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#MovieReview: Revisiting Spike Lee’s Documentary “When The Levees Broke”

Screen shot 2010 09 01 at 11.20.18 300x1814 #MovieReview: Revisiting Spike Lees Documentary When The Levees Broke

Five years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Despite the fact that the worst of the storm was east of New Orleans (by about 100 miles), the largest city in the region received the worst damage when the inadequate levee walls were undermined by the storm surge the day after the eye passed the coastline.

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The Currents Of The Gulf Coast Beat On Beautifully, If Barely

This past week marked the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its devastating effects on the western Gulf Coast states, especially – and most infamously – on the city of New Orleans. Almost 2000 people died as the hurricane crashed into the Mississippi Delta and then overloaded the dilapidated and antiquated levees of The Big Easy. $81 billion dollars worth of damage, most of it to homes, local businesses, and schools, made it the most expensive natural disaster in US history. Arguably, the costs are still being paid, though, with further degradation of the wetlands (begun by development but, once thinned, sorely beaten by the storm surge) and the ongoing efforts to rebuild New Orleans.

Director Spike Lee went to New Orleans in the fall of 2005 to film “When The Levee Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” to document the devastation and give some voice to how and why such devastation might have occurred. He was to return this summer to film a sequel: “If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise.” He got more of a story than he planned.

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Fourteen Nonprofits Worth Following/Emulating on Twitter

socialbrite sharing1 Fourteen Nonprofits Worth Following/Emulating on Twitter

The good folks at Socialbrite.org have recently posted a list of what they consider to be a ‘Top-Twelve List’ of social organizations and nonprofits that we all should follow on Twitter. The introduction gives you links to Twitter and how to become a ‘Follower’ of these organizations. It also includes links to individuals who might be worth following as well. It is worth noting that, though the number of ‘Followers’ for each of them is listed, the list is based on the work the groups do and the qualitative use of their Twitter presence, not merely their race to get X numbers on their lists (a quantitative benchmark that seems much more important to celebrities than to community organizations).

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Housing Market Continues The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The shocking number of foreclosed houses in July, over 90,000, has sent shockwaves through the economy – especially the Stock Market, as the Dow Jones Average has been near or below 10,000 the last few days (having reached highs just over 14000 a week ago). Investors worry about perceptions of future growth. The surprise of the number, which National Public Radio (NPR) reports is the second highest rate of monthly foreclosure since the crisis started, sent further ripples of fear of a double-dip recession through the markets.

And yet as NPR also pointed out in its report, “the number of homes in the early stages of foreclosure is down — more than 30 percent from the peak early last year.” This number suggests that the rate of foreclosures in the last months of 2010 and early 2011 might not be too high. What is driving the stock market down, then?

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The Debate About Interest Rates And Opportunities For Growth

300px New Federal Reserve Bank Kansas City MO The Debate About Interest Rates And Opportunities For GrowthEconomists are not known as a gregarious bunch (save Paul Krugman, perhaps). So it might not be much of a surprise to learn that the reports (eight per year) from the Federal Reserve are known as “The Beige Book(s).” The report takes on information from the twelve district Reserve Banks concerning the previous few months and how they are to be contextualized over the previous year. The report released in early August for the summer of 2010 argues that most sectors at least held their own, and that many have shown overall growth over the past year, despite some month-to-month downturns. The key term is “modest,” which is used at least once in each of the six sections of the summary of the July Report. But though the twelve presidents of the twelve district banks might agree on the modesty of the growth, they are sharply debating amongst themselves what to do about it (if anything).

 

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Net Neutrality Debate Gets The Treatment

Sometimes serendipity meets synchronicity on anyone’s social-network radar, and a few different views of the same issue materialize before our very eyes. We had a moment of such pleasure today as we were directed to an infographic entitled “15 Facts About Net Neutrality.” Over the last couple of weeks we have posted a number of stories about the debate over net neutrality – a debate that went white-hot when Google and Verizon announced a proposal for a neutral internet, unless companies saw the need to establish tiers of speed or service. Yesterday we posted a TED Talk about designing data to assist in comprehension and to allow statistical comparisons for the non-mathematical.

