Measuring Development as if People Mattered More than Places

This article in Slate highlights the work of Michael Clemens and Lance Pritchett who see migration as a means of development.

The article summarizes a crucial point of the study in the following words:
Many poor people became richer by leaving their country of birth. Clemens and Pritchett estimate that "two of every five living Mexicans who have escaped poverty did so by leaving Mexico; for Haitians it is four out of five."

The study invites us to break from traditional measures of national income:

Clemens and Pritchett estimate that the income of the Samoan-born is nearly twice the income of the Samoan resident, and the Guyanese-born are more than twice as well-off as residents of Guyana.

The study by Clemens and Pritchett is entitled "Income per Natural: Measuring Development as if People Mattered More than Places." The study shows that poverty estimates are different for national residents and naturals and reveals that "26 percent of Haitian naturals who are not poor by the two-dollar-a-day standard live in the United States".

The study concludes that:

The bottom line: migration is one of the most important sources of poverty reduction for a large portion of the developing world. If economic development is defined as rising human well being, then a residence-neutral measure of well-being emphasizes that crossing international borders is not an alternative to economic development, it is economic development.

This is all very interesting and I wonder how it will all tie in to the ongoing debate about how or whether to channel remittances toward development.

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Check out two new features on the site

I'm experimenting with two new features on the kiskeácity site that I'd like you to know about.

The first is the "Recently read/seen/heard" section in the right hand column. This section contains items that I have recently come across on the web and find interesting. Most have to do with the current US election.

The second is the "Not just (bad) Haiti news" section, also in the right hand column. It generally contains items I found on the web relating to the Caribbean.

Neither section will be included in the site's RSS feed/email subscription so I encourage you to check it out on the site. They should both update pretty regularly as I bookmark items for them while surfing the web.


A Haitian Organization's perspective on the current food crisis

RNDDH's (Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains) perspective on the current food crisis in Haiti:

The Préval/Alexis government, upon its arrival in power in 2006, pledged to address two major challenges: insecurity and the high cost of living. In terms of insecurity, even if a lot remains to be done, one need not exaggerate to say that the government has produced numerous efforts toward bringing calm to areas of risk-those completely controlled by armed gangs, most notably Cité Soleil, Bel'Air, Grand-Ravine, Martissant, Gonaives, etc. Several gang leaders have been arrested. Numerous kidnappers have been judged and convicted over the course of the 2006 and 2007 criminal trials. This has fostered a climate of calm, and activities that were previously paralyzed have been able to restart. However, no effort has been made to improve the population's socioeconomic conditions, particularly regarding food. In the space of two years, the Haitian population has witnessed a phenomenal rise in the price of basic necessities making the right to food, one aspect of the right to life, a violated right. An eruption of the situation was to be expected.

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Put to sleep by Angela Davis. Sort of.

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Graffiti artist Alan Ket, Angela Davis and moderator.

Can Angela Davis put you to sleep and bore you to tears? Yes. Sort of. And this happened at a panel entitled Urban Artists and the Politics of Visibility that took place at Pratt Institute in Fort Greene, Brooklyn yesterday. (Yes right in my neighborhood.)

OJ Dingo by Hank Willis Thomas
By Hank Willis Thomas.

But two of Davis' (younger) co-panelists saved the day. The first is Hank Willis Thomas whose work uses the aesthetics and certain themes of advertising to make very non-commercial points. He is interested in how advertising manipulates perceptions of reality.

Groundswell mural 2
Mural by Groundswell.

And then there was Amy Sananman, founder and Executive Director of the Groundswell Community Mural Project. Sananman conceived of the project in 1996 with the mission to bring together professional artists, grassroots organizations and communities to create high quality murals in under-represented neighborhoods.

Dread Scott is known for his controversial use of the American flag in art he hopes "propels history forward". Alan Ket has ben painting graffiti on the New York subway since he was a teenager growing up in Brooklyn.

Work by Dread Scott
By Dread Scott

I took pictures of the various co-panelists's slides which might tell you more about what they had to say.

