Where do you begin, when you want to change the world?
Talk with those you love and respect – always a good beginning. Compare notes on what you think is important, what issues appeal to you. Then comes the homework, the research.
The Humanity Initiative has investigated hundreds of activist sites to discover the most compelling opportunities for positive change — organizations that have a legacy of vision, courage, and hard work — and of course that welcome volunteers.
Here below is our current selection of the most effective, efficient, clear-sighted, and planet-affirming non-profits on Earth.
But first a quick shout out: In the inaugural issue of humanity (published in 1989), we featured an article on Ashoka, the non-profit founded eight years earlier by Bill Drayton. He, in fact, created the “changemaker revolution.”
Ashoka is a captivating place to begin an investigation into becoming a changemaker. Its forty-year history features profoundly inspiring stories of entrepreneurial creativity and dedication. Not least, it is now breaking new ground on the challenges of climate justice.
Our Top Ten Non-profits
Amnesty International (founded 1961)
Ashoka, Innovators for the Public (1980)
Doctors Without Borders (1971)
Human Rights Watch (1978)
International Peace Bureau (1891)
International Rescue Committee (1933)
Rainforest Action Network (1985)
Refugees International (1979)
Rotary International (1905)
World Wide Fund for Nature (1961)
Here are a half-dozen further candidates for your investigation:
Global Exchange (1988) Global Exchange is a research, education, and action centre dedicated to promoting people-to-people ties around the world. At the GXsite you can get involved in fair trade, education, global economy or human rights campaigns
International Volunteers for Peace (1920) IVP is an Australian community group, with an international perspective and contact branches in 50 countries world-wide. Its activities encourage understanding of social justice and environmental harmony.
The United Nations Volunteers Program (1971) UNV supports human development globally by promoting volunteerism and by mobilizing volunteers.
Search for Common Ground (1982) SCG is works to transform the way the world deals with conflict: away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative solutions.
Earth Law Center (2008) Earth Law Center is a “think, share and do” organization that promotes recognition of the intrinsic value, interdependence, and legal rights of all Earth’s inhabitants and ecosystems.
The plaintiffs in this climate justice law suit in Montana are aged 5 to 22. The New York Times (6/12/23) states: “A landmark climate change trial opened on Monday in Montana, where a group of young people are contending that the state’s embrace of fossil fuels is destroying pristine environments, upending cultural traditions and robbing young residents of a healthy future.”
How to Transform Apocalypse Fatigue
Into Action on Global Warming
Here is Per Espen Stoknes speaking on the importance of climate action. The Norwegian psychologist and politician weaves together psychology and economics in imaginative ways, often revolving around our human relationships with the natural world and each other.
He describes five inner defences that prevent people from actively engaging with climate change: distance, doom, cognitive dissonance, denial, and our own identity. He then goes on to present ways in which we can move beyond them and toward a more brain-friendly type of climate communication that can help us make caring for our planet feel personable, doable, and empowering.
The Yale Planetary Solutions Project is on the forefront of re-imagining the way we live, from global trade to urban forestry. Its mission is “addressing our biodiversity and climate crises through innovative research, education, and engagement.”
“To The Changemakers”
(a short essay)
There is, of course, no end to the magnificence and horror in the human drama. Across the continents, humanity rises to every challenge, sinks to any depth. We bless nature’s miracles yet destroy at will.
We accept this polarity as human nature then move on in our ‘glassy essence’. All the while our righteousness lords over other life; yet we beseech gods for mercy. Our anger flares to violence; yet we demand justice. We covet ceaselessly, give generously. We disregard our home Earth, pursuing science and technology towards blind “success.”
Not least, so many suffer relentlessly, wondering each day at living another. So many are refugees from disaster or violence, escaping under unfamiliar skies to avoid a closer death, grasping whatever it is they have left – their child, ragged clothes, a pot, a blanket. So many are victims of injustice, of the vagaries of despotism or of ill luck, with no legal system to which they can bring their wisps of hope.
Especially with the rapidly increasing vulnerability of life on Earth, how do we come to terms with this ‘marble and mud’ of our existence? How do we resurrect our humanity?
Within the stirrings of the last decade, there seemed a new grace born upon this world, a clearer understanding that our living – this heavenly breath of existence – must embrace an inherent responsibility towards the lives of all sentient beings. But it is a grace too often foundering on the greed and selfishness and myopia of the few, not raising the hopes and prospects of the many.
As our universal, intertwined fate becomes even more commanding, endlessly examined in our journals and debating chambers, in our barber shops and coffee houses; as leaders from all cultures increasingly commit to finding new ways to address poverty, war, famine, injustice and disease, let us again tilt world indeed towards the side of the angels.
Let us lean together in kind accord with all the energy and enlightenment we can summon and honor this fragile, transcendent web of life gifted us by the gods.
Let us ask ourselves in profound reverence for life, “How deeply do I care about our common future? How can I make a positive difference?”
~ by Tony Balis
Many believe that women should run the world. Here are ten “under appreciated, badass, bold and remarkable women” who indeed did change the way we live.