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Information As Data And As Pictures Can Make Learning Efficient (And Fun)

Earlier today the TED website (Technology, Education, and Design) posted a wonderful talk by David McCandless entitled “The Beauty of Data Visualization,” in which he spends about 18 minutes showing the audience the ease and pleasure with which some pretty arcane, humane, and controversial material can best be learned with a combination of ‘traditional’ data and ‘infographics’ that allow visual comparisons and opportunity for pattern recognition. The presence of the infographic is not new, of course, but Mr. McCandless shows a number of ways similar data sets can show different relationships in a clear and concise manner for the layperson. We have embedded it for your viewing pleasure:

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#INTERVIEW: Kevin O’Keefe of O’Keefe Communications Talks About Nonprofit Video

IMG 0627 Crop2 150x150 #INTERVIEW: Kevin O’Keefe of O’Keefe Communications Talks About Nonprofit Video

Kevin and Catie O’Keefe founded the eponymous O’Keefe Communications in Washington, DC in 1979. Over the next three decades they’ve watched the video and event-production industry change its technologies from bulky boxes of videotape to memory cards the size of a quarter. They’ve navigated the rise of social media and the demise of the synchronized slideshow presentation and have driven expectations toward finely crafted multi-screen presentations in light-sculptured spaces. Thriving through economic downturns by keeping the focus on the client and the client’s job security has given O’Keefe Communications a “big trust factor,” as Kevin O’Keefe put it when we spoke with him from his office in the nation’s capital. (more…)

| Category Community, Interview, Marketing, Special Series | | 0 Comments

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Baseball Players Raise Their Philanthropic Stats

Ruth CharityGroup 150x150 Baseball Players Raise Their Philanthropic Stats


Baseball has a long and unique tradition of its players going out into the communities to raise money or the spirits of their less fortunate fans. Babe Ruth visited hospitals and children’s homes, for example. These activities were part of the expectations of owners and likely facilitated by the fact that many players came from poorer communities yet worked their way on to the local baseball team – where they played the bulk of their careers until owners dictated a sale. The link between ball and philanthropy was not broken, even as the game expanded and players’ salaries grew, a great example being Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who was killed when his plane crashed trying to bring relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua. A recent trend to this tradition concerns the fact that some players are starting to work charity opportunities into their contracts by using the world-class facilities at their disposal.

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Double-Dip Recession Fears Continue To Mute Enthusiasms

Depression Unemployment Line 150x150 Double Dip Recession Fears Continue To Mute Enthusiasms

The Unemployed Await Free Coffee (1934)

We don’t really want to brag about this. We wish we were wrong. But the MKCREATIVE blog was worrying about a double-dip recession before the three-foot-deep snows melted from the double-whammy of Nor’easters born by the eastern seaboard this past winter. The housing market, upon which so much of the US economy depends upon, was considered through the worst of the overextended subprime mortgage fiascoes that had flooded the market. Once the housing market stopped its freefall (leaving aside the political debates about government stimuli helping and/or not being big enough/too big…), the argument went, we could regroup and pick up pieces. Unemployment would also stop ballooning once people quit panicking about the housing market. And now that we are in the dog-days of summer?

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Viral Marketing Needs A Plan And Optimism (But Don’t Rely On Latter)

whopper virgin 300x300 Viral Marketing Needs A Plan And Optimism (But Dont Rely On Latter)

The world-wide awareness of Old Spice brand got a huge lift out of its revamped “Old Spice Man” commercials, Facebook page, tweets, and video postings this past half-year (Full disclosure: I bought some Old Spice stick this weekend for the first time, solely in recognition of the humor and success of the campaign. Whether I buy it again remains an open question.). It was not the first such viral campaign to have a phenomenal impact on the brand, nor will it be the last. But it has been successful, according to many analysts, precisely because the folks at Old Spice, and at Weiden + Kennedy, prepared the groundwork by considering the product, the market, and ways to control the message (among other things). Most efforts at viral advertising do not work as well, but by their very nature their failure makes them difficult to track. But here are some examples that other media gurus point to…

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Net Neutrality Ought To Concern Green Businesses

The week finishes where it began and with an effort to link a couple of themes we have pursued (harped on?) this week: net neutrality and the greening of your business. The debate over net neutrality is not likely to be a front-running concern in the midterm elections, which might be unfortunate, given the ways a tiered internet medium could warp the dissemination of ideas across it. Most individuals, as we noted on Tuesday, might not really be aware of or concerned about how some services and advertisements and media get to their computers that much quicker or higher up search lists than others. But for non-profits, small businesses, green(ing) businesses, and mission-based institutions, a tiered-by-fees network could prove to be a notable hurdle to their aspirations.

