Reading for Faster Freedom in Brazil

Prisoners in Brazil may be able to shorten their stay in jail by reading and writing. It’s only 48 days but it can make a difference, the prisoners need to read from a collection of philosophy, science, literature, or the classics then reflect on them in a submitted paper.

Educational programs like this are a good way to help people returning to society restart with more focus and support.

Prisoners will have up to four weeks to read each book and
write an essay which must “make correct use of paragraphs, be
free of corrections, use margins and legible joined-up writing,”
said the notice published on Monday in the official gazette.

“A person can leave prison more enlightened and with a
enlarged vision of the world,” said Sao Paulo lawyer Andre
Kehdi, who heads a book donation project for prisons.

“Without doubt they will leave a better person,” he said.

Read more.

Google to Catalog Languages

The Endangered Languages Project is a new initiative run by Google to catalog languages that are threatened because of globalization. As nice as it is that the people on the planet are finding more languages in common, we still need to encourage people to embrace languages that aren’t as popular.

“We have so many languages which are in danger of dying, and though there has been work done by linguists to document these languages, there are nowhere near enough linguists to do that,” said Anthony Aristar, professor of linguistics and co-director of the Institute for Language Information and Technology at Eastern Michigan University, which helped create the site.

“It’s not just a matter of documenting the languages, it’s also a matter of revitalizing them if we possibly can.”

As part of the effort to revive dying languages, the website will use video, audio and social media tools to connect speakers with each other and with those who want to learn their language.

Read more.

Iceland is the Most Peaceful Country on Earth

Iceland is a beautiful country and it’s one that is known for weathering the current economic calamity by fining bankers instead of punishing average people. It turns out that their attitude towards helping the average person and respecting the environment makes it the most peaceful country on the planet!

Iceland is one of the most progressive nations on the planet: its welfare system offers health care and higher education for each of its 320,000 citizens; it is powered in large part by renewable geothermal energy (see volcanoes, above); and it was one of the first countries in the world to legalize gay marriage.

Read more.

Two New Services to Exchange Things and Improve the World

Two similar services have sent me emails letting me know about their new startups and they both share something in common: they want you to make the world better by engaging with strangers. The way they encourage this is through web services that connect your skills with other people and you can barter, sell, or even give away anything you know.

They are worth looking at if you want to learn some cool new things or share some knowledge that you have!

Uniiverse was started in Toronto and focuses on exchanging everything from ideas to experiences and, to a lesser extent, material goods.

From Vancouver there is the new Troc-Exchange:

Vancouver has a large community of environmentally conscious people that take pride in their city. 50% of Troc-Exchange’s profits go to the Surfrider Foundation: an outreach program focused on reducing single use plastics to prevent themfrom entering our oceans. Surfrider Foundation also developed the Blue Water Task Force. This volunteer-run water testing program tests water samples from swimming beaches in the Vancouver area in hopes to create a safer place to play and live for future generations to come.

Etsy Encouraging More Women to Hack

The online craft marketplace Etsy has started funding a school that teaches people how to hack and use technology. That’s fine in itself, but what makes it good news noteworthy is that they are openly encouraging more women to get into the tech space and is having a positive impact.

After having one female student in all of its past three classes, the current batch at Hacker School now has 23 women out of 53 students, said co-founder Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock. That’s still under half of enrollment, but some 661 women applied for the summer program, with an enormous bump following Hedlund’s announcement. “If anything, the admissions standards went up,” Bergson-Shilcock said.

Etsy ended up raising its grant amount to $7,000 for 10 students, to allow for taxes, and signed on Yammer and 37signals to provide four more grants each, for a total of $126,000 offered for female students who asked for financial assistance.

Read more here.

Thanks Jen!

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