Give the Wonder of Your Favorite Books

I’m sure that most of you reading this have a bookshelf at home with books that have been sitting there not touched for over a year. Instead of keeping them cooped up in your house, set them free so that others can read and share the same wonders that you found in the books.

The concept is quite easy. You simply register the book at the Book Crossings website and then leave the book someplace where another person can find it. As the site says:

Leave it on a park bench, a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym — anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel. Track the book’s journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person.

When someone finds the book, they can enter in the Book Crossing ID to learn about the history of where the book has been and add to it if they wish. Book Crossings currently has over 700,000 members and over 5 million books registered.

There have been so many times when I have been in a situation where I was stuck trying to figure out the correct thing for me to do when I have picked up a book and it has helped to crystalize the points that had previously all been a jumble. No matter what the book, when you read one you almost always take something new and positive away from it.

When you have a few minutes of free time, choose at least one book from your bookshelf, register it at Book Crossings and then set it free to the world. After choosing, let us know what book(s) you chose, if there was any particular reason that you chose that book and where you plan to leave it — then you can also comment here as the book makes its way from person to person. Of course, ever comment also adds 10 cents to help fund another microloan.

If you enjoyed this post or the blog in general, please sign up for the rss feed (and add another 25 cents toward a microloan) and take the time to tell others who may also enjoy it – doing good is something that anyone can do for little to no money and the more that are willing to participate, the faster we can fund these microloans.

Give Free Rice

I’m guessing that most of you are aware, or at least have heard, of the Free Rice website — but it’s certainly worth mentioning here as an easy way to do good that doesn’t cost you a dime. Basically, you are given a vocabulary word and four possible meanings to choose from. If you click on the correct meaning, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. You can play as many times as you want and the more answers you get correct, the more difficult the vocabulary questions become.

The site has become so popular that it has actually expanded beyond vocabulary and now there are numerous quizzes you can take to give free rice. These include Famous Paintings, Chemical Symbols, English Grammar, English Vocabulary, Identifying Countries on the Map, World Capitals, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Basic Math (Pre-Algebra) and Multiplication Table. There should be something that can grab your interest while you help feed those less fortunate than yourself.

The site gives away over 100 million grains of rice most days and has given away over 56 billion grains since the site was started. It is a great way to waste 15 minutes or whenever you have a bit of free time.

When you have a chance, go to Free Rice and see how many vocabulary words you can get correctly in a row. I just managed 56 which donated over 1000 grains of rice (it doesn’t matter if it’s only one — that’s 20 free grains of rice that will go to feed someone). When your finished, come back here and leave a comment on how many in a row you were able to do, the concept about free rice or anything else about helping stop hunger. Each comment will add 10 cents to fund a microloan.

If you enjoyed this post or the blog in general, please take the time to tell others that may also enjoy it – it’s most appreciated and the more people comment and enjoy doing good, the faster we can fund these microloans.

Let Someone Go Ahead of You

I was at the store the other day and was watching an old lady, cane in hand, slowly make her way across the atrium area to a door for a department store. When she reached the door, a man swung it open so hard that it would have knocked the old lady over if she hadn’t been just out of reach, then he continued on his way without even giving the old lady a glance. Several other people stepped to the side and used the other door as the old woman struggled to open it and quickly went on their way without stopping to offer and help. There was an opportunity for at least 5 people to help, but none of them did and the thing is, I don’t think that any of them even realized that they hadn’t helped. They had been so busy and focused on what they were doing and where they were going that they had simply failed to recognize that someone could use a helping hand.

It reminded me of the story of Joshua Bell and the experiment he did about this time last year. For those not familiar, Joshua Bell is one of the premier violinists in the world — you would expect to pay $100 a seat or more to listen to him play. He decided to take his talent and play as a street performer at a Metro station in Washington DC with his $3.5 million 1710 Stradivari in hand.

You would expect that someone of such talent would create quite a stir, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. For the 45 minutes he played, a total of 7 people out of the over 1000 that passed by actually stopped to listen. While the article is rather long, it’s a great read and well worth your time.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit this, but the article actually made me cry and I’m not one to cry easily (in fact, I’m not sure if any other article has ever made me cry). There was something about it that I found profoundly sad — that so many would pass by too much in a hurry to listen to the beauty that was right in front of them. It also hurt because as much as I wanted to believe I would have been one of the seven that stopped, I knew in my heart that I was more likely to be one of the other 1000 that simply walked on by.

After reading that article last year, I decided that I needed to slow down and that I needed to pay more attention to the things around me. And a funny thing happened. I started to notice that there are a lot of people like the old lady with the cane that could use a little bit of help if anyone noticed.

