Help Fundraise for One Economy: Bringing Tech and Internet to Communities in Need

Please click here to visit my razoo.com fundraising page or use the widget at right.

Online fundraising platform Razoo launched a new DonateAnywhere widget this month and I’m excited to be selected to the #ZooGooder team of a dozen or so chosen to lead a series of discussions on fundraising in the digital age of social media.

Join us for our first weekly Twitter chat at 6 p.m. PT / 9p.m. ET and. John Haydon will be co-hosting the first one. To participate, use your favorite Twitter client or service and follow the #zooGood hashtag.

In addition to these weekly chats, I chose to raise funds for One Economy Corporation with a goal of raising $8,000 by the end of the year. Not an easy choice given the breadth of my endeavors and pet projects and the 1.5 million or so fundraising causes listed on razoo.com. But after much internal deliberation and debate (and cross-research on sites like Charity Navigator) I decided that One Economy will have the most effective global reach with the money I raise as part of the #zooGood campaign. One Economy brings broadband into low-income households and builds and maintains virtual and physical community centers to provide underserved communities the training and tools needed to leverage the internet for information and local resources on education, jobs, health care and other vital issues.

More about One Economy in the video below:

This is a cause that I have long been passionate about and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to focus on it more publicly in the coming months. One Economy Corp is a top (4-star) rated charitable organization according to Charity Navigator and it has been expanding its geographic focus areas over its 10-years to cover the Middle East, Africa, and North America. More recently, One Economy launched PIC.tv, the Public Internet Channel website, which has boundless potential that I find very exciting as a long-time web producer and content creator myself.

So let’s see if we can hit $8,000 in two months, while helping to bolster One Economy Corp’s profile as a leading charitable protagonist for leveling the playing field, proliferating the spread of broadband and computer ed into underserved communities, and creating opportunities and local resources in cities and villages worldwide.

I’m dropping my first $10 in the bucket and you can too — the widget is on the right side of this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated – if you’d rather not donate money, thanks for reading this far and for your generous re-Tweet and/or Facebook share! You can also fan One Economy on Facebook and check out the Digital Connectors page (some of whom met recently with FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in SF).

Thanks and see you on the #zooGood hashtag!

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Public [Dis]service Message: Regular People Use the Library for Internet Access EVERY DAY!

la public libraries are closed on sundays andn mondays. this is beverly hills public library on a monday
Beverly Hills Public Library is open seven days a week. Some spaces are exclusively for public internet use. No books on these shelves. | Photo by Andy Sternberg/LAist

LA Public Libraries are closed on Sundays and Mondays due to unruly budget cuts. This includes the historic Central Library – a downtown landmark and one of the largest libraries in the country – in addition to all 70 LAPL branches. Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Burbank patrons can access their library’s resources 7 days a week.

How do we fix this? LA City Council President Eric Garcetti told me last month (in a Twitter reply) that the library cuts signify about $10 million in savings for the city “…and I am working to see if this 15% cut can be mitigated as soon as economy/receipts pick up.”

This is an issue that should irritate everyone who feels part of the community as it affects education, jobs, and the digital divide, not to mention the amount of waste contributed to people who are forced to buy new books because the library is closed on their day off.

As long as our elected officials are corrupting our tax dollars for personal and professional gain, we should not allow them to take away our communities’ most precious resources (a far more valuable allocation of taxes, dontcha think?). This shouldn’t require a costly amendment that, if passed, would add a $39 parcel tax to our plate.

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My Pet Causes

For the past two years, I worked to raise awareness and funds to help stem the pressing environmental crises of our time: water, energy, climate. It was a great and successful run and I felt extremely lucky to be employed full-time doing what I love in support of critical causes that I believe in.

But regardless of the focus of my efforts (or career), my pet causes persistently tug at my soul.

What do I mean by “pet causes?” It has nothing to do with pets. Or rocks for that matter.

pet causes goose
photo by Claudio Gennari shared via Creative Commons license.

When I was a freshman at University of Iowa and finally arrived at the age of independence, I thought: “We’re on the verge of a revolution and I’m ready, along with my new-found peers and old high school buds, to take on the world and turn it on its head.” I was pretty much like every other 18-year-old in that respect.

