Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony 2012, LRA Crisis Tracker, and the Money Trail

Kony 2012 is BIG, really big! Will it maintain a momentum? That seems to be the question Invisible Children knows the answer to, hence the “2012”. They want it "now" and they are reiterating  the deadline because they know the momentum will not be sustainable. I think that’s smart. It is obviously a smart organization with an equally smart campaign. The campaign is even making me feel smarter as I attempt to get answers to the many questions it leaves me to ask. What is being done with the money? Is it true what people are saying, that Kony is no longer in power or effective? Why aren’t the citizens able to stop this singular man?

This morning I was encouraged to look into the LRA Crisis Tracker, which is where the money is going to according to the film maker and spokes person of Kony 2012 (I’m terrible with names, and I’m sure he’s sincere about his mission and not trying to claim personal fame, his purpose is for me to remember the name Kony rather than his own name.) Google leads me to several interesting sites. has a nice little film showing me how to use the tracker. Great software that shows me the past attacks of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). Is this tool being used for prevention? Defense? If so, why didn’t they mention that? Why do I need to know the geography of the past attacks; is it to prove it really has happened? The site is really slick and gives counts of civilian deaths and abductions over the past month, past year, and total since December 2009. They also have a link that explains what the LRA is, which I’m interested in. Why “Lord’s” resistance? Is this an indication of where this started and what Koby’s original intentions were?

The Resolve partnered with Invisible Children to produce the LRA Crisis Tracker. Google results interested me because it seemed to be asking for a "vote" to win a prize of some sort. A profiteering motive is the accusation du jour regarding Kony 2012, so I clicked the link. Evidently, The Resolve is promoting the tracker for a prize, awarded by the prestigious TED organization, for Ads Worth Spreading. I don't think they need my vote; the proof is in the pudding as "they" say. Resolve introduced the Tracker through their website as a result of their partnership commenced with Invisible Children in September, 2011; their banner shows the app available through iTunes Store; another indication of possible profiteering? I couldn't find a price, only the preview on the iTunes site.

On the Resolve site, I did a search for LRA Tracker and found some interesting releases regarding the tracker, as well as how the Resolve Organization is spending money, much of these expenditures are related to LRA Tracking. At this point I don't care if they are selling the app because it's too hard to find the cost through Resolve. Every charitable organization spends their money on administration, and as much as we the people want to see 100% of our donations go directly to those most in need, it is unreasonable to expect the people who run these organizations to have the heart or the ability to entirely support causes with their own resources. On the other hand, some charities are less charitable than others, and even the government doesn't do as good a job of living within their means as you or I do. Invisible Children has posted their financial information from the year 2006 if you are interested.

Another Resolve article that Google results lead me to answers the question, "What good does this information from the Tracker do?" This Security Brief was released "Based on data collected throughout the year from NGO and UN reports, field research, and HF early-warning radio networks, the report reviews LRA activity during 2011 in the tri-border region between DR Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR)." The report is interesting, and I love data, so I'm glad that they've summarized the data for us scientists to ponder.

So many comments regarding the Kony 2012 movement (see how it's no longer a "campaign") involve feelings of doubt in the truth of situation (propaganda fears) and the need to take care of our own. Statements like, "Even if it's real, we can't afford to send our soldiers to fight someone else's cause? Why can't they deal with just one man? What are they doing about it on their own?" Why couldn't the world deal with Hitler? Nero? A snake in a garden? The question's intention is not as ignorant as the question itself. Some of the more knowledgeable and official criticism of Invisible Children's organization involve the lack of effect for a more complicated issue, with a deep background. So, what is that background?!

Invisible Children's website seems very fair and transparent, from exposing their financial to sharing their space with critique from other sources. Also included is their version of the history of the war that started in 1986 with the Holy Spirit Movement. Kony assumed power of the movement and changed it's name to the Lord's Resistance Army. The Ugandan Government responded to the LRA activities by creating safe haven camps. In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Kony's arrest. In subsequent years the LRA has killed and kidnapped hundreds at a time, over attacks that last days to weeks, without the rest of the world knowing for months. 

