Category Archives: Causes

Find information and resources on advocacy, donating, philanthropy, volunteering and causes.

Terrorism, Fear and the Movies

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This week the whole world grieved at the unfathomable murder of 140 students and teachers in Pakistan at the hands of terrorists. A little closer to home for many of us, theaters pulled “The Interview”, a satirical film from Seth Rogen and James Franco about a news team sent in to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un, after hackers not only hacked Sony’s computer system but released threats to harm movie theaters and movie goers attending the film upon it’s opening this Christmas holiday.

There are a lot of ways to feel unsafe at the moment and people everywhere are speaking up about it. It seems that wherever there are those seeking to live in freedom, there will be others seeking to take it away. On a small scale, this our hope for you this holiday season: Continue reading

Peace and Love: Quotes About Change

Again the US is buzzing with thoughts on the latest verdict from Ferguson, MO.
What is freedom? What is reality for young men growing up in this country?
What is justice? What honestly needs change?
Speaking up about change is hard work but arguably one of the few kinds of work that really matter. Continue reading

#WorldAdoptionDay

Borrowed kindly from Instagrammer Mvolz8
Click for source

Sunday, November 9th was the very first World Adoption Day and people took to the technosphere to share their stories of adoption and family. Sponsored by Adopt Together, an organization that helps families crowdfund a process that can sometime price in the neighborhood of $25,000, they asked that in honor of the day, people draw a smiley face on their palm and share it via social networks. What started with a team in Los Angeles turned into an explosion of more than 10,000 photos on Instagram alone from all over the world including Patagonia, Kuwait and the Duck Dynasty. Continue reading

Bacteria, Risks and the Future of Drugs: An Interview with Filmmaker Michael Graziano

resistance

 

Yesterday we shared the trailer for an amazing new documentary called “Resistance” which uncovers the way the misuse of antibiotics may actually be hurting more than helping.

Today we have creator Michael Graziano’s interview with our Intent staff and he’s sharing the things he learned about the surprising future of antibiotics, his favorite Swedish singer and taking big risks for the sake of following your gut.

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Resistance: The Documentary Intent on Opening Your Eyes

Medical journals are filled with stories of men, women and children losing their lives to bacterial infections, infections which came to them via going about their daily  lives. The alarming thing is that these stories didn’t stop happening after the arrival of penicillin.

We read today that every year, 2 million people acquire antibiotic-resistance infections in the US alone. If that’s not cause for concern, we don’t know what is.

This week we got to sit down with filmmaker Michael Graziano and screen his new documentary “Resistance”. We’ll be sharing our interview with him on health, bacteria and living in the US tomorrow, but today we wanted to share the teaser to his film:


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An Intent for Education

As someone who was blessed with good schools in my hometown, the education needs of others has often slipped my mind. Sure, living in cities after college had made me aware of multiple teacher strikes, as well as the calls to reform public schools. Still, having gone to public school myself, and afterwards a four year college, I wondered if perhaps it wasn’t the schools, but the neighborhoods, family units, and other factors that were more responsible for young students’ struggles.

That mindset, however, was entirely changed after aimlessly turning on DirecTV’s Audience Channel to discover the documentary, Commonwealth. The documentary follows the plight of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s oldest city, after 24 of their public schools were shut down in 2013. Educators, parents, and students themselves go on to discuss the disturbing fact that Pennsylvania spends an average of 400 million dollars per year in order to build and maintain their vast prisons (a number which is only growing). Students and teachers alike claim that in essence, the prisons are built for the youth of the city, who are given little to no chance to avoid incarceration as they are shuffled through the public education system. Horrifying details – such as a test administered to third grade students help determine which children are more or less likely to become criminals – emerged as I continued to watch the program.

Soon enough, I found myself investigating education not only in Philadelphia, but in my own city, Chicago, and elsewhere across the country. Documentaries such as Teach, which discuss educators in public schools, their triumphs and their struggles, and David Guggenheim’s first groundbreaking documentary, Waiting for ‘Superman’ were added to my list. Though Waiting for Superman has come under criticism recently, all of these documentaries at their core raise awareness for the cause of improved public education.

Education reform should be a much discussed issue, even for those who aren’t yet worried about their own children’s school system. In a country where many, widely different and uniquely talented students are subjected to standardized tests and curriculums that leave little room for exploring fascination and grooming each student’s interests, and where much emphasis is placed on acquiring a college education (which is often too expensive or leaves students in years of debt), we seem to be hanging our youth out to dry. Too many times we’ve heard others comment that they would hate to be graduating from college with the current job market, or they’re concerned about the economic troubles our future youth will be handed upon entering their adult lives.

