Gulf


What dirty coastlines have to do with graphic design and talking trees.

The Gulf oil spill may well be the greatest environmental disaster of our time and we’re yet to feel the full impact of its aftermath. Cleaning up the mess is one slow but important step towards recovery and creative outfit Happiness Brussels — they of social media talking tree fame — are making a lovely effort towards it. They’ve created Oil & Water Do Not Mix — a limited edition of 200 posters screen-printed with oil from the Gulf disaster, collected on the beaches of Louisiana’s Grand Isle and benefiting the region’s restoration.

Each poster is signed by London-based designer Anthony Burrill and all proceeds go to nonprofit Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

27 OCTOBER, 2010

PICKED: We All Good People


The greatest tragedy of ethnic conflict is that its ingroup-outgroup economy creates abstract others, stripping people of their inherent humanity and lumping them into a faceless, almost inanimate cohort so much easier to deny empathy to. The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of modernity’s greatest and longest-running conflicts, devastating and disrupting millions of lives with intolerance and a consistently high level of violence since the 1940s.

From filmmaker and photographer Grant Slater comes a wonderful effort to peel away at the complex and multifaceted points of tension surrounding the conflict and instead reveal the raw humanity of the people involved. We All Good People is a poetic two-part short film exploring that human tenderness.

The lovely music, a true cherry on top, comes from Jerusalem-based band Jack In The Box, composed of Itay Shani, Ori Alboher, Itamar Toussia Cohen and vocalist Yael Birnbaum.

For a richer look at the Israel-Palestine conflict, we recommend Sandy Tolan’s The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East — a fascinating adaptation of Tolan’s 1998 NPR documentary, revealing the deeply human scale of the conflict through the intertwined lives of a Palestinian refugee named Bashir Al-Khairi and a Jewish settler named Dalia Eshkenazi Landau.

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