*itsgettinghotinhere.com is written by Jake Brewer, reacting here to Al Gore’s surprise outrage over slow progress on global efforts to fight climate change:
“...Gore used the word “insane” or “insanity” at least three times (we’ll check the records to see if there are more) in his descriptions of various political and business decisions made (or not made) with regard to climate…”
“...I have been asking around, trying to get a sense of how the Wall Street financial crisis is affecting the funding of non-profits/NGOs attending this conference. What I am hearing is that the economic crisis—or at least fear of it—is affecting funding and in some cases significantly. But here’s the hitch: Almost every conversation I have had except one was about how the funders are afraid that the economy is getting worse and that is why they are cutting back. Only once was I told that an organization’s primary funder had cut back because of necessity from actual financial difficulties. So it appears that fear that the economy is turning down is causing many funders to cut back. (Perhaps this is to preserve capital?—please discuss this in the comments.) Of course, actual economic stress hits people at the lower end of the ladder or in poorer and less developed regions much harder than it hits the rest of the population. These are the people and organizations that the funding institutions and individuals are committed to serve. And it is the nature of philanthropy that even in the worst of downturns the funders will not suffer to the degree that to poorest will. Since an economic downturn brings with it a much greater need on the part of the recipients of the world’s philanthropy, shouldn’t fears that this is coming trigger a greater commitment of assistance rather than cutbacks? A metaphor might be helping purchase plywood and tape to cover store windows before a hurricane hits. Discuss.”
“...I had the good fortune to plop down next to a wonderful woman named Muriel Glasgow. Muriel spent decades at the United Nations building latrines and other infrastructure all over the world, and now runs the United Nation’s Yak podcast. I told her what I did, and she asked if I thought the next American president, whether Barack Obama or John McCain, will have the good sense to take the tremendous excitement and energy this election has uncovered—especially among the young folk—and use it to create change after November 4th. It’s a very good question…We’re witnessing one way of doing it here at CGI. Bill Clinton’s model for making progress is to prove success, then replicate it. The holy grail of CGI is simply “a measurable result that can then be modeled in other places.” This high-flying former president seems entirely weary of the political hot air that blows at lesser atmospheric levels. But he eats up stuff like what happened this morning, when the Nike Foundation joined Johnson-Sirleaf to present a $5 million check for the Adolescent Girls Initiative, a discrete three year project to teach technical skills to Liberian women between 16 and 24…What’s striking to me about CGI is, for lacking a better way of putting it, forcefully applying business-world metrics to philanthropic space…”
There were also some additional news highlights:
* Wyclef Jean and his three-year-old NGO, Yele Haiti, urged CGI attendees to help Haitians displaced by Hurricane Gustav’s category-4 winds that slammed coastal cities on August 26. “Remember Katrina?” he asked. “The hurricane that hit Haiti was Katrina times a million.” In the coastal city of Gonaives, he said, “the devastation is heart-breaking. The whole city smells like dead bodies; kids are still on rooftops; people haven’t eaten for 12 days.” The musician said 55 schools were destroyed and 593 were damaged and are in urgent need of repair. “When I was growing up, I remember being so poor, I ate dirt from the ground,” Jean said at a press conference. “...We are hungry in Haiti all the time; after Gustav, people are starving faster.”
* Philanthropist Eli Broad announced a new, $44 million, three-year research and development initiative called EdLabs, which will partner with three of the largest urban school systems in the country: NewYork, Chicago and the District of Columbia. It will be housed at Harvard and work, starting October 1, to identify and advance strategies to improve student achievement in America’ s troubled public schools. “The military had DARPA; this will be the educational equivalent,” said Broad, whose private foundation is contributing $6 million to the venture. New York Schools chancellor Joel Klein said: “Everybody talks about reform but it’s really the same tired bromide, like applying a tongue to a sore tooth… It’s time for innovation. This is it.”
* Barack Obama addressed the conference via satellite and promised (as did John McCain in remarks earlier) to eradicate malaria and pursue new energy policies to combat climate change. He also said that if elected, he would focus on the four issues that CGI has held dear since its first gathering in 2004. “Climate change. Poverty. Extremism. Disease. These problems offend our common humanity,” Obama said. “They also threaten our common security. You know this. The question is what do we do about it?” For a full transcript of Obama’s remarks, click here. For a full transcript of John McCain’s remarks to the conference, click here.
Marcia Stepanek is Founding Editor-in-Chief and President, News and Information, for Contribute Media, a New York-based magazine, Web site, and conference series about the new people and ideas of giving. She is the publisher of Cause Global, an acclaimed new blog about the use of digital media for social change. She also serves as moderator and producer of New Conversations for Change, Contribute’s forum series highlighting social entrepreneurs and new trends in philanthropy.