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John Wood's Battle for Global Literacy
"Let's collectively be the Andrew Carnegie of the 21st century," says John Wood, who details his experience of building and scaling the non-profit Room to Read.
It was like a "literacy-palooza" with kids "stage-diving for books." That was the scene that John Wood describes as his "game-over moment," or the moment he decided to quit Microsoft and pursue his non-profit organization, Room to Read, full-time.
Wood had gone on a hiking trip in Nepal and witnessed conditions of extreme poverty. The deplorable conditions were particularly pronounced at a school in a remote village. Not only were 80 or so kids crammed into a single classroom without desks, their library had no books.
"We're too poor to afford education," the school's headmaster told Wood, "but until we get education we'll always be poor." Wood left the country determined to change all of that. After witnessing the initial book-drive-literacy-palooza referenced above, Wood became a man on a mission.
What's the Big Idea?
We know that educated people live longer lives. We know that educated women earn more money and are healthier. We know that educated men are less likely to fight in civil wars or commit acts of terrorism. And yet, we also know that 780 million people are illiterate in the developing world. To put it another way, 98 percent of the people in the world who are illiterate live in the poorest parts of the world. Wood, who did well for himself at Microsoft but did not have the resources of an Andrew Carnegie, faced an uphill battle. How could he get other people to help him reverse the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy in the poorest countries in the world?
Speaking at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas on Nantucket, Massachusetts, Wood describes how he developed a co-investment model that paired "mini-Carnegie" investors with people in the local communities. So rather than dumping surplus goods in the form of "hand-outs," Wood developed a self-help model in which parents who realized that education is a ticket out of poverty had skin in the game, making the "hand-ups" sustainable.
The ticket out of poverty also requires more than just exporting western books that children in developing countries won't relate to. Wood's efforts required getting into the publishing business, finding the local J.K. Rowlings that would resonate with children in rural villages Cambodia. 707 original titles later, Room to Read is the biggest publisher you've never heard of," Wood says.
In the video below, Wood also details how he built on his experience in the corporate world to to keep costs low. Bankers donate frequent flier miles. Hotels give free rooms. Once again, not everyone has the resources of a Carnegie, but they can still participate in the small fundraising chapters that Room to Read set up in 57 cities around the world.
"Let's collectively be the Andrew Carnegie of the 21st century," says Wood.
Watch the video here:
Wood's new book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, was just released, and you can order the book and find tour info here: www.creatingroomtoread.org.
You can also follow the book tour on Twitter: @johnwoodRTR. "I promise," John tells us, "it will be as entertaining as 140 characters can be."
To learn more about The Nantucket Project and how to attend the 2013 event visit nantucketproject.com.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.