Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's your footprint?

by Barry

Think for a moment. If every single person on the earth lived the way you did, what would the earth look like? Would it be possible? Imagine if everyone in the world ate as much as you, drove as much as you and threw away as much as you. Yikes!

If you're like me, that isn't exactly a comforting thought. I know for a fact that my lifestyle isn't sustainable. At least, not when put in those terms!

And now I've found an online quiz which quantifies just how many earths it would take if everyone lived the way I live (and does a great job of making me feel lousy about it!). But it's really worth it. Head over to www.ecofoot.org and check it out for yourself!

According to this short, 5 minute quiz (which is, I admit, a little simplistic), it would take 4.4 earths to sustain the entire human population living the way I do! 4.4!!!

So what does this have to do with social justice? Well, lots actually. You see, even if I don't actually see the poor and marginalized of this world, a lifestyle like mine is sure to influence them somehow. Because the truth is, we're all connected.

Well great. Now I feel all cruddy about the way I live. *sigh* Maybe it's time for me to go and do something about it...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review: The Twenty-Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Each Other, by Greg Paul

by Curtis

If you haven't heard about Greg Paul yet, maybe now's the time to go to Amazon and buy his books.

Paul's first book, God in the Alley: Being and Seeing Jesus in a Broken World, was published a few years ago and completely wrecked me...in a good way. In it, he shares some heart-wrenching stories about his community in inner city Toronto. Paul is an author/pastor/local rock star who started a ministry called Sanctuary that reaches out to homeless (they prefer "under-housed") and fully housed people under the same roof. He started the community center/church hybrid out of a rock band called Red Rain.

I am fortunate enough to have visited Sanctuary first hand back in February with my fellow justice-seeker, Barry, and some other friends from our church. We got to spend some time walking the cold winter streets of Toronto and seeing how God can work miraculously in seemingly hopeless situations. The stories shared by Greg and members of Sanctuary's community are humbling (an understatement).

In his latest effort, The Twenty Piece Shuffle: Why the Rich and the Poor Need Each Other, Paul transparently shares the incredible stories of Sanctuary ministries and applies them to the fact that everyone--rich and poor alike--needs intimate relationships and a strong sense of purpose and identity in life. These stories are heartbreaking and often troubling, and I'm so glad Paul shared them with us. This book will change your perspective on rich and poor and how God fits into all the suffering in the mess of the world.

If you haven't read either of Paul's offerings yet, I would start with God in the Alley. It's kind of like the intro-level course to Twenty Piece Shuffle.

These books are a great way to engage your heart and your mind in the causes of justice for the poor.

Heifer International

by Barry

When I think of cows, I picture huge animals penned up in some stockyard somewhere, waiting around to become a big-mac. I picture rustic cowboys bringing a herd home from pasture. And now, after being in India for 3 months, I picture traffic jams.

But one thing I don't picture is wealth. Cows don't evoke images of prosperity in my mind. But for more than 2 billion people around the world, that is exactly what cows represent. Riches, security, and abundance...

Cows provide nourishing milk and plentiful meat. They give birth to more cows, and can quickly become a herd. In the developing world, once you own a cow, you're set for life.

But who can afford a cow? Making 2 dollars a day, it would take years to save up enough to buy one. And so for most poor people around the world, owning a cow or goat or even a chicken, becomes an impossible dream.

That's why there is an organization called Heifer International. They take sustainability-creating livestock, and give them to people around the world who need them. And the cool part is, these recipients must agree to give the first calf or chick or kid to someone else who needs it, spreading sustainability from one family to another!

And you can be a part of this process! There is a whole online gift catalog that allows you to purchase everything from heifers to chicks to honeybees for a needy family around the world. It couldn't be easier to make a difference in someone's life.

And what an awesome gift idea! "Honey, I bought you a cow." Perfect!

