Category Archives: Connecting Thought Leaders with Socially Responsible Organizations and Communities

Leadership in New Orleans – Brad Pitt Helps Make It Right

Last night, while watching IDOL GIVES BACK, they highlighted several great programs that are happening around the world. Programs that started really out of frustration for lack of government concern.  Everyday people and celebrities are now taking leadership roles with idea’s that can and will  make a difference.

As we know, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The slow reaction to the initial emergency and to the ongoing crisis exposed troubling realities about the response capabilities of the American government when the citizens of our most culturally diverse city were in desperate need of help.

When Brad Pitt visited the Lower 9th Ward for the first time after the storm, he was shocked by what he saw: the remnants of people’s lives strewn across the streets and an entire neighborhood torn apart and turned upside down. Pitt was even more disturbed by the lack of a clear plan to address the situation. Many were quietly saying there was no chance the Lower 9th Ward would ever be re-built.

Inspired by the courage and hope of the residents he met, Pitt resolved to do whatever he could to help them rebuild. Just as importantly, he wanted to help recreate and nurture the unique culture and spirit of the Lower 9th Ward, which symbolizes the soul of New Orleans. He understood instinctively that a New Orleans rebuilt without the Lower 9th Ward would never be whole. MAKE IT RIGHT was  born.

He began by working with Global Green to sponsor an architecture competition aimed at generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. Pitt worked with local community leaders as well as experts from around the world to develop viable ideas for the Lower 9th Ward. That successful project inspired Pitt’s new focus: Make It Right.

The Mission of Make It Right is clear: It is to be a catalyst for redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward, by building a neighborhood comprised of safe and healthy homes that are inspired by Cradle to Cradle thinking, with an emphasis on a high quality of design, while preserving the spirit of the community’s culture. The goal is to accomplish this quickly, so that the first residents can begin returning to their homes as soon as possible.

Without Pitt’s dedication and concern – this would NOT be happening. In all likelihood, government officials would be standing around bickering about what to do.

Idol Gives Back Foundation is a new not-for-profit organization established by the producers of American Idol and FOX to raise money and awareness for children and families living in poverty and at risk in the U.S. and abroad. Idol Gives Back Foundation is harnessing American Idol’s ability to capture America’s hearts and the power of entertainment to benefit some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

Groups like this and  ONE, are going to change the world. WE CAN make a difference!

brad pitt idol gives back make it right hurricane katrina one Turbo Tagger


i.c.stars executes on its mission by providing IT career programs and services that strengthen the leadership potential of inner city young adults in Chicago.
i.c.stars offerings focus on providing social and economic value to participants, communities and industries.

7 years ago, i.c.stars began it’s first training Cycle amidst the dot com boom. Slowly, the industry took a turn.
However, today, i.c.stars is still training future technology and community leaders!

Tucked inconspicuously inside a trendy Chicago loft in the upscale River North district, known for its art galleries, chic restaurants and tech startups, i.c.stars is a three-month boot camp designed to develop computer programming skills, business savvy and leadership. – Writer Michael Bitoun Blecher did a great article about ic stars for Graduatingengineer.

Volunteers are always needed!

leadership chicago chicago leadership i c stars Turbo Tagger

XO Laptop: Giving every child in the world access to Social Media

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution.

Give One Get One

For the next week, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. This is the first time the revolutionary XO laptop has been made available to the general public. For a donation of $399, one XO laptop will be sent to empower a child in a developing nation and one will be sent to the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. $200 of your donation is tax-deductible (your $399 donation minus the fair market value of the XO laptop you will be receiving).

PLUS, for all U.S. donors who participate in the Give One Get One program, T-Mobile is offering one year of complimentary HotSpot access.

It’s not a laptop project. It’s an education project.

In 2002, MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte experienced first-hand how connected laptops transformed the lives of children and their families in a remote Cambodian village. A seed was planted: If every child in the world had access to a computer, what potential could be unlocked? What problems could be solved? These questions eventually led to the foundation of One Laptop per Child, and the creation of the XO laptop.

