Friday, March 29, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Drop Dead

Now that I've got your attention, please know I wish you a long and fabulous life.

Drop Dead is the name of a one-man NGO whose tag line is, "Save every drop or drop dead". The drops in question are water.

According to Wikipedia, "Aabid Surti is a National Award-winning Indian author who has earned accolades within India and abroad as a painter, author, cartoonist, journalist,environmentalist, playwright and screenwriter." As if those activities don't keep him busy enough, he spends every Sunday traveling around New Delhi with a plumber and a volunteer fixing people's leaky faucets for free.

Why? A culmination of events: reading that by 2025 more than 40 countries are expected to experience water crisis, learning a tap that drips once every second wastes 270 gallons of water a month (!) and seeing a friend with a leaky faucet who couldn't be bothered to call a plumber to fix it.

He's been making his Sunday water rounds since 2007 and it's estimated that he and his team have save 1.5 million gallons of water since the project started. The story is explained in greater detail by his son on his blog, superaalifragilistic.

To learn more about Aabid's creative endeavors and view his gallery, visit his website.

I'm going to leave you now to make sure none of my faucets are dripping and I highly suggest you do the same!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Playworks

Today we go to Oakland, CA for recess! What a fun way to spend a Friday.
Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that transforms schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. 
Sounds fun, but does playing at recess really make a difference? Yes! 85 percent of principals report that students are more engaged in school since having Playworks on site. Teachers surveyed at the end of the school year report an increased use of conflict resolution strategies by the students both during recess and in classroom. Teachers also noted a decrease in bullying during recess and students who were more focused when they returned to the classroom.
Playworks was founded in 1996 by Jill Vialet after sitting with a principal in an Oakland elementary school who was complaining about conflicts and drama that happened during recess.  It is the only nonprofit organization in the country providing trained, full-time play coaches focused on recess to hundreds of low-income schools in major urban areas. They also provide training and technical assistance to schools, districts and youth organizations that wish to include inclusive, healthy play as part of a positive learning environment. 
You know I love to leave you with some videos to watch. Your option are a quick intro or a TedxSF talk given by Jill Vialet.
If you want to get more involved you can donate, volunteer, like them on Facebook for updates or go check out their list of games.
It's almost the weekend - I hope this blog inspires you to go out and PLAY!! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Eco Surfboard Project

Plastics, recycling and repurposing trash seem to come up a lot on Feel Good Friday. This time, we take a look at an inventive project happening in Brazil!

Surfer, Jairo Lumertz and his girlfriend Carolina Scorsin promote his invention of an "eco surfboard" to encourage children to learn how to surf and to keep plastic waste out of the oceans.

The surfboards are made of plastic bottles supported by PVC tubes and glue. The bottles are treated with dry ice to make them stronger and more buoyant. It takes 41 bottles for a standard surfboard and 73 bottles for a stand up padddleboard. I'm a fan of the latter because it keeps more bottles from the trash as seems harder to fall off of.

Not only are the surfboards eco-friendly, but at a cost of $100 vs. $2,000 - $5,000, they're also affordable!

You can learn a little more about the Eco Surfboard Project in this longer article from the Epoch Times or, if you speak Portuguese, a search for Projeto Prancha Ecol√≥gica will lead you to tons more information.

If you don't speak Portuguese, this 1:22 minute video will you a great idea of the project. And you can always like them on Facebook. I do!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Kakenya Ntaiya

To celebrate International Women's Day, we take a look at a pretty spectacular international woman, Kakenya Ntaiya.

I had never heard of her until I watched her TED Talk yesterday. In the event you don't have 18 minutes to spare, let me sum up because you need to know this woman.

As is typical of a young Maasai girl living in Kenya, she spent her childhood helping her mother with very labor intensive tasks on the family farm. She was engaged at the age of 5 and expected to marry after she hit puberty. While going to school she decided that she wanted to become a teacher because they wore high heels, looked pretty and writing on a blackboard seemed to her like easier work than gathering firewood.

As she neared puberty, the expectation was that she would participate in the traditional coming of age ceremony for a woman (female circumcision) and then get married. Kakenya knew this would thwart her plans of becoming a teacher so she made a deal with her father. She would go through with the ceremony if he would let her finish high school rather than drop out and marry.  Her other option of running away would bring him shame so her father agreed!

Flash forward to her meeting a Kenyan boy who had gone to school in the US - giving her the idea to do the same, her application and acceptance to college in the US and an introduction to new ways of thinking. Not wanting other Kenyan girls to be circumcised, forced to marry and have to forego their education, KaKenya went back to her village after graduating to establish an Academy for Girls called the Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE).

The school serves the area's most vulnerable and underprivileged girls and focuses on academic excellence, health education, female empowerment, leadership and community development. Each year a new class of 30-35 girls is enrolled in grade four. With the January 2013 incoming class, the school has reached its full capacity, housing 155 girls in grades 4-8 in a safe, nurturing environment. The campus currently includes 5 classrooms, a dormitory, a computer lab, a kitchen, and staff housing.

KaKenya's dream is that KCE will serve as a model for the development of other extraordinary schools for girls throughout Africa.

If you've made it this far and have 3 minutes more, you can watch this film which summarizes her story. Happy International Women's Day!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Cardboard Bicycle

That's right. A bicycle made of cardboard that will support the weight of it's 250 lb. inventor.

Izhar Gafni is a man who loves bicycles. When he heard about a man who made a canoe out of cardboard he thought, why not do the same with a bike?

Folding the cardboard like origami and applying a coating that makes it both water and fireproof, the bikes will sell for $20-30 each! The idea is that they will be an affordable option for people in countries who rely primarily on their feet for getting around.

This is the seat (upside down)!
This 6 minute video from Giora Kariv introduces us to Izhar and gives an inside look into how it's made.

Through his company, Cardboard Technologies, the bicycles should be available in the next year and then Izhar intends to start making wheelchairs out of cardboard.

You can read a more in-depth article here and/or like them on Facebook to get updates on their activities.

I can't wait until Critical Mass has more cardboard bikes than fixies!

Product Development Team (Izhar 2nd from left)