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Collaborating Around the Clock: A recent visit to a late-night milk bar

On a Monday night late last year, I found myself sharing a car ride home with Ashoka Fellow Haron Wachira. We’d been together all day at a meeting with recently elected village elders in the community of Gichugu. Haron had presented to the elders his work with Akili, the organization he founded to coordinate an entire suite of agricultural value chain interventions aimed at lifting the smallholder farmer out of poverty.

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Three Early Winners Showcase Innovation in Sustainable Housing


[Favelas Morro Da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro / TED.com]

Last November, Ashoka Changemakers, with support of the Rockefeller Foundation, and in collaboration with the US State Department, HUD, and the American Planning Association, launched the Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Liveable and Inclusive Cities Competition.  In late December, three early entry prize winners were announced.  What do their projects bring to the table, and how can they impact the planning profession?

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Evagelia Emily Tavoulareas's picture

A Conversation with Raj Kumar, Co-Founder and President of Devex


If you work in the field of international development, chances are you have heard of Devex. What I bet you didn’t know is that it is a social enterprise – this was news to me as well.

Raj Kumar, founder and President, evolved from political consultant to entrepreneur when he identified a gap in the development market. In 2000, Kumar launched Devex as a student project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Today, Devex has become the largest provider of business intelligence and recruitment services to the development community – serving a majority of the world’s leading donor agencies, companies, NGOs and development professionals.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak offers advice to innovators

Steve Wozniak, computing pioneer and Apple co-founder, was recently tracked down by VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Wozniak briefly shared his experiences during the early era of personal computers. Of course, he also offered some advice to innovators -- as you can imagine, Wozniak is a man just bursting with creative energy. (Video after the jump.)

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John Converse Townsend's picture

What's your 'million dollar idea' for building a sustainable future?

Ashoka Changemakers is looking for innovative solutions that engage communities, entrepreneurs, and key institutions in collaborating to integrate and develop affordable, inclusive, and sustainable urban housing that respects the environment, local cultures, and practices. (Video after the jump.)

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John Converse Townsend's picture

The Miniature Earth: How would you create a better world?

So, you're trying to change the world? Chew on this:

Today, a whopping 48 people live without basic sanitation, 14 are hungry or malnourished, and 21 people live on US$1.25 per day or less. Of course, these statistics would only hold true if the entire population of planet Earth was transformed into a small community of 100 people.

Welcome to The Miniature Earth, ladies and gentlemen. (Video after the jump.)

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Defining the Issue of Dead Capital

[Editor's note: This article was written by Nicole Skibola, lawyer by training and human rights practitioner. It was originally featured on her blog, Strange Attractors.]

“Dead Capital” is capital in the form of unregistered real property, and is considered lost value because the landholder is unable to transfer or leverage his property for capital or capital access.  For instance, homes that are unregistered and extra-legal receive little or no infrastructure, are valued less, receive less investment and represent potentially areas of vulnerability for those who dwell in them. Globally, the estimated value of unregistered, yet inhabited property is $9.3 trillion in value held by primarily poor people.

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Evagelia Emily Tavoulareas's picture

Without property ownership, women will continue to get hurt

If you look at world conflicts, property is frequently a point of contention. In November, a Google map accidentally incorrectly demarcated the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. As a result, a Nicaraguan military leader ordered his troops to claim the Costa Rican land. The “Organization of American States (OAS) chief urged Nicaragua and Costa Rica to withdraw security forces from a border zone to ease tensions over a two-century-old territorial dispute that has flared up and drawn in Google,” ABC News reported.
 
If you look at personal conflicts, property (in the form of land, chattel, or money) is also frequently a point of contention – and can lead to domestic abuse, usually inflicted on women.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Educate! to Write World’s First National Social Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Educate! -- a Boulder, CO and Uganda-based non-profit that unlocks the potential of African youth to solve their communities' most pressing issues -- was asked by the government of Uganda and the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) to incorporate its social entrepreneurship program into Uganda's national high school curriculum.

Educate! recently won the Ashoka Changemakers Quality Education in Africa award. It has also been backed by Echoing Green (the leading venture philanthropy fund), received first place in the Pan African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education, and was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 100 Brilliant Companies of 2009.