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| Category Greening, Marketing, National/International, News and Current Affairs, Nonprofit, Opinion, Politics, Web and Print | | 0 Comments

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Giving By Billionaires Getting Some Reflective/Reflexive Pushback

GatesBuffet 150x150 Giving By Billionaires Getting Some Reflective/Reflexive Pushback

Gates & Buffett pledge half their wealth to charity

The pledge of William Buffett, Bill Gates, and a growing number of multi-million and billionaires has received a great deal of press in the last couple of weeks, as Mr. Buffett has made efforts to enlist the super-wealthy from around the world. According to a report in The Washington Post by Donna Gordon Blankinship (5 August, 2010), the giving of the American wealthy could mean some $600 billion in giving. That is double the $300 million given to US charities in 2009. The reception among a number of online established media of such philanthropy has been quite positive, but some considered voices are starting to raise questions about the structural problems that such über-donations might create. Are the challenges valid?

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| Category Banking & Finance, Grants and Funding, News and Current Affairs, Nonprofit, Politics, Revitalization | | 0 Comments

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‘Net Neutrality’ Is Complicated – And Is Heading To Extinction (Part II)

casablanca 518x400 300x231 ‘Net Neutrality’ Is Complicated – And Is Heading To Extinction (Part II)

I'm shocked - shocked! - that corporations
are closing net neutrality.

The responses to the tag-team proposal/ announcement by Google and Verizon yesterday continue to pour in – few of them favorable. Again we depend on the Huffington Post for providing a useful synopsis of reactions across the media world. We noted Craig Aaron’s reactions on SaveThe Internet.com yesterday, and he has weighed in with a longer response today. Though his analysis of the loopholes Google & Verizon are attempting to open for themselves is worth reading, his countermove is precisely the one we noted yesterday is the one most likely to fail:

If there’s a silver lining in this whole fiasco it’s that, last I checked anyway, it wasn’t up to Google and Verizon to write the rules. That’s why we have Congress and the FCC.

Perhaps for an election cycle or two. But with corporations allowed by the Supreme Court to give unlimited amounts to political campaigns and candidates…?

Today, though, we would like to suggest a couple of ways to think about the issue of net neutrality, or the ways to think about how the net is going to be tiered and controlled over the next few years. Please bear with the mundane analogies…

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‘Net Neutrality’ Is Complicated – And Is Heading To Extinction (Part I)

WellesCitizenKane 300x234 Net Neutrality Is Complicated   And Is Heading To Extinction (Part I)

Citizen Kane dictates a 'Statement of Principles'
for his newspaper

The arrangement/ agreement drawn up between Google and Verizon was posted today amidst much fanfare and/or derision. The full proposal can be read here. It begins with a statement of principles concerning consumer protection meant to ensure freedom for anyone using the internet to share unprohibited and unharmful materials.

Consumer Protections: A broadband Internet access service provider would be prohibited from preventing users of its broadband Internet access service from–
(1) sending and receiving lawful content of their choice;
(2) running lawful applications and using lawful services of their choice; and
(3) connecting their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network or service, facilitate theft of service, or harm other users of the service.

The statement then drifts toward statements about how internet service providers (ISPs) can and should develop ways “to engage in reasonable network management.” What constitutes ‘reasonable network management’ is where the details are – and perhaps the devil.

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Social Media Is Being Driven By And Toward Women

A recent post by Pam Dyer at SocialMediaToday.com concerned a survey and infographic by Ethan Block at Flowtown.com that demonstrated the many ways women are involved in social media. The evidence shows that over half of all adult women use social media at least once a week, and they use it to gather information on entertainment, health and wellness, and food. A significant number use the media to solicit others’ opinions on these matters and more. The knowledge that women are more regularly involved in social media than men is not so new, but the presence of women as a communications and commercial force on social networks seems only recently to be gathering momentum.

