Nonprofit Pop-up Libraries: Good…or Sort-of Good

By Erynn Herman (PhD Student at UMass Boston, OSC Track).

On September 20, 2013, CBS Philadelphia published an article called South Philadelphia Nonprofit Creates Pop-Up Libraries For High School Students. It was meant as a human-interest piece narrating an issue we are becoming increasingly familiar with – the slashing of public school budgets. In this case, it resulted in the closure of several Philly high school libraries. The article caught my eye because of the innovative idea of pop-up libraries from a nonprofit organization called Mighty Writers. The organization decided to collect donated books from the community and is now displaying them outside its three city locations after school where students can pick them up. How creative!

However, after getting over my initial excitement about this inventive idea, I started thinking more critically about how this solution might actually make a difference. I asked, is this a good, rational decision for the organization? Or is this a case of bounded rationality where, in the name of benevolence, the organization offered a mediocre solution simply because it was attainable? As its name denotes, Mighty Writers is an organization Tim Whitaker, a retired journalist, founded to ensure Philly-based children learn to write legibly. Writing vs. reading – does that not constitute mission creep?

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Blogging Highlights: Melting Ice and Arctic Activism

This week, we would like to recommend a series of related debates on climate change, melting ice, opportunistic responses by oil companies, and Greenpeace activism.

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The elusive search for gender equality in organizations

By Banu Özkazanç-Pan.

On my Amtrak-commute to work, I noticed a group of thirty-something men and women in business attire occupying the seats in front of me engaged in a lively conversation. At one point, a young woman got up and started asking the five other members of her group if they wanted anything from the café car—three women said, “no, thank you” while one woman asked for tea. A blond young man who remained sitting, turned his head towards the woman and with a sly grin, he said, “I’d like eggs benedict!” His statement was followed by laughs and “oooohs” from the women while I glared at him in disbelief. The woman didn’t say anything, shook her head and walked to the café car presumably to get herself and her coworker a drink.

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Blogging Highlights: Inequality for All!?

This week’s recommendations relate to a fundamental problem which seems to become bigger rather than smaller – inequality. The review covers the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the new documentary “Inequality for All” with Robert Reich, and a forthcoming Human Relations special issue on Inequality.

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Harmony in Poverty? Or Can the Landfill Harmonic Project Really Transform Communities?

By Stephan Manning.

The new documentary “Landfill Harmonic” tells the story about a group of children from Cateura, a Paraguayan slum, who play instruments made entirely of garbage from a nearby landfill. A related Kickstarter campaign raised $214k in May this year to support not only the film project, but outreach programs and a world tour of “The Recycled Orchestra”. Is the Kickstarter campaign right in saying that “[such] creative and simple solutions can bring powerful social transformation to the poorest communities”? The campaign and a related video posted on Kickstarter, and other websites sparked a recent controversy about the real impact of such initiatives.

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Blogging Highlights: Higher Education, Lehman Brothers, Microfinance

This week we would like to draw your attention to three interesting debates in the blogosphere as well as a new book release.

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