Ashley Richards

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Teach a Person to Fish

July 22nd, 2006 Posted in Uncategorized

This past week I got my first email letting me know that Milly, the woman whose business I invested in over in Uganda, started paying back her loan I helped finance. She’s expanded her 1-room home so that her family of 6 children has more space – most women make their crafts at home. No, I’m not a heartless Scrooge. I’m a big-hearted microlender with Kiva. And you should be too!

BusinessWeek calls Kiva a MySpace of microfinance, but that’s probably not exactly correct. It’s quite a bit more organized and the people whose businesses that need loans have been vetted before being posted on there. Kiva works with established organizations in the country who determine which businesses are most likely to be able to pay back their loans. So there’s less risk for the lender (me). I’m not making any money on this loan – just earning Karma points.

What you might not know is that the majority of the people recieving these loans cannot speak or write English. They may not be able to write in even their own language. I had lucky enough to work with Premal Shah, president of Kiva. I ran into him on the street in Palo Alto one evening – the passion and excitement that he has for Kiva cannot be contained with you talk to him about it. (He likes the recite the proverb below when explaining what Kiva does.) So he was saying that since the lendees can’t read English, the majority of the time they just look for their picture on the Kiva site and get excited about it. And yes, they have access to the internet – each village tends to have one reasonably priced internet cafe. (Unlike here where you get charge an arm and a leg for a minute of internet access.) Or there’s one not too far away.

You have money just sitting in your bank account that’s earning very little interest. Why not take your spare $25, $50, or $100 and put it into Kiva. Once Milly’s loan is paid-up, I’m going to keep my money in there and re-invest in someone else.

“Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”
~Chinese Proverb

Lady in the Water

July 21st, 2006 Posted in Movie Reviews

There’s no twist. Rather it’s like a mystery movie where the clues are shown to you at the beginning and the story slowly unfolds. I felt like M. Night Shyamalan was hitting me over the head with what the symbolism was supposed to mean – telling me just in case I didn’t get it – like you would with a little kid. But I wasn’t completely annoyed by it because he poked fun at that exact fault at one point.

It was a sweet movie, yet scary – a bedtime story or perhaps a campfire story, where the goal is to scare the b’jesus out of your listeners but not too much that they can’t fall asleep.

I’m not sure if you need to see it in the theatre, but you definitely need to watch it in a dark room. It’s worth the matinee price to escape the 100-degree heat this weekend. I think my theatre experience was a bit ruined by being surrounded by talkative people, the lights coming on for the opening of the movie, and people getting up and down throughout it.

An Inconvenient Truth

July 13th, 2006 Posted in Movie Reviews

I didn’t learn too much from An Inconvenient Truth. Maybe it’s because I follow the climate change stories and became a fan of Dr. David Suzuki after moving to Vancouver. A lot of what Gore has to says is the same exact things Suzuki has been saying since before I was born. Actually, I think Suzuki does a better job of explaining what’s going on and what our future will be like if we continue on the path that we’re on.

There’s a clip in the movie of a cartoon showing a frog in a boiling pot. For the life of me I can’t figure out where this clip is from, but it looks so familiar. I know I’ve seen it before. I should have stayed for the credits to see who created it.
The movie wasn’t all that hopeful or helpful. I left feeling like there really wasn’t much that I could do. Maybe I was just in a contrary mood. The thing that hit me in the heart was the drowning polar bear. There’s an animation of a polar bear swimming and swimming, desperately searching for a bit of ice to rest on. Children should not see this movie- they’ll have nightmares. I would have. But, I was the kid raising money for world hunger and going to Earth Day celebrations.

Eurovision 2006

July 7th, 2006 Posted in Fun, Madness

Okay, so if you don’t know what Eurovision is or have never seen the contest, you probably don’t understand the trainwreck that it is. It something like the Miss American Pagent combined with American Idol. Each European country has their own competition to choose the best song to go the Eurovision. This song has to be written specifically for Eurovision. So no, Ireland can’t just send the latest U2 song – it would make this contest so less funny. Once at Eurovision, the country puts on a performance of the song.

So I just found out who the winner for 2006 is – Finland.  (For my European friends – Yes it was in May; I live under a rock that is called the U.S.)

If you’re thinking they submitted some cute Lapland folksong that talks about reindeer frolicking in the snow, you couldn’t be more wrong! OMG – the group that performed it is called Lordi – and they look like a combination of something out of Lord of the Rings and Xenu (The Scientology overlord that was in that John Travolta movie). And to top it all off, they’re singing a deathmetal song about angels and heaven. I kid you not.

You can enjoy all the fun/horror with the online Eurovision song clips. The rest of the entries sounded either like bad American country music or dance/pop music. I don’t know which is worse.