Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Things Are Good: Help Bring Bad Mining Companies to Court

Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala have been resisting the push of Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals into their land. This resistance has been met by dubious practices by the Toronto-based mining corporation and now they are being brought to court. A group supporting the Q’eqchi’ communities is looking to bring attention to this matter as well as gather signatures to present.

Sign the petition now!

Q’eqchi’ communities in the Izabal region of Guatemala have faced an onslaught of these and other abuses over the past five decades at the hands of a series of Canadian mining companies who have owned the (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Eat Less Meat and Save More Wildlife

Just reducing the amount of meat one has in their diet can have a positive impact on our food system, the planet, and wildlife. Take Extinction Off Your Plate is a campaign to get people not to be vegetarian, just to get people to reduce their meat intake. Producing meat in the modern farming system requires a lot of energy; indeed, Stanford warns about the dangers of global meat production.

It’s easy to be vegetarian, but remember – even decreasing your meat consumption can have positive impacts on the world and your health!

Meat production is one of the (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Scotiabank Looks to Reward Eco Companies

Banks have a horrible reputation because of their inability to predict economic behaviour, this was highlighted by the ongoing economic claptrap that started roughly seven years ago. Canadian banks have also received a tarnished reputation because of their ongoing unethical investments in the Alberta tar sands. Perhaps as a reaction to this, Scotiabank launched an awards program in 2010.

Their EcoLiving Awards is focused on bringing attention and finances to companies that are improving the efficiency of households. This can range from better windows to new technology systems. You can nominate a company at their website, so if you know (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Earth Rangers Launches Battery Blitz

Earth Rangers has launched a new campaign for kids to learn about the potential danger of batteries. Battery Blitz Mission encourages kids to collect used household batteries and dispose of them properly. When batteries are improbably thrown out it can cause a lot of harm to the environment due to the dangerous chemicals inside.

Since batteries provide energy for so many of the things we use every day, what to do with batteries once they are dead is a big problem. When batteries are thrown out in the trash, they end up in landfills where they add to solid waste (Read more…)

Things Are Good: 100in1Day Spreads to More Cities

On June 7th Toronto will be one of many cities having an intervention. 100in1Day is being brought to Toronto through the efforts of Evergreen meaning that Toronto will join many other cities in random acts artiness. 100in1Day uses art and other fun activities to break the routines and everyday sameness that may people get attuned to in urban centres.

The event is called “100 in 1 Day.” It is a global initiative with a lofty ambition: To shake the urban masses out of complacency, and compel residents to do 100 little things, dubbed “interventions,” to improve their city in (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Art + Activism = Craftivism

Some crafty people are up to some crafty activism. Craftivism is using your skills at crafting things you like to send message to make the world a better place.

Through activities such as teaching knitting lessons, crocheting hats for the less fortunate, and sewing blankets for abandoned animals, craftivism allows for creativity to expand previous boundaries and enter the arena of activism. In the pre-Industrial Revolution era, craft skills were needed to clothe the family and maintain a working household. As mass production increased, there became no need to knit sweaters for winter warmth or weave baskets to hold vegetables. (Read more…)

Things Are Good: A Toy Designed to Increase Empathy

Who doesn’t like toys? Nobody! Everybody loves playing and we all can remember the joy that toys bring us when were kids. Now some educators are looking to make a toy that is not only fun but also teaches kids empathy. Empathy is perhaps the most important skill one can acquire in this modern age.

Empathy and play allow us to understand different perspectives and imagine new possibilities. And isn’t that what great education is all about?

The Empathy & Creative Dialogue Toy is a 3D puzzle game that challenges players to place themselves in each other’s shoes. It’s an (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Video Games to Help the World

A game based on the story Half the Sky puts players into a perspective usually different than their own: a young girl in the developing world. It teaches young gamers in the developed world empathy and what it’s like to be a young girl trying to make a living in the majority world. It’s always nice to see games being used to make the world a little better.

