hugh_jackman_global_poverty_project
Hugh Jackman is perhaps best known for his role as Wolverine in Marvel’s X-Men series. Outside of acting, though, the Australian actor is also well-known for his efforts as a great humanitarian. His involvement with the Global Poverty Project and various other charity programs, ranging from AIDS prevention to Children’s Hospitals, show that is he is someone who uses his status to bring awareness to the various problems in our society and help those in need.

Global Poverty Project is an organization that combats extreme poverty through various campaigns of awareness and government action.  One of their campaigns is 1.4 Billion Reasons—one for each person living in extreme poverty all over the world (extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25/day). The campaign is one of awareness: the presentation introduces the viewers to the persistence of poverty, and the many possible solutions to it.

Hugh Jackman is associated with another campaign of the Global Poverty Project: Live Below the Line. For five days, the participants of this campaign live below the poverty line, spending only $1.25 a day on food. This takes a great deal of commitment and helps to develop sympathy for those for whom this is an everyday reality.

In addition to supporting such campaigns, Hugh Jackman also recently did some fundraising for charity. He charged all the guests to attend his birthday party, and after performing a musical number, dancing, and telling stories the whole night, sent all the proceeds to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which gives services such as healthcare to those who work in and have retired from the entertainment industry.

Clearly, Hugh Jackman understands the importance of helping those both near and far—those with whom he works, and those who he will probably never meet in his life. He brings awareness to serious issues and is a great role model to people everywhere. He feels the need to help those all over the world, and that shows he’s a true humanitarian.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: Newsday, Look to the Stars
Photo: Zimbio

Patrick_Anna_Cudahy_Fund
The Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund is a foundation that grants money to nonprofit organizations involved in social and youth services, education, art and culture.

The premise of the fund dates back to the early 1920s, when Articles of Association were drawn to break ground on the Alice Dickson Cudahy Clinic. This clinic was created to provide free services to dependent family members of employees at the Cudahy Brothers Company. Some of these free services included medical attention, and education on matters such as child welfare, domestic science and social hygiene. The clinic was able to open on August 1, 1923, thanks to a $19,270.77 donation made by Michael F. Cudahy.

On August 22, 1935, the name of the organization was changed to the Michael F. Cudahy Fund. Upon this change, the association broadened its spectrum of philanthropy efforts to include the severely poverty-stricken and ill. On September 29, 1943, the name of the organization was once again changed, this time to the Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund, in honor of Michael’s parents.

Today, the Fund primarily assists youth organizations located in Wisconsin and Chicago, though some money is granted to charities involving public interest and environmental conflicts. The Fund also accepts international requests affiliated with U.S. nonprofits.

– Meagan Hurley

Sources: Business Journal, Cudahy Fund

Anne_Frank_Giving_Back
This author’s previous post illuminated philanthropic quotes from five of the greatest male writers of our times. Here, we introduce to you five great female writers and what they have to say about giving back:

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all this sad world needs

—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Wilcox was an American poet whose style was simple, but the meanings therein were often profound. Some of her great works include Poems of PassionA Woman of the World, and Poems of Peace.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.

—Maya Angelou, As a writer, poet, and a significant member of the Civil Rights Activists during the 1960s, Angelou is perhaps most known for her autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Other famous works include Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I DieThe Heart of a Woman, and Letter to My Daughter.

As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.

Mary Anne RadmacherRadmacher is a writer and artist, and teaches writing seminars. She is best known for Lean Forward into Your Life, and Live Boldly.

No one has ever become poor by giving.

Anne Frank. While hiding with her family from the Nazis during World War II with another family in Amsterdam, she kept a diary which was discovered after her death in a Nazi concentration camp. Her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, is well known across the world as the heartbreaking memoir of a young girl’s transition into adolescence and an attempt at understanding an adulthood she’d never reach.

Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.