The irony of it all is that Ms. Davis spoke last, as if to provide context to what the artists were showing. I sat through great presentations expecting she'd be the icing on the cake only to find out this panel was not saving the best for last.

View the slideshow.

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Global Fund for Women Raffle: See some kickass women in person

The Global Fund for Women is raffling off two tickets to their gala fundraiser in New York City on June 5th. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Honorable President of Liberia, as well as women leaders from Colombia, South Africa, Malaysia, Liberia, Bosnia/Herzogovina and Egypt will be honored at the event.

The coolest part is that to enter the raffle you have to submit a 200-word story about a woman, or women, who you consider to be leaders. They are highlighting some of the stories that they receive on their web site. The deadline to submit your story is May 1st.

You can find more info. on the event here:

More info. on the raffle here:

And read some of the stories that have already been submitted here:

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Caribbean Free Radio is Back

It's the Aimé Césaire edition. Georgia Popplewell who is Trinidad-based has a special connection to Martinique because she lived there for a bit. Very soothing to the ear. Georgia knows how to select her music clips.

Georgia is the current Managing Editor of Global Voices and Caribbean Free Radio is her own blog and podcast.

Aimé Césaire is the legendary Martiniquan poet, statesman and philosopher who passed away last week. A national icon for Martiniquans.

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  • Languichatte, the late Haitian comedian and father of Lolo and Daniel Beaubrun of Boukman Eksperyans. See the Facebook page dedicated to him, complete with the Haitian TV show's theme song! A treat full of memories of Friday evening laughter. 1,037 nostalgic fans have joined it. I found this joke and this slideshow on youtube. They're in Creole and hopefully someone can translate some to English on DotSUB.

  • Aimé Césaire, the late Martiniquan poet and politician. Memories of bloggers from the world over are summarized on this blog post by Jen Bréa at Global Voices. Césaire was one of the theoreticians of the Negritude movement. He passed away last week. He penned La Tragédie du Roi Christophe, a play about an early Haitian statesman.

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Speaking to High School Students about Barack

I had the pleasure of doing just that twice in the past two weeks, on behalf of Brooklyn for Barack and New York for Obama. First at Bushwick School for Social Justice's Social Justice Day, I showed students this film about the impact of Barack's message on fellow high school students in the Bronx. Then last wednesday, I was at the Jewish Community Center on the Upper East Side debating Stephanie Hauser, the Secretary of Young Democrats of America, who was representing Hillary. In both cases, students were eager to find out whether I'd actually met Barack. But they also enjoyed seeing pictures of getting out the vote, voter registration and election day.

(Social Justice Day at BSSJ is organized in conjunction with Make the Road By Walking.)

Bushwick Social Justice Day 002

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Barack gets that dirt off his shoulders

With possible inspiration from Jay Z, Barack tackled the ABC debate debacle at a rally Friday by quietly brushing symbolic dirt off his shoulders. There are already dozens of mashups and remixes using Jay Z's original soundtrack but this is by far the best crafted:

Update: Here is the video's link for those reading through feeds.

Update (4/21/08): I had the link wrong. Here it is. The one above is the link to the actual speech.

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kiskeácity is now on Facebook!

Please join the kiskeácity group on Facebook. If you are not yet a Facebook member, you may want to consider getting an account. It's been a valuable networking resource for me. Also, invite me as a friend and add the note kiskeácity so I know who you are. As I've been busy with innumerable projects in the past year, it's been hard for me to post as often as I'd like but Facebook will allow even more ways to interact. See you there!


My Rootscamp 2008

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Rootscamp 2008, DC 007

I was technically at Rootscamp because of my interest in political campaigning so I registered as being part of Brooklyn for Barack but media came up a lot and I had as many conversations about media, web 2.0 and Global Voices as I did about the campaign trail. I was generally pleased to find that the dress code was very casual, which only surprised me because the event took place in DC.