So, for the sake of both my own and young students’ futures, I have made the intention to focus additional efforts on educational needs. Of course, one of the first steps is participating in local elections and concerning myself with the education platforms of politicians running for office. Many education decisions are made at the state level, meaning choosing a president with a focus on bettering schools is not nearly as effective (though it helps!) as voting for officials closer to home who have the interest and the ability to more quickly enforce changes within the schools closest to you.

Beyond that, I plan on opening myself up to the opinions of others – not just lawmakers and enforcers, but the teachers, students themselves, and administrators who face education struggles on a daily basis. It seems clear to me that these are the people who would have the clearest ideas regarding what education policies work, and which are leaving students to struggle. Supporting those educators, through better pay, better supplies, or whatever else they may require, will only benefit our young students and future workforce in the long run.

Finally, I intend to guide my own philanthropic efforts toward volunteering with after school programs and other activities that given students the opportunity to explore passions that may not be emphasized, or even available, within the public school system. You can too, it’s not as time-consuming as one may think! Whether it’s assisting with an after school sport, offering to help raise funds for your local school’s art and music programs, or even speaking to students about your own unique career, and how you got there, your efforts could inspire and help cultivate a young kid’s dreams!

 

Get Active: 5 of the Best Cities in the US for Cycling

cyclingAs time goes on, an increasing number of people have started leaving their cars in the garage and grabbing their bikes instead. As populations grow, streets become more crowded. Rising gas prices make driving in a car more expensive. Cabs can cost a fortune, and nobody enjoys riding the bus. That leaves a lot of people looking to their bikes for transportation. But what cities accommodate such a decision? Let’s check out some of the most bike-friendly cities in the USA.

Madison, Wis.

Madison began turning itself into a bike-friendly city around 1972 during an oil crisis. Since then, the cycling situation has consistently improved. The city now has a well laid out network of paths off the street as well as bike lanes all over the city. Madison draws some of the top cycling companies thanks to its bike friendliness such as Planet Bike and Saris. Motorists have gotten used to the cyclists over the decades. The city has also implemented a “Safe Routes to School” program designed to help children safely walk and bike to class.

If you head just outside the city, you can find pastoral and hilly terrain, which is great for riding. Also, if you’re into competition, Madison hosts the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon, which usually draws around 2,500 each year and has one of the most difficult bike courses in the country.

San Francisco, Calif.

This city has recently become one of the biggest biking places in the country. It’s not just cycling enthusiasts; it’s the business men too. Twitter–headquartered in San Francisco–claims that 25 percent of its employees use their bikes to commute. The company even leased a building near one of the main bike-ways to help accommodate them, and probably to encourage others to join.

Recent innovations in 2010 included 20 miles of new bike lanes, 25 bike parking corrals and traffic signals to help give bikers right-of-way. These led to a huge increase in cycling over the past five years; around 71 percent more. But with those increases in cyclers came a rise in bike crash statistics, despite the heightened level of safety offered by these lanes.

Chicago, Ill.

In 2011, Chicago got Washington’s progressive transportation director, Gabe Klein. Together with the new mayor, they set an ambitious agenda to refuel the city’s bike network. The call the plan the Streets of Cycling 2020.

One of the main goals of the plan is to install 100 miles of separate bike lanes in the next four years. So far, they installed a protected bike lane on Kinzie Street, which only took six weeks. Fifty one percent of traffic during rush hour now consists of bike riders. Elevated railways should soon become bike paths, and the bike-share system should soon expand to 5,000 bikes.

Minneapolis, Minn.

The bike culture in Minneapolis thrives thanks to the Stupor Bowl Alley Cat Race, wintertime cycling tours, the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s thousands of volunteer hours, and a general enthusiasm for biking around the city. What started off as a simple cultural phenomenon has now become a community attitude. It’s made the city one of the best places to cycle in the country.

You’ll find the 4.57 mile Cedar Lake Regional Trail as one of the largest biking trails in America. The trail also connects to other biking and walking paths. It’s got two one-way bike lanes and a pedestrian lane running from the Mississippi River through the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field and into the suburbs in the west.

Portland, Ore.

Portland has long-held the title of best biking city in America. It often serves as the only American city on lists of the world’s top places for cyclists. It’s the only big city (with a population of over 600,000) to earn a “Platinum” status from the “League of American Bicyclists” thanks to 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths.

You’ll find a bike-rack or bar just about anywhere you go in the city. In Portland, sometimes it seems as if bikers have more control over the road than cars. When huge groups of bikers roam the streets, cars simply have to back off and wait for them to get through. Motorists have spent so much time around bikers, they’ll often let you into the road when no bike lane exists.

If you’re looking for a place where you can rely on cycling, you can’t go wrong with any of these cities. Find one that sounds like it best suits your riding style and enjoy fully embracing the healthy lifestyle.

