Hope: The Second Marathon Fundraiser Art Sale and Music Festival
Fighting Poverty and AIDS in Africa
January 10 and 20, 2008
9 am SLT to 10 pm SLT
When I stopped in Eliz Watanabe was singing her mix of love songs and country music. Already, over L$ 62,000 has been raised. Later, I stopped by and naphtali Hawks was doing a great reggae set and the donations were approaching L$ 100,000
Hopefully, the word will spread any many people will be able to attend.
One problem, the place is packed and people have been crashing trying to get into the Sim. They are looking at options to get more people in one way or another.
Stop by, Africa (52,220,23).
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. A new month starts off with the traditional lapin petition for beneficence. Fiona’s first request this morning was for that calendar with the chocolates in the windows, you know that we do every December. Yes, December. Advent. A time of expectation and longing.
Normally, as we enter Advent, I would find myself humming Joni Mitchell’s river,
Its coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
Yet these years of hoping for a miracle has left my ability to hope somewhat dull and blunted. Nonetheless, hope remains. It is rekindled by emails I receive, like one from the ‘Social Issues Games’ mailing list I’m on. The writer highlights a few different organizations that he felt were worth pointing out during this season of giving.
Coming from a list of people interested in using games for positive social change, it isn’t surprising that the first charity listed is Child’s Play. This is a charity that delivers video games to children in hospitals, led by a group called Penny-arcade. Bill France, who wrote an article critical of video games is quoted on their website noting,
Penny-arcade published a letter from one of its readers. He is the father of a 5-year-old boy who had spent most of the previous five months at Children’s Hospital getting chemotherapy for lymphoma.
Almost every parent can immediately identify with that father’s distress, and with his heartfelt "thank you" to Penny-arcade for its Child’s Play toy drive.
The email went on to note that
Child's Play has also given support to programs that look at behavior
change (such as maintaining your visit schedule for dialysis) and
Robert Khoo biz manager for Penny Arcade/Child's Play attended last
year's Games for Health Conference.
Another site highlighted is One Laptop per Child. They have a program where you can donate $399 to their program and they will send a laptop to a developing country and one to you. These are not the typical laptops you get in the United States. They are specially designed to perform in areas where there is little access to electricity, WiFi and educators. The laptop gets mixed reviews. People used to the powerful laptops that many Americans have access to complain about its limited functionality. Yet the laptop is much better than having nothing.
So, we wait to celebrate the miraculous birth. We wait for miracles in our own lives, the lives of our friends and the lives of our nation. Yet we can celebrate the little miracles, the joy of children opening the their Advent calendars, and the charity of people who are helping out children in hospitals and children in countries where laptops are not easily accessible.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, and a blessed Advent.
The other day on the Second Life Educators mailing list, in quick succession, I received two interesting emails. One was from a group of students organizing a game of Laser Tag in Second Life. It will take place today from 3:30 to 5:30 PM (SLT). For those of us on the eastern coast of the United States, that means the games start at 6:30. You can stop by at the Educators Coop island.
Then, starting at 5:30 PM (SLT), 8:30 PM for me, there will be an art show sponsored by students of the same class. It will take place in a different part of Educators Coop island.
Both events are sponsored by students in Joe Sanchez’ class, Working in Virtual Worlds. For more information about what Joe and his friends are up to, I strongly recommend you stop by and read his blog.
I haven’t gotten a chance to read it as thoroughly as I would like, but looking briefly, it looks like a great blog. In particular, one of the groups from his class raised L$ 72,00 for charity. I’ve also spoken with some of the students, as well as with Joe and I’m looking forward to attending at least one of these events, if not both.
If you can make the time, I hope you’ll stop in as well.
As I continue to dig through the messages in my inbox, another theme I’m finding is one about how we respond to disasters. The fires in San Diego bring an immediacy to these issues, but the issues are much greater.
One group that is doing important work on looking at how we deal with disasters is the Disaster Accountability Project (DAP). It was founded by Ben Smilowitz, a UConn Law student who volunteered with the Red Cross and a managed a client service center in Gulfport, MS, during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Around a week ago DAP sent out a press release critical of the timing of the TOPOFF4 exercise,
because an updated National Response Plan is not yet in place. Originally, the Exercise was planned to follow the close of the comment period for the newly proposed and highly controversial National Response Framework (NRF). In a large-scale emergency, it would be critical for plans at all levels of government to be aligned with the national coordinating plan. But, state and local officials have not had time to align their plans with the NRF because it has not been finalized.
They also point out
that the Department of Homeland Security made a similar error in April 2005, when it held TOPOFF3 before the deadline by which state, local and other federal agencies were to have revised their own plans to reflect the National Response Plan (NRP) issued in December 2004 with little input from state officials.
While the timing of the exercises might not have been optimal in terms of making the exercises as effective as they should have been, they do illustrate what seems to be a key aspect of dealing with disasters. Disasters often come unexpectedly or at inopportune times.
Today, DAP issued a press release about the comments they are submitting on the NRF. They note that "The description of the FEMA Director and DHS Secretary's responsibilities conflicts with requirements of the Post Katrina Reform Act…Federal exercises frequently ignore recovery or give it lip service if addressed at all… Not all 'lessons learned' are publicly reported or followed up with changes to plans… the TOPOFF III after-action report still has not been issued."
Only seven and a half hours later, they had their next press release out about San Diego.
Noting that ‘Gaps In Disaster Services [are] More Likely To Get Fixed If Made Public’,
The Disaster Accountability Project's toll-free hotline (866-9-TIP-DAP) is ready for CA wildfire-related calls. California residents, firefighters, and relief volunteers can report problems or whistle-blow gaps in disaster relief services in the wildfire response and relief effort. Individuals should use the toll-free hotline (866-9-TIP-DAP) to report the specific location and nature of the disaster relief/response gaps.
Soon afterwards, I received an email from a good friend of mine who is a therapist in San Diego. She notes that two of her friends have lost their homes and were evacuated this morning. Her family is still safe, but they have been close before. She notes a huge dislocation of people, currently over 250,000 evacuated. She urges people to send money to the Red Cross and to help out in other ways because, she notes “this is not going to be over soon as so much housing and business has been destroyed.” She also notes that the therapy community is mobilized and helping, which I believe is too often overlooked in the aftermath of a disaster.
So, for the people of San Diego, I offer my prayers. If you know people struggling with the disaster in California, make sure they know about DAP’s toll-free hotline. It might not help with the current disaster, but it will help as we all learn to deal better with disasters in the future.
(Technorati tag San Diego Fire)
Life continues to be hectic as Fiona starts school, as we try to settle into our new house, as I continue to search for a job, as I do research for blog posts on the Doninger case, as well as for other posts that I hope to write soon.
When Fiona signed the Parent/Legal Guardian Permissions 2007-2008 form, there was a section acknowledging that Fiona was aware of the rules from the BRS Handbook, which Fiona needed to sign. Because of similar such material being exhibits in the Doninger case, I thought I would scan it in for our records, and post it on Flickr. (Click on the link above).
As Fiona got on the bus, the loyal watchcat made sure everything was fine.
Also, I heard from Beth Kanter, who is in Cambodia right now for the Bloggers’ Summit. She post an entry about he First Video Cambodian Video Blogger in Cambodia. Please, check it out, and welcome Virak.