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Why ‘Solutions Journalism’ Matters, Too

By David Bornstein

On Friday, I did a recap of stories that we had featured in Fixes over the past year ― and I was surprised to discover that many of the organizations we’d written about had managed to expand their work, even in a difficult economy and political context. Looking back at the range of changes that had occurred during the past year, I was reminded of the remark by Robert Kennedy: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
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News Flash: Progress Happens

By Tina Rosenberg

The benefit of writing a column about solutions is that it provides an alternative lens through which to view the world. The daily news tends to be dominated by daunting challenges (unemployment, climate change, the polarization of Congress) and flashpoint events (the killing of Osama bin Laden, the tsunami in Japan, the Penn State scandal). These stories are vital to cover. However, people often come away from the news with a lot more information about problems than about how society is dealing with them.
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To Maintain Water Pumps, It Takes More Than a Village

By Tina Rosenberg

Readers responded with many practical ideas and incisive comments — some of them speaking from sad experience — to last Friday’s Fixes column on the sustainability of water pumps.  I wrote about a new program started recently by WaterAid in the north of India.  It trains local people, including many women, to repair water pumps. They now run businesses that charge villages low fees for quick, guaranteed and reliable repairs when their hand pumps break down.
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Keeping the Water Flowing in Rural Villages

By Tina Rosenberg

Keeping projects in business for the long term has been a constant theme of the Fixes column, and if sustainability has a poster child, it would be a water pump. Travel anywhere in Africa or South Asia or Central America, and you will find a landscape dotted with the rusting skeletons of dead water pumps or wells..

In most developing countries, these water points are installed with great fanfare by the government or a charitable group. They greatly improve the lives of villagers. Having a water point in or near the village means that women don’t have to spend 6,8, even 12 hours a day on perilous journeys to fetch water from rivers or lakes. The pumps allow girls to go to school instead of staying home to help their mothers fetch water or take care of siblings. They allow villagers to drink reasonably clean water instead of risking their health with every sip.
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Safety Nets for Freelancers

By David Bornstein

In this country, three subjects that are guaranteed to generate a heated debate are religion, politics and, you guessed it, health insurance. Of the first two, Mark Twain observed that “people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand.” When it comes to health insurance, people speak from direct experience ― and pain. The numerous comments to Friday’s columnabout the Freelancers Union ― which brings together freelance workers to increase their power in markets and politics ― reveal that many independent workers feel that the battle for affordable health insurance is one they are losing.
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Health Care for a Changing Work Force

By David Bornstein

Big institutions are often slow to awaken to major social transformations. Microsoft was famously late to grasp the importance of the Internet. American auto manufacturers were slow to identify the demand for fuel-efficient cars. And today, the United States government is making a similar mistake: it still doesn’t seem to recognize that Americans no longer work the way they used to.
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