Supporting What We Believe In
For #GivingTuesday, a reminder from our team to look for both problems and solutions—and to be vocal about the two.
At Uncharted, we often speak about the social and environmental problems that we address through our organization. For this Giving Tuesday, we have decided to go beyond the current focal points of our work, spotlighting instead the issues that those on our team individually care about.
In the following collection, you’ll find that we are motivated by things that we’ve seen and survived, rallied by empathy and conscience. We talk about criminal justice reform and marine conservation and the recent wildfires in California. For every issue that we feature, there is a corresponding solution. There is an organization that is doing something. A person with a big idea.
We hope that these tiny vignettes remind you to be curious and uncertain and frustrated and hopeful and more than a bit contrarian when faced with a big problem. Ask questions. Challenge assumptions. Find the evidence. Root out the good — and then shout about it. Start conversations and raise awareness and share stories about responses that are working; that haven’t worked. Help craft a more complete, complex understanding of what the future could be.
Change, after all, is crewed by people who are not timid in facing the unknown.
The US is home to about 5% of the world’s population and about 25% of the world’s prisoners. I’m passionate about justice reform because I believe we can do better by the communities of color we incarcerate in disproportionate numbers. I believe we can do better by those experiencing addiction and mental illness, who often end up in our prisons and jails because we don’t treat them in doctor’s offices. I believe we can do better than the expensive and ineffective system we have now.
There are many organizations that do amazing work with justice-involved individuals, but real change is going to come from changing systems and the way we as a society think about criminal justice. The first step on that path is to open up new avenues of information. The Marshall Project is doing exactly that. They’re a nonprofit journalism organization that writes about all aspects of our justice system and exists to help elevate criminal justice issues to the national consciousness and spark conversations about justice reform.
Serial: Season Three (Sarah Koenig)
I find myself called to (and horrified by) the interconnected issues leading to our changing climate. More and more, I believe entrepreneurial efforts must be complimented by education, policy work, and a shift in the “story narrative” to bring us together across partisan boundaries and create personal accountability.
I am a big fan of the Southern Environmental Law Center. They’re a non-profit, employing approximately 80 lawyers, to create, strengthen, and enforce the laws that protect the natural environment of the Southeast (U.S.). Within the region, their policy-level work helps to create/uphold the foundation for environmental sustainability that the rest of us can build on.
How extreme weather is shrinking the planet (The New Yorker)
The biggest story of the century needs more coverage (Scientific American)
U.S. climate report warns of damaged environment and shrinking economy (The New York Times)
I’ve been thinking a lot about #believesurvivors. As an abuse survivor myself, I realize that I am always walking with it, learning through it, being pushed by the consequences of it and am not diminished by it. My life, in the living of it, gives value and hopefully wisdom as I continue and share with others. I’m also painfully aware that even though I’ve done a lot of work around it, there will always be more to do.
Honestly, I don’t know any particular organizations. I’m fairly certain that if the environment had been more educated, more truth-telling, more courageous that the abuse would not have been able to continue. Even now, decades later there are always better ways to connect ‘me-my soul’ with my physical body. Organizations that take women from transitional housing/training situations, perhaps, through a wilderness survival trip (like the ones through Women’s Wilderness) or art therapy.
Healing invisible wounds: art therapy for PTSD (HealthLine)
Life after abuse (The National Domestic Violence Hotline)
Healing from the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Karen Duncan)
What issue are you passionate about? Immigration—this is close to me because I am an immigrant myself and it saddens me how we treat others that just want to make a livelihood for their families and contribute to the development of US. It’s even worse how we are treating kids, acting against their best interests and without considering the catastrophic consequences that those acts will have in the development of those kids as healthy adults.
What organization do you know that is tackling this issue that you’d like us to feature? The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is a champion for the best interests of children who arrive in the United States on their own, from all corners of the world.
Separated By Birth (VICE)
What separation from parents does to children (The Washington Post)
I am passionate about marine conservation, specifically sharks.
I remember in 2016 when Hong Kong officials seized one ton of endangered hammerhead shark fins from one of the world’s largest cargo carriers. One freaking ton. That’s two thousands pounds of a fin, from an endangered animal. That’s insane! I then learned that out of the 100 million sharks killed by humans each year, an estimated 73 million are killed for soup. Shark fin soup is a Chinese delicacy and viewed as a symbol of wealth. The fin itself has almost no flavor, yet the value of the fins are as much as 250 times that of shark meat. The culling process is wasteful, violent, and all 14 shark species prevalent to the fin trade are threatened.
I’ve always admired the Hong Kong-based NGO WildAid, a U.S. organization that works to minimize cultural opposition. They do a lot of animal conservation work outside of marine ecosystems, but I’ve always gravitated to them with their example to lead transport and logistics companies to phase out from shark finning. The stats reveal that it’s working, too!
