Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Zen Under Fire: Big Vision Podcast Interview with Marianne Elliott

"The difference that I could make was really much less grand than saving the world, but it was in many ways much more powerful because it was actually something that all of us can do. All of us always have the opportunity to serve the person who is right in front of us." ~ Marianne Elliott

This month's Big Vision Podcast features the lovely Marianne Elliott. Marianne is a writer, human rights advocate, and international yoga instructor. Trained as a lawyer, Marianne helped develop human rights strategies for the governments of New Zealand and Timor-Leste, has worked as a Policy Advisor for Oxfam, and spent two years working in human rights in the Gaza Strip prior to her time in Afghanistan, where she served in the United Nations mission (2005-2007).

Her memoir Zen Under Fire, tells the story of her work and life in Afghanistan. Marianne writes and teaches on creating, developing and sustaining real change in personal life, work and the world. Marianne lives in a converted church above the zoo in Wellington, New Zealand, where she writes to the sound of roaring lions and singing monkeys.

You can learn more about Marianne and her work on her website,, follow her on Twitter at @zenpeacekeeper, and see if she is coming to your town on her book tour at

You can listen and subscribe to the Big Vision Podcast via iTunes, or on the player below (if you're reading this via email, or rss and can't see the player click here to go to the original post). If you like the show, I'd really appreciate it if you took a moment to rate and review it on iTunes.

If you have suggestions for people I should interview, please email me at britt AT brittbravo DOT com.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wanna Give a Free $25 Loan to an Entrepreneur on Kiva?

When some friends got married recently, they didn't set up a registry because, "We are in our 40s and already have lots of stuff." Instead, they asked that we do something kind for someone else. I decided to make a loan to, a nonprofit organization that facilitates regular people (like you and me) making micro-loans to entrepreneurs across the globe.

I liked the idea of giving a Kiva loan as a wedding gift because once the loan is repaid, it can be re-loaned to another entrepreneur, and another and another, so it's a wedding gift that will keep on giving. I've made 14 loans over the past 6 years, and they've all been repaid 100%, except of course, my newest loans, which are in the process of either being funding, or repaid.

As a Kiva lender, I can invite new lenders to make a free $25 loan. If you've never used Kiva before, and want to try it out, just click on the link below, and you'll be able to make a $25 micro-loan to an entrepreneur for free:

And here's the *really* cool part. If you use the link above to join Kiva, and make the free $25 loan, then I get $25 to loan too! It doesn't get more have fun, do good than that, does it?

Photo: Sophea Chum. A loan of $600 helped Sophea to purchase silk materials for weaving.

Monday, June 03, 2013

News Media: Take Responsibility for Your Influence

cat watches cat on tv
I'm tired of the news.

Browsing the headlines on The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, and Google News' sites is one long litany of horror: Murder. Rape. Cruelty. Lies. Selfishness. Riots. Fighting in Congress. Natural disasters.

I used to watch The Daily Show to feel better about the world, but even Jon Stewart has had enough, and is taking a break.

Why does positive news about people being kind, problems being solved, and hope being rekindled have to be allocated to a separate site, like Positive News, Good News Network, and Happy News, or to its own section, like HuffPost Good News?

So many of the people I've talked with lately seem overwhelmed by the amount of challenges our world is facing. Things will not get better unless we see news stories that describe our challenges and possible solutions. We need to document moments of despair and of hope. Together. Integrated. Not on a separate site, or in its own section, like it is a special interest.

I keep thinking about the recent March Against Monsanto to prevent the spread of genetically modified food. I think we need a March for Mature Media to protest the spread of only fear-based, negative, and violence-oriented news, and to promote the reporting of both good and bad news stories.

According to a Pew Research study, Americans are spending more time following the news.  It's time for the news media to take responsibility for its profound influence as the storyteller of our time.

Photo by cloudzilla.