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Press Release: MKCREATIVE Awarded Gold Status by the Green Business League – Use 100% Windpower to Power Their Business

Baltimore-based creative agency, MKCREATIVE, was recently certified as a “Gold Certified Green Business” by the Green Business League and joins the growing sustainable business community, choosing emission-free wind-energy and is a next step towards achieving certification as a Platinum Certified Green Business. (more…)

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Recent Reports of Administration’s Efforts To End Foreclosure: “Extend And Pretend”

MakingHomesAffordable logo 300x62 Recent Reports of Administrations Efforts To End Foreclosure: Extend And Pretend

The program has been having to redefine success

With midterm elections coming in November, and with the Democrats generally sailing against the political winds, reports about the difficulties and inadequacies of the Obama Administrations project “Making Home Affordable” (MHA) are likely to slacken further the party’s sails. The MHA program was set up in February 2009 as offering “opportunities to modify or refinance your mortgage to make your monthly payments more affordable. It also includes the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program for homeowners who are interested in a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.” Signs of challenges for it are evident on the website’s front page: a drive in July 2010 – 17 months into the program – “to raise awareness of the Making Home Affordable Program.” Given the high foreclosure rates of the first half of 2009, advertising such a program might hardly seem necessary. Unfortunately, recent reports show that even for those who signed up for the flagship Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), rebounding mortgage payments and/or foreclosure loom over them on a month-to-month basis.

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The Politics Of Broadband Distribution

BroadBandPolitics1 The Politics Of Broadband Distribution

Macworld.com (among other news and tech outlets) recently reported the latest FCC report arguing that the deployment of broadband internet service is not expanding at an acceptable pace. Moreover, expectations of the the speed of broadband need to be upgraded to match technology developments. According to the MacWorld article, “The report, required by Congress, is an “honest look” at the state of broadband in the U.S., Julius Genachowski, the FCC’s chairman, said in a statement.” (The official statement of the ambitions of the FCC concerning broadband distribution can be found here.) But, like most any statement in an election year, the politics of the report has become a notable talking point.

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Web Browsers Open Up The Web To Us (And Open Us To The Web)

Browsers Icon 300x187 Web Browsers Open Up The Web To Us (And Open Us To The Web)

Ever since the invention of Lynx in the early 1990s to give at least a few folks access to the internet, we have been growing ever more comfortable with accessing information, buying products, and sharing ourselves with our Facebook Friends. We are aware to some degree that the websites we visit place ‘cookies’ on our computers so that the computer and any given website can remember each other and save relevant ‘personal’ information pertinent to the site. But concerns about how intrusive those cookies are have long been voiced since their invention (invented at the same time and by the same man, Lou Montulli, who wrote Lynx and developed Netscape. Moreover, Mr. Montulli expressed fears about the abuse of his cookies.). Recent developments of ‘Third-Party Cookies’ mean that advertisers can track you across sites with their cookies, which can customize your experience throughout the web. They can track your behaviors and steer you toward certain products no matter what you were searching for. Orwellian? The Wall Street Journal believes it could be.

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Housing Market Remains Soft As Banks Shy Away From Loans

The bubble in the housing market (and the attendant mortgage-backed securities, etc. that pumped up the bubble) is largely blamed for the rise in debt among American consumers. The fear of, and calling in, of that debt led to the collapse in credit in the early fall of 2008 that sparked the recession. Though economists generally agree that technically the US has been out of a recession since the winter of 2009, the fact remains that what we call ‘economic growth’ is really a stagnation: we are only replacing economic consumption with economic production. Better than a recession, perhaps, but not by much.

The problems in the housing market remain, though. Overproduction of housing has led to a glut of living space that no one can afford. At least not without a loan to get started. Which many people can not get because they do not have jobs that could sustain paying back the loan. A new report from The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development in New York argues that banks have been unwilling to engage the lower-income housing market for some time, which only exacerbates the larger problem.

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