Gentle Giants: 5 Big Names Investing in Your Health & Wellness

Personalized healthcare is quickly becoming an important trend in healthcare. As more and more data about each patient and about genes and the human genome becomes available, technology companies are conducting research to store and analyze this data. They plan to use it to understand illnesses and treat patients on an individual level. Some big businesses understand the importance of personalized healthcare and are investing in ventures to make it happen.

Google and Bill Gates

Image via Flickr

Foundation Medicine is a diagnostics company possibly best known for helping Steve Jobs with his cancer treatments. Foundation sells a test that examines the DNA fueling a patient’s cancer and tries to pinpoint the exact genetic mutations involved so doctors can come up with a personalized treatment plan. Both Google and Bill Gates have heavily invested in Foundation Medicine. Google owns 9 percent of stock, and Bill Gates owns 4. Major technological players are aware of the advantages of this kind of personal medicine research, and their strong investments will help to further the research of companies like Foundation.

IBM

IBM is doing several things to further the development of personalized healthcare. They’ve teamed up with the New York Genome Center to conduct genomic research that will help bring more personalized treatment plans to brain cancer patients, specifically those affected with glioblastoma, a severely malignant form of brain cancer. In tandem with IBM’s Watson, a cognitive computing project that makes it easier for physicians to access and assess patient data and medical records, IBM and NYGC have been working at this cancer research for a decade. The Watson system analyzes genomic differences between cancerous and non-cancerous brain cells, then interprets this data in such a way that physicians can use it to create an individual treatment plan for each glioblastoma patient.

Mark Cuban

Image via Flickr

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently invested $760k in Validic, a company that streamlines personalized health data that comes from multiple sources like healthcare apps. This data helps doctors, healthcare professionals, and other relevant parties access a single stream of patient data. With so much data connected to every patient, the health informatics field is growing as personalized healthcare comes to the forefront of medicine and biotech. Validic is a startup, currently boasting only fifteen employees. But Cuban sees the potential in the small company and values the work they are doing, saying that personalized medicine is the direction in which healthcare is going.

Dell

Computer giant Dell has come up with a high-performance computing system specifically meant to analyze genomes. The Dell Active Infrastructure for HPC Life Sciences is software for scientists. The goal of the project is to quickly and easily work with the genomic coding and analysis that scientists need. Since genomes are a huge amount of data, scientists need a lot of power and storage to complete their work. Dell is working through previous issues that cause delays in research and analysis, and the Active Infrastructure is going to help with cancer research, agriculture, and many things in between.

Sony

Just this past January, Sony has announced they are teaming up with medical company M3 in Tokyo to create a new company that will focus on genomic research as it relates to personalized medicine. The new company, called P5 Inc, will provide genome analysis to research institutions in Japan. Eventually, Sony hopes the company will be able to provide the same services on a more individual basis, relating genomic data with other medical information to create personalized healthcare regimes for specific patients. P5 isn’t the only investment Sony has made in the future of medicine. In 2012, Sony invested $644M in camera company Olympus to further their research regarding medical imaging technology, specifically endoscopes with extremely high resolution.

More and more corporations and wealthy individuals are investing in personalized healthcare, genome research, and the data concerns that go along with it. These investments in new projects and innovative companies show that some big businesses care about the future of the medical field and personalized health. Research and development for personalized healthcare can only grow with the backing of these major players.

One World: The Art of Impact with Malaria No More’s Ray Chambers

Ray Chambers There aren’t many people who have had more of a dramatic impact on the health and wellbeing of children globally than Ray Chambers. In April 2011 Ray Chambers was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine not for his career in private equity-though he had an illustrious and extremely lucrative career that is worthy of note in and of itself-but rather for his work on behalf of children in the developing world.

Chambers is the founder of the Malaria No More campaign; a campaign built on the simple idea that if children sleep under insecticide treated nets, not only are they protected from the mosquitos that carry the deadly disease but the mosquitos will die from landing on the nets and disrupt the breeding cycle.

The results of his work are significant. As he stated in his ONE WORLD conversation with Deepak: “Over the last seven years,” Ray explains, “we’ve raised over 8 billion dollars, we’ve covered 800 million people with these insecticide treated mosquito nets and the annual death rate has gone from 1.2 million to less than 500 thousand.” These are results that speak for themselves.

It is an extremely effective solution to the malaria epidemic sweeping sub Saharan Africa and it is one of the reasons that in 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon named Ray Chambers as UN Special Envoy for Malaria. In February 2013, Chambers was named Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals, a position that intersects his business career and his philanthropic endeavors.

Today, one of his most impressive accomplishments remains one of his simplest; by ensuring that children have a mosquito net costing less than $10 to produce, he and his organization Malaria No More have been able to drastically reduce the effects of Malaria on some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. An accomplishment that proves influence is not always about money or power, but rather recognizing need and meeting it head on with compassion and ingenuity.

You can watch Deepak’s full conversation with Ray here.

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