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5 Reasons Why Giving Back’s Important

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As a nerd, I really believe in giving back (always have). It's important to collaborate, help one another, and create the change we want, and that takes time.

Earlier this year, the craigconnects team and I created an infographic, Cracking the Crowdfunding Code, to show you just how effective and accessible crowdfunding is. Crowdfunding raised more than five billion dollars worldwide in 2013, and peer-to-peer nonprofit fundraising for charities is seeing explosive growth. Just a couple months ago, #GivingTuesday raised over $45 million in just one day – talk about giving back.

Here's why it's critical that we give back to our communities:

  1. The vast majority of people anywhere don't usually have much of a voice or any influence. Usually, regular people, the grassroots, only manage to acquire power when they use technology to work together. The technology enables people to magnify their team power, acting as a force multiplier (code really is power). They can get people to the streets, and raise money. Giving back means giving people a voice. Long term, I want to figure out how to give a voice, using the internet, to everyone on the planet. This also means we need to speak up when something's not right.
  2. When we work together to give back, we create stronger networks. Silos are inevitable, unfortunately. Do what you can to identify silos, and decide where you want your ambitions to go (my opinion? this is the best way to hack your career). Might be happier to find the people who want to do the job well. We can't make change from the top down. The president's the most powerful justiceperson in the world, but not that powerful. What's powerful is when people in the trenches work together to get things done, and that's what makes a difference
  3. We seem to throw money into food and housing, yet a lot of folks are still in need, so something isn't working right. This includes military families and veterans. We need to do it better. (See: 5 reasons we need social change…)
  4. I'm kind of tired of passion. But the deal is, you really want commitment from people when they're giving back. You want the excitement, but then they need to follow through. Following through is the hard part, and that's what's important. Instead of passion or excitement, alone, we need to incorporate commitment and results. People can get excited about something, realize it's hard, then that passion might now count for anything. In short? Follow through with your passion, truly carry out your mission and show your community the results.

Any influence I get, well, I just don't need or really want; I've got what I need, like a really good shower and my own parking place. Instead, I use the influence I do get on behalf of the stuff I believe in. You'll see me either pushing the good work of people who get stuff done, or indulging my sense of humor. (Note to self: I'm not as funny as I think I am.)

To be sure, I don't feel this is altruistic or noble, it's just that a nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.

Final note to self: JUST LISTEN. That is, don't ALWAYS attempt to solve the problem, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO LISTEN. (Courtesy of  "You Just Don't Understand" by Deborah Tannen.)

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The Birds Take on San Francisco

Folks, many of you might know that I've got quite the community of birds right outside my office window. They've all got their own personalities and agendas (though, they all like to eat), but they really spruce up my home office.

I kinda like to give 'em personalities based on their expressions and their demeanor. It's gotten easier the longer we've been neighbors. Feel free to chime in with your own captions, too.

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Good morning! part one (…and that hawk is still watching me work):1535078_10152335119256324_1432178500441480251_n

Good morning! part two (or, planning to raid the Squirrel-resistant Suet Palace):

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A Golden-crowned Sparrow is very pleased to be a Golden-crowned Sparrow: 10356225_10152327728586324_7633783986027070734_n

A Varied Thrush greets the birthday (startups, marriage, and other things I did after 35…):

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A Cedar Waxwing who's very pleased with his tail feathers:10407051_10152361088236324_7518105239722221198_n

A neighbor Hawk (red-tailed?) waits for lunch:10636122_10152330298491324_2086207825602362297_n

Downy Woodpecker, or, Hey, Honey!

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(mutant) House Finch is not impressed (Normally bright red, this one's kinda orange):10846441_10152366363701324_7506754251403658869_n

Do you have any visitors to your yard? I'd like to hear about 'em, and see some photos. Speaking of visitors, while it's not a Bay Area bird, I do have a new neighbor who really chews up the scenery. Seriously, it gets digested…

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(New neighbor even works in the rain… goats clear underbrush, working for the city. Bonus: we got goatherds!)

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When You Practice What You Preach…

I'm hearing, anecdotally, that cultural transformation at VA and elsewhere might have been nudged into motion by relentlessly handing out my business card and practicing what I preach.