—J.K. Rowling, a writer with a rags-to-riches story, is not one who needs to be convinced of the importance of giving back. After making it to the list of richest people in the world in 2011, Rowling managed to donate so much money that she failed to make it to the list in 2012. Along with her multi-faceted fantasy Harry Potter novels, JKR is known for The Casual Vacancy, and The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: GoodReads, Poetry Foundation, Telegraph
Photo: HTML Giant

Industrial_Revolution_II
Although it goes against the conventional wisdom of globalized business, a new business model looks to spend more money, not less, on its employees. Fostered by celebrity activist Matt Damon and led by Rob Broggi, a hedge fund analyst, Industrial Revolution II (IRII) sets its sights on evolving the clothing world into an industry with a conscience.

Previously working for Raptor Capital and Tudor Investment Corporation (one of the top hedge funds in the world), Broggi vaulted himself into an industry that combines garment manufacturing with humanitarian mindfulness.

Creating its first garment factory in Haiti, Industrial Revolution II plans to improve workers’ standard of living in a variety of ways. First, IRII pledges to invest 50% of its profits into health and education programs within the local community. On top of that, IRII will treat its workers humanely and provide safe work conditions.

Opposed to the current model of manufacturers focused on the cheapest labor possible to increase production at the most profitable rate, IRII sees both a niche and room for improvement.

What makes Broggi’s endeavor revolutionary in comparison to clothing competitors is his attention to his employees’ wellness.

IRII believes this improvement in health and working conditions will increase workers’ capabilities and production. When it’s all said and done, IRII anticipates its sales to be as competitive, in both price and quality, with other major brands.

What makes Broggi and Damon confident in IRII’s model is their focus on social purpose. With humane conditions, they believe that if they attain competitiveness their benevolent work will tip them over the edge in shoppers’ eyes. “If you can offer the same quality product at the same price you are going to win a tie-breaker nine out of 10 times” IRII’s CEO said.

That’s assuming it can compete with the businesses now dependent on child workers, cheap labor, and terrible conditions to continue their cost effectiveness.

According to Broggi, increased quality of life and improvements to health and education programs will enhance his workers’ productivity and lower turnover rates. With lower turnover rates, IRII can invest more in training its workforce, which promotes greater quality clothing.

Damon and Broggi believe that  healthy and better trained workers with an incentive in the company’s profits will jump-start productivity and increase the quality of products, giving the major labels, quite literally, a run for their money.

With history and ethics on their side, Damon, Broggi, and their new founded workers hope to lead the garment industry as a new model to reduce poverty and increase profits. If successful, they may pull millions out of severe poverty.

– Michael Carney

Sources: Boston Common, Industrial Revolution II
Photo: Heritage Daily

Genetically_Modified_Crops_Prevent_Food_Shortages
With the world population expected to double by 2050, food security will continue to be an increasingly complicated and important issue. More food will be needed to feed more people and, to preserve vital biodiversity sites, we’ll need to produce this additional food using land already devoted to agriculture. While there are many factors that could improve agricultural efficiency, genetically modified crops hold the most potential. Many scientists now believe that transgenic plants could help prevent or minimize future food shortages.

Transgenic plants are those that possess an inserted portion of DNA either from a different member of their own species or from an entirely different species. The inserted DNA serves some special purpose, such as allowing the plant to produce natural insecticides. Once the genes are transferred, they can be passed on to offspring through simple fertilization, allowing farmers to breed advantageous traits in their plants. Transgenic plants have proven extremely profitable in the developed world, accounting for a 5% to 10% increase in productivity, and reducing the cost of herbicides and insecticides.

Such methods could effectively increase productivity in the developing world, where a surge in food production is sorely needed. Developing countries, especially those in the tropics and subtropics, suffer severe crop losses due to pests, diseases, and poor soil conditions. In addition, a lack of financial capital often prevents farmers from investing in high quality seeds, insecticides, and fertilizers. Poor post-harvest conditions such as inadequate storage facilities and thriving fungi and insect populations also fuel crop loss. Currently, pests destroy over half the world’s crop production. Transgenic plants could provide an innovative solution.