If you succeed at certain tasks, the game triggers donations through partner charities. For example, the game has donated a quarter-million books. Players can also use real money to purchase virtual items (Read more…)

Things Are Good: A Good Message Told Through Comedy

Comedy troupe Uncle Mom want you to cut the plastic that holds six packs. There are many reasons why it’s important to cut six pack rings, but for the real reason watch the video.

Thanks to Evan!

Things Are Good: SXSW ECO in Austin Texas

I’m in Austin right now attending (and presenting) at the Captivate Conference and this city has come to impress me. While I’m at that conference about digital design there is another conference happening in Austin that readers of this site may enjoy: SXSW Eco. It’s an event focused on making the world a better place!

SXSW Eco is a conference about solutions – solutions that bring new thinking to today’s challenges and inspire meaningful progress towards a sustainable and prosperous future. This year over 250 speakers will participate in more than 100 sessions that encourage cross-sector collaboration between professionals from (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Canadians: Stand Up for Science on Sept. 16

Previously on Things Are Good we’ve seen Canadians concerned about democracy mobilize to ensure that our political leaders make informed decisions. After a streak of attacks on knowledge, scientists and non-scientists alike are rallying in cities throughout Canada this coming Monday. If you’re in Canada you should join the rallies organized by Evidence for Democracy.

Here’s all the relevant information:

A year after gathering on Parliament Hill to mourn the ‘Death of Evidence’, scientists and their supporters are back. On September 16th, they will rally in Toronto and across the country to highlight the critical need to maintain evidence-based decision-making (Read more…)

Things Are Good: A Protest Song About the NSA Reading Your Emails

The band YACHT has gone back to the glory days of Dylan and the like by writing a protest song. The song is about the NSA illegal spying the USA, which should bother pretty much anyone who cares about privacy. Until now, there was no good news to mention about the questionable actions revealed by Edward Snowden so hat tip to YACHT for singing what we all think.

“We claim full citizenship in the nation of Internet,” Evans told me over email, by way of explanation. “We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the existence of (Read more…)

Things Are Good: 50 Small Things to Help the Planet

There are so many small things we can do throughout our day that can make the world a better place. Sometimes it may seem like there are so many we can’t focus on which activity to accomplish. Luck for us there is a website that lists 50 small ways to make a large impact – just choose one and go for it!

Some of the suggestions are common sense, so it should be easy to incorporate into your everyday, just look at #25:

25. BATCH ERRANDS Feel like you spend your whole week trying to catch up with the errands? (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Open Tech Forever Hardware Cooperative in Colorado

Colorado has a new permaculture and open sourced initiative taking shape and it look promising. The team is adding open source technology from hardware and software to a sustainable agriculture setup. On top of all of that they are also developing an open source business model!

This is an exciting project with the ultimate goal of having their setup to be replicated locally elsewhere.

“Open Tech Forever (OTF) is dedicated to developing new and improved, open source versions of modern and cutting-edge technologies. In the open source spirit, we create free, online, high quality educational resources demonstrating how to understand, (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Help Me Support Team Fox

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder that impacts a person’s motor skills and often PD can impact mental functions. PD is in no way a good thing and that’s why I’m one of many people who are fundraising for research. The Michael J. Fox Foundation funds research into PD for ways to find a cure and help those who are living with it. They have already helped to fund over 60 clinical trails.

To help fundraise for this research I’m running in the Toronto Waterfront race and hoping that readers of good news can help make more good news (Read more…)

Things Are Good: No Strings Attached: Giving Cash to Poor People

GiveDirectly is a charity that just gives money to poor people in Kenya. There isn’t anything complicated about the idea: it’s just straight up handing out cash with no deliverables. The NPR recently investigated the operation.

Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein went to Kenya to see the work of a charity called GiveDirectly in action. Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it. David and Jacob explain whether this method of charity works, and (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Bicycle Commuters Save Economy $21 on Each Commute

Australian research has led to the conclusion that bicycle commuters are great for the economy! Every time a commuter chooses to ride a bicycle instead of a car or public transportation the economy benefits.