It seems to me that if we can do anything for these people, it is to provide them with tools to communicate and defend themselves. We train armies all over the world. We have troops in Africa to give some kind of support. I just can't imagine that these attacks occur, without forewarning, without fore planning, without communication before or after an event, with any percentage of the purported 30,000 soldiers recruited attacking all at once to accomplish these large massacres. I'm not saying it didn't happen, I just can't imagine it is possible, to still be happening, even after the decades of destruction. These are people, they are not lemmings. These are human beings, an evolved species like any other with the primary goal to survive in the environment. How is it they can be so helpless on either an individual or a community level? What is getting in their way to defend themselves against one man? How is this one many able to manipulate the entire world into giving him the supplies to support his heinous activities? This simply doesn't make sense! There is so much I don't know, or is there? Is the truth of my ignorance that there is nothing to be ignorant of? Why does even writing that make me feel guilty? Because if it is true, and I doubt it to the point I do nothing, then I am as guilty as Kony.

I can say, if it were me, I would always be on alert, I would organize a watch, I would arm myself with what I had and use what I had to improve my defenses. I would give what I could to insure timely intelligence and loyalty of informants. I would protect my most valuable resources, my children. I would defend to the death, not be killed in my sleep. So the real question I have, and do not feel guilty asking an answer for, "Why aren't they doing anything on an individual and community level?"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony 2012 Propaganda and Critical Thinking

Yesterday I received a deluge of requests to pay attention to the campaign "Kony 2012".

At first I ignored it; there are so many problems locally that need attention, whatever Kony 2012 is, it is too much on top of what I already worry about. After that I saw a post "from the other side of the issue" that invited me to read BEFORE I watched the movie. I already had the movie "Invisible Children Kony 2012" cued to watch, so I decided to follow the instructions and read the "pre-show". I felt that the article posted on was well written, empathetic to the film, and brought up good points. This morning I watched the Invisible Children film, and it changed my opinion of the article, and really made me think both about the issue, and about the intentions of the Siena-Anstis article.

I felt strongly enough that I should blog about the statements made by both sides and went back to my Facebook sharing of the Siena-Anstis opinion article that I call the "pre-show". Funny thing, I could not connect to the article, and only received a database error. What I remembered most was how it stated that a particular scene indicated that the maker of Kony2012 was not equipped to let the protagonist Ugandan-friend-good-guy cry about the loss of his brother, and therefore was not equipped to truly understand what help they need. I felt the point was sincere, and agreed that it is important to allow a person's grief to be expressed despite an observer/helper's discomfort. Feeling the article important enough for this discussion I traveled through Google channels to get to the  Siena-Anstis article, which now appears completely different, and doesn't seem to mention the "tears". I suppose there could have been two or more articles written by them yesterday, but I'm glad I found this one! My posting is about intentions, and it is clearly a case of the pot (Siena-Anstis) calling the kettle (Kony 2012) black.

Siena Anstis, "On Invisible Children's Kony 2012": "commodifies white man’s burden on the African continent" "Commodifies" defined by Miriam Webster is to "turn into a commodity", something one would purchase. The first line was easily read without thought before seeing the movie; it supported my desire to ignore the issue. Was that the intention of Siena Anstis? Or was their intention to make me believe the campaign was arrogant and profit mongering? After having watched Kony2012, the only profit mongering I could see was the option to give a few dollars a month to Tri (charitable funding for Invisible Children), but it was a choice, it was not begged for, nothing left me feeling guilty for not being able to afford even a few dollars a month. I have a brain of my own, it works pretty well, and I will investigate how the money they collect is being sent.

Siena Anstis: "Their underlying message ... is not to be. [admired] ... poverty porn messaging ... based on emotional reactions. It fails to paint the full picture ... Portraying a region like Gulu as such, and sending the mass message that the whole continent reflects this, is damaging. It undermines possibilities of investment. It clouds story of entrepreneurship, success and innovation...Lumping the continent as one messy area". What does Siena Anstis want me to think, and what do I really think?

Another phrase easily thought nothing of on first reading, "poverty porn", after having seen the movie takes on great meaning. The movie asks nothing of me other than to reiterate the phrase "Kony 2012". It is not poverty porn, it does not play on my emotions in order for me to give monetarily. The movie does not talk about the regions of Africa as a whole. The movie does not portray any African community as unable to defend itself for any reason; the movie leaves me wondering why they can't do something on their own, and why they haven't been successful on their own, and it is up to me to find those answers, but at no time did I feel pity for an "unempowered" people with an arrogant too-bad-they're-not-as-good-as-us attitude. At no time did I feel compelled to think that there was no good, no possibility, no growth, no "enterpreneurship, success, and innovation" in the continent. The only thing close to that was the incitement of thinking about the possibilities of cultural differences that might answer why these people have been unsuccessful in defending their lives and livelihoods against this tyrant.

