The CO and I had a heart to heart later in the day. He was predictably patronizing as he dressed me down and I dutifully groveled smoothing his ego. Guard ego management is the number one skill all inmates learn.

Allan Lummus, My Mind As My Teacher, Between the Bars.

Lummus is an inmate who writes for Between the Bars, a weblog platform for people in prison. It’s an incredible project by the MIT Center for Civic Media. Some background:

Between the Bars is a weblog platform for people in prison, through which the 1% of America which is behind bars can tell their stories. Since people in prison are routinely denied access to the Internet, we enable them to blog by scanning letters. We aim to provide a positive outlet for creativity, a tool to assist in the maintenance of social safety nets, an opportunity to forge connections between people inside and outside of prison, and a means to promote non-criminal identities and personal expression. We hope to improve prisoner’s lives, and help to reduce recidivism.

This Week in Social Entrepreneurship

In our “This Week in Social Entrepreneurship” series, each Friday we will feature the top stories in Social Entrepreneurship for the week that we find to be noteworthy, novel, and thought-provoking.  What are your favorite stories this week in Social Entrepreneurship?  Let’s start a discussion!

  • Looking for some great SocEnt events to attend?  On Tuesday, November 15 in Manhattan, the Social Innovators Collective is hosting a workshop that will be useful to any budding social entrepreneur–Generating Revenue: Funding Your Social Enterprise or Nonprofit.  Get inspired with Ashoka–over in Minneapolis on November 16, Ashoka Solutions Forum will conduct a one-hour live interview with Ashoka fellows Molly Barker, Thorkil Sonne and Jim Thompson.  If you live in the Chicago area, don’t miss Founders Night, hosted by The Impact Engine.  If you have an idea you want to transform into a social venture, this event could help you find the team members you are looking to start your journey with.  Aussies, feeling left out from all these great events?  No need to fret–we’ve got something for you too!  Check out the Tools For Change Workshop in New South Wales on December 1.  This workshop will show you new tools you can use to organize and scale your work.
  • Some of the most impact-rich social innovations come from the most unexpected places.  Zoe Fox over at Mashable has uncovered and reported on 6 Philanthropic Innovations From the Most Unexpected Sources.  A twelve-year old named Cassandra Lin started a recycling program called Turn Grease into Fuel.  She found a way to take the food grease from restaurants and use it to heat the homes of community members that can’t typically afford this expense.  MIT students started a program called A Liter of Light. It uses soda bottles–pushed through metal roofing–to light homes, either providing people with access to light or reducing the electricity bills to those with access.  Waste2Watts has embarked upon its flagship program called ENZI Interface.  It uses recycled e-waste (old laptop power supplies, batteries, etc.) to provide an uninterrupted power source to people living in parts of the world that experience frequent blackouts.  The Embrace infant warmer can replace ultra-expensive incubators.  The Embrace infant warmer, unlike an incubator, is affordable and keeps babies warm without any electricity.  The Paradigm Project has discovered a safer and more sanitary way to cook for people living in rural Africa.  Rather than cook over an open fire, they are encouraged to use the Rocket Stove.  The Rocket Stove is not only safer, but it also reduces deforestation because it doesn’t require wood to cook.  NCR Corp. is making banking more accessible by creating a low-text ATM machine that can be used without confusion by people who are illiterate or by people who live in countries where many dialects are used.  All six of these ideas have the potential to impact large populations of underserved people around the world. 
  • Now is your chance to Vote for Your Favorite Finalist in Citizen Media.  Finalists for Citizen Media: A Global Innovation Competition, represent some of the most promising ideas for increasing media access and global participation.  To help you decide, you can read about the finalists’ work with the Citizen Media Toolkit (coming soon) or watch their videos.  Voting closes on November 23 and winners are announced on November 28.  Who will get your vote?
  • The Huffington Post has a new section–Huff Post Water–bringing light to clean water issues faced around the world.  News from this section will be covered by–a very well-known non-profit that provides safe drinking water and sanitation to residents in developing countries.

Last but not least, our featured SocEnt news story this week:

Solved is a new campaign in Australia launched by the Australian Center for Social Innovation that searches the nation for solutions that work.  So… Why Solved?? Let’s hear from a member of the Solved team:

“Sometimes when tackling social challenges, we focus too much on searching for new ideas or solutions, and overlook things that are already working. Maybe you set up a scheme to help local kids eat a healthy breakfast in Broome, and someone in Newcastle is searching for a way to do just that. By sharing what works on the Solved map, we hope these solutions can help more people across Australia.

