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Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:12 AM PST

Building Bridges to and within Uganda

by mole333

Reposted from mole333 by mole333

I last wrote about this about 10 days ago. Already there has been progress, mostly at the level of building communication.

People who know me know that I take on many projects. Sometimes with considerable success, sometimes getting nowhere. One of my main accomplishments was setting in motion the restoration (currently happening thanks to much help!) of the last surviving synagogue in the town of Rezekne in Latvia where my family came from.

Now I have initiated the Abayudaya Solar Cooker project. The idea is to provide solar or high efficiency cook stoves to a community in the Mbale region of Uganda that includes Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. These communities were once at odds with each other with the Jewish community in particular being persecuted...in fact Idi Amin nearly wiped them out.

Since then, the Jewish community (called the Abayudaya) has focused on projects that bring benefits to all members of the area whatever their tribal or religious affiliation. For example, school lunch programs for schools that cater to all religious groups. And they have started a coffee cooperative that involves and provides income for all members of the community. You can buy this amazing coffee, called Mirimbe Kawomera, or "Delicious Peace," from Thanksgiving Coffee. I highly recommend it!

This is all an example of cooperation among diverse people in a part of the world that has all too often fought over their differences.

While reading about the Abayudaya I noticed that they have a problem that afflicts many communities around the world: the use of cook stoves that use large amounts of wood or charcoal and fill the women's lungs with smoke, causing endemic respiratory problems. Efficient or solar cook stoves are ways of providing better technology to a community, reducing deforestation, and improving women's health. I have decided to try and bring this improved technology to the Abayudaya and their neighbors. I have established a collaboration among four key organizations: Kulanu, Jewish World Watch, Solar Cookers International, and the Abayudaya Women's Association. Together we have accomplished our first goal. Now we are trying to combine our talents to fundraise, network, build a project plan and bring hot food to schools and clinics in the Mbale region while improving women's health and reducing deforestation.

Today I want to introduce you to Norah Nantabo, president of the Abayudaya Women's Association who is now my main partner in this project.

More below...

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Reposted from mole333 by mole333

People who know me know that I take on many projects. Sometimes with considerable success, sometimes getting nowhere. One of my main accomplishments was setting in motion the restoration (currently happening thanks to much help!) of the last surviving synagogue in the town of Rezekne in Latvia where my family came from.

Now I want to revisit a project I have been working on for awhile: the Abayudaya Solar Stove project. The idea is to provide solar or high efficiency cook stoves to a community in the Mbale region of Uganda that includes Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. These communities were once at odds with each other with the Jewish community in particular being persecuted...in fact Idi Amin nearly wiped them out.

Since then, the Jewish community (called the Abayudaya) has focused on projects that bring benefits to all members of the area whatever their tribal or religious affiliation. For example, school lunch programs for schools that cater to all religious groups. And they have started a coffee cooperative that involves and provides income for all members of the community. This is an example of cooperation among diverse people in a part of the world that has all too often fought over their differences.

Just far an "awwww" moment, here are some of the Abayudaya children singing (sorry if there is an ad before the song):

While reading about the Abayudaya I noticed that they have a problem that afflicts many communities around the world: the use of cook stoves that use large amounts of wood or charcoal and fill the women's lungs with smoke, causing endemic respiratory problems. Efficient or solar cook stoves are ways of providing better technology to a community, reducing deforestation, and improving women's health. I have decided to try and bring this improved technology to the Abayudaya and their neighbors. I have established a collaboration among three key organizations: Kulanu, Jewish World Watch, and Solar Cookers International and we have accomplished our first goal and I am asking your help in funding the next phase.

More below...

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Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:13 AM PST

The most amazing Kiva Loan EVER

by mole333

Reposted from mole333 by mole333

Possibly the best and most ambitious Kiva loan to date is trying to raise $50,000 to create a new clean energy loan program that will provide solar lighting, clean cook stoves, and water loans to over 100,000 rural farmers over the next five years. This effort is led by Juhudi Kilimo, a group that has already been working with Kiva to provide loans to farmers to purchase dairy cows, chickens, and irrigation equipment.  Kenya seems to be the main focus of this program though the larger organization that they are working with, MicroEnergy Credits, works in East Africa, Mongolia, and South Asia.