OLPC’s mission is to provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States). By giving children their very own connected XO laptop, we are giving them a window to the outside world, access to vast amounts of information, a way to connect with each other, and a springboard into their future. And we’re also helping these countries develop an essential resource—educated, empowered children.


For more information visit! give one get one Negroponte Turbo Tagger

Discovery Acquires Treehugger Site

Discovery fits these criteria to a T.”

* They reach 1.5 billion (yes, billion!) cumulative subscribers around the world with top quality, often nature related non-fiction content

* They have commitment from the top of the company for over $50M to create content including programming for the world’s first 24 hr green channel and in addition have allocated significant budget aimed at building the leading green web portfolio on the Internet

* They already have web properties serving hundreds of millions of pageviews per month

* They are looking to the TreeHugger team to help drive the direction of their green efforts online

“By teaming up with Discovery, we believe we can more effectively play a critical role in this mission.”

Discovery Treehugger Green Turbo Tagger

Michael Moore, Sicko and My Aetna Blues

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GREEN EXCHANGE – Chicago Gets Greener

Green Exchange is the country’s first commercial real estate development designed for the advancement of green business. By bringing together an opportune mix of exceptional organizations under one roof, you’ll find a dynamic environment that fosters synergies and provides constant opportunities to grow green exponentially.

Business is increasingly going green. In the U.S., Europe and around the globe, organizations are realizing what it is to be both successful and sustainable. Green Exchange moves the green marketplace from niche to mainstream. Its mission is to further the new green economy, serving people, planet and profit.

“Green Exchange is a great example of the public/private partnerships that are working together to help make Chicago one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the nation.”

Mayor Richard M. Daley, City of Chicago

The four-story 250,000 SF, Green Exchange, located at 2545 West Diversey Avenue, is to be converted in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, with an aspiration to achieve a Silver certification. It will provide a significant retail presence, showroom galleries, office space, incubator lofts and attractive common areas, creating an epicenter for green businesses and organizations in the Midwest U.S.

Chicago Green Exchange environment Turbo Tagger

Imerman Angels


Jonny Imerman is the founder of Imerman Angels. Fighting cancer for 2 years, at the age of 26 years old, he had loving support from family and friends, but never met anyone his age who was a cancer survivor. He wanted to talk to someone just like him, someone who truly understood and remembered – someone who had already beaten the same type of cancer.

Today, Imerman Angels provides that gift for cancer fighters. Imerman Angels introduces and connects each cancer fighter to one survivor who is the same age, same gender, and someone who has already beaten that particular type of cancer. A cancer survivor would be an angel – walking, talking, living proof to inspire the fighter that he/she can beat cancer. The relationship provides a fighter the opportunity to ask personal questions and receive encouragement from someone who is uniquely familiar with the situation.  The relationship provides a survivor the opportunity to personally help a fighter as he or she battles the disease.

The nature of the 1-on-1 relationship is up to each fighter-survivor pair.  Perhaps the survivor will go to the fighter’s first chemotherapy treatment, or maybe the pair will simply speak on the phone from time to time.  In other words, the fighter and survivor determine the depth of their own relationship.
In addition, Imerman Angels also connects “caregivers.”  A caregiver is a friend or family member who is supporting a cancer fighter.  Like fighters and survivors, they wish to be paired up with another caregiver who relates to and understands their situation.  For instance, we have introduced the mother of a three-year-old cancer fighter to the mother of a four-year-old cancer survivor.
“Although Imerman Angels is based in Chicago, we help cancer fighters and survivors across the United States and the world.  While sometimes a cancer fighter and survivor live in the same city, we have connected people from different cities, even different countries.  We have found that the 1-on-1 relationships are not limited by geography.  For example, we paired up a cancer survivor in northern California with a cancer fighter in Guatemala.”
Whether you are a cancer fighter, survivor, or caregiver, our service is 100% free.  Imerman Angels does not turn anyone away.