Big or small, it doesn’t matter. It can be something done by an organization, or one person. My dad did a lot of work to help build a Men’s Shed in Sheffield, Tasmania to create a place for men to get together, and overcome loneliness, social isolation and depression. The work my dad did, and the impact it’s having on people in his town, is what inspired me to create Solved.

Solutions to social problems are worth celebrating and worth sharing. It’s a great opportunity for people or organisations doing good stuff to let people know about it - or to give a shoutout to their favorite local solution.”

Check out Solved, follow Solved on Twitter, and Like Solved on Facebook. Most importantly, if you have seen or done something that is helping–let Solved know!!
Social entrepreneurs, has all this great SocEnt news inspired you to start your own good?  Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off?  Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today.  Still have questions?  We have answers—check out our FAQ section. 

She was abducted at gunpoint and taken blindfolded to a deserted area. She was then ordered to undress partially as several men threatened to rape and kill her. Afterwards, she was told this was all a joke.

Nazira Aytbekova, a prominent television presenter in Kyrgyzstan, has brought criminal charges against tabloid journalists who abducted and threatened to kill her as a ‘practical joke’ for their newspaper.

The ‘mock abduction’ triggered a flurry of angry comments on news forum and in social media.

The most absurd thing is that had Aytbekova not raised a fuss [over the incident], the readers would have simply giggled when reading the ‘practical joke’ published in the newspaper. 

Read more Kyrgyz reactions  on Global Voices.


Changemakers: Tunisia Live capture the thoughts of citizens, focusing specifically on their perception of the role and value of media.

Read their interview with Changemakers here.

GOVERNMENTS in the Middle East are getting increasingly twitchy about their citizens’ activities online. In Egypt, on Sunday April 10th, a blogger, Mikael Sanad Nabil, was sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting the military” in his blog postings, after a brief trial by a military court with no defence lawyers present. Other bloggers worry they may be next. Campaigners say the mainstream media are already fearful of criticising the army.
…Witness has found that most videos of traumatic events filmed by untrained bystanders end up being “shaky to the point of ambiguity” or else “lacking in metadata that would have helped confirm their veracity.” So Kelly Matheson, who heads up Witness’ Video as Evidence program, shells out advice for creating a better piece of evidence. Amateur videographers should capture tight shots that clearly show the action, but also remember to pan the camera to “document as much of your surroundings as possible” and record “geographic landmarks that can’t be faked” in order to situate the event in a specific place and time, the Times reports. It’s particularly important, Witness says, to resist an activist bent when shooting these videos. The best evidence contains not just obvious acts of cruelty but also mundane shots of “license-plate numbers, military-uniform patterns,” and “close-ups of official documentation” too.
—  Amanda Hess in Slate “Justice Through a Lens” 
Seems the edge is the only place that is comfortable for me now.

I must live according to my intuition, not other peoples opinions, as harsh as they can be… Every time I stop somewhere and plan to stay, it seems I start aging and withering away. I need a vehicle I can sleep in easily for this lifestyle. A green RV or bus would rock. I will be mobile this whole year, possibly, distributing information and playing music. =)

I’ve decided (so far and I change my mind often!) it’s time to sungaze barefoot somewhere, possibly Sedona or Joshua Tree. I’ll be dry fasting also on the way down there.. I’ve found fasting to be much easier when one stops consuming everything. And the benefits from my first one were just spectacular. I must make sure I am on the right path and ultimate health is the only way to know for sure.

NASA confirmed that sun gazing does give superhuman powers =) I haven’t tried it yet. Looking forward to hopefully making that happen.

Content disappears from the Internet…a lot. And the type of content we care about at WITNESS — citizen- and activist-shot media that has news or justice value — is no different, so we are thinking a lot about how to protect meaningful content before it gets lost. Accounts can get deleted, uploaders can get scared or threatened, content can be flagged as offensive or violent, and accidents happen; but occasionally there is another cause — government interference.

One valuable set of resources for learning more about this issue, at least when it comes to the government interference part, are the transparency reports that Internet-based companies are increasingly producing.