links for 2010-04-14

April 15, 2010 at 1:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Looking for a job? Recruiters are your new friends.

April 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I have started working as a consultant for Mission Talent Recruitment, an executive search firm for international organizations.  As we know, finding a job is about marketing yourself, but its not easy.  After one week on the job, I have already picked up some tips that anyone with a CV should know.

  • If you are looking for a job, recruiters are your friends, so make sure your CV is on file with a recruiter that relates to your field. Even if you aren’t looking for new job now, getting into a recruiters database like ours at Mission Talent, is a good idea because it could help you later. You can find out about our current searches by becoming at FaceBook fan.
  • Have your LinkedIn profile looking sharp and full of keywords related to the job you want.  If you want to do project management in Asia, those terms better be in there somewhere.  The best spot for putting these key words is under your name in the tagline slot. LinkedIn gives you generic choices, but it better to be specific about what you want.  If you want to work for the UN as a ” gender & security sector policy professional” put those words right under your name.
  • Recruiters are huge social networkers, with giant Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter following.  So look for them on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and add them to your network.  (Check out this list of top 25 recruiters on Twitter).  If you are in Europe, and actively looking for a job, it might be worth it to pay 4.95 per month to join Xing.
  • Make your CV easy to read. This is Huge.  Recruiters and HR professionals input your CV into databases so any strange formatted boxes and embedded tables means your data will probably not be inputted properly.   Make sure your name is at the top, followed by your email. Short and sweet with key skills is best.  These long crazy EU CVs with columns are already driving me a little nuts.
  • Make sure key words for the job you WANT are in your CV a few times so the database will pick them up.   A few examples of key words for non profits are : advocacy, fundraising, project management, policy, partnerships, donors, government, procurement etc.
  • I always thought they were cheesy, but those short little descriptions of your objective at the top are helpful because it helps recruiters know what you want right away  e.g.: “Non profit professional with 7 years in international development experience looking for communications position in Africa.”   “Recent law school graduate searching for work in energy sector”.
  • And its just a hunch, but cover letters are overrated. We don’t look at them. (Sigh– I’ve spent so many hours on them.)  I don’t know about everyone else.

Well, after my first week of work I have learned a few things.  I am sure there is much more to learn!  Good luck with your job search.

Menstruation march in Rwanda – SHE is on the move!

March 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I am having a one-woman party for Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) today!   On Friday SHE held a mobilization in Rwanda “breaking the silence” about menstruation.  They gathered  hundreds of people for a march through the city, including some “Big Shots” like government ministers to call for:

-Open dialogue on menstrual issues;
-Increased access to health and hygiene education;
-Increased access to affordable sanitary pads.

The entrance fee to the event was a packet of sanitary pads, and participants received a bottle of water and T-shirt. I love that!  And lets be frank, a march through town about menstruation is a bold thing to do in Africa where things about sex, reproductive health and women’s bodies are not talked about in public.  Most exciting (and it cannot be overstated)  is that this is totally Rwandan-driven, with many students and local women’s groups taking the lead.

When I wrote SHE’s media strategy for my thesis I theorized that this kind of event is great for “trickle-up” media attention — coverage in the Rwandan paper will add credibility later for farther-reaching global media.

Julian (SHE leader in Rwanda) hits the nail on the head on the SHE blog when she writes:

I just realized for sure is, just as we all need management and bookkeeping skill, every one needs advocacy and awareness skills. Right now as I write this, my B.day is 15 minutes away, and I can’t think of anything to do, other than work on the campaign, one of my campaign partners mentioned she cannot concentrate on a thing, until launch of campaign is done, no wonder this is full time job for some.

I am staying tuned to hear more about the reactions of the community to what happened.  I will be checking the SHE blog for updates.

Kindle’s first day of school… in Ghana!

March 16, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Aunt Therese works for Amazon.com and is busy globetrotting the world to hook up the Kindle.   She is overworked, but today she sent me this picture, which she says is keeping her inspired.