If you get the chance, slow down a bit today and let someone go in front of you. Open the door and let them go in first, wave them ahead of you in line or yield the right of way to them on the street. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, I think that you’ll find that you like yourself a whole lot better when you aren’t so focused that you forget to see what is going on around you.

Feel free to leave a comment about the Joshua Bell article, any experience you have had letting others go before you or just your general thoughts about slowing down and paying attention a bit more. Each comment will add 10 cents to the microloan fund. If you enjoyed this post or the blog in general, please tell others that may also enjoy it. The more that comment, the more microloans we can give.

First Free Microloan Funded!

Wow, we funded our first free microloan which went to Paquita Arevalo Armas who sells fruit in Peru:

This caught me a bit by surprise as I thought I’d have a little longer to get organized before we’d pass the $25 raised mark (with 90 rss feed sign-ups and 57 comments the first week). As you can see, I still haven’t made an avatar for freemicroloan at Kiva, but that will be on my list of things to do this week. You can follow all the microloans that we give out at the FreeMicroloan Kiva Page.

Thank you for this initial surge of support and please continue to comment and tell your friends to sign up for the rss feed so we can give out a lot more of these microloans in the weeks ahead.

Leave a Place Looking Better

I love the concept of Guerrilla Gardening. It’s where people find neglected patches of public space that is a blight to the local community and go in at night and plant a garden to make the place more beautiful. You can take a look at how it is done here:

The entire concept compliments one of the lessons that my father always instilled when we went camping and hiking — always leave a place in better shape than when you arrived. That meant that before we broke camp or while on the hiking trails, we picked up litter even though we weren’t the source. It is something that I try to continue to this day and no matter where I walk, I will still stop to lean over and pick up a piece a trash and put it in a nearby trash can on almost a daily basis.

It’s all part of the Broken Window Theory which states that ignoring the little problems — graffiti, litter, broken windows — creates a sense of decline that leads people to accelerate the destruction of the area. When good people ignore the trash, others feel free to increase it.

So, the next time that you are out and about, take a few seconds to leave a place looking better than when you were there in whatever way is appropriate. Not only are you cleaning up the area, you are discouraging others from making it even worse. Feel free to leave a comment on ways that you have helped to leave places looking better or relevant stories about cleaning areas up — each will add 10 cents to the microloan fund.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the rss feed which will add 25 cents to the microloan fund for each new reader. Most of all, thank you for doing your part to make the world a little bit better.

Give Free Kibble for Dogs
Doing good isn’t limited to other people. With the current economic mess we’re in these days, one of the biggest sufferers are the pets. People that lose their jobs can’t afford to keep their pet or lose their house and have no place to keep their pet. Many of these pets end up being abandoned and find themselves in local animal shelters.

You can help feed some of these dogs by visiting the site Free Kibble where you are given a daily question. It doesn’t matter if you answer the question correctly or not, you will donate 10 pieces of kibble to a animal shelter just by trying to answer. They have already donated over 66 million pieces of kibble, but the shelters could always use more and they have sponsors that are willing to donate as much as everyone can generate.

Simply follow the link to Free Kibble and try answering the question. If you like the idea, bookmark the page so you can go back and help out on a daily basis and pass it on to your friends so more people can help out. When you’re finished, come back here and leave your thoughts on the website, the issue of pets being abandoned in hard economic times or pets in general. Each comment will add another 10 cents toward a microloan.

If you enjoyed this post and want to keep up with the latest ways that you can do good without a lot of cost, please consider subscribing to our rss feed which will keep you up to date and add another 25 cents toward microloans.

Give Someone A Hug

When you think about it, hugs are a highly underused device to make people happy. I have no doubt that the world would be a bit happier if we all hugged more. Who doesn’t break out into a smile when they get a hug? If you have any doubt, just take a look at this video:

I usually give hugs when those around me are sad, but I’d like to change that. I gave a hug to my wife this morning when she woke up. I’m not sure how happy she was to receive the hug when she really wanted to still be in bed sleeping, but she certainly didn’t reject it either (it may have been a body warmth thing) and I’d bet that she won’t complain if I greet her each morning like that. Starting off each day with a hug sounds like a pretty darn good way to start any day to me. I’ll be looking at giving out a few more today if the opportunity arises and hope to give them out more freely in the future.

If you have a chance, give someone a hug. Once you have, leave a comment — feel free to let everyone know who you hugged and what reaction you got from it. Each comment will provide 10 cents toward a microloan.

Also be sure to sign-up with the Free Microloan rss feed — each rss reader sign-up will donate 25 cents toward a microloan.