a few generous things to do cos it’s Christmas!

Posted on November 29th, 2010

Christmas time, right. Time to care, really.

In my family, we don’t do presents…which leaves a gaping hole for giving in other ways. Below are a few ideas, based mostly on some projects I’m working on…

1. give $2 to the homeless in your ‘hood.

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I’m an ambassador for StreetSmart. So, is Stephen Fry! In the lead-up to Christmas, StreetSmart  restaurants – Longrain, Otto, Coast, Universal, Sake, Red Spice Road, Mezzo Bar&Grill, Ladro, Cutler & Co, Il Centro Restaurant & Bar, ecco Bistro, Urbane and hundreds of others – ask diners to donate $2 to StreetSmart on their bill.

The two bucks is simply added to your bill.  I’ve always liked this idea…it gives you the option to opt out…but invites you with conviction to give…it makes it easier for us to care, which I think we all want.

The cash goes to homeless projects in nearby areas – choirs, book exchanges and simple accommodation and food. This matters. Donating local I think is good. It’s more intimate. You’re more part of it. Your care is tangible.

I guess what you can do is choose to eat at a participating restaurant. And ask your favourite cafe/restaurant to take part next year.

2. if you’re buying gifts…

…check out this Women in Business gift guide Clare put together, which supports Australian women in business.

And avoid products made by this list of companies that committed some pretty sexist acts this year.

3. donate to Aboriginal literacy

2010-11-29_0713 Four out of 5 Aboriginal kids in remote communities can’t read. Donate some extra $$ to the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation here.

4. or donate to young girls.

I’m also involved in the Because I Am a Girl campaign. ‘Because I am a Girl’ is Plan International’s global campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls out of poverty. If you want to know why this matters…click here.

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Do you have any gift ideas that matter? I’m happy for you to add here…

Sunday Life: try this “push back” holiday out-of-office reply!

Posted on November 28th, 2010

This week I push back

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I know about a dozen people who simply don’t reply to email. I used to wonder how they got anything done, or sustained a social life. But they’re always at parties and are some of the most successful, adroit people I know.

OK, surely, then they’re in a permanent state of guilt-squirm. I mean, imagine walking around with that many unreplied emails hanging over your head! That’s a heavy karmic cloud, right there! But, nope. They’re unperturbed.

My friend James, one of the dirty dozen, says he feels justified in being so electronically AWOL “People think that because they’ve spent five seconds firing off an email asking something of me, they deserve a response that will take me 25 minutes to research and compose,” he says. “It doesn’t weigh up.”

In the past, he says, you’d have to compose a letter or pick up the phone, which required more considered application and was deserving of considered help. Which is actually a terrific point.

But isn’t he afraid important stuff won’t get done? No, he says. If it’s important to him, he does in fact reply (clearly mine rarely make the cut). If it’s more important to the other party, he says, they’ll find another way to a) get their answer or b) make it easier for him to give them their answer (eg: “Dear James, could you please advise which of these three carefully thought-out options works best?”).

Which sounds horribly selfish. But on consideration, it’s supply/demand theory applied to the time-poor economy. You want it more, you do the work.

Catching up with the Jameses of the world is bloody infuriating. But I wonder if they’re not the survivors… the post-nuclear fall-out cockroaches of this frenetic information age. Read more

A day at bondi…a christmas gift idea

Posted on November 26th, 2010

Every few weeks or so I feature one of Eugene Tan’s wonderful beach pictures on this site. I know many of you love them. Woah!, now you can buy the book.

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Uge has become a great mate after years of running into him down at Bondi in the mornings where, for the past 11 years, he’s been found taking beautiful pictures of people being happy in water… which he then posts on his site aquabumps. 40,000 people check in each morning to view his work. And thousands have bought his over-sized prints. I’ve seen them hung around the world.

You might recall, I’ve written about Uge before. He taught me about “checking in with your inside people“. And I can safely say, Uge is one of the happiest people I know. He smiles when he surfs. It shows in his book. Alex-Kiss

Plus a gratuitous shot of our mate Gezza xxx

Plus a gratuitous shot of our mate Gezza x

I reckon it’d make a great Christmas present. Happy, fresh, summery. This you might like to know:

* It’s a massive coffee-table spectacular (almost a metre across when open).

* It’s designed by Ant Donovan

* It’s $150 and you can buy it in Uge’s gallery on Curlewis St or here:

Have a great Friday xxxxxx