Fortunately, bioengineering solutions can be easily adapted from one species to another, allowing one advancement in plant biotechnology to quickly produce many more. For example, insect-resistant strains of several important plant species have been produced using one specific endotoxin. Commercial production of insect-resistant maize, potato, and cotton has already begun. Plant bioengineers hope to use similar technology to create fruits that ripen more slowly, allowing for longer shelf lives and less post-harvest crop loss.

It is important to note that this technology has mostly been established with the developed world in mind. Therefore, adapting it for use in the developing world must be done carefully. For instance, many crops grown in the developing world are local varieties and have not been extensively tested thus far by plant bioengineers. Blindly replacing local crops with bioengineered varieties from the developed world could disturb deep social or religious traditions that are represented in the widely varied cultures in the developing world. Additionally, societies are more likely to embrace a familiar crop than a foreign one. Research and development in bioengineering must, therefore, adapt to include the crops of the developing world.

Although the globe produces enough food for everyone, people everywhere continue to die of starvation. With this unequal distribution in mind, it is imperative that, moving forward, small farmers in the developing world receive the same access to plant biotechnology given to large agribusinesses in the developed world. First-world corporations cannot be granted even more unfair advantages over small landholders in poorer nations, especially as global populations grow and food security becomes ever more scarce and important. As this technology is developed, it is up to us to share it with the developing world in order to minimize severe food shortages in the years to come.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: Plant Physiology, Colorado State University
Photo: Tree Hugger

asian_americans
It is often assumed that Asian Americans are one of the minority groups in the United States that is doing well economically. However, this statement too broadly categorizes all Asian subgroups. According to the official poverty rate from the U.S. Census in 2011, the Asian American poverty rate was actually 2.5% higher than that of Caucasians.

In fact, amongst poor Asian Americans, Southeast Asians face some of the highest poverty rates in the whole country. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles conducted a study on income sources, home foreclosures and housing burden. The study indicated that Southeast Asians in the United States have consistently relied on food stamps for many decades. Moreover, language barriers are still major roadblocks that prevent Southeast Asian Americans from entering new labor markets.

The poverty rate for Asian Americans is highest amongst Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese. Hmong Americans have a startlingly high poverty rate at 37.8%, followed closely by Cambodian Americans at 29.3% and Laotian Americans at 18.5%.

According to a study by UCLA scholars on Asian Americans in eight different states, 23% of Hmong Americans in Fresno, California relied on cash public assistance for income. This is comparably higher than the 10% of Asian Americans that also did so. It is also significantly higher than the 3% of Caucasians who used public cash assistance. Hmong Americans were also amongst the least likely to receive social security benefits or retirement income.

Additionally, Southeast Asians have especially high rates of depression and suffer higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder compared to the rest of the general Asian American population. These facts definitely counter the model minority stereotype that all Asian Americans belong to one monolithic group.

A study on social trends by Pew Research has found that with a population exceeding 18.2 million – or 6% of the U.S. population – Asian Americans have become one of the fastest growing minority groups in the U.S. Moreover, Asian Americans have become the nation’s best-educated and highest-paid racial or ethnic group. Yet these findings run the risk of perpetuating the stereotype of Asians as high achieving.

Additionally, such facts tend to hide the growing poverty amongst Southeast Asian Americans.

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans has stated that the media has narrowed in on “one-dimensional narratives of exceptionalism,” of successful Asian American families, usually eastern Asians such as Chinese or Japanese.

Due to popular perception of Asian Americans in general, poverty amongst sub-groups is not well known. Thus in order to truly fight poverty in the United States a more inclusive examination of poverty trends is vital.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: LA Times, Diverse Education, White House, National Alliance in Mental Illness
Photo: Asia Foundation

poor_people

You’ve probably heard people discuss the burden that poor people place on society, or the need for them to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.” If not, only look to Mitt Romney’s infamous comment from the 2012 presidential campaign, in which he referred to the 47% of Americans who are “dependent on the government” and who could never be convinced to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” for an example.

