Showing posts from March, 2008

Going to South India

In April I'll be heading for Chennai , the capital of Tamil Nadu state in India. The main reason is to attend the National Seminar on Print Access for All, being held at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Madras is the old name of Chennai. The seminar has been organized by a steering committee led by N. Krishnaswamy, the Chairman of Vidya Vrikshah. I'm actually on the committee, too. It should be a great day talking about improving access to print for the community of people with disabilities in India. I've pasted in some of the invitation below. Look forward to blogging more from India next month! The Steering Committee of the National Seminar on Print Access For All (SPONSORED BY THE HINDU) has pleasure in inviting you to participate in the Seminar. The Seminar to be held on Saturday, the 19th April, 2008 at the Auditorium, ICSR Building, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai. Shri T.S.Krishnamurthy Former Chief Election Commissioner of India has kindly

2008 Tech Museum Awards Global Call for Nominations

I wanted to put in a plug for the Tech Museum Awards. We've been a Laureate twice (for and Martus) in the past, and it's a great honor and a great event. If you know someone whose work embodies technology serving humanity, nominate them by tomorrow! [And, no, we're not looking for people to nominate a Benetech project this year: spread the wealth]. Here's the blurb from the nice people at the Tech Museum: Nomination Deadline: March 24, 2008 Nominations are being accepted for the 2008 Tech Museum Awards, an international Awards Program that honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. 25 Laureates will be honored at a Gala event on November 12, 2008 and five Laureates will share a cash prize of $250,000. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged. Individuals, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit companies are all eligible. Reward those making a difference and nominate today at http://www.techawards.o

Reflections on Micronesia

Micronesia left quite an impression on me. It's great to go to completely different places, spending time learning about history, politics, issues and culture from new perspectives. I think it's one of the great perks of my job, working in the nonprofit sector. Plus, the people I visit give me the benefit of the doubt that I'm not an ugly American. I try hard to return the favor by being respectful: it's not hard given my high degree of interest and curiosity, and the dedication of the people I met. Something that made a big impression on me were the wrecks. The first thing I saw from my hotel balcony were wrecked ships in the harbor below. I couldn't find out much about them, other than that they were relatively recently wrecked (don't know if that means ten years ago or thirty). Apparently, typhoons are a big deal in Micronesia. Guam has special building codes for typhoons, kind of like California's earthquake-inspired building codes. Waste dispos

Guam and the Consortium

The final stop for my Micronesia trip was Guam, a U.S. territory. Arriving on Guam felt like coming back to the United States, although it's more like Hawaii than the mainland! Guam has a huge American military presence: the armed forces control about a third of the island. The presence is growing: the U.S. is relocating our units from Okinawa to Guam and this could grow the island's population anywhere from 20% to 40%. The military and tourism are Guam's two big industry. Japan is the biggest source of tourists for Guam, with growing numbers from other Asian nations like South Korea. I enjoyed getting a chance to tour around the the southern part of the island with Mike Terlaje (U of Guam CEDDERS) and Chuck Hitchcock of CAST(pictured above) on my final afternoon there (and even squeezed in half an hour of snorkeling), and seeing Spanish ruins, waterfalls, and bay after spectacular bay. The native people of Guam are called Chamorros, and the language is resurgent.

Visiting Eot in the Faichuk islands

Donna’s friend Kathy Mori was able to arrange a boat trip on short notice to Eot, which is an island on the other side of the lagoon in a group of islands called the Faichuks. It was a 45 minute ride in an open motor boat that held about seven of us. We walked around the island along a path that ran near the water. Donna explained to me to watch Kathy and take my lead from her, since we were able to visit here based on her connections and reputation with the community. Kathy would stop and chat with different people as we walked around the island’s circumference, checking in before taking our party further. People eat a combination of imported and local food. The preference for rice has led to deficiencies like the girl with vision problems caused by a lack of Vitamin A. This is the tropics, so bananas grow easily, as do food plants like breadfruit, taro and the like. When our path went by a small shack built on a volcanic rock outcrop, we found a girl diving for sea cucumber, a