Sunday, May 25, 2014

Non-Profit Yields

One thing I'll mention about the non-profit field is how precarious it can be. There is significant struggle of finding and cultivating resources and being able to be able to sustain your services. It leads to this outcome where the most important people in these organizations are the development staff, the folks that get the money. The individuals who do direct service are not going to directly be able to keep the organization afloat in their efforts.

The problem is that the development folks aren't contributing to the non-profit's mission directly. They are not bettering society directly in anyway; they are bettering their organization by being present to sustain and grow it's work. However, what this means is that sometimes over half the funding that goes into a non-profit, goes to PR, HR and development costs to keep the organization running. That is what smart agencies will do. However, this really limits the reach of serving more of the community. It can be such a struggle to survive that as a non-profit, this is where you need to invest a lot of your funding.

There are other countries, where there is a lot more government support for the services that many non-profit organizations provide. However, we need more security in funding. The services that so many non-profits provide, whether it's food banks, shelters, crucial youth development services, mentoring, environmental protection among others shouldn't be thought of as "luxuries". These organizations are filling crucial gaps in societies' social fabric that are not being filled because of an immense amount of current and historic inequity. If we're going to allow these inequities to persist (which we shouldn't) through our tax and economic policies, then we need to at least provide resources for nonprofit and social service organizations to address the problems that are being created and exacerbated.

So, please, ask your representatives to provide more funding to the non-profit sector. Especially for a lot of the country that is struggling so much economically - we need these services and can't afford for them to not be available because the resources are not there. I would generally advocate that their should be more secured funding sources for non-profit organizations so that more of their efforts and intentions can be diverted into fulfilling their vital missions.

Ultimately, our tax policy needs to change. The 1% and especially the .1% need to be paying their fair share. It's disgusting how little they contribute. However, in the interim, please do your part financially, volunteering or through advocacy to support the organizations that are trying to keep up in fixing all of society's ills.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I think it's Windier

Has it gotten windier? I think so, walk down some of the narrow, winding streets in the city, it's windy! Everyday is windy. Someday's I've had to better position my arms to be able to progress forward to make sure I'm more aerodynamic. Sources are not sure if it's climate related, or if it might be seasonal trends.

I've been mentioning this for awhile and there is some evidence:

"Despite large seasonal variations, the mean wind speed over the oceans hasn't changed much in the last two decades, the researchers report today in the journal Science. Speeds of the fastest winds, though, have risen by about half a percent each year, and heights of the biggest waves have risen by between a quarter and half a percent each year. Those trends have been strongest in the southern hemisphere (Discovery News 2011)."

It's problematic though for a number reasons. There will be bigger and more destructive storms when they do arise. More dangerous Hurricanes are becoming more prevalent. Also, I just think further issues of erosion and tougher agricultural conditions will be an issue. It's also just more of a pain in the ass as it always feels colder. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Now That it's Spring Finally

Now that it's Spring, you can get outside  without a heavy jacket and simply walk around in a more care-free fashion without the fear that the wretched cold will soon descend upon your very being. People are out more and this is great! Embrace this change in environmental temperament.  

Good things to do as the weather changes!
  • Be nice to folks in your community around you. 
  • Engage with people around you. 
  • Say hello to strangers.
  • Talk with acquaintances.
  • Just get outside!
  • Volunteer!
  • Have a yard sale. 
  • Talk with and get to know folks at local businesses. 
  • Meet someone new.
  • Re-meet someone old! 
  • Explore some part of your town or neighborhood you haven't been to. 
  • Engage in a new organization or group. 
  • Learn more get involved in local government. 
  • Picnic it up
  • Help clean up a part of your street or yard.
  • Get the garden going
  • Make a bird-feeder.
  • Enjoy your local green space (when and if possible).
  • Support you local, state or national parks by using them (and not avoiding admission fees).
  • Check out a local museum.
  • Go to a local play. 
  • Partake in a  charity walk or run.
  • Get your writing or artistry on outside.
  • Help out a neighbor when relevant.
  • Get off the computer (lord knows I need to).
  • Smile a bit. 
  • Have a cookout.
  • Invite your people over for dinner.  
  • Do some outdoor photography, play a sport outside, notice the local flora and fauna.
Just a simple list of ideas - but with the warmth out, it's easier to come out of hibernation a bit and engage. This will pay off definitely for the warm weather but also give you some great memories and connections once the winter time comes around and you have to slow down a bit...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So Much, So Good, So Often

Knows it's Good.
Too much time on the news perhaps but please, would everyone please stop carrying on like everything is just OK? Are we serious here... Look at this. Look at this! My god man, this whole civilization thing could be crumbling and we just carry on! We get the joy and pleasure of having all of the American cities where you can actually find a job dramatically rising in price and most folks utterly unable to afford them. How promising for our future...

