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Blog Action Day: Focus on Poverty

By Tom Watson on October 15, 20082 Comments

Today is the appropriately-named Blog Action Day, an effort to unite thousands of bloggers behind a single issue and create some momentum for policy change and citizen involvement. With partners like Kiva and the effort is decidedly CauseWired; this year’s focus is on poverty and the idea is to create a vast conversation with thousands of voices.

According to the organizers, Blog Action Day came together as a non-profit activity by a group of volunteer bloggers and the staff of Envato who donate their time and resources. It started as a “what would happen if” question and simply took on a life of its own. Big-time blogs involved include EU Minister Elena Valenciano, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, LifeHacker, Mashable, Smashing, VentureBeat, ProBlogger, Inhabitat, ZenHabits, Stepcase LifeHack, MentalFloss, DailyBlogTips, TorrentFreak, SEOMoz, GetRichSlowly, WiseBread,, GigaOm, and DumbLittleMan – altogether, more than 12,000 sites reaching more than 13 million readers.

My thoughts today relate to the global economic crisis and what I think may well be growing poverty in the industrialized world. Market wealth in the world’s biggest markets has declined by about 40 percent since last year. The credit abyss still beckons, as super-leveraged assets based on bad mortgages still need to find their (close to zero) levels. Unemployment will rise. Energy costs as a percentage of total wealth will grow. And we may even face challenges with food production.

Meanwhile, the private charitable sector – which provides much of the social safety net in the United States – is already over-taxed and now faces an expected decline in philanthropic contributions.

So, given what this blog is about, I have one “big thought” for Blog Action Day: that the growing cadre of online social activism platforms can and should focus some of their energy on domestic relief in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in the developed world. There is something at the core of CauseWired movement that thrives around aiding the poorest of the poor; many of our greatest social entrepreneurs were inspired by trips to Africa or parts of Asia. Yet, poverty lurks everywhere in our developed world.

In this country, we failed to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The next administration must change the way we focus on poverty and our social safety net. I believe strongly that our CauseWired social entrepreneurs can be leaders in this effort, connecting millions of citizens to neighbors in need.

Hope everyone has a great Blog Action Day – it’s a fine effort.

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