101 Ways to Make the World Better

Here’s a nice list of 101 ways to improve your world, some of the ideas are really nice and simple while others are bit more extreme.

From the 30s:

31. Make breakfast in bed for someone you love.

32. Find something you’re good at and use it to help someone else.

33. Learn a new language, then volunteer as an interpreter.

34. Know someone who is sad and single? Find someone to hook them up with!

35. Bring coffee or baked goods to city workers who might appreciate it.

36. Help someone with a heavy load.

Gross National Happiness

Another cool thing about Bhutan is that they measure their well being using GNH opposed to GDP or GNP.

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product.
The term was coined by Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 soon after the demise of his father King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who has opened up Bhutan to the age of modernization. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many moral goals, it is somewhat easier to state than to define. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country.
While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.

Green Collar in Chicago

I’m heading to Chicago in a couple weeks and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the green collar jobs in Chicago. If you’re in Chi-town and know about the green movement there please let me know in the comments!

He is part foot soldier, part guinea pig in a movement that starts in the Englewood garden and may reach all the way to the Oval Office, although he may not fully appreciate it. “I’m not going to lie to you,” Wright said one crisp morning while working a row of radishes in a greenhouse. “I needed a job. Long as I was plugged in somewhere, that was OK.”

Wright works for Growing Home Inc., which offers “social business enterprise” job training for low-income people. It and he are part of the “green-collar economy,” a movement toward an environmentally sound, robust economy with a vast array of jobs, some of which are rooted in withering small towns or decimated inner cities. And guess what metropolis experts say provides the most fertile environment for the green-collar economy? Chicago, Rust Belt capital and adopted hometown of the next president, whose New Energy for America plan calls for investing $150 billion over the next decade to create 5 million new “green jobs.”

Bhutan: A Nonsmoking Nation

Bhutan has become the first nation to ban smoking within its borders. I found this out via the linked Slate article and they point out that it’s a tricky issue banning something as “personal” as smoking. It seems Bhutan is the best suited nation to quit smoking because of its cultural roots.

Since Dec. 17, it has been illegal to smoke in public or sell tobacco. Violators are fined the equivalent of $232—more than two months’ salary in Bhutan. Authorities heralded the ban by igniting a bonfire of cigarette cartons in the capital, Thimphu, and stringing banners across the main thoroughfare, exhorting people to kick the habit. As if they have a choice.

So, having sat out the traditional development rush, Bhutan hopes to steer its own course, avoiding the mistakes of the industrialized world. Because of its homogenous and small population (anywhere from 800,000 to 2 million people, depending on which estimates you believe), Bhutan just might succeed in barring the demon weed. The nation’s unusual culture makes a sudden and complete tobacco ban possible. The country is ruled by a benevolent king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who is widely revered and universally obeyed. “Bhutanese are pretty happy to sacrifice for their fellow citizen,” says Linda Leaming, an American who has lived in Bhutan for the past eight years. “The individual is subjugated to the good of society.”
It also helps that Bhutan has few smokers compared other nations. Only about 1 percent of the population lights up, according to the health ministry. (Foreign observers believe the actual figure is 3 percent or 4 percent.) Tobacco isn’t grown in Bhutan. It is a very small, poor market, and it costs a tremendous amount to import goods. All these are factors that have reduced interest in cigarettes.

Bicycling in the Winter is Fun

Here’s a nice article talking about winter cycling in Ohio, trust me winter riding is fun and it’s good for the planet. Yay bikes!

Shaffer bikes for the health benefits and to reduce gasoline consumption, save money and clear his head. He bikes even when he has community activities after work; he just rides his bike home afterward.

Lisa Houser, 24, bicycles all around Columbus to substitute teaching jobs.

“It’s a good way to start the day in general and it keeps my blood flowing,” said Houser, who sold her car before winter began and has taken the bus only once since then. She started riding five years ago while living in Florida; this is her second winter in Ohio.

“I just kind of threw myself into it,” said Houser, who lives in the south end of Clintonville. “It saves my conscience from worrying about environmental destruction.”

As of yesterday, Houser and other die-hard bicyclists had peddled through 13 days of below-average January temperatures, including four when the mercury plunged to zero or lower.

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