Thursday, November 29, 2007

things I love: freecycling and microfinancing

I believe that optimism is important and at the risk of seeming naive, I will say that I believe that almost all people are basically good (sometimes ignorant, but not evil). But, life is difficult at times and stressful and we need to reconnect with our goodness and our desire to do good. I think that most people want to do what's right for their kids, their health, the planet and their communities but they have no time, information or support.
So, I want to share two things that I found recently that tap into my inner goodness and keep me hopeful about humanity. The first is freecycle. Freecycle is basically a free Craig's List. People want to get rid of things they no longer need and other people want their stuff. You can also post stuff that you want and someone may let you know that they have one they no longer need. It reduces garbage, reuses valuable stuff reducing the need for manufacturing and makes good neighbors. So far, I have given away one old Halloween costume and received wooden blocks, children's magazines, outdoor play equipment and a microwave for my mother-in-law. Freecycle exists all over the US.
It also makes me happy to know that the Internet can be put to such good use.
Another such good use I just found out about and I plan to use it soon. Kiva is an online organization that allows you to directly loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries and receive your money back while getting information about what the recipient did. I believe in empowerment not charity. The Kiva website also offers holiday gift certificates and I think a great opportunity to teach kids about the world and helping others. It is based on the principal of microfinancing, lending small amounts of money to people who otherwise would have no access to loans. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, Muhammad Yunus, created the first micro-financing institution the Grameen Bank. He is one of my heroes.
So, be merry this Christmas season and do good.

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