Imerman Angels, founded in 2003,  is a federally registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.  All donations are tax deductible.

This Saturday, July 28, Don’t Miss This Outdoor Rooftop Event at Lakeshore Athletic Club Supporting Imerman Angels .org

Jonny Imerman is a friend of ours and runs an amazing organization I plan to talk much more in depth about next week.  For now, if you want more info on the incredible services Imerman Angels provides, pay them a visit or join them this Saturday for a terrific time.  You are the best, Jonny!
Derrick and Michael

ZAADZ is Still Changing the World – And You Can too!

Zaadz, and wanted to share it…

“History shows that we keep caring for the needs of larger and larger numbers of people: we’ve come from small hunter-gatherer economies to agrarian economies to a larger-scale plantation economy and then a full-scale industrial economy. Now we’re firmly settled in a knowledge economy: we have an entire market based on the transformation of information from one pattern to another.

(Amazing, hm? It wasn’t that many decades ago that the very idea would have seemed ridiculous. An economy based on information? On learning and then sharing? Absurd. Or phenomenal.

If history is any indicator, we’re not going to stop there. So we might well ask: What’s going to come after this knowledge economy?

If you look at everything from Microsoft’s interest in humanitarian causes to the greening of businesses worldwide and the deepening interest in making a living that matters, it might make sense to imagine that a change is already happening.

We’re shifting from an information economy to one that’s values-based.

What does that mean? It means that businesses that are doing good will be the ones that do well. It means that companies that contribute to social betterment will be the ones who attract the best workers. It means that organizations who care about the consequences of their actions will be the ones that thrive.

And so we’re finding out it’s not just possible to make money meaningful, it’s essential. After a certain point, money that’s not attached to some deeper value is worthless, and unsatisfying, and more and more people are waking up to that.

Which brings us to the ‘changing the world‘ part.

Capitalism is arguably one of the most powerful forces on the planet. So, waking up to the deep change stirring within it, and tuning into those movements from inside, is thrilling. (And you can feel the change, can’t you? There are people calling for careers that they can believe in and looking for ways to spend their money that doesn’t result in social and environmental harm, and our numbers are growing and growing and growing.)

The more we can do to facilitate that shift, and to encourage the growth of both the businesses striving to reorient themselves and the people interested in supporting this new values-based commerce, the better. It’s not an easy process. These sorts of fundamental changes (dare I say ‘paradigm shifts’?) take time. It takes the commitment of thousands—if not millions—to increased awareness, to being conscious of the way we make and spend our money, and to staying true to our own values and making sure these our aligned with our economic actions.”

Find out more about Zaadz and join!


Fox network’s American Idol has become the nation’s most watched TV show with an average of 30-35 million viewers.

A two-hour show filled with inspirational songs, movie, television and music stars and stories of poverty from Africa and the United States rounded off the two-night special. Even Celine and
Elvis an appearance!

“People say you can’t be the generation that ends brutal, stupid poverty, but we can and we
will,” Bono, U2’s lead singer and leading spokesman for the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty
History, said in a prerecorded segment.

(Ellen donated a check for $100,000)

Each vote cast by viewers via text and telephone triggered an undisclosed donation to charities
by the corporate sponsors of Idol – Ford, Coca-Cola and AT&T News Corp, which owns the Fox
TV network, donated $5 million after the vote tally hit 50 million. – Viewers
were also invited to phone in donations that will go to Save the Children, UNICEF, Malaria No
More, The Global Fund and Nothing But Nets for youth relief programs in Africa and poverty-hit
areas of the United States, including hurricane ravaged Louisiana.

Throughout the show Seacrest regularly crossed to comedian and talk-show host Ellen
DeGeneres at a concert she hosted at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles for musical performances
by stars such as opera group Il Divo, Annie Lennox and former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.  – 

I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes an annual fundraiser.