The iPad may be gripping the moneyed world in a fever of technolust, but the other e-reader, the Kindle, is still better at many things. Take Ghana, West Africa, for example. If you are a school in a small village with satellite internet and solar power, what device would be best for you? The power-sucking, data-heavy iPad, or the Kindle, a reader that can be read in sunlight, has free internet access and lasts for weeks on a single charge?

This is the idea behind the Worldreader project, which has just put 20 Kindles into a school of 11 to 14-year-olds. I know what you’re thinking: What’s wrong with paper books? Why do they need this expensive, fancy gadgetry? Because paper books take a long time to replace. These schools are on a 5-year book-renewal cycle right now. A Kindle, although pricy to start, essentially gives access to thousands of free, public domain books.

The first day in class in the village of Ayenyah Ghana was a success. For the trial, six books were loaded onto the Kindles, including a collection of short stories called Folktales from Ghana. The most popular title? Curious George. It seems that everyone loves a cheeky monkey.

links for 2010-03-10

March 11, 2010 at 1:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Invisible Year: Gabriel Thompson’s new book ‘Working in the Shadows’

February 11, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’ve been fascinated by the press around Gabriel Thompson’s new book, Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing Jobs Americans Won’t Do.  After I posted about it on Facebook (for the second time) a friend offered to send it to Germany (thanks Jose!), so I look forward to reading it soon.

Thompson spent a year working side by side with many undocumented immigrants, in chicken plants in Alabama, lettuce fields in Arizona and delivering take-out by bicycle in New York City.   He did things like tear apart 7,000 chicken breasts in one shift, cut 3,000 heads of lettuce per day.  He was also hit repeatedly by taxicabs.

I keep thinking about the act of what he did.  It reveals how class-based American society actually is, that working for low paid wages would be viewed the same as an extreme sport (or worse).  This especially comes out in an interview with MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’.   The journalists (if you can call them that) mouth’s literally hang open when he tells them what he did, and seem most concerned with if he wore gloves and if he deceived his employers:

Video is here ( I can’t embed it without it turning on automatically)

In an interview with the Indypendent, Thompson reflects on what kinds of  change is necessary: “To improve the work, we need much more vigorous government enforcement and union organizing. Organizers need to be more thoughtful in how they build a union and how they recruit workers who are diverse. But the expectations of how much output a worker generates must be changed. You can have a union, but if you’re still making 18,000 cuts per shift, you’ll still have serious health problems.”

Thompson believes that the role of journalists is to go where the silences are.  “The chicken plant fired me immediately upon learning that I was a journalist. This says something about their perspective: the less people know about where their food comes from, the better, because exposing these conditions doesn’t paint them in a favorable light.”

And, to top it off, he is also a fellow Johnston Center Alumni.

In Copenhagen, climate change is visual

December 17, 2009 at 3:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Making the complexity of climate change something people can relate to is no easy task.

But this month in Copenhagen, ‘green culture’ is everywhere you look.  Subways walls are plastered with signs urging negotiators to ‘seal the deal’, and every museum and city plaza has a special exhibit about climate change.

You can learn a lot about Denmark by how they have taken on their role as host for the climate negotiations known as COP15. With so many art and cultural activities, Denmark is recognizing that sustainability will only catch on if it is linked to social and cultural identity.

Here is an overview of the few climate art exhibits in Copenhagen this week, many of which are also online or will soon travel to a city near you.

It’s a Small World

As a world leader in design, the soul of Denmark seems to lie in the Danish Design Centre.

The exhibit “It’s Small World” offers a welcome concreteness at a time when the global stakes are so high and yet so amorphous. The exhibition is about reconsidering scale – from the small choices we make about what we buy, to big visions like widely adopted electric cards.

The worlds of public policy and design merge in an interactive video-exhibit about the future of energy in Denmark. The video features a conversation between designers and the charismatic lead negotiator of the COP15, Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy.