These efforts will help provide needed services to poor farmers, improve the health of women who currently have to cook with stoves that destroy their lungs (literally!) with smoke, and help address climate change by reducing the pressure on forests and encouraging use of green energy.

I have been working with Kiva since 2007 and helped publicize their early efforts. In all this time I have seen a lot of really amazing loans. But none as ambitious and amazing as this one. See below for details.

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Reposted from mole333 by mole333 Editor's Note: Not quite lending, but investing in America's future in a very important way. -- mole333

I want to talk about global warming. I also want to talk about helping some of the poorest citizens of America keep warm in the winter. I want to talk about how we all can make the world better in a way that is really quite significant.

I plugged this amazing effort a year ago following up on my wife reporting to me a talk from a climatology conference. She had talked to a big name climate scientist who said we shouldn't be waiting for big governments to do what is needed on climate change (though we still need to lobby them big time), but we should ALSO be focused right HERE and NOW on local projects that help local communities while reducing global warming. I have talked about this many times before (with mixed reactions from dKos) but found it even more important after hearing that key climate scientists were agreeing with me regarding this approach to addressing climate change through very local projects. I feel like it is time to plug this particular effort again. When my wife told the speaker about my own efforts to plug particular local projects (in Africa, Nepal, and America, mainly) he was very enthusiastic, saying that we need a lot more of this.

Bottom line is this. We need three levels (at least) of action and each and every one of us need to focus on ALL three levels. The first is personal. Our own food, transportation and energy sources, for example, affect the world. A key example is what you eat. Cut out beef and your carbon footprint goes way down. Just one example.

The second level is supporting local projects. These are small scale, very local projects that help local communities while reducing carbon emissions. This is what my wife heard discussed at that conference a year ago.

The third level are large scale projects funded by big governments and big business. The IKEA effort recently plugged here that has so far covered a third of their emissions by pushing green energy. The recent forest preservation deal worked out in Warsaw. Etc. We need to push our governments and companies we invest in or patronize to do more of this...but it isn't the only thing we need to do. We need the personal and we need to focus on the local.

To follow up one more time on the kind of thing that was actually discussed by scientists at a climate conference last year, follow be below the fold on a renewable energy/solar heating project in Indian Country right here in America that creates jobs, helps Native Americans live comfortable lives, saves people money, and reduces carbon emissions helping ALL of us. More below.

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Reposted from mole333 by mole333

FINAL UPDATE: only 2 out of 5 got funded. Sad that some really great loans expired. Details below.

Kiva.org is a wonderful organization that links lenders like us, who can lend as little as $25, with farmers, students and small businesses all over the world who need microloans. They do wonderful work, though not without occasional controversies. There was debate over their expansion of loans to people in the U.S. There was debate about the religious nature of some of their lending partners (Christian and Muslim mainly). There was some debate about the practice of backfilling loans (lending to fill a loan already given, so that money can be freed up for a new loan). etc. But I find overall they are wonderful and though I avoid certain kinds of loans, there are plenty of loans I do like and am proud to give.

But the need often outstrips the ability of lenders to lend. So even some good loans expire before being funded. I am considering starting an occasional series on dKos highlighting some of the loans about to expire...I can't do all, but will try to pick some that catch my eye.

Below are my first selections...please consider lending to some of these worthy farmers, students and small businesses whose loans are about to expire before they are fully funded. (All have less than 24 hours to go)

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Tue May 07, 2013 at 12:37 PM PDT

Daily Kos Work Bank

by dhonig

Reposted from Palate Press: The online wine magazine by MKSinSA

Not "Job Bank," but "Work Bank."

Did you read If I don't get a Job this week, I'm homeless in June, by Jim P? I did. It was just the latest in a series of diaries from people suffering through today's economy.

It is happening to a lot of people who come to Daily Kos. It is happening all over the country. It's happening to salespeople, computer programmers, graphic artists, computer engineers, and people with expertise in business, marketing, web design, accounting, finance, and much more.

