Donation and Action Pledge

Given the current global state of extreme poverty and humanitarian disaster, as well as the unfolding assault on basic human rights in the United States and the resulting threat to world peace and stability, I pledge to donate a percentage of my time and money to causes which I think address these problems effectively.

My current commitment stands as follows:

Money

I pledge to donate at least 2.5% of my pre-tax income to worthy causes.

At the moment, my donations are spread through the following causes and charities, all via monthly payments:

Extreme Poverty and Humanitarian Disasters

The bulk of my donations goes to charities recommended by GiveWell, and mostly to the Against Malaria Foundation,
the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, and Give Directly. I’ve set up these donations in Canada through Charity Science.

I have also set up recurring payments to Seva, which fights preventable blindness, and to Doctors Without Borders, which can be found in the midst of the worst crises in the world, bravely providing essential medical care.

Human Rights and Advocacy

I donate to Amnesty International and to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Additionally, as a response to the shockingly inhumane actions of the new American administration, I am now a monthly donor of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and, after consultation with people more knowledgeable than me, of the Casa del Migrante, which provides hospitality to migrants, refugees, and deported individuals in Mexico and Central America.

(UPDATE: I have now also added the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to the list of organizations to which I donate monthly. As a Mexican-Canadian, I feel it is a bit strange to donate more to American organizations than to either Mexican or Canadian ones, but things in the United States truly look dire in comparison these days.)

Environmental and Other Interests

I am a donor of Mercy for Animals, an organization fighting to prevent cruelty to farmed animals, of the Lifecycles Project, which fosters community health, urban farming, and food security in Victoria, and of the Green Party of Canada, which through Elizabeth May has often been the first or only voice of reason on many issues in our Parliament.

Time

I pledge to commit an average of at least two hours per week to non-violent action towards the causes above.

This at the moment involves protesting, researching, writing materials to advocate for these causes and for effective means of action, and contacting Members of Parliament. I expect the specific actions in which I’ll invest my time will fluctuate depending on events.

Time spent yelling on my pillow on Twitter or Facebook does not count.


 

I am fully aware that 2.5% of my income and two hours per week is a small commitment.

If you are doing or giving more than this, I commend you for it, and I admire you. I intend to do more, as personal circumstances allow, and will update my pledge if I do so.

If you are doing or giving less than this, or not at all, I invite you to consider if you can increase your commitments. Your time and money are more powerful to effect change than you may think.

Finally, I make my pledge public not to brag (it is actually somewhat uncomfortable to do so), but with the knowledge that giving is contagious and in the hope that learning of it will help tip your scale in favour of committing as well, if this is something you had been considering but were not sure of doing before.

If you do decide to donate time, money, or both, I invite you to make your commitments public, small or large as they may be, to help your friends and contacts know of your actions and to encourage them to go on the same path. We can do something about these issues. We have power. We should use it.

Al Gore’s proposals to help fight climate change

In a very good article in Rolling Stone, Al Gore lays out the reasons for the sorry state of the climate change debate in the public arena. (He dishes out a lot of his criticism to the media; the media, true to form, seem to have interpreted the article as an attack on Obama.) He closes with five ways in which you can help fix things. Slightly abridged:

First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it’s some sort of hoax, don’t let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.

Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution.

Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue.

Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate — and let them know you’re fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they’re frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don’t let up!

Finally, and above all, don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. (…) To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: “I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you — regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you.”

Picking apples

Val is ready to pick some applesA new friend here in Victoria told us about the LifeCycles Project and its fruit picking activities: if you have a fruit tree in your garden you can call them, and they’ll schedule a team of volunteers to come pick its fruit. You get a share (about a quarter), the volunteers get a share (another quarter), and the LifeCycles Project donates the rest to local non-profits. Turns out our friend is a team lead with LifeCycles, and was wondering if Val and I wanted to join in. Let’s see…

  1. spend a few Sunday hours chatting and doing light work outdoors,
  2. get lots of ultra-local, organic, delicious produce,
  3. and contribute with local food banks and community centers.

Awesomeness from every angle!

Mushi inspects the fruit of our labourWe spent some three hours last Sunday picking apples from three different trees (King, Golden Delicious, and an unidentified third kind). In total we collected about 200kg of fruit. Our share was two boxes, about 15kg! Fortunately they keep well.

So far it’s been apples every day, as well as applesauce and apple salad. An apple pie or crumbler is rumoured to be in the works this weekend. I guess I’d normally get tired of so much of it after a while, but the fruit tastes fantastic and I am quite fond of it, having picked some of it myself.

The picking season is nearly over, but I think there will still be a few trees to pick, so if you’re in Victoria let me know if you’d like to join, and we can go together!