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Join @Changemakers Tuesday, January 11th for a Multilingual #SocEntChat on Property Rights

Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All

On Tuesday, January 11th, Ashoka Changemakers will bring together entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to discuss property rights. With secure rights to land, people are able to improve their quality of life, invest confidently in their property, build security for their family, and improve their social status. Ultimately, the positive economic and social impact of property rights can transform lives and bolster communities.

We invite you to participate in this #SocEntChat via Twitter between 2pm and 4pm (EST) and share your ideas about the importance of property rights and their role in ensuring equity in opportunity. This chat will be multilingual, with simultaneous facilitation in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Want to halt tyranny, rape, HIV? Let women own land

Did you know that women produce 80 percent of the food in developing countries, yet own just 2 percent of the world's land? So, while women feed the world, they are routinely denied the right to own the land they cultivate and on which they are dependent to raise their families. Without titles to land, women and their families are incredibly vulnerable -- they're at risk of having their livelihoods, education, health care and identities stripped away.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Lack of property rights leads to new 'Scramble for Africa'

Let’s fire up the WABAC Machine and wake up in 1914.

For the past three decades, Europe’s powers have pillaged and plundered Africa under the misguided, ethnocentric mandate of New Imperialism.

This isn’t your great, great grandfather’s colonization of Africa. No, this is something new, fresh, and just as sinister – and actually seen as a way to eliminate the threat of a Europe-wide war over Africa. Divide, deal, and conquer they say. Today, the world map looks significantly different than it will 100 years from now, with Europe having added almost nine million square miles – one-fifth of the land area of the globe – to its colonial possessions.

What a terrifying takeover, particularly to those Africans lacking not only advanced weaponry, but also a united front to resist European aggression!

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How do your country's property rights rank? (US barely in top 20)

 

According to the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom (compiled by both the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation), property and land rights in the United States rank 19th out of 184 examined countries.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Enigmatic Parisian street artist, JR, wins 2011 TED Prize

On New Year's Eve, Changemakers brought you six ideas that are making the world a better place.

As a follow-up and a way to kick off 2011, here is another powerful idea brought to life by another TED Prize Winner: The 27-year-old Parisian street artist known as JR.

JR, "a shadowy figure who has made a name for himself by plastering colossal photographs in downtrodden neighborhoods around the world," has been recognized as the winner and recipient of the 2011 TED Prize -- an annual award granting winners $100,000 to change the world with the support of the TED community.

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TED Prize Winners: Six Ideas That Are Changing the World

[Editor's Note: This piece by Allison Ford was originally featured in Divine Caroline]

If you work in the fields of design, technology, publishing, art, entertainment, public health, science, non-profit, or government, you’ve probably heard of TED. But even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve likely heard of some of its endeavors.

Started in 1984, TED has grown into a series of global conferences that bring people together to talk about ideas―big, transformative ideas. TED solicits presenters and speakers from all walks of life to discuss world-changing innovations, and to try to solve intractable global problems. Every year, more than one thousand people attend the main conference in Long Beach, California, to hear industry leaders and information pioneers talk about their plans to effect change through the dissemination of these groundbreaking ideas.

Each year, TED gives out $100,000 in prizes to people with big ideas to help them bring their ideas to fruition and make their dreams come true. These winners make a wish, and with the help of other TEDsters and professionals, they attempt to do nothing less than change the world.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Google the good guy: Goliath gives $140 million to make world less evil

For years, Google, Inc. has held a notorious reputation for being the biggest cyber-bully on the block. As a result, it has been the target of virtual vitriol for its "insidious and potentially pernicious" business practices. Essentially, Google has been alleged as one of the kings of online malpractice, charged with smothering search neutrality and manipulating search results to hoarding queries and invading our privacy. (Ironically, Facebook passed Google as most-viewed site in US earlier this year. So now, it seems that Facebook -- another space invader -- has a stranglehold on our collective attention, time, and keystrokes.)

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The game of building a shared future

Something happens to me whenever I play a game, and this happens to all of us when we play. A sport practice, the one taking place in neighborhood fields, moves us, touches us. The reason is simple: it is inevitable to learn about myself and about my relationship with others, and be able to make something possible by starting from a "we”. Shall we go to the field? Let's go!