But it's not happening to everybody. And some of us, some of those fortunate enough not to be hit with the economic tsunami, might be able to help with work, even if not a full-time (or even part-time) job.

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Reposted from Words In Action by MKSinSA
IC R&D will research and discuss all aspects of intentional communities: mission, strategy, goals, governance, finances, resources (land, housing, facilities, infrastructure, equipment, supplies...), membership, etc. Rubrics for site and membership. Membership, funding and site searches. IC R&D will create &/or incubate site(s), if there is sufficient understanding, agreement, interest and "intent".
This group arises from the research I have done related to diaries on Affordable, Sustainable Housing:

Affordable, Sustainable Housing I: As Direct Action
Affordable, Sustainable Housing II: Materials & Methods
Affordable, Sustainable Housing III: In Communities
Someone Need a Home/Community?

These diaries came from an interest in looking at a problem and an opportunity that exists in the space where the class (jobs, economy) and climate (sustainability) wars intersect. As it turns out, much of the home development occurring in this space is taking place in intentional communities -- ecovillages, cohousing, cooperatives, communes, etc.

ecovillage
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Reposted from Ray Pensador by MKSinSA

The motivation behind my interest in developing this concept is the alarming rate at which income inequality continues to accelerate as a result of a concerted effort by corporatist business cartels to undermine the economic security of the citizenry with the help of the corrupt political establishment.

There is currently an all out assault on the middle class, on collective bargaining rights (unions), on public-sector employees' pensions, and on the social safety net in general.

As the condition continues to deteriorate, more and more people are feeling trapped, working harder and longer (huge productivity increases) while their wages fall or remain stagnant.  All this is being done deliberately, cohesively, and strategically against the workers.

I'm sharing this idea and some concepts I've developed over time, but what I'm really interested in is in getting feedback and ideas from readers about how something like this could be implemented.

Employee-Owned Business Incubator

The employee-owned business incubator would consist of a website specifically dedicated to fund, support, and feature (listing/directory) employee-owned businesses around the country.

There would be an emphasis on making it as easy as possible for people with similar interests to connect to form employee-owned businesses.  Some businesses could focus on services that could be offered online, with very little overhead, opening up opportunities for people located in different geographic regions (but with similar interests) to connect.

Others would be more traditional retail businesses like bakeries, clothing/boutiques, barber shops, real estate, auto repair shops, restaurants, etc.

Funding

These are my ideas, but again, I would love to hear others'... Once the entity is set up as a "Benefit Corporation," it then proceeds to draft a plan to be crowdfunded.  

I came across an interesting news article in the San Francisco Chronicle about an entrepreneur in Oakland, CA planning on opening a "People's Community Market" through what is called "direct public offering."

They're selling stock in the supermarket on the People's Community Market website without using an underwriter. The method, known as a direct public offering, was used by companies such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Annie's Homegrown foods and Costco when they were still fledgling businesses, and it is growing in popularity.

So far Ahmadi, the founder and former executive director of the nonprofit People's Grocery, has raised $240,000 from investors who are disillusioned with Wall Street and want to put their money toward building a better community.

I recommend people read the article to get more familiarized with the idea...

I may need some input from people who know more about this particular subject, but what I envisioned is to present this concept to the public and allow people to participate with a minimum of let's say, $20.00 or so.

Then they get some piece (even if fractional) of the business...

Let's say that eventually the organization raises $200,000 or so, and then starts accepting employee-owned business proposals.  The applicants would submit a business and marketing plan.  Then the members who helped fund the organization set up a procedure to vote on whether to fund the businesses based on the strength of the business and marketing plan.

Funding could be in the form of grants or loans, or a combination.

As the number of successful employee-owned businesses are established, they would pay back their loans/funding to the organization, plus some interest.  Again, people more versed on this sort of thing could chime in...

Advertising & Marketing / Outreach Campaign

I think this would be an extremely important aspect of the project in order to educate the public about the benefits of spreading the concept of employee-owned businesses far and wide, so it can get broad acceptance as just one more normal way of doing business.

