The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power

I’ve been letting information wash over me this last week. So much noise. So much anger and hope and sadness and fear. I’ve been quiet. And small. I’ve been trying to see patterns. Here’s what I’m learning: Half of the population didn’t even vote, the lowest turnout in nearly 2 decades. Apathy, dislike of the major party candidates, voter suppression and intimidation … all of these things contributed to nearly half of our population not voting. I’m astounded by this. I really had no idea that so many people didn’t vote in these elections. We need a national holiday for voting day, we need mail in ballots, we need to inspire people to get civically involved long before election season so they feel invested in the process. Maybe most importantly, we need to ensure the Voting Rights Act is protected. Read more…


The Courage to Change the Rules

How we solve a problem depends largely on understanding why we have the problem in the first place. When we take the time to inform ourselves why the world works the way it does, we begin to see how it could work differently. We begin to take power away from the existing narrative and find the courage to change the rules by changing the questions. In order to create a clearer picture of the root causes of inequality and injustice, we need a new framework to address the problems that arise from this system. Read more…


Working Together on Things that Matter

I’ve been thinking about how we create a sense of place, and how our communities cultivate belonging for each other. Right now, our city is under tremendous pressure to accommodate the rapid growth. From housing to transportation we are seeing significant changes through infrastructure and programs. Trying to maintain what makes this place special is a challenge, and one that isn’t kind to everyone. How do we comprehend and appreciate our heritage, remembering the reasons we came together here in the first place? When I contemplate how individuals engage with each other in order to create a community, honoring the past while planning for the future, I see hope for Seattle. It’s the reason I jumped in to help raise the funds needed to acquire a piece of land in my neighborhood through The Urban Homestead Foundation. I saw a group of people with a Read more…


Asking the Right Question

At its best philanthropy works against injustice and aims to support and sustain systemic change in our society. Yet often it falls short of this goal because it has become yet another player in the system. When philanthropists neglect to question the status quo, they inadvertently support the power structure inherent in giving and receiving. We can’t promote justice using the same economic model that created the injustice, otherwise we’re effectively working to support the system we’re struggling against. This was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s thought as well – that while philanthropy is admirable, “it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” Without understanding how injustices were created and our role in their creation, we ask the wrong questions. When we ask “Why are so many families dependent on food banks?” Read more…


Meditating on death and legacy

Intentional philanthropy is rooted in contemplating your death in order to determine your legacy. In this NY times article about meditating on your demise, it appears to also be helpful in making you happier and funnier (funnier!) There is a close connection between our transitory nature and joy, two sides of the same coin. Bringing these into alignment provides an entry into thoughtful giving and receiving. “…meditation on death is intended as a key to better living. It makes disciples aware of the transitory nature of their own physical lives and stimulates a realignment between momentary desires and existential goals. In other words, it makes one ask, “Am I making the right use of my scarce and precious life?” As the article suggests, this is a great start to a 2016 resolution. Are you making the right use of your scarce and Read more…


The Dance vs. The Game in Giving and Receiving

I had the great pleasure of joining Erik Hanberg as he launches his latest venture, For Small Nonprofits, a podcast that will cover topics from fundraising and marketing to board structure and leadership. Erik is a friend and colleague from many years ago, and serves as my great inspiration for writing and creating. Erik is the author of three books on nonprofits, numerous works of fiction, and is the former director of two nonprofits and has served on a dozen boards of small nonprofits. He has great experience with and insight into strengthening the nonprofit world, and it’s always fun to catch up with him. Listen in to our conversation about the importance of creating a philanthropic mission statement, regardless of your financial abilities, in order to develop long lasting relationships with nonprofits and social entrepreneurs that align with your legacy. To listen to the full Read more…


What’s Possible and the Urgency of Global Warming on Bill Moyers

The future requires thoughtful, innovative solutions that change the conversation. What we need now are bold and brave leaders who know how to collaborate and inspire. What’s Possible, a New Film for World Leaders on the Urgency of Global Warming is a powerful call to action. You have more power than you think. Urgency combined with hope creates an unstoppable momentum of energy. How do you plan to get involved?


Inspiring Change 2014

This past weekend I had the great privilege of spending time on Whidbey Island with eight inspiring women, and I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated International Women’s Day. We addressed this year’s theme, Inspiring Change, by working with each other on a very personal level: to uncover our philanthropic missions. Over the course of two days we took our values and passions and molded them into statements to guide our actions for the following year. We also discussed what money means to us and heard from Community Sourced Capital about their work supporting local businesses. All of this while tromping through acres of woods, taking flashlight guided nighttime meditations in the labyrinth and eating fabulous food. Once again the Whidbey Institute delivered on the promise to renew, inspire, nurture and connect. The outcome of our work Read more…


Would you consider a financial investment in a local business part of your philanthropy? Do you think of yourself as a philanthropist when you support a local artist by buying a piece of their art? When you want your money to help create and sustain your community, what’s the difference between a donation and an investment? Rather than drawing arbitrary lines between the money we spend to ‘do good’ and the money we spend to ‘make a life’, should we consider where our spending/donating/investing can intersect? We don’t all have the capacity to make large charitable donations, but we do spend money. And where this money is spent, how it flows into and out of lives, is a key element in being an informed philanthropist, who cares about humanity and uses their resources intentionally.  Because this conversation is integral to Read more…


Valentine's Day reboot

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself. ~ Jean Anouilh As we head into the week of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d pick up the torch that Sasha Dichter of the Acumen Fund lit a couple of years ago. His idea to reboot Valentine’s Day as Generosity Day is an opportunity to reframe another commercialized holiday into something that gets to the heart of celebration and community. He encourages us to “make the day about love, action and human connection–because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly.” Love is a big emotion that encompasses so many relationships in our lives, not just the romantic ones. I like the idea of transforming this holiday into something bigger and more powerful by showing love to your community Read more…