While writing this post, I felt a need to add links to it, and when I went to capture the link for the Invisible Children movie, I noticed at the bottom of the screen a Facebook "like". When I pressed the like I got an error message! Here's a screen capture; notice that Facebook has banned the link.
So, I decided I would find the direct link and go to the Invisible Children website through Google Search. The first link was a CBS report about the film going viral. I guess I better read that too!

Also along the lines of searching for links to add to this post, the donations repository Tri was mentioned, so I thought it should be linkable., per se, is not a website, so I clicked on the "donate" button from the Invisible Children website, and was directed to a donation page  whose url is "StayClassy"! Hmmmm.....

Friday, March 2, 2012

Getting the Why out of Whishy and Washy

Being Poetry
It's been a bit since I've had a blog entry. Part of my moving forward is a commitment to blog more often, but if it isn't a measurable goal is it really a commitment? That's teacher speak for "how often will you be posting?" I'd like to get to every day, but I don't know if that's reasonable. I think I'll see what my benchmark will be now that there is a commitment to being committed!

I LOVE Advocacy
Speaking of being a teacher, I STILL have to finish my research in order to receive my MA. I had arranged with the school for January, but that didn't happen so I need to get into action about setting it up again with the school. So why haven't I done that? When I think about being a full time teacher, same class same students every day, I am disheartened. I like substitute teaching because it is a change of scenery every time. Thinking about teaching the same class day in and out is not something pleasant, and feels like stepping willingly into a rut from the gate. It doesn't fulfill my passion to be an advocate. Why am I not moving forward toward my passion? Why do I have so many passions? 

Tropical Hardware
Among my passions these days is making jewelry... well it's not REALLY a passion but I am enjoying it. I'd rather be making lampwork beads but feel I have so many of them I need to get rid of. I've decided not to make more beads until I get rid of what I have, so I'm taking the inventory and purposing it into jewelry, and TRYING to sell the jewelry.

Auction Dude on TopHatter
I'm trying a new live auction format at, but only very low ticket items seem to do well there ($20 or under). My jewelry is eclectic, unique, artistic, and priced around $100. Each piece is made with an artistic passion and creativity. Why am I so attached to my work? Why can't I let it go "cheap"? Why do I feel the need to restrict myself from my passion with these conditions?

As part of my efforts to sell jewelry I'm doing a lot of marketing study. I want to learn ore about tracking and growing my brand. I'm trying to expand my social engagement. I'm doing well with friends, but thinking about a business Face Book page. 
Check out my bulletin boards on Pinterest
I'm distracted by Pinterest a lot, and have had some great success with followers but no way to measure how successful it is. I've added a follow me on Pinterest button above on the right. Check out my visual bulletin board. If you need an invite, post a comment below and make sure I can contact you. But I feel guilty for having "fun" and feeling like I'm not doing the hard work, not having a career, not having a job, being a disappointment. Why do I feel so unsuccessful? Why do I judge myself so harshly? Why do I feel that to be right and do right I can't be happy doing "it", whatever that is? Why do I feel like everything I am doing is the wrong thing?

Dr. Oz Transformation Nation
Part of my plan to become more physically fit and transform with Dr. Oz's Nation is to create a video blog. Well, I did several videos, and have not posted them because I feel they need to be edited. Because I haven't edited them, I haven't posted them. Because I feel I have failed in my commitment and accountability, I've stopped making them (but not thinking about making them). Why don't I just post them, unedited? Why don't I think it can be that easy? Why do I complicate things so? Why can't I ever "just do it"? Why am I afraid of such inconsequential risk?

I've signed up for a geocaching site. I've invited others to go with me, once, but have no takers. Why don't I just do it? Why am I afraid? Why don't I know that there is nothing to be afraid of, nothing I can't anticipate and plan for?

Why do I live in fear when I know that fear only makes me live as if what I fear has already happened? Why don't I take my own advice? Why didn't that relationship work out? Why don't I have a career? Why did my car die? Why can't I figure this out? Why can't I have the confidence in myself that others have in me? Why do I always want? Why Why Why!?

Mangmade ... Wishy Washy Blogger
Wishy washy ... that's me, that's my mind. Take out the "why" and what do you get? Either "is" "as" or "Wish" "Wash" ... I wish to wash away the why which is not wishful thinking, to be is as I am!