One fine morning twenty years ago, my friend and colleague Jacqueline Wigglesworth and I dreamed up a simple blueprint for reorganizing the dysfunctional way humankind is living on Earth. May it be still be useful to you as a reminder of the many different arenas in which to investigate volunteering…
Earth Reorganization Blueprint
I A New Nationhood
Why we should abandon the current system of 212 states and establish a more workable, honorable and peaceful understanding of community. How to best implement this.
II Living arrangements
How to live more fluently, freely and sustainably with each other, more easily choosing living with cultural compatibility and diversity with each other. How to best honor the core considerations of living in dignity, safety and simplicity.
III Resource Use and Protection
How to better develop Earth-friendly power sources.
IV Animal Rights
How best to protect their lives and their passage on land, water and air.
V Ecosystem Rights
How to honoring and protect the ebb and flow of the natural world.
Sharing the wisest and most poetic dictums and ideas and music, diminishing the tendencies toward violence, reducing entrenched feelings of superiority.
How to better share this “information age” with all, without disrupting “quiet” or distant communities. Creating a positive, intelligent inquiry into what is happening every day, to all of us, thereby diminishing the simplistic, immature focus of current “news”. Creating real debate and inquiry.
VIII Festival and Sport
How to create more inclusive (and joyful) celebration of our cultural heritages and athletic endeavors.
23-year-old Lisa Neubauer of Germany offers four reasons why we all should become climate activists.
Volunteer opportunities with THI…
The Humanity Initiative, in fact, has two projects for which we are seeking conscientious and creative volunteers. If you are interested, please contact us at: email@example.com.
The first project has a simple working title: “Inspiration for Children.” We would like to discover how schools across the world are informing and inspiring students to get involved in positive change.
Part of this challenge is to create a digital reference center for children’s and young adult books that offer understanding of the many challenges humans now face.
As quick and fun example, here’s a link for the youngest kids to Sesame Street’s “Dream Big” – helping children understand how we are all related.
The second volunteer project we are calling ‘The Museum of Inspiration.‘
Inspiration comes in many ways, not least from music, literature, theater, photography, film, sport, painting, sculpture, literature, public speaking and poetry. The simple gift of awakening in another person the ability or willingness to create helps make the world a fascinating, dynamic place. So let’s celebrate and explore the many sources of inspiration that encourage humanity to thrive.
Inspire means to fill with a supernatural power or energy; to affect so as to enliven, animate, or especially, stimulate. This museum project or bibliography aims to embrace the wide range of all that inspires humankind. It is successful only if we include suggestions and comments from across the continents, from many cultures, many experiences, many lives: from you!
We have listed below 31 categories and will be curating your suggestions (email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org). In selecting candidates, please consider whatever has inspired your life. What films or poetry have driven you to express yourself or have made you optimistic about the future of our world? What speeches have moved you to action? Or was it the Northern Lights or witnessing random kindness in a troubled place?
Please share these volunteer opportunities with your friends and associates.
Adornment (clothing, jewelry, etc…)
Monticello, home of President Thomas Jefferson, Virginia, USA
Sagrada Familia, church designed by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona, Spain
“The Negress,” Henri Matisse
Rick Rivet, Canadian First Nations
IBM’s Smarter Planet Initiative
Culinary Arts (food, farming, agriculture)
“Humanistic film and media emphasize human stories and seek to define what is common among people rather than what separates us.
“In general, humanistic media has a message of reconciliation, even as such reconciliation arises from struggle and conflict, comedy or tragedy. Moreover, through tolerance and compassion, humanistic stories promote understanding and empathy between people, rather than dehumanize people into opposing camps where ‘the other’ is separate from ‘us’, whether that is because of race, religion, or political affiliation.
“A humanistic vision offers an alternative to a mythic world view that promotes melodramatic stereotypes and shallow storytelling.”
~ Don Thompson, October 2009, Netpix.com
Rabbit Proof Fence
2001: A Space Odyssey
Franz Wright’s “Night Walk”
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Middlemarch – George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
Let us now Praise Famous Men – James Agee and Walker Evans
Up From Slavery – Booker Taliaferro Washington
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Spectacle – David Rockwell and Bruce Mau
Perverse Optimist – Tibor Kalman
The Opposable Mind – Roger Martin
The Heart Aroused – David Whyte
Linus Pauling – American chemist, biochemist, chemical engineer, peace activist, author, and educator.
Mother Nature (the most inspiring places to listen and witness Mother Nature)
Milford Trek, New Zealand
K’naan (Somali troubadour)
Music/Indigenous (many sub-categories here)
Souad Massi – Houria
John Legend- Shine;
Yusef Islam- Maybe there/ World
The Beatles- All you need is Love
Stevie Wonder- Higher Ground
Hellen Keller: “Against the War” 1916, USA
Ataturk: “Message to the Gallipoli Fallen” 1934, Turkey
Churchill: “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” 1940, Great Britain
Eisenhower: “Farewell Address” 1961, USA
David Lange: “Nuclear Weapons Indefensible” 1985, New Zealand
Cesar Chavez: “Lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King” 1990, USA
F. W. Klerk: “Nelson Mandela Released” 1990, South Africa
Here’s a 2020 BBC article on taking action on climate crisis that serves as a quick and clear review of the big picture. .