Here, they're dumping out a whole reservoir of water in Portland because someone peed into it! All 38 million gallons because of a tiny bit of piss. Spiders lay a number of eggs in you while you sleep, you'll be fine drinking the damn water with a fraction of a percent of piss! I'll drink the pee! Don't flush the water especially on that coast because THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING! You need water to live. That's one of the criteria for being alive. Only .007% of the water on Earth is accessible for human use. This is and is going to continue to be an issue!

You also need food to live. But we did a great job in the U.S. of cutting SNAP benefits. Let's just take the food out of the people's mouths... that's how we've advanced over the years. Don't look at our tax policy or the fact that Apple just passes it's billions of wealth around like a goddamn hot potato so it can avoid an astonishing amount of it's tax burden! How noble of them! Let's just keep putting the squeeze on really a wide majority of our citizens that have been squeezed for so long and completely divest into funding anything that will allow us to function as a whole. What we need is more E-cigarettes, casinos and more types of shit ass social media. That'll make it all fucking better.

Let's not worry about starvation or the changing climate that scientists speculate will reduce our foot output by 2% each decade! No need to give a flying fuck about that because look... here is a new app called locket  where you get a PICTURE ON THE SCREEN OF YOUR PHONE WHEN ITS LOCKED. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED TO BE FOCUSING OUR ENERGY ON! That'll do it... Problem solved. Fuck. 

Again it's extra good when the rising food prices are combined with the lessened social supports for food, coupled with the continually fickle economy and growing disparity of wealth. These are winning combinations for a healthy everything. On some days, it seems like the only people that are on the right side are the motherfucking ostriches that we see on the T.

So please, let's just do each other a big one and not just carry on with business as usual because you can't do that when well, things are highly unusual. It's not genuine... and the saddest piece about this is how bad at doing a thing about anything we've become. That's what's sad.

So please, don't just carry on as usual. Take the steps, any steps, something to get us back into being able to carry on usual, cause we are  just getting further away each and everyday. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Everything is just Great

So for a lot of non-profits, the pressures of budget season has swept over us like a northern gale... sorry, I actually don't know what that means. But essentially as the state budget is being released, more individuals are getting e-mails in regards to issues like this one. More and more non-profits that provide crucial services to the community are struggling to get the funding to stay viable.

A lot of these non-profits operate on budgets in the hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands in comparison to a state budget in Mass that can be around 30 billion dollars. If we're to do the math, when a lot of social service and non profit organizations ask for a half million dollars to disperse across youth development organizations, organizations that support the arts, health and human services we're talking about .0015% of the budget. That's a drop in a barrel that all these organizations have to then divert immense amounts of energies to advocate for that often seems futile to the legislatures representing us because it is just a drop in a barrel in funding. 

If as a society, we are tolerating the gross inequities in wealth that create some extremely dire circumstances for probably around half of our population, then at the very least we should  make sure that the very little needed to ensure service agencies to support those in these dire circumstances are able to function well. It's very little financially to ask, it's the moral thing to do and it's the economic thing to do. If we spend money on ensuring that the youth in our communities are well supported and have access to the adequate resource to function in today's information economy, than that's less money we have to spend on $20,000 - 30,000 a year on prison and other societal costs (though the prison industry might not be in favor of American society actually bettering itself as that's not profitable for them).

So in contrast to this, next year maybe in January, we'll have the pleasure to see the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. There, you can meet the 85 people who have more wealth than HALF OF THE WORLDS POPULATION. These 85 folks who probably just have a lovely time together in Davos, have more money than 3.5 billion people and of course that makes sense and is how things should be.

Where dreams are made if you're richer than anything 
So look, some people might profess that values of the free market, but to these extremes, the effectiveness of society is extremely limited and the ability of a large portion of our world to pursue a better life is devastated. In the end it can just feel sad and pathetic.

In a report released by Oxfam in regards to the World Economic Forum held  back in January, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was quoted in saying, "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both."

Friday, April 4, 2014


Throughout all of our tumultuous past 5 - 10 years, there hasn't been that much of a response to what has happened. Not a strong one at least. There hasn't been people coming together, protesting, taking a stand in any meaningful way, against the bankers who got bailed out, against the wage disparity, or against policies that cause this changing climate. I shouldn't speak of the number of groups that I'm overlooking that are probably doing all sorts of things that I just don't pay attention to in the e-mails that get filtered to the unimportant section of my inbox automatically by gmail. I also still think Occupy was pretty cool for the few months it lasted but it was only a few months.

But for the millions of people who lost their homes due to a shitty mortgage, the tens of millions of people who have lost jobs or are living at an unlivable wage and the general weakening of our society partially at the expense of those who want the conditions to make sheer billions; it doesn't feel like people come together. Where would we go to begin with? I think it comes down to the fact that our democracy is eroding as we just don't see or know the people around us. We aren't connected. The millions of people who got foreclosed on in many of the sunbelt states would have made a pretty good army. However, there is no connection in the suburban world of subdivisions where you can barely walks from one section of a neighborhood to the next. Nobody knows and feels as though they need to know each other. We're so connected to our digital world that we just don't have the chance to be tuned into an actual world around us.