So check it out, and who knows? Maybe you'll start to see cows just a little bit differently...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Food Rescue

by Barry

Have you ever wondered what happens to all that bread at Panera at the end of the day? I mean, they have quality standards to live up to, right? The answer is, they throw it away. Thousands and thousands of pounds of bread. In the trash.

Of course, if you're like me, you hear that and think "Gee. I sure wish someone would do something about that. Especially with so many hungry people in my city!"

Well someone is doing something about it. Lots of someones actually.

The organization is called Food Rescue. Way back in 2007, a man named John Williamson in Noblesville, IN started collecting leftover bread with his family, and driving it over to a local food pantry. He had no idea what this was going to turn into!

In less than two years, his organization has grown into 20 separate chapters that coordinate almost 600 volunteers nation wide!
Why has it become such a huge success? Well, let me tell you.
A) It just makes sense! Why throw away bread when you can give it to someone who is hungry?
B) It is super easy to make a huge difference. Volunteers around the country giving just 90 minutes of their time once a week have "rescued" literally millions of dollars worth of bread!
Need I say more?

If you're interested in getting involved, check out Food Rescue's list of chapters. If there isn't one in your area, maybe you could start one! It's all there on the page.

Darn. And I thought helping to feed the poor was difficult! Now I don't have any excuse... :)

Everything Small

by Barry

Here's a trustworthy saying: If you live in a Malawian village for an entire summer, taking bucket baths and hiking miles through the bush each day, you're probably going to come back a little changed.

Well, that's exactly what happened with my good friend Maeven Mendoza. She lived for two months in Malawi, and she has definitely come back a different person!

And get this... Maeven has decided to share her journey with us!

On her blog Everything Small, Maeven writes about the joys, struggles and memories she is living with as she re-enters American culture.

One recent post is about her new perspective on intelligence and another is about her recent dilemma of wanting to buy a $6 shirt. Beautiful stories, thought-provoking narratives, and a refreshing level of honesty.

And the best part of all is that Maeven's a really good writer!!!

Hey. What are you still doing looking at this boring blog? Check it out!


by Barry

Do you ever get frustrated at how huge problems like poverty are? You read stats like 1 billion people live below a dollar a day and 2 billion people on less than 2 dollars a day. A billion people? I can't even imagine what a million people looks like.

These women in Mumbai, India earn pennies to cut this grass by hand.

Or you visit a third world country and see it for yourself. Row after row of corrugated metal shacks, destitute people lying on the streets, entire orphanages filled with AIDS orphans. It's too much to handle.

We'd love to help out... to give our money to the problem. But it's just too big!

So we give nothing.

Well, for the last year or so, I've been contributing to an amazing website that seeks to change all of that: www.kiva.org. Kiva is a not-for-profit micro-loan company that allows you to loan money directly to a person who needs it.

When you make a loan to someone, you see their picture and read their bio. You see exactly what they need the money for. You're not sending $25 to some multi-national "global poverty initiative." You're sending $25 (or more) to Betty Kagwa, a Ugandan woman who runs a general store. Or to Hoeun Korng, who sells cows in Cambodia. You get the picture.

And the best part of all is that it's a loan. Kiva has had, get this, a 98.6% successful repayment rate! And when you get the money back, you can instantly re-loan it to another entrepreneur or withdraw it and use it for something else. It's easy.

So, stop being so overwhelmed... Check out Kiva and get into the game!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Hello and welcome to Brave Not Safe! This is a blog of awesome stuff designed to get you off the couch and into the world!

Because of our chosen "professions," the two of us often come across fantastic websites, blogs, books, movies, and organizations focused on social justice and the kingdom of God, but rarely get the chance to tell anyone. Now, however, we can share them with everyone!

We will be regularly posting the stuff we find for you to check out for yourself. There are several ways to stay updated:
We would love suggestions, thoughts or stuff that you find as well. No guarantees that we'll post your submissions, but we'll do our best! If you want to send us something, write to bravenotsafe(at)gmail.com.