Epic Change – Building a Locally-Led School in Tanzania

Drop what you are doing right now, for about 3 minutes, and you can help build a technology lab for a locally-led primary school in Tanzania. All you have to do, is go to this website Ideablob, and vote for Epic Change in a $10k contest. If Epic Change is still at the top of the list come midnight tonight, these kids in upcountry Tanzania will get themselves a brand-new technology lab.

A line of eager kids forms to vote for EpicChange

Don’t doubt that the money will immediately go to great use. Read about what Epic Change did with Tweetsgiving this past holiday season. They know what they’re doing when it comes to grassroots fundraising, bolting from a literally unknown non-profit to an instant darling of the then-(relatively)-tightknit Twitter community.

There really isn’t anything simpler for you. This won’t cost you a single penny. It won’t take but a minute for you to register with Ideablob, check for the confirmation email in your inbox, and click to vote in the sidebar on the right of their page. And by taking those simple steps, you can have a significantly positive effect on improving the education for these children.

So, go vote. And when you’re done, please share this blog post with your friends. Tweet about it. Share it on Facebook. Post it as a Myspace bulletin. Make it happen!

This blog post is part of Zemanta’s “Blogging For a Cause” campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Are You Doing What You Love, Right Now?

I fell into my career in design by circumstance and fortune, and certainly had no great plans to be doing what I’m doing now when it all started. My education was all geared towards fieldwork, language study, and sustainable development. I figured that eventually my path would lead me back into the university life as a professor. Yet here I sit drawing and making things look pretty on a daily basis.

Some days I wish I was here

Let me be clear on this point: I love my job. I would not be doing what I do if I didn’t love it. That’s just how I’m built. I’m not someone who can do the mundane droning jobs and find happiness and satisfaction. I paid my dues working those kinds of jobs when I was younger, and put myself in a position to (hopefully) avoid going back – you never know, life’s a trip and filled with surprises and unexpected turns and twists.

But right now, I wonder regularly if my efforts are actually making anyone’s life better. Does my job improve the world, take away from it, or as a third option, does it have a significant effect either way? I think I’m sitting in the third seat right now, just whiling my time away making things function. Of course I’m learning skills, honing my tools (take it easy dirty birds), and hopefully fostering the different talent I work with on the daily.

However, I am filled with a sincere passion for affecting change, and when that variable enters the equation, I can’t help but wonder whether I’m where I should be. No regrets though, for sure.

Honestly, ten years ago, I figured I’d be living in East Africa (or at least spending all sabbaticals there) studying/teaching. I have sketches for rainwater catchment systems and village planning diagrams that (I think) could actually help people live better lives.

Today’s not the day to make the change, for certain – I have a wife and three kids (two of which are very young) – but knowing that the fire is still burning is what’s important. Maybe I need to be sharing ideas at this point, and maybe the right opportunity will present itself. Hmm, what do you think?

You Can’t Ever Have Too Much of a Good Thing

This should be subtitled: “Even when that good thing really, really pisses you off to begin with.” Yesterday was a bit of a rough day for me. Towards the end of the day, I had an email forwarded to me that a friend of a friend launched a project which is nearly a carbon copy of a non-profit project I’ve been putting together for about two years. It was a crushing blow when I first read the email and saw the site (not quite ready to discuss the details…but maybe sometime soon).

As I read through the site, it was as if this organization had poured over all of my notes and ideas…at least a year’s worth of ideas on how the non-profit was going to be run, the event(s) that it would first put on, and how those events would be setup and managed. My stomach turned as I read on.

I spent a good deal of time tracing my steps and rethinking every conversation that I’d had about my project. I was absolutely certain that someone I’d spoke to had turned and shared the idea with this group. Convinced. The thoughts tugged at me as I drove home, as I cooked dinner for my kids, and once I put them in bed it just picked up speed. Gnawing at my brain, I just couldn’t seem to figure out how it was possible that someone else could have the EXACT same idea.

But mostly, I suppose the major feeling was sadness and anger that I took too long launching. I was beat to market.

Defeated, I started to sulk. Poor me, I didn’t get this out quick enough…

And then it hit me: I was more upset about the fact that I wasn’t going to receive the proper recognition for the idea and the project. WTF? That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Am I really so self-focused? Am I missing the whole point of what I am doing in the first place? Like the clouds parting a huge storm, I saw the light.

I mean, sure, I wish I launched my project last year, but I’m still only a couple of months away, and why should this derail me in any way? In fact, shouldn’t this be exciting? The fact that someone else has the exact same idea is affirming and reinforcing. And in the realm of non-profits, the more people helping, the better, no?

You can’t ever have too much of a good thing.