The big thing I've learned here is that for me, tech skills and money aren't what gets the job done. What works is bearing witness to the good works of others. This can work partly through helping 'em get their social networks going, by sharing their stuff.

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My business card says "customer service rep & founder" and people see that I'm committed to that, every day.

Customer service is a big part of what inspires me; that, and my rabbi, Leonard Cohen. Ya know, customer service can really be corrosive, and it gets worse than the usual trolling and abuse. However, singer and poet Leonard Cohen really helps me get through the day, with a small but substantial assist from Dr Stephen T Colbert, DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts).

Seriously, my team, people smarter than me, and I, we're listening, and what you say affects the trajectory of our work. If you feel we miss something, please tell us via craigconnects.org/connect, or if you really want, I'm personally at craig@craigslist.org.

(Recently I've made a point of reminding people that I haven't been a spokesman for craigslist, or had any role in management since 2000. On the other side of things, I'll be in customer service for a lifetime…)

Why We Need More Women In Tech

Women and girls still face a lot of obstacles in shaping technologies. The digital gender divide might be getting worse. Women and girls everywhere are missing, underrepresented, and dropping out from technology fields. As a result,  today's tech – and increasingly today's world – does not reflect the diversity of women's experiences or ingenuity.

This isn't fair, it's not treating people like you want to be treated.

Beyond that, I've observed that technology is improved when women and girls have equal access. That's pretty much common sense, since tech talent has no gender bias, and I've got over forty years working with women engineers and programmers that proves it. (We need a lot more, and in the U.S. we're talking about a renewed emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — education.)

Too often, women in STEM get little acknowledgement for the work they're doing. As a nerd, it's my philosophy that everyone gets a fair chance to be heard. It's one of the reasons I started craigconnects.org. Earlier this year, I shared some big news: for the first time, in 2014,  women outnumbered men in a UC Berkeley Computer Science course. We need to continue supporting trends like this. It's really important, folks.

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All this is why I've added my voice as an advocate to Global Fund for Women's petition with UN Women calling for an end to the global gender technology gap. I wrote more about it over on HuffPo…

Specifically, I'm adding my name to call on the United Nations, governments around the world, and key decision makers to remove all barriers to the development and use of technology, increase investment in girls' science and technology education around the world, and ensure women's and girls' full participation as developers and innovators.

Join me and add your signature to the Global Fund for Women and UN Women's petition. Let's make our call loud — we want to reach 20,000 signatures by March 5 in time to deliver the petition for International Women's Day on March 8th.

Tell your colleagues, friends, and social networks that their signature can make a difference in shaping the type of future we live in.

Big News: $2M+ Raised for Nonprofits in CrowdRise Holiday Challenge

Folks, I just got an update from Ed Norton, one of the co-founders of CrowdRise, about the #GivingTower Holiday Challenge I'm sponsoring with MacAndrews & Forbes, Fred & Joanne Wilson, and Isaac S. Gindi. This year I'm giving $50k to support nonprofits.

A total of $250k is being given away in prize money, but an impressive $2 million+ has already been raised by the nonprofits participating. Last year, at this point in the Challenge, the total raised was: $609,835. That's $1,561,954 more raised right now than was raised at this same time last year. This is the real deal.Capture

Each time a donation's made, a brick is added to the #GivingTower. What does this mean?

  • There are 16,757 bricks in the Tower.
  • It's over 2,514 ft tall.
  • It's taller than 2 Bank of America Towers stacked on top of each other.
  • In 208 more feet, the Giving Tower will be taller than the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

It's inspiring to see the organizations putting in lots of effort and  taking the lead. They're orgs that aren't household names, but instead charities like the Cure JM Foundation – which works on an extremely rare disease affecting children, and small but mighty animal reserves.

The Bonus Challenge winners so far are…

Bonus Challenge #1: Cure JM Foundation

Bonus Challenge #2: Wildlife SOS

And there was a Surprise Bonus Challenge: Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation

Bonus Challenge # 3 is happening now. Every org that gets 10 donations will be entered to win $10k. You've got til December 16th to get the donations. And there's still time to sign your org up to participate in the Challenge.

Sign up here (by Friday December 19th) to join the Holiday Challenge…! More to come.

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