October 20, 2011

Bullied Teen Posts "It Gets Better" Video and Posts Final FB Update to Lady Gaga Before Commiting Suicide

Does it really get better?

Last month, Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old teen from Buffalo, N.Y. committed suicide after relentless bullying. Before he ended his life, he created an "It gets better" video where he mentioned his role model. "Lady Gaga, she makes me so happy and she lets me know that I was born this way. So that's my advice to you from her - you were born this way. And all you have to do is just hold your head up and you'll go far," Rodemeyer said. He reached out for help on the Internet, only to endure more incessant bullying.

In the spirit of teenagers like Rodemeyer, Oct. 20 is Spirit Day, an annual celebration on which people, schools, companies, etc., wear purple in an effort to raise anti-gay awareness. It's a day to take a stand against anti-gay bullying and to celebrate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth.

Teenagers need to know that they are OK, that they are unique and special just the way they are. The more this message proliferates our media, our social media sites and conversations, the less our youth will feel hopeless and helpless.

We hope you'll take a moment of silence to remember the lives of all teenagers who committed suicide after suffering relentless bullying. We invite you to join us today in solidarity and show your spirit by wearing purple. Then, we want you to continue to think about what you can do to reach out to a teen in need.

Whether you're gay, straight, black, white or whatever spectrum you identify with, we all know how it feels to be taunted and treated differently because of our differences. Change starts with you. All it takes is one small act or conversation.

Take Action:

1. This week and beyond, we hope you are imbued and empowered by the stories of others speaking up and speaking out -- we challenge you to think of just one thing you can do to raise awareness about LGBT issues (Wear purple, or check out GLAAD's site to purple(fy) your FB or Twitter page.

2. Blog about an LGBT issue

3. Have a conversation about it, talk to the youth in your life and let them know that it isn't OK to make fun of anyone for any reason

4. Facebook and Tweet about your favorite inspiring LGBT solidarity story. This blog post is one of my favorite stories of solidarity.

(Courtesy: CBC)

With each and every small action, I believe it does get better.

Rodemeyer's final Facebook post was taken from Lady Gaga's song The Queen on his Facebook page. He wrote, "Don't forget me when I come crying to heaven's door."

October 10, 2011

WorldWomenWork - Empowering Women and Girls Worldwide

Go Inspire Go (GIG) is proud to share this month’s Social Good Spotlight, to raise awareness of individuals and organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. GIG believes everyone can find inspiration in helping others, whether it’s through doing small acts of kindness or working at an organization dedicated to making a difference. If you know of an individual or organization that you think should be featured, please contact GIG and help us forward their stories to inspire the world.

GIG Social Good Spotlight:
WORLDWOMENWORK – Conservation, Education, and Empowerment In partnership with women and girls around the world

by Marcia Estarija Silva

Masai jewelry makers

What is WorldWomenWork?
Founded by Singer Rankin, WorldWomenWork (WWW) partners with women artisans and activists in some of the most remote parts of the world. WWW purchases beautiful, unique products from small, women-owned enterprises - such as Zambian tablecloths and bedspreads, Pashmina shawls, handmade silver bracelets from Nepal, and beaded leather bags and belts from Kenya - then sells them to women all over the United States.

What is WWW’s mission? What big changes is it trying to make?
Nearly 100% of the proceeds from sales support projects by women in Kenya, Nepal, Indonesia, and 11 other countries that are educating girls, building economic independence for women, and protecting the environment. It’s a unique and effective social enterprise model.

Save the Elephants Scholarship Program participants (3 generations)

How is WWW using its power to help others?
By providing a steady stream of income that is reinvested in order to grow the enterprise. WWW buys extremely precious, one-of-a-kind items that are made by hand out of materials that are traditional and completely sustainable. Women become more economically independent and diverse perspectives are shared. Women are also encouraged to learn about and be active participants on the issues impacting their communities and environment.

Zambia Sewing School

What inspires WWW to do this?
Singer Rankin, founder of WWW, explained – “I feel passionately about the natural world and the need to protect it, the people and animals that inhabit these wild places. One of the most important ways is to educate and empower women. I truly believe that they are one of the few hopes of preserving endangered species. The world is out of control. We have lost the ability to connect with nature. It takes such a little bit to change lives and give people hope.”

