G.W. Bush Library Achieves LEED Platinum, Extensive Resources Open To The Public

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened to the public on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, Texas earlier this month. It, of course, houses a library which each president has dedicated after his service, as well as a museum and archives devoted to Bush’s presidency. It was built with environmental consciousness in mind and earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum – the highest certification for new construction from the U.S. Green Building Council upon its completion.

The expansive 226,000 square foot building was designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects and built by Manhattan Construction, using 20% recycled content and many materials sourced within 500 miles of its location. Permian sea coral limestone was brought in from Midland, TX, the Bushes’ hometown. Other local materials used include Texas mesquite hardwood flooring, Texas Cordova cream limestone, and paving from Lueders, a small town in Read more…

Are Students Addicted to Social Media?

Social media is a way of social interaction between people, organizations and communities. It mediates human relation with different organizations and brings people together for dialogue. Social media has a significant role in society and today it has the power to influence thoughts of people and students are definitely no exception. In today’s scenario, the question “Are the students addicted to social media?” has a certain answer and that answer is yes.

According to experts from SolidEssay.com, students feel connected to social media in any way and somehow they are addicted to it now. It is hard for them to spend even a single day without using any media like mobile phones, TV, Internet, etc. If they are believed to live without these things, they will definitely get frustrated. A recent study was conducted to check whether the students are addicted to social media or not. Graduating students Read more…

5 Small Habit Changes for a Better Tomorrow

One of the hardest things to break is a habit. Whether it’s a good one or a bad one, once it has been formed, it can be nearly impossible to reverse. That being said, if you were to try and reverse a habit, the best way to do so is by taking easy baby steps, one at a time.

When we think of conserving energy and resources, we tend to think of time consuming and costly changes that we need to make. While those changes can definitely help for the better, there are quite a few little things that can be done to help conserve energy and resources that really take little to no effort other than the gradual changing of habits.

Turn the heat down- The purpose of heating or cooling your home is to create a comfortable temperature for the people inside of it. Why bother spending the money Read more…

Getting Organic With Home Gardening

When you start to research agricultural methods and pesticides, you may seem a bit put off by the information that you gather. The effects that agriculture and pesticides have on the environment and your overall health are dumbfounding. Couple that with rising food costs and you may come to the conclusion that organic gardening is really the only way to go.

Even to the most experienced of gardeners organic gardening can seem intimidating. The use of chemicals has been so ingrained in us by our day to day activities that not using them at all can seem like an almost impossible goal. You don’t need to be scared away by it though. Organic gardening takes some planning and patience but it is well worth the effort.

When starting an organic garden, remember that it’s ok to start small. Gardening, in general, is a process not an event. There is no need to Read more…

Crochet Donations: Charities That Warm the Heart

What’s artistic, unique, handmade and practical as winter nears? Hats, scarves, mittens and the like, of course. So you really can’t go wrong — unless you make a really hideous hat — with crocheting these needed winter items; especially when you donate them to charity. Soldiers’ Angels makes sure “No Veteran Goes Unloved!” The VA Crochet & Craft Team makes and sends lapghans (blankets), hats, scarves, bibs, catheter bag covers, ditty bags, wheelchair/walker totes and slipper socks to Veterans Administration medical facilities around the United States.

There are many worthy organizations to donate to — use caution when donating online, and certainly keep be sure to protect your social security number and banking information with some kind of identity protection service. When you are all secure and ready to start giving, remember that outside of a plate of home-baked cookies, there might be few gifts that are more heartwarming to a Read more…

Hands of Hope: Women for Women International

One year after newly re-elected President Obama announced the official end of the war in Iraq, the country is in a state of turmoil. Operation Iraqi Freedom may officially be over but violence has escalated and women are particularly affected.

40 years ago Iraqi women and men were equal under the law and women enjoyed many rights similar to those of women in the UK today. However, since the early 1990s women have seen their rights curtailed and their participation in all areas of society dramatically inhibited. There has been a sharp decline in female literacy and one year after the Iraq War women are even worse off. Today, the lack of security and policing has led to women being attacked in the streets by people with different political agendas who want to impose veiling, gender segregation and discrimination. Women are finding it more and more difficult to go out alone Read more…