I don't know if civic action really counts for that much anymore either. Obviously if you're the only one in a movement, it's not going to be that strong of a movement. However, money speaks really loudly and when you just have so much more wealth in people's hands and so much more ability for that wealth to equate influence on our elected representatives, then so much else can just be drowned out. I just imagine as well that things are maybe more complex now. It's hard to even understand why the repealing of Glass Steagall in 1999 might have been a really significant factor in allowing our financial sector to take such riskier moves. It's hard maybe to get passionate about the policy nuances or all the corruption that happens in such convoluted systems. It's also hard to maybe have enough people around you be able to be on the same page with it.

As usual, not much of a constructive solution will be posed. Maybe a few things though would be useful to encourage:

  • Write your representative with concerns. Especially at the state or local level. I think they like hearing from you, one wrote back.
  • Talk with and get to know your neighbors. Find ways to make connections and share concerns about what's going on in the community. 
  • Attend council meetings at the many levels of your government. 
  • Pay attention to what's going on - a lot of it sucks and is kind of negative (which might be a media thing), but still it's really important to know. 
  • Comment and share ideas in a range of venues. 
  • Sign or start an initiative in your town. 
  • Volunteer in your community. It really helps get you connected to it.
  • Definitely donate foods, goods and money to the right places. Just not Sheldon Adelson. That guy sucks.  
Enough of this man's preaching.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Look, just as we move forward with things, the disparity of wealth that we have as many of us have heard continually blather about is insane. For people who are removed from it, it just means that there is so much under-investment in our infrastructure, our schools, our health care system and so many different areas of our society. We have more debt for the costs we do need to incur and more problems arise as there are more people who are struggling financially. It's not sustainable. In the globalized information age we are in, we can't have public institutions unravel and become inaccessible to so much of our population, when now more than ever, we need an adaptive, literate and competent workforce. An education is needed to be able to function, adequate access to food, health care and transportation is fundamental to everyone's ability to navigate the world we currently reside in. The tax rates that the wealthiest pay today and the loopholes that are utterly pervasive will only cause further neglect. Our tax rates today are ridiculous compared to many other developed countries and to previous eras in U.S. history that we deem successful. 

Having the disparity of wealth we have now is simply cancerous in countless ways but it's also just terrible for the functioning of our economy. Having a consumer economy where there is very little spending power doesn't allow for anything near optimized market performance. The few million people in the upper tiers of the income brackets cannot spend, invest or do enough to keep capital flowing through the rest of the economy compared to a society with a more broadly based distribution of wealth.

We need to do considerably more than we are all doing about this, but often it's hard to see a way out with people's attitudes and so much special interest influence in congress.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let's Brew Together

There is a new coffee shop in town. What a surprise. I think there's probably a billion.
This coffee shop, Boston Brewin Coffee, located on 45 Bromfield St., is different though. It's small... real small. It's the size of maybe two big closets and there is certainly no real place to sit. You definitely can't horde it's table space and wi-fi treating it as an office. I think the coffee's real good, but to be honest, I could be drinking motor oil and might not know the difference (other Yelp reviews do high light the general satisfaction one can glean from consuming the coffee)

However, it's the feel and atmosphere that Tom Barnes' has created in this phenomenal institution that makes it so special. Unlike most of the city of Boston,  it's  incredibly friendly and welcoming. Tom and the rest of the staff make it a point to foster lovely conversations and establish a connection with you while you're there. They get to know you, they'll make it a point to make your day (one Yelp reviewer explains how they sang happy birthday to them on their birthday) and are just wonderfully nice and welcoming people. You even end up talking with the other customers just from being in there. That doesn't normally happen in this city.
It's part of I think a larger experience they try to create in their coffee shop which you can get a sense of from there "about us" page on their website here. They also are all good with the food they get and support other organizations like the Haley House Cafe by procuring their delicious pastries. 

Just Amazing Folks
So all of this seems like a Yelp review which you should write for them when you do go and have such a lovely experience. Largely though, it pertains to my usual rantings of the importance of contentedness in society. The type of interactions that you get at a place like Boston Brewin Coffee are needed. As social beings we need to be, well social.  I can rant further about the importance pf these conversations for civic action or for higher levels of well being, or to help stem an "epidemic of loneliness" in our country. Mainly though, I just want to highlight this wonderful coffee joint as something that we all can and should experience on a more regular basis... a short friendly interaction with someone you didn't know that is part of your community. That's something you won't find brewed up in just any cup of jo'. 

(sorry for the awful last sentence)