Category Archives: Technology

VOX Populi With Sean Astin Launches Season 2 On TradioV

VOX Populi With Sean Astin Launches Season 2 On TradioV

VoxPopuli - Promotional Graphic

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Sean Astin to promote his radio show. I received a Thank You gift in return for doing so, as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Back when I worked in film production I worked for a while on some political TV commercials. I had never been very political, but after that job, I actually became apolitical for a period of time. I was totally turned off by the negative way in which the campaigns had being conducted and became entirely disenchanted by politics.

Something funny happened when I became a parent though. I found I had strong opinions on some matters, especially when they impacted my children, and I began to tune into politics again a tiny bit.  Concerned with global health, one of the issues that broke my heart was the thought that mothers in developing countries were losing their babies to vaccine preventable diseases.  I became a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion due to that empathy for other mothers and children around the world.   During my first Shot@Life Summit I found myself, quite by surprise, on Capitol hill visiting my state representatives, advocating for global vaccines. I had somehow become an accidental advocate.  It was that process that really engaged me, and taught me that my representatives want to hear from their constituents, and if I had an issue that I cared about they would listen.  I still am not a fan when politics get heated, I prefer reasonable open-minded discussions, and that is why I was happy to help promote Sean Astin’s second season of his political radio show Vox Populi on TradioV.Sean Astin Radio

The name Sean Astin may ring a bell, though it might seem out of context to think of the actor from The Goonies, Lord of the Rings, and Rudy in the political arena, but this is the second season of his political radio show for “the occasionally interested people” and it launches on May 1st on a new network, TradioV.   Sean’s interest in politics and representing the people’s voice comes from his genuine desire for people to understand what is happening with the government, even when it seems too complicated. Whether you are or aren’t interested in politics, he offers an intellectual discussion and doesn’t just want to be heard, he wants to hear the people and their concerns, all while keeping it civil.

If you are like me, wanting to stay informed and engaged in what’s going on, but out of the fray, then this may just be the exact type of political discourse you have been looking for. You can check out  Sean’s site  and listen to the broadcast premier on May 1st. Follow Sean on Twitter, at #RaiseYourVox,  Facebook , YouTube, and catch the broadcast every Thursday from 12-2 PT on TradioV.

ENMNetwork disclosure

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

As we close in on 2015 the Millennium Development Goals will hit their deadline. USAID has just launched the Global Development Lab, which takes MDG # 8, to  Develop A Global Partnership For Development, into the next set of goals to be reached by 2030. USAID has partnered with 32 companies and organizations to reach the mission:

To discover, test, and scale breakthrough development innovations to solve development challenges faster and cheaper in support of U.S. foreign policy and development goals and to accelerate the transformation of USAID as the world’s premier development agency.-USAID Global Development Lab Mission Statement

I am excited to see the amazing partners involved, including my neighbors Plan, and Nike, as well as some of my other favorites, Save The Children, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University (my husband’s an alum). The lab launched Thursday April 3rd,  and I can’t wait to see the breakthroughs a collaboration of this magnitude is sure to bring! Watch the video below to find out what it’s all about.

X-Box or Nintendo? It depends of your taste for violence.

X-Box or Nintendo? It depends of your taste for violence.

x-box vs wii

I am not a big fan of violent video games, so clearly I’m not about to support a company that produces a product that feeds into real life armed conflict. The question is not about which company makes the most violent video games, and the X-box or Nintendo question is no longer about which has the better graphics.  It’s about which company has a conscience and how much it bothers consumers that people across the world may be harmed in the making of the toy they are about to buy.

The Enough Project’s Raise Hope For Congo campaign wants to raise consumer electronics awareness in time for the Black Friday shopping frenzy. According to the  Conflict Minerals Company Rankings List  they have released the X-Box is the clear choice in this selection.  The consumer electronics products we use daily rely on certain minerals to function, the source of those minerals in some areas fund violent conflicts that have lasted decades. Companies are aware, and some have acted responsibly to make sure the resources they purchase are not part of the problem.

I only learned the truth about Conflict Minerals when listening to Photographer Marcus Bleasdale give his incredibly powerful National Geographic presentation at the Social Good Summit in NYC this past fall.  The images he showed opened my eyes to the source of elements of the very cell phone in my hand.  Suddenly I was connected to those people in the photographs.