It would be important that every aspect of the organization be very professional, from the advertising and marketing campaign, to marketing collateral, website, etc.

Other Applications

The organization would also have a social justice activism component, similar to what CREDO does.  It could work on helping unionize as many workplaces in the country.  It could also develop business incubators for sustainable energy, food production, and housing.

Share Your Ideas

For example... I have systems administration, web development, databases, advertising and marketing experience.  For somebody like me, it would be feasible to find 5 or 10 people from around the country to form some sort of online-based business.

About you?  Are you a baker, or a jewelry designer, or an accountant, or have lots of experience in the restaurant business?  Can you picture starting a conversation with five or ten close associates to form an employee-owned business?

For more ideas, please visit the Evergreen Cooperatives website.

Now, share your dream business idea with us!

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Reposted from Anti-Capitalist Meetup by Odysseus

Today, instead of presenting a diary written by one of our regular or guest members, we are presenting an excerpt from a paper on "Crowdfunding" by Minsun Ji and Tony Robinson. Crowdfunding is the term used for raising money over the internet.  In most cases, a political candidate or charity solicits donations to fund their organization.  Recently it has also been used to solicit donations for socially  responsible businesses (usually cooperative start-ups).  And since Obama's JOBS  (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, it has been used to solicit not just donations but equity investment funds for cooperative start-ups by exempting these ventures from Security and Exchange regulations.
 photo 2029e18b-6761-47df-84dd-e3881aaec8b0_zps644b2dc5.jpg
It is this last feature which has led to all the brouhaha. On one side, are anarchists, libertarians, the cooperative movement and silicone valley free traders, supporting Crowdfunding as democratizing the investment process so that the 99% can develop capital which has previously been controlled by --  well, the big capitalists--or the 1% ; on the other side are the unions, most Marxists and some liberal democrats who see the crowdfunding provisions in the JOBS Act as a plot by Wall Street to avoid SEC regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act and that will, once again, allow for speculation, fraud and destabilization of the economy at the expense of the 99%.

The political compromise in the JOBS Act was to establish regulations to limit the size of the investment (both in terms of a $1 million cap and no more that 10% of an investor's income), exclude the investment of pension funds, exclude investors from decision making rights, etc. The authors of the paper excerpted below also note that so far there has been very little fraud in crowdfunding due to its emphasis on smaller, more socially responsible ventures.  (They failed to note, however,  that most of this fraud free history was when crowdfunding still consisted of donations, not profit making equity -- also, does anyone remember the 1984 Saving and Loan scandal after government regulations had been decimated under Reagan, where Wall Street types stole billions from the small Banks set up to help the "little guy"?).

Personally, when I first heard about crowdfunding, my reaction was pretty much like most class conscious workers and Marxists -- I was afraid, not only of individual investors and small businesses being duped, but that the whole thing was a Wall street scam which could cause the whole economy to go under due to speculative financial "bubbles." (And I wrote as much in a diary in this very venue).

On the other hand, in a paper on a hybrid union- cooperative model from the United Steelworkers ("An Emerging Solidarity:Worker Cooperatives, Unions,and the New Union Co-op Model,February 1, 2013), Rob Witherall does not totally discount the idea of crowdfunding as one of many methods to develop capital investment for coops -- as long as it is controlled and regulated by the union.  At this point, my own position(and that in Ji's and Witherall's papers) place crowdfunding in the context of a global economy where changes in technology, capital mobility and the end of centralized industrial manufacturing has resulted in the growth of the informal workforce (both here and abroad)  that has greatly damaged traditional union organizing solutions. This has led us to explore if we can use new possibilities to our advantage in a changing world. And whether these possibilities will take us toward or further away from a true anti-capitalist future. So here is a full discussion, presented primarily from the pro-crowdfunding point of view since this is the view, as anti-capitalists, that we don't often hear.  Let the argument begin.    