Psychologist Herbert Gans writes about the labeling of the poor as “undeserving” and the effects that such labels have in society. He posits that deeming the poor undeserving fulfills a wide array of functions for the affluent. Primarily, this phenomenon distances the labeled from the labelers, allowing the situation to be cast firmly as “us-versus-them.”

By casting poverty as something that happens to “them,” but not to “us,” one can tap into a well-known psychological bias explained by psychologist Jeremy Dean on PsyBlog.

He describes the phenomenon using sports teams. When a fan sees a member of their team score, they are likely to praise the player’s talent and hard work. On the other hand, when a fan sees a member of the opposite team score, it’s usually attributed to dumb luck or a missed call. By the same token, when a fan’s team loses, it can easily be chalked up to a rough week or a rowdy crowd.

However, a fan would rarely claim that his team won because another team had a difficult week. In other words, one works much harder to make excuses for people that they perceive as “one of us.” This same principle can be applied to almost any facet of society, including poverty.

When poor people are considered to be fundamentally different from us, it becomes more difficult to empathize with their situations. Unfortunately, it also becomes easier to blame the poor for their poverty and struggles, consciously or otherwise.

Some may not concretely be thinking that women in sub-Saharan Africa should just stand up for themselves already, but it is often easier to sympathize with women who live in societies that look most like ours.

For example, when America discovered that Ariel Castro had held three women captive in his Ohio home for a decade, outrage erupted. People were horrified that something this appalling could happen here, to people “like us.” Meanwhile, similar atrocities are happening worldwide every day and our indignation may go just far enough to get us to make an online donation.

While it is incredibly difficult for one to truly comprehend the obstacles faced by the poor, it is important to remember that “we” are not so terribly different from “them.” The balance between recognizing these differences and the similarities is a delicate and important one, and one that is immensely tough to strike.

It is imperative to acknowledge that everyone has different experiences and struggles, and that the wealthy often do not know how best to help the poor. Simultaneously, it is important to keep in mind that the wealthy and the poor are both just groups of people, who usually have a lot more in common than they think.

– Katie Fullerton
Sources: The American Journal of Sociology, PsyBlog, NY Daily News, ABC News
Sources: Danutm

Comic_Relief_UK
Laughter is fr universal language, and comedy is a much broader medium, than given credit for. Laughing is disarming, warm, enjoyable, and can help unite people. It isn’t a stretch to imagine that comedy can also connect and rally people to fight intractable problems. Humor can indeed be a powerful weapon against the scourge of something like global poverty and the absences of technology and education in communities. This is the very idea behind Comic Relief, an organization operating in the United Kingdom and abroad that stands up to poverty.

Existing officially as both a company and charity in the UK, Comic Relief began in 1985 during Christmas season at a Sudanese refugee camp. Renowned and well-meaning British comedians hoped to raise awareness of the Sudanese plight and the Ethiopian famine going on. The success of that first event spawned more live comedic appearances in Sudan and gave way to Red Nose Day in 1988, which brought much needed attention and money to the region that went directly to relief. Since that time, Comic Relief has grown in size and scope, spreading laughter and awareness of numerous other initiatives.

One of those other initiatives is Send My Friend to School (http://www.sendmyfriend.org/), a nonprofit movement in the UK working to make the Millennium Development Goal of education for all children a reality by 2015. A member of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), the initiative boasts UK membership of over 10,000 schools and youth groups. Another initiative Comic Relief supports is the intrepid See Africa Differently (http://www.seeafricadifferently.com/) campaign, aimed at changing the world’s perception of the continent and sharing stories of real people there that aren’t covered in major news. For example, the London art scene has recently been enthralled with the works of West African artists.