Over 5.4 million dead. Over 2 million displaced. Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War

I can honestly say I never thought I’d feel the emotion of gratitude when thinking about my son’s X-Box habit, but now that I know what I know,  him playing the X-Box compared to the Nintendo, is a relief.  Turns out  according to the research done for the rankings, Nintendo is the worst company, dead last,  in terms of accountability along the supply chain. Basically, they don’t care where they get them, or who gets hurt along the way, as long as they can make and sell their products. Microsoft, the maker of the X-Box, on the other hand has a green light ranking on  The Conflict Minerals Company Rankings List   marking it as one of the companies that has taken proactive steps to trace and audit their supply chains, pushed for some aspects of legislation, exercised leadership in industry-wide efforts, and started to help Congo develop a clean trade.

Our consumer dollars give us the power to hold the quality of  lives of others in our hands. I am not talking about crushing fellow customers in the black Friday rush into Wal-Mart here.  I am talking about becoming aware of how things are made,  and choosing to be a conscientious consumer .  When we have money to spend, we can choose to spend it on those companies who are actually making a positive impact in this world, as opposed to those who are just out to make a buck.   You can see how the companies you are planning to buy from are rated here in this chart and then purchase accordingly, yes we do have a say in what goes on across the world. Our consumer dollars speak volumes on these issues, and the pressure on companies to take responsibility has turned the tide of the conflict in the Congo.

Last week, Alysha Atma of the Atma Foundation put it beautifully. We were on a conference call with ONE, ENOUGH Project, and JWW, all organizations working towards, preventing genocides, improving accountability and transparency from governments, and large companies.  Alysha told us she was inspired to make a difference by her young son, when she realized that every action has a personal story behind it.  she explained;

“He inspired me to put dinner table talk into action. I realized that every day is an opportunity to give back. I wanted him to learn that a responsibility comes with the good fortune of him having been born here.”

I love that sentiment, every day is an opportunity to give back. So what can we do?

-Share the message on Social Media to help raise awareness about the issue.

-Use the power of your consumer dollars wisely and with good conscience by check the The Conflict Minerals Company Rankings List  before you buy so you know if you want to support that company or not.

The Raise Hope For Congo movement needs your help to increase demand for conflict-free electronics products. As a consumer, you can influence electronics industry leaders as they weigh whether or not to invest in making their supply chains transparent and producing verifiably conflict-free products. Tell companies that if they take conflict out of their products, you’ll buy them.

Send an e-mail right now to electronics companies letting them know you care where they source their materials.

-Get involved in campaigns with organizations such as Enough, JWW, Atma Foundation and ONE that are working towards conflict free products in the Congo.

black friday copy

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This Man’s Mind Is In The Toilet

This Man’s Mind Is In The Toilet

Today is the first ever World Toilet Day and a new report released today Co-published by WaterAid, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, and Unilever’s leading household cleaning brand, Domestos, We can’t wait highlights the stark consequences that the lack of toilets and good hygiene practices have for women and girls. according to this report there are still 2.5 billion people in this world without adequate sanitation. Lack of sanitation directly impacts education, health and safety, especially for women and girls.

“One in three [people] lack access to adequate sanitation,” noted UN Deputy-Secretary General, Jan Eliasson and Unilever Chief Executive Officer, Paul Polman in the report. “The result is widespread death and disease and social marginalization. Poor sanitation exposes women and girls to the risk of assault and, when schools cannot provide clean, safe toilets, girls’ attendance drops.”

In Rhode Island, one man has come up with an innovative  solution. Dr Stephen Mecca is a Professor in the department of Engineering-Pysics-Systems at Providence College, and a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana. He co-Invented the micro flush valve and with his research team has created an environmentally sensible , sanitary, and dignified, re-invention of the toilet. Designed for warm weather environments, this toilet takes less than a cup of water to flush,  and that comes from the hand washing of the previous user. In the above video Dr. mecca explains how it works.

This Microflush toilet is the type of innovation that can transform lives, and the We Can’t Wait Report  shows that strong partnerships between the public and private sectors are key to tackling the sanitation crisis, and that more frequent cross-sector collaboration is essential to improving the lives of women and girls.

Infographic source: the We Can't Wait report

Infographic source: the We Can’t Wait report

About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organization works in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 19 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit, follow @WaterAidAmerica on Twitter or visit them on Facebook at

Conflict Minerals; You’ve Heard The Term, But Do You Know What They Are?

Conflict Minerals; You’ve Heard The Term, But Do You Know What They Are?

With the upcoming holiday season and all of the shopping that goes with it, some mindful giving guides for the holidays will be posted on documama soon. My lists will include products from companies conscientiously aiming to produce conflict mineral free products.

This is a great overview by the Enough Project of what Conflict Minerals are and how as consumers we are involved.