Rootscamp 2008, DC 011

As un-conferences go, there were elements here that reminded me of Open Translation 2007 (organized by the creators of the genre, Aspiration tech). Like the agenda setting process. Both (un-)conferences featured spontaneous, on the spot agenda setting which considerably toned down the potential for top down stuffiness.

But Rootscamp's agenda setting and Rootscamp generally were much less collaborative and collective than Open Translation 2007. Open Translation 2007 did a much better job ice breaking and discouraging the banding together of people who already knew each other. OTT used inane quantities of alcohol to accomplish that goal and though Rootscamp offered mimosas at breakfast on day one, its evening party was ridiculously tame ... One of the pluses of the OTT approach is of course the bonding but it's also more emotionally taxing.

Rootscamp 2008, DC 013

Tracy Russo, formerly of the Edwards campaign offered an online organizing session that turned out to be a hit and had to be repeated the next day. Among other interesting points, she expressed skepticism with the notion of blogging under one's own name on behalf of a campaign or organization. Specifically, campaign or organization blogging have to by definition be vetted and thus unspontaneous.

Rootscamp 2008, DC 017

I learned tons throughout the conference but one session held by two women from Mobileactive.org on cell phone organizing and fundraising stood out. The ladies of mobileactive.org (Katrin Verclas and Catherine
Geanuracos, pictured above) talked about the high response rate on text organizing whether it be for GOTV or for fundraising. An astonishing 46% response rate was discussed which is much higher than the email response rate.

Rootscamp 2008, DC 028

View the full slideshow.

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Tabou Combo's Yves Joseph serves Yes We Can! cake to benefit Obama

Obama Fundraiser at Joseph Home, NJ 010

Tabou Combo vocalist Yves Joseph and his wife Nadja, pictured below to the left, organized a fundraiser for Obama at their home in Teaneck, NJ. (Tabou Combo is the most famous Haitian Konpa band and one of the oldest.)

Obama Fundraiser at Joseph Home, NJ 056

My sister Laurette, pictured in the middle below, and her friend Hilde (left below) helped organize it and I was asked to speak about my experiences volunteering for the campaign in Brooklyn, NY, Milwaukee, WI, Cleveland, OH and Philly, PA.

Obama Fundraiser at Joseph Home, NJ 073

NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg and NJ State Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (both pictured at the top to the right of the hosts) spoke as well. Luckily, Dwa Fanm, a Haitian women's empowerment organization, had recently interviewed me about my experiences as an Obama volunteer for their newsletter and the Josephs thought it would be a good handout for the event. To my surprise, fundraiser-goers really enjoyed hearing picture by picture anecdotes and by the time I went through Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, they were asking for more! (I needed a cold drink.)

It was all very thrilling but most would agree that the Yes We Can cake was the highlight of the evening!

Obama Fundraiser at Joseph Home, NJ 021

Host Yves Joseph introduced me to the cake's architect, pictured below:

Obama Fundraiser at Joseph Home, NJ 072

Over 100 people attended.

Senator Weinberg who had attended a similar grassroots fundraiser the day before talked about the very first press conference she and Assemblyman Gordon held in support of Obama early in 2007 when few believed he had a chance. Less than 10 people showed up, she recalled.

A student from New York traveled all the way to NJ to give a speech on Obama and a local real estate agent showed up to hand out free Obama T-Shirts. Most of the guests had been personally invited by the Josephs but some, like the couple from nearby Englewood pictured below, found out about it from www.barackobama.com.

Obama Fundraiser at Joseph Home, NJ 063

One of the guests claimed that Haitians in New York voted mostly for Barack's opponent because they were not sure back then (Feb 5th!) whether he could win. I have yet to get my hand on the stats but since I had made appearances to speak about Obama on Radio Tropikal while volunteering with Brooklyn for Barack, I was a bit disappointed. This is to be further investigated.

Here is the slideshow. This view may be better if you want annotations of each picture.

Oh and for those unfamiliar with Tabou's music, here's a bit of Tabou goodness performed on one of the band's numerous France tours. Let's see if you can spot the host Yves Joseph aka Fanfan Tibot or Herman Nau, who was also at the Obama event, in here:

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