What to give(n’t)

February 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

This is an interesting video that seems akin to this post by Blood and Milk, as well as this post by Amanda Kloer,”Buying a Slave’s Freedom.” Do you agree with this video? If you follow the YouTube link, there is also an interesting debate that ensues in the comments section.

No matter my opinion, I whole heartedly agree with the statement, “Educate Yourself. Learn more about the area that interests you or type of aid you’d like to support.”


49 Journalists Killed in 2011

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Portraits of the Fallen from Dana Chivvis on Vimeo.

One may argue that 49 is not such a large number, but that person neglects to consider how many more individuals are hidden behind the 49—-how many more are violated or killed invisibly as their stories are silenced with the death of a journalist.

It takes immense bravery, stamina and sacrifice to enter in and remain a part of the circumstances under which most journalists are killed.1 In fact, I think most of us wouldn’t be willing or able to do it.  So, considering the ratio of persons killed to persons willing and able to do the job, 49  is quite impressive.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has recently made public the statistics of killed journalists by year and motive. They point out that 9 out of 10 times the murderers go free. In the face of this fact, CPJ has started a Campaign Against Impunity.

What if it was your story the murdered journalist was trying to tell? What if you were trying to tell the story?

It shouldn’t matter much either way. The bell still tolls.

1 Not to mention the freedom and opportunity to education it requires to become a journalist in the first place–thereby, once again, narrowing the pool of persons willing and able.

Violence. Justice. Violence?

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Four Kenyans   are   to   face   trial   at   the   ICC for masterminding  the 2007/2008 post-election violence. But with these four men having continued political support in Kenya, will the ICC’s attempts at justice for violence simply breed more violence?1 Kimberly Curtis posted an interesting discussion on the balance of justice and politics currently at play in Kenya.


1As a exercise in thought: What would be the best course of action if ensuing violence were able to be predicted? If we could guarantee that violence would occur at a significant level, should the ICC continue? Should the international community instead allow Kenya alone to try its suspected criminals? If so, what sort of precedent might that set for the ICC? From a Utilitarian standpoint, is more good done by righting wrongs of the past than by preventing wrongs of the present or future?

Seven (Eight) Deadly Sins of Impact Evaluation

February 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Recently, Matthew Forti published his “Seven Deadly Sins of Impact Evaluation” on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. I greatly appreciated Forti’s clear and concise rendering of some very apparent but oft ignored mishaps that occur when organizations attempt to assess the difference (or damage) their programs create in the lives of others. To Forti’s list I might also add, “Superiority.”1

There is a tendency among NGOs and impact evaluators to feel that their own expertise is superior to or omniscient of the opinions and desires expressed by their study’s community. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) can  overcome this undemocratic fault by involving the community in various aspects of the research process (from question formation, to data gathering and analysis, and even to the interpretation and application of findings). In other words,  CBPR is the egalitarian engagement of a researcher with all those who will be affected by their research findings.

Holman assessed the need for such egalitarian methods in his 1987 book “Research from the Underside,” in which he noted a logical injustice:

Social work is about helping the poor

Being poor is about lacking power

Social research is a form of power

And yet social research rarely involves the opinions of the poor2

Now, there certainly instances in which CBPR will not be feasible (e.g. for funding, time or safety constraints, or where the population is unaccessible). However, when CBPR is possible, it can lead to interventions that are better understood,  more effective and more accepted by the communities they are seeking to help.

(For further elucidation of some of the benefits and detriments to CBPR, see  Kreiger 2002….or look up one of the many books on CBPR).

1This could perhaps be tagged onto Forti’s “Isolation”
2For the sake of this post, “social work” equate to “social intervention” and “poor” equates to “those in need of some social good”

* Thanks to Brett Keller for posting Forti’s “Seven Deadly Sins of Impact Evaluation”

Faces of the Tsunami

February 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Photo by Denis Rouvre.

Article “Low Tide” by: Min Jin Lee, New York Times

Leslie Dodson

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes, it’s been said before, but this is a good reminder to be mindful and analytic about the images were are proffered in the media. The last bit is particularly interesting.

“We often see these monolithic, homogenous stories about the great country of Africa. But Africa is not a country, it’s a continent. It’s 54 countries and thousands and thousands of languages So my questions is, is this imagery productive? Or is it reductive?”

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

An opinion piece on Nicolas Kristof’s representations of Africa.

Open to comments and debate.

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