The Importance of Background Checking Your Charity Donations

As socially conscious individuals, we all make our efforts to contribute to just and right causes. Of course, this contribution process is different for each and every one of us, but giving back has in many ways become a socially expected activity—and rightly so. There are an endless number of causes, charities, organizations, and programs out there that deserve our interest as a society and benefit from our generous donations. That being said, it’s important that we really examine where our money and charitable donations are going when we make them. Yes, there are some charitable organizations that are dishonest about their givings, but also, oftentimes our donations aren’t being used in exactly the way we imagine. Donating and contributing to a cause is important—just be sure you understand how your money and contributions are being utilized. Follow these steps to better understand the organizations you dedicate your time Read more…

Kiva: Loans that are changing lives

Buying a Car? A house? Starting up a business? Need money for college? I could go on but whatever the reason is, you’re in a situation where you need a loan. You’re looking for a bank to lend you a helping hand and in exchange you will pay them back (in installments) the full amount, plus interest.

Seems like a pretty normal situation.

However, what if that bank was you? What if poor students and entrepreneurs from across the world told you why they needed a loan, how it would help them and were willing to pay you back (with interest)?

Seems like an interesting concept?

Well, that’s exactly what Kiva.org is – a crowd-sourced micro-lending website/platform service that allows individuals (like you and I) to lend money to extremely low income students and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Crowd-sourced micro-lending?

This is the source of how Kiva operates and it’s basically a group of people contributing Read more…

A positive Ripple effect from a few Aussies

Ripple (verb) – to cause small waves.

A ripple effect is often used to describe a situation where an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally. These effects can be either negative or positive and occur quite frequently in society and yes, the Internet. But let’s switch it up for a few seconds – We use search engines (like Google) to look for things on the web (news, entertainment, products, information, etc.).

Alright, so imagine combining the two and creating a search engine that creates a positive and socially conscious ripple effect.

Well on May 4th 2007, 4 friends from Australia (Jehan Ratnatunga, Simon Griffiths, Matt Tilleard and Mack Nevill) did just that.

Together they decided to use Google’s built in search engine (Google Co-op) to build a non-profit website that harnesses the power of the Internet, leverages affiliate advertising to generate revenue, and use that money to help people, instead of Read more…

Acumen Fund: Investments not Grants, Building Business Models to Solve the World’s Problems

This story begins with Jacqueline Novogratz’s favourite blue sweater…

Jacqueline Novogratz: Founder of Acumen Fund

And so this amazing tale inspired Jacqueline’s ambitious venture into social good with her creation of Acumen Fund: an organization dedicated to investing in social entrepreneurs and enterprises focused on providing critical goods to the world’s poor.

Investing Patient Capital in Social Entrepreneurs

By using the idea of patient capital (where investors are willing to make a financial investment in a business with no expectation of turning a quick profit) and investing this into people trying to solve vital problems for the poor in their region, this essentially creates a system that combines both businesses (whose bottom line is profit) and philanthropy (a focus on creating a positive impact on society), ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty.

Since a social entrepreneur’s model is based on not one but three bottom lines – People (society), Planet (the environment) & Profit Read more…

FiveByTwenty: Coca-Cola’s Pledge to Empower Women

When I say ‘Coca-Cola’s reputation’, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Coca-Cola may not have the greatest reputation for its business practices around the world, but for thousands of women in many developing countries, the Company’s business decisions aren’t looking so unjust!

When It All Started

At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in New York City, Coca-Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent announced the Company’s FiveByTwenty project – their pledge to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs in the developing world by 2020. The idea is to integrate profit-making with local community support, not through charity, but through innovative and inclusive business models. For women entrepreneurs around the world, this means access to the skills training, small-business loans and professional networks that are crucial to the prospect of a bright future for themselves and their families.

By 2020, The Coca-Cola Company aims to partner with civil society and other private sector actors Read more…

Pixel Project: Stopping Violence Against Women. Together.

When Regina Yau received two SOS mails from the Malaysia Women’s Aid Foundation in the same week, she knew something wasn’t right. She realized that the foundation was and still is at a great loss of funds. There seemed to be lack of donors and decrease in pledges. Regina noted such state of affairs and decided to do something about it. Her eagerness and drive to help the community of women suffered due to domestic violence led her to brainstorm variety of ideas.

The Pixel Project: Piecing it Together

Coming from a conservative family background herself, and witnessing the hardships of her grandmother, she decided it is time to put an end to abuse towards women in all its forms. She created Pixel Project in hopes to aid the Women’s Aid Foundation for the desired betterment. Malaysia Women’s Aid foundation shares its funds with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), which Read more…

Nike: Working Towards a Better World

Sports have always been an important part of my life.

