Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Could there be a year that's more relevant to the EFF? As Edward Snowden has made abundantly clear, there is a titantic, historic battle underway to determine whether the Internet is there to liberate us or to enslave us. EFF's on the right side of history, and I figure giving them all I can afford is a cheap hedge against the NSA's version of the future. —CD
CC continues to make a difference -- this year, they released the 4.0 version of their flexible licenses, a major milestone. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD
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The Sunday Assembly is a 501(c)3 charity that is creating massive Sunday events that are similar to church services, though they are atheist in approach (they don't insist that you be atheist in order to attend, but there are no supernatural beliefs espoused at the event). Atheists gather to sing, hear speeches about ethics, make friends, and organize community work. They call themselves "A godless congregation," and they've launched a 40 city roadshow along with a crowdfunding campaign to spread the non-gospel. There are already Assemblies in London, Bristol, Brighton, Melbourne, New York and many other cities, and there's instructions for starting your own..
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The Clarion Writing Workshop at UC San Diego is the oldest science fiction writing workshop in the world, and it's graduated distinguished alumni from Bruce Sterling and Nalo Hokinson to Kathe Koja and Ted Chiang (and me, for the record). I'm on the board of the Clarion Foundation, the charitable 501(c)3 that oversees the workshop and fundraises to keep tuition as low as possible.
This year, we've partnered with Lee Moyers, who's done a series of very successful pinup calendars featuring characters from science fiction and fantasy, and we're raising money on Indiegogo to fund the initial print run. The calendar, when produced, will feature characters from Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Mary Robinette Kowal, Pat Murphy, Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight, Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Frost, Karen Joy Fowler, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and me (!).
The Economist details outcomes from Give Directly, an organization that analyzes satellite photos to identify the poorest places in the world and then hands over no-strings-attached cash grants to the people who live there. It's a contrast to other programs, where donations are funneled into school construction or funding planned-out businesses. Give Directly has produced remarkably good results: "In randomly selected poor households in 63 villages that have received the windfalls, they say, the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third and livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes have gone up by a quarter and recipients seem less stressed, according to tests of their cortisol levels."
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We've written often about Carl Malamud, the rogue archivist who has devoted his life to making the world's laws, standards, and publicly owned information into free, accessible, beautiful online documents. Now, I'm pleased to help him launch an ambitious, vital Kickstarter project aimed at raising at least $100,000 to turn the world's public safety codes into thoroughly linked, high-quality HTML documents (presently, many of the 28,040 public safety codes that Carl and public.resource.org have put online exist as scanned bitmaps that can't be searched or linked). The project involves a careful re-typing of all that scanned material and re-tracing of images and formatting them as vector-based SVG files.
Carl and his colleagues have fought in the courts for their right to publish the law that we, the people, are expected to follow. They have passed on lucrative careers in the private sector to devote themselves to public interest, public spirited work that makes the sourcecode for the world's governments available at our fingertips. The work they are doing unlocks untold billions in value -- from being able to ensure that your weekend DIY rewiring project meets code and won't burn down your house, all the way up to giving workers in deadly factories in Bangladesh access to the laws that are supposed to be honored in their workplaces.
$115 gets you a copy of their giant, amazing book of global safety standards, but there are interesting and awesome premiums at price-ranges from $10 (public acknowledgement on the Wall of Safety) to $475 (the Big Box of Propaganda!). I've put in my $115 -- not for the book, but as a way to thank Carl and co for the amazing work they do, and as a means of funding more of it. I hope you'll give, too.
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Samantha Cook sez, "Hacker Scouts, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland CA, has launched a Kickstarter to fund a new hackerspace designed for kids and their families. Due to the increase in demand for their programs, Hacker Scouts is working with local partners to build a space that is practical and exciting where they can run classes and workshops, support outreach programs to Oakland's diverse community, and continue to prototype programs and activities that they release open source to the global community. Hacker Scouts has been successfully bringing STEAM Education and real, relevant skill building for over a year and have grown from one program in Oakland to over 30 programs all over the US. In order to continue the high level of individualized learning and mentorship, they need a space that matches their growth. Please support Hacker Scouts by donating and/or sharing this project. More information can be found on the Hacker Scouts website and on our Kickstarter page."
A reader writes, "The Mighty Wurlizter at San Francisco's Castro Theatre is in danger of being sold. There is an attempt being made to purchase the Wulitzer and upgrade some needed elements. The organ at the Castro is a beloved San Francisco treasure, it would be a pity to lose it!"
Amen. This is one of San Francisco's great, underappreciated attractions, along with the Musee Mechanique and Alcatraz. It needs saving.
Clarion Write-a-Thon: sponsoring writers to raise money for the Clarion science fiction and fantasy workshop
I've just signed up for the Clarion Write-a-Thon, an annual fundraiser that brings in money to run the non-profit Clarion Writers Workshop, a kind of bootcamp for science fiction writers held every year at UCSD's La Jolla Campus. I'm a Clarion grad, volunteer board-member, and I'm back teaching the program this year, so I guess you could say I believe in it pretty strongly. Here's my profile on the Write-a-Thon, should you wish to sponsor the story I'm working on (it's a short called "The Man Who Sold the Moon," about robotic 3D printers that sinter lunar regolith), and if you're working on something of your own, you can sign up and get your friends to sponsor you, too!
The Brony Thank You Fund spun out of a
Reddit forum Indiegogo fundraiser for fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ("bronies" and "pegasisters"). After raising money to run an ad thanking the show's creators for doing such a great job, the organizers donated the hefty excess balance to Toys for Tots. The project continued to gain momentum and it is now a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization through which fans of My Little Pony can make tax-free donations that will be funneled to worthy causes. They claim that they're the first media-related fandom to register as a charity -- I'm pretty sure that some science fiction conventions are run as 501(c)3s, though.
On Monday, the Boston Marathon was bombed. On Monday night I was feeling blessed and thankful to not know anyone directly affected by the bombs. But on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email from my colleague Chris Peterson at the MIT Center for Civic Media. Chris's family are friends with the family who lost their son Martin in the attack. He sent us photos of he and his brothers playing with their children and the reality was all too close. It is devastating. This family will have a long road of healing in front of them that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.
My friends at MIT and I have spent the past couple of days helping Chris build a site to raise money for the Richard family. We are coordinating with St Marks Area Main Street, a non-profit community organization based in Dorchester, MA, where the family lives. The site is made with the support of the family and their spokesperson. 100% of funds raised goes to the family. Please give what you can. It's the very least we can do to come together in solidarity with these innocent people and help them to rebuild their lives in the wake of senseless violence. In the photo on the site Martin is holding a sign he made in school that says "Peace". Let us spread that peace.