The participants outlines a serious vision for Denmark in 2020– where half the countries energy comes from windmills that in turn power a new generation of electric cars.  With nearly 5,000 windmills currently powering 20% of the nations energy, Denmark is working hard to position itself as a leader and future exporter of sustainable innovation.

In the basement of the center, an exhibition by young designers portrays a series of winning ‘sustainable fashion’ outfits.  There is a particular burst of creativity here at the fashion totem.

Sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, the exhibition will travel to the US and around Europe starting in February 2010.

100 places to remember before they disappear
Near the central subway station of Norreport, this outdoor photo exhibition puts a stunning human face to climate change. From archipelagos in the Pacific, to the hills of Caracas and the streets of Chicago, the pictures show 100 places on earth that are vulnerable to extreme climate change and other human influences on the environment.

While the photos are beautiful, they are also painful to look at; one can sense the vulnerability of the landscapes.  By offering pictures of the beauty that we have, the exhibit portrays a sense of wonder and value of exactly what is at stake.  One of the goals of the exhibition, sponsored by Care and CO+Life, is to put people living in poverty at the center of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The website is a great learning tool, with an interactive map. The photographs are also available in a hardbound coffee table book.

Consequences

In a round dome just outside of the conference center, Greenpeace is also presenting a photo exhibit.

During the opening Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International spoke about the importance of artists in fighting climate change, comparing it to the role of artists in fighting apartheid in South Africa.

“Artists are using their skills to communicate what is happening and that is a critical component that is coming together here at COP15,” said Naidoo. “We recognize the power of the images to cut through the crap of negotiations and show the face of the frontlines of climate change.

Ranging from photos of Nenet reindeer herders in Siberia, to people in India living in the shadow of a coal disaster, all of the photos were shot within the past three months.  The exhibit was a collaborative project of ten photographers from the Dutch agency Kadir von Lohuizen with support from Greenpeace.

A slide show of the photos is available on their website.

~

With so many people in Copenhagen this week, the art is sure to reach many of the climate faithful, though probably not the government negotiators who are trapped behind closed doors until the late hours of the night.  Hopefully the exhibits will reach many more people as they travel the world, prompting the cultural shift necessary for change.

As one activist explained, climate change is about culture. If you listen to the speeches of negotiators from small islands like Tuvulu and Maldives, projected to disappear within a generation, they are fighting for their lives.  They are thinking about how their children will grow up not knowing their own cultures.

More climate art:

The World is Yours: Contemporary art at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Rethink: Contemporary Art and Climate Change, four large art exhibitions by Nordic and international artists

Everyday Miracles: an art installation by Presens, real-life climate solutions

Mr. Bombastic comes to COP15

December 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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While I knew I would run into some unexpected people here in Copenhagen, I never thought one would be Shaggy.   The Jamaican rap star, famous for singing about how his girlfriend caught him with another woman “banging on the bathroom floor” headlined the opening concert.  Suddenly all of us– uptight Nordics and tired delegates, were grinding and waving our hands in the air. It was liberating.  Shaggy and Akon (who didn’t show) were the grand finale, but before him Youssou N’dour, Angelique Kidjo and Khaled played, all of them legends in Africa.  I could not believe I was listening to original  ‘Aisha‘ that plays on repeat in sleepy tourist bars and cars across Africa.

When I told my brother about my new found admiration for Shaggy, he reminded me that ten years ago in 1999 we were at a similar concert in Seattle.   Spearhead was playing the night before the opening of the famous World Trade Organization meeting that gave a new connotation to our city’s name.  I was 19, and I remember watching the concert with my skin tingling thinking: this is why artists are so important, they come to these events and sing on behalf of the people, they can project more emotion than any protesters carrying signs in the streets. I was having a revelation about the role of artists in society.

Last night I had no such thoughts.  I reflected about the implications of public relations for the artists and the conference, that it was too bad more people had not come (we had a huge stadium to fill), how challenging it must of been to get all those artists in one place– and– how the real decision-makers, the delegates, were probably still in meetings or finally sitting down for a meal.