Whether it’s basketball, baseball, tennis, football, swimming, running or soccer, I’ve always been involved in sports in some aspect or the other.

Playing sports has kept me fit and out of trouble. It’s taught me individual (strength, perseverance) & team (interpersonal, collaboration) skills.

Most importantly, sports have taught me responsibility.

My actions (big or small), always have an impact on myself, teammates and the game. By being accountable, it’s forced me to always strive to become better.

Better World

Nike is a brand that’s synonymous with sports.

Seek high performance in any sport, and you’ll find a Nike product that is specifically designed to help you do better.

In recent years however, Nike has opened up its “better” focus towards positively impacting society, and the environment.

Earlier this year, Nike launched its corporate responsibility micro-site “Nike: Better World” with one mission: Make the world better through sport.

Start of by Read more…

Krochet Kids: Knitting the Fabric of a Society

Quick question: “When you buy a winter hat, where does your money go?”

Hold on to that thought and feast on the countless possibilities while you read on.

Winter is coming.

You can just tell by breathing in the morning air. And I guess I am lucky enough to be able to say that, living in St. John’s, Newfoundland, by far one of the cleanest cities in Canada. Along with winter comes the obvious shift in fashion. Out with the shorts and in with the jackets. The bandanas make way for scarves and toques.

Speaking of which…

I reached into my closet and pulled out my hat bin. You see, I’m a cap/hat/toque lover. (For those of you who think I’m talking gibberish when I keep saying the word ‘toque’, a toque is the Canadian equivalent of a knit winter hat. A beanie if you may.)

As I pulled out the storied heroes of past winters Read more…

Lessons in Hope from the BEHS

She’s a beautiful, old soul.

Raven upon arrival at the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society

With jet black hair and sad, gentle eyes that say much more than her underweight 19-year-old frame allows.

Nothing is known of her history, how long she went without food, or how long blindness has clouded her left eye.

She was abandoned, a victim of circumstance, hard times, and debilitating drought.

And she isn’t alone.

The Perfect Storm

For nearly a year now, Texas has endured a punishing combination of drought, consecutive days of climbing 100 degree temperatures, vanishing water supplies and, now, pockets of sporadic wildfires racing across acre after acre of cracked earth.

Currently, 96 percent of the state is facing exceptional and extreme drought conditions, with area lakes dropping as much as 41 feet in some cases, according to a National Weather Service Drought Information Statement issued September 8, 2011, with little to no relief expected in the upcoming months.

Read more…

Got Some Change? Introducing: Small Change Fund

Small Change Fund is an unique Canadian charity using small change to make a big difference in communities from coast to coast, and around the world.  It represents an important trend in crowd funding that uses an innovative model of online giving that empowers individual donors to support grassroots groups. As co-founder Ruth Richardson states, “We’re tapping into individuals that together can make a huge impact. We wanted to bust it open and make grassroots projects visible and accessible to anybody”.

Ruth also emphasizes, there’s no other organization like Small Change Fund in Canada. The Small Change approach gives concrete answers to some of the most pressing questions that face donors. Where does my money go? What is the outcome? Why does it matter? It also tackles the often-insurmountable challenges faced by community groups. How do we raise money? How can we spread our message? What media tools will raise our Read more…

Paint It (RED)

What’s found in stores, socially responsible, and (RED) all over?

In our society, shopping has become somewhat of a sport. Black Friday deal-hunting crowds make headlines and entire television shows are dedicated to the premise of coupon collecting. Surely we are all motivated by getting the most ‘bang for our buck’. So, what about the possibility of changing a life while you pick up a new t-shirt? Funding the donation of antiretroviral drugs to AIDS inflicted communities at the same time you buy a new iPod? To me that seems like the ultimate bargain.

This is the very premise of (RED). (RED) is all about letting our purchasing power speak for those who do not have it. It’s about recognizing our ability to choose what we buy and picking the product that can bring about positive change.

In the beginning

(RED) was created by musical artist Bono in conjunction with Bob Shriver, activist and politician. It came Read more…

#Kony2012 by Invisible Children

UPDATE: KONY 2012: Part II — Beyond Famous takes a closer look at the LRA and explores new solutions put forward by leaders of the currently-affected areas of CAR, DRC, and South Sudan, where local communities continue to live under the constant threat of LRA violence. Digging deeper, Invisible Children hopes to turn the awareness generated from the first viral video into informed action.

