got a cause? enter Global Citizen

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When Oregon State adopted the Bottle Bill in the early ‘70’s, rewarding consumers with a five-cent return deposit on bottles and cans, my oldest brother held a gigantic party at the house. He and his fellow activists had won the first legal battle for recycling in the state.

Okay, that dates me. But the brave legislation is alive and well in Oregon and largely set the standard for many other effective environmental movements across the country. Now, due to mounting need to fight for civil liberties, environmental protections, and a sea of other causes, we may be suffering from activist fatigue, or simply confused at the wide array of organizations now available to choose from.

To this end, philanthropic duo Bill and Melinda Gates are announcing a project to encourage more engagement in the causes we most care about. The Gates Foundation introduces Global Citizen, a database platform managed by Global Poverty Project. The incentive-driven program will develop a pool of names from which to tap interest and spur activism.

From what Randall Lane describes in his Forbes interview with Bill Gates, we’ll be able to visit a site, click on an area of interest and essentially ‘opt in’ as targets of a direct marketing campaign. A click on Affordable Housing might land you an invitation to volunteer with Habitat Humanity. I might discover a group pressuring a fiberglass manufacturer to clean up its waste in my local river. The idea is to provide a means for people to connect with their ideals in ways they may not have been aware of.

Global Citizen is planned to roll out in September of this year, concurrent with the UN unveiling its own 15-year plan to end extreme poverty. Of course, we can think of many organizations eager for our activism. This project makes use of what Gates refers to as “the big tent” (borrowed perhaps from Public Sphere Project?) serving to make these orgs more accessible and our commitment to a better world more concrete.

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