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Hans Rosling's 200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes


When statistics go stale, Hans Rosling finds a way to make them sing.

So, I'm certain Rosling couldn't resist participating in the operatic ode to the "glorious nerdiness of statistics": 'The Joy of Stats.'

"I kid you not, statistics is now the sexiest subject on the planet."

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John Converse Townsend's picture

The Robin Hood Tax: The world's greatest bank job

Changemakers, I would like to introduce you to an incendiary idea: The Robin Hood Tax.

Inspired by the actions of England’s most popular outlaw, The Robin Hood Tax’s mission is to “take from the richest in society and give to those who need it.” Rest assured, the plan is more detailed than that. The tax is imposed on banks and would give billions to tackle social issues in England and beyond.

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365 Donations, 365 Blog Posts, and a Year Reaping the Joy of Giving



For each and every day this year, Betty Londergan has strived to “let love loose in the world.”  By the end of December 2010, Londergan will have identified 365 worthy charitable organizations, written about them on her blog, What Gives 365, and sent each of those organizations a personal check for US $100.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Barefoot Power wins big at the Cool Company Awards

Australia’s leading entrepreneurs and business rock stars met at 24 Moons Bar on AC/DC Lane in Melbourne last week for Anthill Magazine’s 2010 Cool Company Awards.

The Cool Company Awards is an initiative launched to celebrate Australian organizations making real change through innovative means – rule-makers, rule-breakers, and trend-setters in attitude and action

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Who needs women, really?

Who needs women? Humanity does. Desperately.

The world's markets depend on women. Today, women own 40 percent of all private firms -- ten times more than they did 30 years ago. Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade, all but two are occupied primarily by women. And women dominate today's education system, receiving more degrees at a higher rate than males.

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Sustain-A-Raisers: Applying a Barn Raising Approach to Community Sustainability Projects

by Kristie Wang, Ashoka Changemakers

When Joshua Arnold was preparing to lead his community group, Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.), in restoring a grange hall to create a community space for Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, he learned about barn raising, an event in which an entire community gathers to help build one household’s barn. “I had heard about it before—it’s always been in my cultural memory—but as I read more, I really became fascinated by how barn raising built a way of life centered on reciprocity,” Arnold said.

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John Converse Townsend's picture

Reasonable Entrepreneurs Need Not Apply

The Unreasonable Institute, an international accelerator for high-impact ventures, has opened applications for its second annual institute – a search for 25 of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs committed to launching globally significant social ventures that can reach at least one million people.

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The Secret to Finding Jobs in a Harsh Economy

by Kristie Wang, Ashoka Changemakers

[After completing the Making Connections Louisville program, Shavelle Gordon (left) found a job in housekeeping at Norton Healthcare and support from Norton manager Michelle Williams (right). Gordon has since become a nursing assistant and is studying to be a nurse.]

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John Converse Townsend's picture

The Fun Theory: Why fun should be used to change behavior for the better

The Fun Theory is a site dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better.

Fun might be more than just a simple way to effect change -- it might be the best way.

Kevin Richardson was recently recognized as the winner of The Fun Theory Award for answering the question: "Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do?"

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A 21st Century Social Movement: Using Cell Phones to End Street Harassment

 

Emily May, the Executive Director of Hollaback! believes that we all have the right to feel safe, confident and sexy, without being subjected to street harassment.   Using mobile technology, Hollaback! allows girls and women to report harassment and assault safely with their phones, publicly sharing stories of street harassment and photos of their harassers on the HollabackNYC.com website.   May predicts that instant online reporting will become a new model of activism in the 21st century, creating movements to address a wide variety of social challenges.

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This is the face of redemption

by Betty Londergan, What Gives 365?

Somaly Mam is so triumphantly beautiful, it’s difficult to think of her as a victim, or anyone’s slave. But she was both – sold into sexual slavery at the tender age of 12, raped, tortured and prostituted until she finally escaped and was able to build a new life for herself. But she vowed never to forget those left behind in the brothels, and Somaly made it her life’s mission to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficked girls and give them a new chance at life.

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