STATE OF AMERICA
The Value Of Happiness –
Should happiness figure in a nation’s bottom line? And should the concept of Gross National Product (GNP) be replaced by Gross National Happiness (GNH)?Columbia University’s Earth Institute recently published the first World Happiness Report, which was commissioned by the United Nations Conference On Happiness. The focus on happiness reflects a growing momentum to redefine society’s notion of individual and national growth. The basic idea behind the Happiness Conference is that human progress should be about more than just growing the economy. When measuring how well societies are doing, GNH should focus on people’s overall quality of life, in addition to their standard of living. According to Jeff Sachs, a US economist, “The US has had a three time increase of GNP per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged.” Wealth is only one factor in overall happiness, and this report offers insights into what people truly value.
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
Universities Respond To Demand For Social Entrepreneurship –
Social entrepreneurs are notoriously creative – they have to be to concoct a venture that makes doing good profitable. But when they launch their businesses, many entrepreneurs discover that innovation was the easy part. Social entrepreneurship’s prominence in the business world has led to an increased interest and demand from students wanting to learn the business side of making social impact profitable. The Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Ohio’s Miami University was among the first undergraduate initiatives of its kind at an American public university. The first classes offered were often filled with students unsure of what “social enterprise” even meant. Now when Brett Smith, the center’s director, asks on day one if his students have heard of microfinancier Grameen Bank or its founder Muhammad Yunus, every hand goes up. Social Entrepreneurship classes started in elite schools such as Harvard and Stanford, but the sector has grown so much that it’s demand spreads campus- wide across schools in both graduate and undergraduate levels.
Let’s Go Halfsies – Oversized meals plague America’s restaurants. Compared with twenty years ago, portions have grown tremendously. Large servings have made consumers unhealthy, and it has also contributed to an increase in food waste. A new social initiative calledHalfsies creates partnerships with local restaurants and aims to help consumers eat less while simultaneously helping to feed the hungry and to minimize the amount of food that gets thrown out. Halfsies, already in New York City and Austin, TX , has participating restaurants give customers the choice to “go halfsies” and pay full-price for a half-sized portion, with 90% of proceeds going to charities that fight hunger. Health-conscious people can stop feeling guilty about what they order because they’re helping others and eating less.
Caine’s Arcade – The internet success of “Caine’s Arcade” – a short film about Caine Monroy, a 9-year-old who created a cardboard-box arcade in his father’s East Los Angeles auto-parts store – has gone beyond viral. In addition to the 4.5 million views of the video, fans are making their support known through monetary donations to Caine’s Arcade Scholarship Fund – a fund set up by the filmmaker to help Caine go to college. The most interesting aspect of the video is that it never made a play for viewers wallets. The positive and heartwarming focus of Caine’s ingenuity and imagination was enough to cause the out pour of support he has received. In just over one week supporters have donated more than $178K – a figure way above the original goal of $25K.
ON THE RADAR
Read This: Hope140 – As the open exchange of information continues to become an everyday part of how the world communicates, Twitter is looking for a way to collect and highlight good social movements being discussed on their platform. Twitter started Hope140 to act as a hub of information, collecting everything from which hashtags to use to stay in the convo loop, to which Twitter users to follow for on the ground updates, as well as ways to donate and links to articles giving more background on the story behind each cause.
Try This: Help Remedies, with the help of creative agency Droga5, has come up with a way of making bone marrow-donor registration easier. A new adhesive bandage product called “Help I’ve cut myself & I want to save a life” now comes packaged with a marrow donor kit. Doing good becomes less time consuming since people can quickly swab their cut before applying a bandage and simply mail the swab sample to the marrow registry.
Wear This: Artists Justin and Christine Gignac have partnered with UNICEF and Threadless.com to bring forth an inspiring project called Good Shirts. The idea is simple: Good Shirts do good. The design on each shirt symbolizes the type of aid UNICEF is delivering to the Horn of Africa, and the cost of each shirt varies to match how much it would cost to deliver that specific type of aid. Prices range from $24 for a shirt depicting a syringe for measles vaccines, to $300,000 for a Good Shirt that will pay for a cargo flight to deliver aid.