Shark finning: sharks turned prey (Smithsonian)
My mind has been on the fires in California every day since they started. I’ve cried multiple times watching the videos of people attempting to just find a way out. It not only hits close to my heart because of the fires we’ve experienced in Colorado (Taylor’s family almost lost their house a few years ago), but the Camp Fire in Northern California hits particularly close to home because my family used to own a business in Chico. My dad used to spend 50% of his time there. Many of our family friends and leaders of that business still live there. The fire boundary is across the street from the condo my dad used to live in. I can’t imagine the devastation the community is already experiencing, and it breaks my heart to know that the fire is only half way done burning. Natural disasters are only on the rise—and I feel helpless in these scenarios.
I did a lot of googling of how to help, and one of the first organizations that came up is the United Way of Northern California. There are so many on-the-ground efforts and federal efforts that it’s hard to know who to give to. But United Way is working both with immediate financial aid for survivors and on long-term recovery efforts.
How to help victims of the California wildfires (Smithsonian)
What issue are you passionate about? Sometimes it feels hard to choose. In the U.S. I’m passionate about climate advocacy, immigration rights, and criminal justice reform. However my answer is going to be a bit broader: I’m passionate about empowering people to make their own change in a dignified way. Those are a lot of fluffy words but it’ll make sense in a second!
What organization do you know that is tackling this issue that you’d like us to feature? GiveDirectly. They provide cash transfers to the extreme poor in Kenya and are backed by rigorous evidence and research. I love them because I’m a big fan of UBI (universal basic income) — it’s like the equivalent of a non-restricted grant to nonprofits. Who are we to choose what a poor person needs? Giving people cash gives them their dignity, along with the freedom and power to do with it what they want. Cash transfers bring responsibility and normalcy back into someone’s life that has probably been shattered and shook by the horror of living in poverty.
Anything else that you’d like to share? In our current state right now, it’s hard — and extremely valid — to think about the injustices we need to fight in our own backyard and country. It’s also equally important to remember about the people in other corners of the world who are suffering each day, who don’t make headlines or clicky media titles. My one hope for Giving Tuesday is to remember that hope can be found anywhere and help is needed all over.
What issue are you passionate about? I’m passionate about the refugee crisis and how we as Americans welcome refugees into our country. People who have to flee their home country are already experiencing emotional and financial hardships, and I think it’s important that we try to relieve some of this burden and help people to better integrate into their new homes.
What organization do you know that is tackling this issue that you’d like us to feature? RefugeeOne. I was a tutor with RefugeeOne when I lived in Chicago. I met weekly with the sweetest 4th grader and got to know the rest of her family as well. It’s a wonderful organization that does a lot for the families!
America’s system for resettling refugees is collapsing (The Atlantic)
What issue are you passionate about? Our criminal justice system is broken and is desperately in need of reform. So screwed up is the system that 90% of people who are held in jail on bail will plead guilty just to go home, even if they are innocent.
What organization do you know that is tackling this issue that you’d like us to feature? The Bail Project pays people’s bail to restore the presumption of innocence and keep innocent people from having a untrue criminal record.
America’s incarceration problem (The New Yorker)
Is America making progress in curtailing mass incarceration? (Pacific Standard)
Mass incarceration’s complex statistics (CityLab)
What issue are you passionate about? I have been thinking a lot about human development — what are the different components of a good life and what barriers are in place that inhibit holistic growth for every human. Most of the time we think about people building a livelihood, and while economic opportunity is crucial it plays a role in a larger picture. I am passionate about every human building a life of dignity.
What organization do you know that is tackling this issue that you’d like us to feature? Growing Home. I found them through hearing their founder speak about intergenerational poverty and the work they are doing to combat it in Denver. I love their holistic approach to human development that considers connection to economic opportunities, but also healthy food and communities.
The inheritance of black poverty: It’s all about the men (Brookings Institute)
Plant tomatoes. Harvest lower crime rates. (Mother Jones)
Extensive data shows punishing reach of racism for black boys (New York Times)
We recently lost someone to gun violence. A random, unprovoked crime that took a friend’s life. I’ve lost multiple family members to gun suicide. Last week, one person was killed and four others were injured blocks from the Uncharted office. That same day, there was a shooting in Missouri and another at a hospital in Chicago. Every day, 96 Americans are killed with guns. The statistics are overwhelming. Yet this problem, unlike so many problems, feels tangible to me. There are clear, definitive steps that we can take to save lives.
One organization whose work I believe in is Everytown for Gun Safety. They are trying to prevent gun violence by raising awareness and promoting gun-control legislation. They also conduct “groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge to the American public.”
Journey of a bullet (NBC News)
How to reduce shootings (The New York Times)
A day with a Chicago teen: ‘We’ve normalized gun violence.’ (Washington Post)
Learn more about Uncharted’s mission of changing the way the world tackles problems.