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Giving

June 15, 2007

Back in the day, aka freshman year of college, I was a pretty hardcore “protester”. I was in all the “Peace” related groups like “Peace Works”. I hung out with people who smelled like dirt, sweat and vegetarian soups. I sewed patches into jeans, and wore screen printed t shirts with fists, and groups of smaller fish eating the bigger fish. I really believed that we could make a difference, we would make a difference, that the IMF and World Bank would topple with our voices. I also enjoyed being around people who were so passionate about what they were fighting for, who wanted to plant trees, tend to community gardens, raise awareness, sign petitions and hand deliver them. I joined MassPIRG and started sending in video petitions to BP to stop the drilling in Alaska, recycled Post Cards to support Tree Farms. I couldn’t afford to give money, so I gave time and energy. I rode on a school Bus to DC and stayed in the lobby of a church to protest the IMF and World Bank meetings. I saw people sprayed with tear gas, and throw themselves in front of traffic to get their message heard. It was all very exciting, passion inducing and thrilling at the time. I look back on the pictures I took and think, I did that?
I started to get disillusioned as time passed and I didn’t feel any differences had been made. Instead of getting heard for what we were in DC to stop, we were heard for the chaos a select few had caused. Unruly kids cause a ruckus and getting themselves imprisoned, instead of passionate young adults who are rising up to make change where it matters. And the people I had surrounded myself with would judge me for not becoming vegan, not living in their commune, not buying in to everything they were espousing. Sure I wanted our environment to be protected, I wanted to help stop the increasing poverty line, I wanted to fight for a lot, but I knew I couldn’t, I knew I had to pick what really mattered to me. To them, everything mattered and you had to put your all into it all. That wasn’t what I wanted, and wasn’t this all about individual choice and having the freedom to make that choice and live by it? Why was I different because I wanted to drink milk and live in a comfortable room? Oh, and in addition, I did have to attend school. It suddenly became more about the image of being passionate for causes, then about actually doing productive work to make a difference.
I stayed with MassPIRG because there I felt like I was being productive, I could send in the petition and see that the bill hadn’t passed, I could watch the people going into grocery stores donating their money so we could buy formula and diapers for Worcester’s poorest.
Overtime that interest faded too, and I focused on graduating, writing a thesis and enjoying my last year with all the friends I’d found at school. I’m still passionate about protecting our environment, that was always the cause that interested me the most, but anytime I would try to put energy into it I got confused. There were so many organizations, so many people who needed the time and money to protect the oceans, the endangered species, the trees, the air, the soil. I can still see myself now, walking through a room of environmental organizations my head spinning with all the campaigns, the needs, the endangered. Who did I give to if I couldn’t give to everyone? I just didn’t give. I avoided it. I walked out of those fairs with lots of pamphlets but not decisions. Instead I signed up for a credit card that would give back to environmental organizations with every purchase I made. It was easy, I could feel good about it. It still wasn’t enough though.
When One.org started gaining momentum I was excited, it was an idea I could get behind- except not what I was the most passionate about. Then I heard about Earthshare.org through BzzAgent. Here I can give and know that my money could be helping everyone. I don’t have to pick and choose, I can just give.
And they have some great ways to give. You can check out their Market Place . I’m probably going to buy the Dutch Tulips, its the best way to raise money- give the people something they can see, something they would probably want anyway and let them give back.

To make this long story short- It feels good to find a way for me to finally get involved and give back without the group pressures, the unease of knowing if its the “right” organization, or the worry of picking and choosing.
So, are you going to give? Do you give? How? What do you think about Earth Share?

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