Shaggy did not really say why he had come to Copenhagen, I think he may have half-mumbled something like “climate change is bad”.  But that is OK.  I must admit I am still a bit baffled at people who can spew out all the acronyms necessary for this meeting.  But looking back to 1999, I have had the priviledge of  going to so many of these global meetings that my senses are dulled.  Or maybe it’s not just me, but the multilateral system too is worn; everyone knows the pattern and is burnt out.  It is so tedious to agree among nations and ultimately insufficient.   All of this is about money and power and somehow a frame of consensus is placed over it.  God help us.  Shaggy help us too.

A new breed – the climate change artists

December 7, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oh climate crisis!  Alas, these words just don’t inspire me to jump off the couch and do something. But Franke James inspires me.  She is part of new breed– the climate change artist.  Her artistic mission is to make something green and document it.

Her website has a series of visual essays – beautiful mixed media panels that makes science personal. Scrolling through her website is like reading a children’s book online.

James seems to be haunted by the question:  what will you tell your grandchildren you did about climate change? On her website she writes, “I know I want to be able to say I did more than change a lightbulb.” And so far, she has.

She recently launched a book of her green visual essays: Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green.

This week she is at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen known as COP15 where she will create more art, adding a welcome lightness to the aggressive activists, hardened politicians and contracted negotiations.

She seems to be in a growing company of a few climate communicators, delivering doses of science visually.   For instance, Annie Leonard of ‘Story of Stuff’ fame just recently launched ‘The Story of Cap and Trade’ .  Her simple narration illuminates a tough subject through digestible facts and stick figure cartoons.

We are sure to need artists like Franke and Annie to help to tell our stories as the issues become complicated and more and more becomes at stake.  I’m blogging from Copenhagen this week — so will be sure to post more about climate change and art.

How do you increase public demand around climate change?

November 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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For me, the climate change debate is about communication. To increase supply of clean energy by changing policies, there must be more demand.  To increase the demand, people need to be given clear messages about what to ask for.

Living in Europe, it is interesting to see how the conversation here is different from from the US.  Climate change seems to be in the media regularly, and to limited controversy.   People are contentedly riding their bikes and taking their high-speed trains.  Shopping is not such a passionate recreation as it is in the US.  At the grocery stores, it seems half the products are ‘Bio’, and the prices are good.

I recently heard Dr. Ranier Wend, the director of public policy and responsibility at DHL speak about how the world’s largest shipping company is making changes to reduce their carbon footprint (30% by 2030) because of consumer demand.  But this demand came only from European customers.  He went on to say that “people’s identification with market structures is on the decline”—which I tried to imagine a corporate leader in the US saying, but couldn’t quite get there. In the US, this feeling is currently being called “rising populism” stemming from a fear of people’s own individual economic vulnerability.  I think the Euro-phrasing is more constructive.

Anyhow, it amazes me that despite the black-hole that the climate change debate has become, that so few messages breakthrough.  When you want to know how to change public opinion, there is only one place to turn: market research. Doesn’t matter where you are, Germany, Kenya, US.  Get out there and do your homework, then prepare your pitch.

So I was glad to see this report “Climate and Energy Truths” about US opinion written by Eco-America and funded by the NRDC and others.   Here are some of the findings – now I only hope they will build some messages around them.

  • People are more energized around energy issues than climate change, but they can become engaged if energy is linked to climate change, health or pollution.
  • Messaging around climate change is stronger when it is value-oriented rather than policy or scientifically based– and tapping into multiple values is better than one value.  Messaging on climate alone is weaker.
  • Leading with words like climate crisis, global warming or climate change can be problematic.  Deteriorating atmosphere was more effective.
  • Make messages win-win – economically and environmentally beneficial, not a trade-off.

The most revealing part of the report gets right down to it — confirming some suspicions I have had all along about the words that we use: Climate crisis seems too alarmist to people, and either makes them anxious, which makes them shut down, or makes them discount the source as histrionic. Climate change is too bland and has also become politicized and polarized.

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