"Crowdfunding the Future of Union-Coop Collaboration" by Minsun Ji,
Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, mji@du.edu.
Tony Robinson, Department of Political Science, University of Colorado Denver,
tony.robinson@ucdenver.edu, February 2, 2013:

In 2012, United States union leaders and the worker cooperative community split ways over President Obama’s “Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act,” which significantly liberalized regulations on small business equity financing, including “crowdfunding” practices.   Both the AFL-CIO and SEIU took vigorous stands against the JOBS Act, claiming that by diminishing government oversight over small business crowdfunding, the JOBS Act promoted corruption and destabilizing investment bubbles.

Cartoons come from The Scoop Shovel, the official Organ of the
Manitoba Co-operative Dairies, Manitoba Egg and Poultry Pool, Manitoba Co-operative Livestock Producers athttp://www.ecclectica.ca/...

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Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:40 AM PST

Looking for some help, not a handout

by dagnome

Reposted from One Small Voice of Reason by MKSinSA

I've come to an interesting point in my life, and would beg your indulgence for a moment...

First, let me say thanks for the great discourse here on DK. I've enjoyed a wonderful several years of reading smart people's dairies and comments on many topics, and occasionally chiming in myself on a subject or two that hit a nerve. I have also been impressed by the family nature of our users, who have come to the aid of users on here who have encountered problems.

so I'll just throw this out there and hopefully not offend anyone here:

I could use some help...

For many years, I have been making my way as a technology consultant, but in recent years the crappy economy has dried up many budgets that were previously available, and rendered it difficult to find a continuing source of clients. Shrinking budgets mean fewer clients, and those that ARE out there don't often appreciate the benefits that a knowledgeable person can provide.

If there is anyone out there looking to setup a blog, a website, obtain web hosting or other online presence, and needs help with it, I would be delighted to assist you, or anyone you may now of who seeks such services.  

My company currently administers over 100 domains, and hosts about 30 websites for various clients.   We provide website design services, web hosting, domain administration and ongoing webmastering for clients who don't have time to do it themselves. We work with world class web servers (Linux) and the most popular content management platforms (Wordpress, Joomla).  

Our hosting prices are reasonable, and I personally look after every site we host.

If any DKos readers or their friends are in need of any website services, I'd be happy to quote an estimate.  If you'd like to see our portfolio of sites, and check out our list of services, (all of which are affordable) visit http://DigitalGuyHosting.com *

I appreciate your taking a moment to read this - ;-)

thanks - dagnome "The Digital Guy"

*and thanks to those who commented that adding a live link would not be in appropriate!

Discuss
Reposted from Hunger in America by MKSinSA

Last time, I wrote about living on $25 a week if you are homeless, nearly homeless, or living without certain essential amenities like refrigeration or a working stove.

This time, we'll look at a common diet on a $100 a month food budget if you do happen to have a place to live that has refrigeration and a working stove, where you have electricity.

You still live in an Oklahoma food desert, though, and have access to convenience stores, Walgreens, and Braum's (an ice cream store that has added meat and produce).

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Reposted from In Support of Labor and Unions by MKSinSA

1:30 PM PT:

From COwoman:

Ok, I went to see Candy and I c an attest that she is where and who she says she is. She needs 635.00 by Friday or she is out no matter what. If she had two months rent payment for the trailer lot it would help her pay for her medications and utility bill with her disability.

Her landlord needs a money order. If you think it would be ok, I could have my paypal account take donations and I can give it to her directly. It might be the fastest way to get her the money. I have met Frankenoid and I am a long time user here, but I understand trust issues. I was taken in here and I understand people being afraid. But if she loses her trailer she will be homeless.

I got a phone number for her and if you want it I can have you call her or me or both.

COwoman

P. S. Candy was at the point of tears knowing that there are people that want to help.

Richard Myers, a fellow worker who did more than Talk the Talk, passed away last December. His passing was the subject of a couple of diaries, including this one I wrote Richard Myers, RIP and this one Condolences For Daily Kos Diarist Richard Myers His Family and His Loved Ones by Leslie Salzillo

He is missed by our community, and many have stepped up to help continue his work. However, the void left in the lives of his family has become a financial chasm, and left them teetering on the edge of eviction.

Many people had left comments in my diary suggesting they could help his widow and son with financial contributions. Please continue below to understand the situation and how to help. It is our turn to Walk the Walk.

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