With the obviousness of health benefits from riding a bicycle and the ever-increasing amount of economic research that supports bicycle infrastructure the future of smart transit planning is just around the corner.

The economy benefits by more than $21 every time a person cycles 20 minutes to work and back and $8.50 each time a person walks 20 minutes to and from work, according to (Read more…)

Things Are Good: The B Team – A Plan B for the Economy

The economic stupidity of a few years back is still causing problems and the fact that the wrongdoers got bailouts for their transgressions hasn’t helped. Even years later economies haven’t recovered and the class divisions within multiple societies have widened. It’s time for an alternative to this current form of (rather bizarre) “hyper capitalism”.

This is where The B Team is looking to make a difference. It’s a new organization focused on researching and promoting a new form of economic thinking that doesn’t ignore the environment and people. Social entrepreneurship is on the rise and The B Team seems to (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Evidence for Democracy: A Group Championing Fact-Based Policy

Evidence for Democracy is a new organization in Canada that wants government policy to based on reality. The federal Canadian Conservative government (which openly hates the environment) continually cuts finding to scientific research that can lead to a better understanding of the world around us. The constant cutbacks and denials of actual science pushed some scientists too far: now they are calling for the government to openly cite scientific research to back up their policy.

“I watched as the professors realized that they are the ones that have to stand up for science,” Dr. Gibbs said, “that they can’t expect (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Choose Cage Free

Animal cruelty sadly still exists and we can all make a difference in the suffering of domesticated animals by changing our shopping habits. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has launched an education campaign to get people aware of the dangers of factory-farming hens while celebrating the benefits of letting the animals roam free.

Cage-free is healthier for the chickens:

There is overwhelming scientific evidence to demonstrate that caged hens have a greater chance of being infected by Salmonella; which is among the most common causes of food-related hospitalization and deaths in the US and Canada. (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Using Behavioural Science to Lower Energy Consumption

Alex Laskey wants to lower people’s energy consumption by using tricks and practices from the world of behavioural science. It sounds great and would be great to see implemented, check out his TED talk for more:

Things Are Good: Cheap and Easy Ways to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

I’m one of those people that can’t handle unrelenting heat and so I’m always looking for ways to stay cool. I’m also one of those people who doesn’t like air conditioning (for reasons beyond the obvious power consumption), as a result I love tips on how to make your home cooler in easy ways.

At Treehugger they have a list of 10 ways to alleviate the need for AC. Some require a few years to take effect (like growing a shade tree) while others can happen right away like opening the windows.

The windows on your home are no just (Read more…)

Things Are Good: The Vegetarian Calculator

It’s well known that meat production has a large carbon footprint. A diet that includes meat requires more land than a plant based diet so even decreasing the amount of meat one eats can be a good thing. Some fans of vegetarian diets have created the Vegetarian Calculator that lets people know how good their diet is.

Use this form to calculate the impact you have made by being a vegetarian. Vegetarians use less resources like water, food, oil, contribute less CO2 to the atmosphere, and animals are not killed for their consumption.

Raising livestock contribute more to global warming (Read more…)

Things Are Good: How to Get Out From the Invasive PRISM Surveillance Program

Thanks to the brave efforts from Edward Snowden we are now aware of something long suspected: that the USA (and many other nations including Canada) are reading our communications. The program is called PRISM and it monitors your communication. Basically, if you connect to the internet or use a mobile phone you can, and may already, be tracked by various entities.

This shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone. With the pervasiveness of the internet it may seem like an overwhelming task to not be monitored. PRISM Break is a guide to open source and secure technology that you can easily implement (Read more…)

Things Are Good: Do You Make the World Better? There’s an App for That

By now most people have heard what a carbon footprint is, but have you heard about your gloabl ‘handprint‘? The notion is that it’s the opposite of a negative counter of your impacts on the planet. Handprints are recorded online or on your phone as you make little (or big) improvements to the world around you.

You can create a handprint in three ways. First, you simply cut your footprint: say, by cycling to work, rather than driving. Second, you can champion an action suggested on the platform (carpooling, say). Or, third, you can come up with a (Read more…)