A very personal and striking account of Comic Relief in action is the story of teen sisters Hazel and Hiayisani in Tembisa, South Africa. Orphaned after their mother’s sudden illness and death, older sister Hazel was now in the position of caring for herself and her sister. Poor and completely exposed to the worst of society, they were at risk of being split up by Social Services, falling into a life of crime or the world of sexual slavery. However, after finding the Bishop Simeon Trust, a Comic Relief partner in Tembisa, the girls were able to join other orphans. They now receive a stipend and care packages from the trust to live on, free education, and enjoy time at the Bishop Simeon facility with other teenagers.

Comic Relief is best known for its initial and ongoing fundraiser, Red Nose Day. Happening every few years, this international event is celebrated mainly in the UK and Africa. For those who participate, the objective is to put on a red nose and be ridiculous. Proceeds from the event go directly to initiatives like the ones mentioned above, aimed at education and the changing of negative international typecasts.

Comic Relief has shown that maybe laughter is the best medicine for social ails.

David Smith
Sources: Comic Relief –History, Send My Friend –About, West African Art Pops Up in London, Comic Relief –Hazel and Hiayisani, Africa, Red Nose Day –What Is It?
Photo: BBC

 

How African Artists Broke Through the Global Art World
African art sells for modest amounts in comparison to other contemporary works of art, so why are international collectors and enthusiasts racing to secure as much of it as they can? If worldwide critical acclaim and prestigious awards are any indications, African art could become a profitable investment.

With the South African country of Angola taking the Golden Lion award for best national participation at the Venice Biennale art exhibit, African art has generated extraordinary buzz amongst curators and collectors. The Bonham auction house in London holds the only annual sale dedicated to African art, and the house’s website notes that there has been “an explosion of interest” in recent years for the artwork.

“Created by artists from a multitude of cultures,” the site explains, “African contemporary art reflects the complex heritage of this dynamic continent and demonstrates tremendous potential for investment.”

El Anatsui, a Ghanaian sculptor and teacher at the University of Nigeria, is among the acclaimed African artists whose work has generated such enthusiasm. Channeling his Ghana heritage, many of his works incorporate either clay or wood in conjunction with local goods from his culture, such as Igbo palm mortars and Ghanaian trays. Some of his famous works blend common items together to form monumental and fluid sculptures. For example, his 2007 sculpture “Dusasa II” is a 361.6 lb melding of plastic disks, aluminum, and copper wire. One of his most recent works, “TISA-TISA—Searching for Connection,” was entirely constructed using recycled materials.

El Anatsui’s work is currently featured in museums such as the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the British Museum in London. He has also created a wall-hanging sculpture for the Royal Academy in London after receiving an invitation to the establishment. In an interview with Gulf News, El Anatsui explained how art has always existed as expression of cultures such as his, and it’s thanks to advances in modern communications that awareness of other cultures has increased.

Angolan photographer Edson Chagas has also garnered international attention after his showpiece Found Not Taken allowed his home country to take the Golden Lion award. A documentary and commentary on consumerism and capitalism, Found Not Taken compiles years of photos taken in Luanda: the city Chagas was born. Although he studied photography in London, he always intended to continue his projects from his home country. Chagas hopes the award will spark more interest in both his work and the art of other Angolan artists.

This increased exposure has allowed Cameroonian curator Koyo Kouoh to secure funding in London for a contemporary African art fair. She notes that African artists are using their art to “promote their country,” and the international focus on countries such as Angola is “not just on war anymore.” Modern art plays an important role in the common perception of cultures and societies, so Africa’s rising popularity will increase awareness of the continent’s triumphs and struggles on a global scale. With economies on the rise in many of Africa’s countries, citizens such as Chagas hopes their governments will take this opportunity to provide stronger education in the arts to train a new generation of artists.

– Timothy Monbleau

Sources: BBC, BBC Economy on the Rise,
Bonhams, Poetics of Line, Golden Lion Award, Metropolitan Museum of Art The British Museum, Gulf News, Tree Hugger, Contemporary And
Photo: skunkandraven