It’s simple: according to the U.N., the global population could be as high as 11 billion in 2050 or as low as 8 billion, depending on what programs are put in place now.

This might be one case where we don’t want to aim high.

Population Connection, formerly Zero Population Growth, is one organization trying to keep that projection low.  It advocates for stabilizing the world’s population at a level sustainable by Earth’s resources.

Population Connection divides its initiative into three key goals:

  1. Protecting the planet, as, according to the organization, “population growth stretches natural resources to their limites.”  Millions of people born each year intensify negative effects on the environment, such as food and water shortages and pollution.
  2. Ensuring social justice, since larger populations make disease control and poverty reduction increasingly difficult to achieve.
  3. Defending women’s rights by supporting programs that sponsor family planning education and access to contraception for women, so that women may have a say in their own childbearing decisions.

Improvement in any of these areas could have profound effects on population stabilization.

Courtesy of Population Connection.

Courtesy of Population Connection.

How to get involved:

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When I think of the familiar “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra, I think tin cans and water bottles…not bicycles.

Luckily, Allison Karow’s thinking isn’t as old-fashioned as mine.

Two and a half years ago, Karow started Bike Saviours out of a Tempe, AZ backyard. The non-profit serves as a(n):

  • bicycle shop that provides low-priced used bicycles and bike parts, as well as affordable repairs
  • “community recycling project” that turns donated bicycle parts into functional bicycles and looks for additional ways to reuse scrapped parts
  • “bike library” for people who need a bicycle only temporarily
  • education center that teaches people about riding safety, Arizona bicycle laws, and bicycle maintenance

Karow had worked at a similar organization in Oakland, and implemented the concept when she moved to Arizona.

 

 

A bike built by Bicycle Saviours, courtesy of the organization.

A bike built by Bicycle Saviours, courtesy of the organization.

 

 

 

I interviewed Heather Hoch, who has been with Bike Saviours since 2007, to see why she’s stuck with the organization thus far and what you can do to help.

Why did you get involved with Bike Saviours?
HH: I became interested in the organization after my friends began teaching me about bicycle mechanics. The bicycle represents a lot of things to me: a sustainable and efficient mode of transportation, a way to stay healthy, and a social experience.

What have you gotten out of your work with the organization?
HH: Bike Saviours is the only place I’ve ever worked where I could directly see the benefits I was bringing to the community. I’ve helped people fix a bike that carried their entire lives, and I did it absolutely free. Money is such a small issue in the shop, so it’s really refreshing to go there at the end of the week and just help out.

Do you accept donations?
HH: We love donations! Anyone with bike parts/tools lying around can drop by the shop on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and donate them. We have an online wishlist detailing specific needs. We also accept cash donations.

What are some other ways to help?
HH: We’re also always looking for more volunteers to work in the shop. The more volunteers we have, the more days we can stay open, and the more people we can help. (Volunteers are required to takea  free 8-week bike mechanics course taught at the shop on Monday nights.)

Anything else readers should know?
HH: We want to save your bike!
Contact Heather or visit the shop on Sundays to find out more.

No one understands students like students.

That’s why I’m a big fan of Schools for Schools, a program run through Invisible Children, an organization that seeks to raise money and awareness to help end the longest-running war in Africa (in northern Uganda). The program partners schools in other parts of Uganda with a school in the war-torn North that badly needs rebuilding.

 

Children at a Ugandan school.

Children at a Ugandan school.

I spoke with Alli Coritz, an active member in Invisible Children and Schools for Schools, to see what her work is all about.

What spurred the creation of Invisible Children?
Alli Coritz: Invisible Children started when three guys in their early 20s decided to go to Africa, hoping they’d stumble upon an interesting story to film. What they found were millions of people in displaced camps in horrible conditions. What really got them motivated was the plight of the children; in order to avoid being forced to be child soldiers, children walked miles each morning and night into the town centers to sleep en masse with a few armed guards to avoid getting kidnapped. When these three men got back to the United States, they decided to do something to raise awareness about the situation.

How did Schools for Schools start?
AC: Schools for Schools began as a way to motivate the youth in Uganda in a friendly competition to raise money to help fund their peers’ educations.

I’m interested in helping Schools for Schools. What are my options?
1. Attend meetings at Arizona State University Tuesdays at 5 p.m.
2. Join the Facebook group in order to find out what events are going on around campus.
3. Join the mailing list at s4sasu@gmail.com.
4. Make a monetary donation.
5. Bring used textbooks to the fall semester book drive.
6. Donate electronics you no longer need to a drive also held during fall semester.

What have you gotten out of working with Schools for Schools?
AC: Not only did participation in Schools for Schools broaden my knowledge of what’s occurring outside of the U.S., I also have a real sense of accomplishment. I know that I am helping people around my own age achieve what is so easily handed to us here – an education.

  

*If you like this organization, you might also be interested in working with: The Central Asia Institute, a non-profit that helps build schools, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The path to the creation of the CAI is detailed in the bestseller Three Cups of Tea.