Earthquakes themselves kill very few people, despite popular movie images of the earth suddenly opening up huge crevices that swallow lots of people. Poorly constructed buildings, however, routinely kill many people. 99% of those deaths are in poor countries, like Haiti or India, which lack earthquake resistance know-how, strict building codes (like those that have been in place in California and Japan for decades) and/or a non-corrupt government to enforce those codes.
And, oh, yes, money. That’s particularly important in developing countries where very few people have the funds to make their new homes earthquake or storm resistant, once the international recovery funds dry up.
Some good news, reports earthquake engineer and founder of Build Change, Elisabeth Hausler, Ph.D., is that “in a place like Haiti, building a house to withstand an earthquake can also help it to withstand a hurricane, particularly by tying the roof down to prevent it from flying off in strong winds. For earthquake-resistant design, the roof is often tied to the walls to provide some kind of bracing effect for the walls.
When India was devastated by a January 26, 2001 quake that killed well over 20,000 people, Hausler was halfway through a civil engineering Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley. At the same time, she was undergoing an existential crisis: how could she do something truly meaningful with her training? How she turned that question into Build Change, which helps create safer housing in developing countries, is a textbook example of how the mind of a visionary works. Continue reading →
Every now and then, a fellow human does something so awesome that it drives us to tears of joy and gratitude. If we take the time to ponder the whole miracle, we see not just the outward act of compassion or vision or courage. We see also some of the miracles done by others –known and unknown — that support the current miracle.
Such a miracle is happening now around Pakvilai Sudhaswin of Oakland, CA and Johnnie Woods of Seattle, WA. Right about now, they should be landing in Baltimore, MD, one step closer to Johnnie’s donation of a healthy kidney to Pak. Kaiser Permanente, Pak’s insurer, will pay the costs of Pak’s care at The Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program at Johns Hopkins.
In reporting this to you, I pray you will add your prayers not just to Pak and Johnnie, but to all others who need healing, and to all who support them. I pray that in seeing some of the many blessings of their story, you appreciate more of the blessings in your own life, and see how you can act more from your own capacity to bless others. Continue reading →
Probably the most under-rated spiritual value is joy. Maybe that’s what Jesus implied when he said that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we need to become again like little kids — especially if we’ve become too accustomed to dry, boring “worship” services, deadly dull diets, and tedious workdays.
True joy is an amazingly unselfish spiritual gift. Joy begets a light heart, plenty of energy, resourcefulness, and the longing to help others find joy. Thanks to the spirit and work movement, I’ve thoroughly learned how to distill joy out of any task, even when reality also includes sorrow, grief or other honest emotions.
Now, thanks to the new movie “Julie and Julia”, my full joy is back in cooking, eating, and sharing food with others. That may not be my paid work, but it sure affects all my paid work and dealings with money. Plus, I’ve got a whole new pair of role models for persisting in any vision around work and money. Continue reading →