Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Blue Sweater

Since I posted about "The Life You Can Save" I feel like I need to post about "The Blue Sweater" by Jacqueline Novogratz. I actually found this to be an easier ('tho longer) read, much more positive, useful, and engaging. In telling her story; her work in Africa, the amazing people she met, what she saw working ,and (just as important), not working with regards to the issue of poverty, she imparts the lessons she learned. The story culminates with her retrospective about the Rwandon tragedy and her involvement with the Acumen Fund.

While those lessons pertain directly to reducing poverty and increasing the quality of life of the impoverished in Africa, I found much that applies to parenting, homeschooling and life in general.

Some highlights and ideas I'd like to share follow
(Of course I can't come close to the depth of the book. You'll just have to read it yourself.)

Ideas I found intriguing that apply to so much more than reducing poverty:

Empowering those who are already doing good work. (Remember the old saying "The Lord helps those who help themselves"? Well, there's a practical reason for that!)

The need for using BOTH compassion and intellect (and the damage done when using only one!)

The need for accountability, primarily with regards to use of charitable funds, 'tho I see a larger application of this idea. (Is what you're doing working? No? Then DO SOMETHING ELSE!)

The need for ownership and buy in from charitable recipients (and why loans are better than charity)

The importance of an individual moral compass, as well as governmental integrity, and institutions that are reliable, when creating a society with a good quality of life (I could probably get religious here!)

Sins of omission vs sins of commission

The need for and importance of "Patient Capital", that is, the willingness to make a long term investment that is not likely to "pay off" in the short term but will in the long term. Again, she is mostly referring to monetary investment, but don't you see how it applies to anything that we really care about? (I can see another post about what kind of investment we need to make in ourselves so that we have the resources to invest patient capital in our children and community.)

I would strongly recommend reading "The Blue Sweater" in conjunction with "The Life You Can Save". Peter Singer's book explains WHY you should care and donate to charity. Jacqueline Novogratz's book shows HOW one woman actually did it.

1 comment:

Mariko said...

Thanks so much for your comments about The Blue Sweater and Jacqueline -- and especially for highlighting the concept of patient capital. For readers interested in learning more about Jacqueline's work with Acumen Fund, you can sign up for her quarterly update letter here:, or (if you are on Facebook), you can become a fan of The Blue Sweater: -- the page includes information about events, appearances, etc. as well as ways to engage.