Archives by date

You are browsing the site archives by date.

Treating the Cause, Not the Illness

By David Bornstein

In 1965, in an impoverished rural county in the Mississippi Delta, the pioneering physician Jack Geiger helped found one of the nation’s first community health centers. Many of the children Geiger treated were seriously malnourished, so he began writing “prescriptions” for food — stipulating quantities of milk, vegetables, meat, and fruit that could be “filled” at grocery stores, which were instructed to send the bills to the health center, where they were paid out of the pharmacy budget. When word of this reached the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, which financed the center, an official was dispatched to Mississippi to reprimand Geiger and make sure he understood that the center’s money could be used only for medical purposes. Geiger replied: “The last time I looked in my textbooks, the specific therapy for malnutrition was food.” The official had nothing to say and returned to Washington.
Read More

A Trade Barrier to Defeating AIDS

By Tina Rosenberg

In Friday’s Fixes column, I wrote about the Medicines Patent Pool, a new organization trying to make AIDS drugs better, cheaper and available sooner to people who need them in poor countries.   It relies on voluntary donations of rights by patent holders, most of them pharmaceutical companies.   Its success is crucial;  new research shows that if we can dramatically increase the number of people on antiretroviral medicines, we can not only save millions of lives, but potentially cause the epidemic to die away.
Read More

Sharing Patents to Wipe Out AIDS

By Tina Rosenberg

Not since the announcement in 1996 that antiretroviral therapy could effectively control H.I.V. has there been a season of AIDS news as hopeful as this one.  Trials of a new microbicide have brought positive results; ongoing studies of circumcision are showing that it gives strong, lasting, protection; a man has been cured of H.I.V. infection and new animal and clinical trials are raising hopes that he won’t be alone.
Read More

Trusting Families to Help Themselves

By David Bornstein

On Friday, I reported on the Family Independence Initiative (F.I.I.), an organization that encourages low-income families to define their own goals and work towards them in mutual support groups, while carefully documenting their successes. (F.I.I. pays modest stipends for the research data provided by families.). So far, the few hundred families that F.I.I. has worked with have demonstrated impressive gains in areas like income and savings, debt reduction, skills training, and improvements in children’s grades and health care.
Read More

Out of Poverty, Family-Style

By David Bornstein

Courtesy of Family Independence Initiative

A Family Independence Initiative gathering in Boston.

Shortly after Candace Keshwar immigrated from Trinidad to Boston in 2002, her life took a difficult turn. Her dream had been to go to college and have a career where she could help others. But her first daughter was born with cerebral palsy and Keshwar spent the next seven years caring for her at home. She grew isolated. Her husband worked in construction, but jobs were sporadic, and the family relied on government assistance. “It was a real dark space for me,” Keshwar said. “I kept thinking, ‘This cannot be my life. I know I have the potential to do so much more.’”
Read More

Friends in Revolution

By Tina Rosenberg

Associated Press

Policemen in plain clothes arrested a protester during clashes in Egypt on April 6, 2008.

On Friday, I wrote about Friendfactor, an organizing tool used in the successful battle for gay marriage in New York State. Friendfactor combines social media and real-world friendship to motivate people to get active. Instead of getting an e-mail from a group asking you to support a political goal, you get one from a close friend or family member asking you to “help me get my full rights.” Friendfactor is particularly interesting because it seems to offer a solution to one of the biggest obstacles in using social media for political change: people need close personal connections in order to get them to take action — especially if that action is risky and difficult.
Read More

On Gay Rights, Moving Real-Life Friends to Action

By Tina Rosenberg

Friendfactor.org

Sarah Silverman’s page on Friendfactor.org

The successful battle for gay marriage legislation in New York State involved the debut of an intriguing new way to apply social media to social change: Friendfactor. While the precise role it played in the law’s passage is unclear, Friendfactor offered a new model for online organizing that could become very useful in similar rights campaigns.

Although Friendfactor depends on social media to contact people, the strategy it used to support gay rights differed in important ways from the supposed Twitter and Facebook “revolutions” we have read so much about: it capitalizes on the strong bonds of real friendship — the old-fashioned sort that exists offline — to move people to action.
Read More

Building a More Inclusive Work Force

By David Bornstein

In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (A.S.D.). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 730,000 people in the U.S. under age 21 have an A.S.D. It’s much harder to estimate the number of adults on the autism spectrum because only in recent decades has the condition been regularly diagnosed.
Read More