But as we grow and the world around us invariably and abruptly changes in both inexplicable and awesome ways, we start to think we might need to guard or cherish that which we find essential, lest it gets taken from younger generations. After all, it doesn’t take a long time at university to realize that you’ve got it better than many.

What I saw growing up and discovering the world in the mid- to late-’90s was a U.S. carelessly at the top of its game on the verge of imminent denouement and with a widening gap between the haves and have nots. The dumbing down of our nation had begun spiraling out of control and it wasn’t even the Bush 43 administration yet.

I began to get angry about certain things that I was afforded yet others were not. Nothing extreme, nothing impossible, just middle class luxuries that I refused to take for granted and to this day hope to see universally available – at least on a hyperlocal level.

My Pet Causes:

  • The Arts in Public Education
  • Internet (specifically broadband) for All

Arts in Education:

I learned to read music at age five – piano lessons. By second grade we played the recorder in music class. I probably had a crush on my third grade art teacher. Didn’t we all?

But by the time I got to high school, art and music classes were already getting stripped from public schools thanks to a budget crunch. And they never would recover. Fast forward to 2010 and it’s beyond blaming TV, video games, or the internet. Creativity is going out of style. It’s no longer an option. This is bad.

Broadband for All

I’m sick enough right now about LA public libraries shutting down every Sunday and Monday. The fact that we can’t bolster our society by at least subsidizing access to high-speed internet is a goddamn shame. I’ve reported on all the OECD broadband surveys in which the U.S. consistently shows up in the bottom half. Obama has presented a plan. Let’s make it happen… and more.

What you can do:

A little bit goes a long way and just by reading this far, you’ve (at least subconsciously) helped my pet causes. Please visit the following websites for more info and to take action:

What are your pet causes?

UN Report: 4.6 Billion Mobile Phone Subscriptions Worldwide, Cell Penetration Doubles in Developing Countries

Amazing to read this latest report from the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (emphasis mine):

By the end of 2009, there were an estimated 4.6 billion mobile cellular subscriptions, corresponding to 67 per 100 inhabitants globally (Chart 1). Last year, mobile cellular penetration in developing countries passed the 50 per cent mark reaching an estimated 57 per 100 inhabitants at the end of 2009. Even though this remains well below the average in developed countries, where penetration exceeds 100 per cent, the rate of progress remains remarkable. Indeed, mobile cellular penetration in developing countries has more than doubled since 2005, when it stood at only 23 per cent.
Internet use has also continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace. In 2009, an estimated 26 per cent of the world’s population (or 1.7 billion people) were using the Internet. In developed countries the percentage remains much higher than in the developing world where four out of five people are still excluded from the benefits of being online.

Can only hope that broadband internet penetration access is the next to take off — in the U.S. more than one-third are without it, largely due to cost, according to a Pew Study also released today. Hopefully the U.S. FCC’s National Broadband plan, due to be formally announced March 17, is aggressive enough to make a difference. It’s our future.

The executive summary of the UN report:

Measuring the Information Society 2010 – United Nations International Telecommunications Union

U.S. Broadband Speed Still Lagging – SpeedMatters.org

SpeedMatters.org recently concluded a survey exemplifying the embarrassing brick wall (likely agreed upon by telco and cable monopolists and duopolists) keeping out broadband Internet speeds at low levels relative to the rest of the world. At 2.3Mbps average download speeds, last mile connectivity has only inched up in the past year, according to the report (PDF), and it would be decades before we experienced the speeds and functionality experienced by internet users in Japan, who connect at over 60Mbps.

Evident in the unscientific studies is the sharp increase in business districts in which connectivity is often an expensive T1 connection, as opposed to publicly available high speed broadband (which here in LA, is mainly limited to AT&T and Comcast, although competitors such as Speakeasy are able to offer better service at slightly higher rates). California ranks 25th in SpeedMatters’ survey of median download speeds. how does your state rank?

I’ve documented the U.S.’s position on broadband ubiquity and connectivity many times, as well as it’s position in relation to other OECD countries throughout here and here. I first profiled SpeedMatters.org (a project of the Communications Workers of America union) here and encourage everyone to participate in their call to action:

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