It starts with watching + sharing this film, and continues with participating in Cover the Night, the advocacy and awareness event taking place worldwide on April 20th, 2012.

Participate in Cover the Night – http://www.kony2012.com
Learn More about Invisible Children – http://www.invisiblechildren.com

PART I: Just a few weeks ago filmmakers released a 30 minute video that went viral and the world woke up and knew a man named Joseph Kony. Millions of Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses were screaming for attention with his name. Read more…

MyClimate – Protecting Our Planet

Imagine everything you do in a day.

Now, try to imagine how much CO2 is emitted in the process. It’s hard to envision, right? Now, consider these facts:

Lighting makes up between 5-10% of a household’s energy consumption in Canada
Car emissions account for 30% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions with the average car releasing 5 TONS of C02 on a yearly basis
Four-wheel drive increases fuel consumption by 5-10% that of two-wheel drive
Every Canadian emits an average of 21.9 tons per year – that’s the equivalent of roughly two school buses!

So, how do you avoid using things like transportation, lighta, and other household appliances? The truth of the matter is, while you can make conscious decisions to use less, some carbon emitting activities can’t be easily eliminated from our day.

Myclimate is a non-profit Swiss foundation that recognizes this dilemma and offers a solution: buying carbon offsets. A carbon offset is a monetary Read more…

5 Topics That Socially Conscious Citizens Should Be Aware Of

Listening to the local news, browsing on Facebook, and talking to friends about politics hardly meets the standards of a socially conscious citizen. In order to take initiative about the things that matter the most to each individual, it is crucial to remain socially conscious of the world around them and current events within this society. For those who haven’t remained up-to-date on current events, here’s an overview of what is going on in society today:

ESPN’s Olympic Body Issue: In preparation for the Olympics, which being in just a few weeks, ESPN has recruited the hottest athletes participating in this year’s competition to bare it all for audiences in their body issue. This issue features athletes of all shapes and sizes doing what they do best: capturing the strength of the human body in photograph.
Economy: Recently, merchants have been hounded for their future plans of slapping a surcharge on any Read more…

How To Save Money and Conserve Energy in the Summer Months

Without having to resort to installing an air conditioner in every room, turning your house into a summer igloo, or moving deep into a cave in order to escape the summer heat, plenty of options are available for low cost ways to save money while staying cool and conserving energy in the summer months.

The best defense your home can have is insulation. This bears repeating: The best defense your home can have is insulation! Proper insulation means air conditioning won’t seep through the cracks in the doors, windows or through the roof of the house. (Green roofs are excellent for insulation and conserving energy, however, their installation costs put it well out of reach for most folks.) A half-foot of insulation is the recommended minimum in order to prevent a significant leak in your room; if you have to splurge on one energy-saving item this summer, this Read more…

See Change: Warby Parker Has a Vision for the Future of Corrective Lenses

What do you look for in a pair of eyeglasses?  Is it a brand name that resonates with your values? A stylish frame that matches your personality?  Or do you look for the best value that you can find, favoring bargain frames over designer ones?

Since early 2010, the New York-based entrepreneurs at Warby Parker have been providing customers with the best of all three worlds, offering stylish, cost-effective eyewear with a socially conscious brand — for every pair of frames you buy, they donate one pair of prescription eyeglasses to someone who would otherwise be unable to afford them, which by their estimate is one billion people, about 15 percent of the world’s entire population.

The business started when the four co-founders got together and realized that eyeglasses are just too darn expensive.  An average pair of designer frames sells for about $250 — a price that is determined more by Read more…

SmartWay: Using Technology to Reduce Emissions and Fuel Consumption

The freight transportation industry makes the world go round, but it is also taxing on the environment.

Fuel consumption is a major concern for companies that employ big rigs to ship freight, not only for its cost, but also for its environmental impact. The United States’ fleet of long-haul trucks uses over a billion gallons of diesel fuel per year. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched SmartWay to reduce the impact of transportation-related (with a focus on freight transportation) emissions by seeking to improve fuel efficiency.

SmartWay Technology Program

This program is designed to evaluate existing and emerging technologies and equipment that can potentially reduce greenhouse gasses and other air pollutants emitted during freight transportation. The EPA identified and promotes four categories of technology that have been shown to capably reduce emissions or improve fuel efficiency:

Idle Reduction Technologies – Though idling may be more environmentally friendly than accelerating, periods of Read more…