What is WWW focusing on now?
Current WWW projects include:
•    Waka Simba (Women of Strength) and Simba Raishe (God’s Power) Womens' Groups, Zambia – These two women’s groups provide economic empowerment and skills training. WWW provides funding to send five women to sewing school for six months and to purchase sewing machines for their use. These groups are based in two villages where large mining interests threaten the natural environment. Group members have the opportunity to see the big picture and participate in decisions about the way their lands are being used.
•    Scholarships for Girls, The Greater Himalayan Foundation, Nepal – The Nepalese government schools provide free basic education up to class 10 (roughly 10th grade in the US), but families must pay to have their children get an education past that point. With scarce resources, Nepalese families often choose to have boys continue schooling, while girls are left behind. Scholarships from WWW give girls a chance to continue their educational pursuits.
•    Save the Elephants in Samburu, Kenya (an anti-poaching and scholarship program) and Elephant Nature Park, Thailand (a sanctuary for abused elephants) – WWW supports efforts to protect elephants and educate the public about the importance of saving them. At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are an estimated 450,000 - 700,000 African elephants and between 35,000 - 40,000 wild Asian elephants. Many of the elephants living in the sanctuary have suffered terrible trauma from accidents and mistreatment during their lives. 

How can GIGSTERS get involved and support WorldWomenWork?
•   Donate money to WWW
•   Shop for products on WWW’s online store
•   Sign up for WWW's newsletter and help spread the word about WWW's work to your networks

Video credit: Swell Pictures Inc.

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Inspired More Than Technology

Many of us remember Steve Jobs as a technological visionary -- a modern day Edison. But aside from his inventions and accolades, he seemed to be a man with very inspiring and insightful views. In this Stanford commencement speech, Jobs poignantly shares three stories or life-defining moments in his 56-year journey and the knowledge he garnered from his experiences.

For me, it's a coincidence that Jobs speaks about connecting the dots -– I've often used a similar analogy. I believe that all of our experiences are like scattered dots: as we're sprinkling each dot, with each experience, we can't see or understand how they connect at the time. But as your life unfolds, and you collect more dots, you're able to connect them and eventually discover your path. Each dot, whether you perceive them as failures, bad luck or poor timing, all lead us to the next place we're supposed to be.

From the beginning of my life, some think I had a sordid start. I'm an immigrant who grew up in the ghetto and on welfare. I've lost four family members in eight short months. I've been laid off. I've quit a job that paid well and with a nice title. I've been done wrong by some family members and some friends. But now I can see that all my experiences, my struggles instilled the "hungry" immigrant work mentality in me. The losses inspired compassion and pushed me to leave the bright lights of the TV industry -– all of my dots have led me to where I am today.

By the age of 28, I reached all my wildest dreams and then some; as a TV reporter in a major market, I've been a reporter for a statewide show on PBS and of course, teaching at the university level. After nearly a decade in TV news, I left the biz and I've also passed up many lucrative job offers with great perks to pursue my passion project GoInspireGo (GIG) –- because this is what brings enlivens me and brings me joy.

Jobs fervently said, "You must do what you love" and "trust." Trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be now -– and that it will lead you to where you're supposed to be.

So in the wise words of Steve Jobs, keep spreading your dots, one day you'll be able to connect them, you'll love and lose; and you'll gain. Love what you do and live life to the fullest before it's too late because death is "a destination we all share." And don't forget to "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish."

Words to live by.

@ the Apple Store in San Francisco's Union Square

Thank you for making your mark Mr. Jobs and leaving behind a legacy that will continue to affect us all. May you rest in peace.

Take Action:
1. Do you love what you do personally and professionally? If not, take baby steps now. (If you've been putting off jogging, make a date once a week with a friend to start. If you can't quit your job to do your passion project, earmark a few hours a week to get the ball rolling.)
2. Tell someone you love that you love them now, before it's too late.
3. Going through a tough time or situation –- be present and still. Think about what lesson this experience is teaching you and learn from it.

How were you inspired by Steve Jobs? WE want to know. Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!