Karen M. Jones is a creative strategist, social entrepreneur, and founder of Benevolent Planet, a public resource providing practical strategies for socially conscious living. We all want to do our share in making the world a better place. All too often we take on large and ambitious projects which we then abandon because we just don't have the time or the energy to do them justice. Jones has come up with a sane strategy that will appeal to the altruist in you. She notes: "The book is not intended as a guide for fervent activism, but rather as a daily practice for personal and even spiritual growth through small, empowering acts of humanity."
This wide-ranging resource covers many topics including the environment, creating a promising future for kids, sharing wealth, keeping peace, conscious consumerism, honoring elders, looking out for the welfare of animals, lifelong learning, and making sure that no man, woman, or child goes hungry. Her suggestions can also be used by community groups, schools, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. Jones concludes: "In time, practicing simple, everyday altruism gives you a glimpse of the grander notion that you can enrich your inner life by looking outward. We can all reconnect with our best intentions, tune in to our shared humanity, and reclaim our influence in a society that has convinced us, for far too long, that individuals are insignificant."
Here is a brief sampler of projects to make a difference:
• Say It with Pixels: Save a tree by sending electronic greetings for special occasions. You can double your environmental impact with an e-greeting from care2.com, where your missive generates support for eco-friendly causes.
• Open Your Arms to an Infant: Your local hospital needs volunteers to rock babies in its care.
• Help Someone See: Drop off your old eyeglasses at a LensCrafters in your area; they'll donate them through the Gift of Sight (givethegiftofsight.org) program to people in developing countries who need them.
• Pass the Test: Take the Catholic Campaign for Human Development's online quiz on poverty in the United States at usccb.org/cchd/povertyusa/povquiz.htm. It's easy to do and the process is enlightening.
• Give Old PCs New Purpose: When you upgrade, donate your used computer and equipment to the National Cristina Foundation, which gives computers to public service organizations that provide education and training to people who are economically disadvantaged. Visit cristina.org or call 202-863-9100.
• Recognize Peacekeepers: Suggest to the leaders of your community center or place of worship that they nominate and then honor a local citizen each year for his or her antiviolence efforts in your community.