Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

Building a Park in Parking Lot

In San Fransisco, its not illegal to occupy a parking stop with something other then motor vehicle.

I like this because it’s playful activism towards the causes that we belive in. Sustainable Urban Planning, Sustainable transportation and the importance of green space.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Community Economic Development (CED), Inspiration, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development | , , , | Leave a comment

Ciclovia (Bogotá Colombia)

I don’t know how to explain this posting… besides the fact that evey city should do this, as it’s a starting point.

The ideal situation would be having seperated bike lanes that a 5 year old can ride his bike from the suburbs to downtown.  but we’re not there yet… Maybe soon?

Check this out… now these events are in the US

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development | | 2 Comments

How to Prepare Your Business for H1N1 Flu

A month ago the Canadain Government put aside $750’000 to help support Small Businesses across the country prepare for H1N1.

The H1N1 flu pandemic (a.k.a. swine flu) could be even worse than the flu pandemic of 1918. Or it could be the Y2K of 2009, just a bunch of hype. Or it could have a strike and ferocity somewhere in between.

As of this writing, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that 34,000 to 138,000 Canadians will be hospitalized, another 2-5 million will be treated as outpatients, and as many as 58,000 may die.

A scientific advisory panel sent a report to the White House saying it was possible that anywhere from 30 percent to half the American population could catch what doctors call “2009 H1N1” and that it was also possible there could be between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths (Associated Press).

For businesses, absentee rates are predicted to skyrocket. The International Centre for Infectious Diseases warns of absentee rates hitting 20 percent or more, adding that “cumulatively, a quarter or more of your workforce could be out for as many as three to four months” – with, of course, all the other businesses you rely on facing the same massive absentee rates.

Whether it gets this bad or not, it’s obviously best if your business has a business continuity plan in place to deal with the effects of the expected H1N1 virus upsurge.

Don’t have time to work through a detailed plan for dealing with an H1N1 flu pandemic right now? Just follow the nine steps below and you’ll have a basic business continuity plan to keep your business up and running through the H1N1 flu pandemic crisis.

Business Continuity Plan for Dealing With an H1N1 Flu Pandemic

1) Educate yourself and your employees about swine flu, both the symptoms and possible business consequences. Here’s an information sheet on H1N1 flu virus from Fightflu.ca. You will also find a great deal of information about H1N1 flu in these H1N1 Swine Flu FAQs from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

2) Encourage employees to get H1N1 flu vaccinations when they become available. If your business is large enough, you might even have a flu clinic at your business site. (Note that it is unlikely that the seasonal flu shot will provide protection against H1N1 flu virus (Fightflu.ca).

3) Create ways of teleworking for your business. This will make it easier to encourage employees to stay home when they’re ill. “…if one person comes into work sick then cases could quickly multiply to take out a third of the workforce”, said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer (Pandemic plan help offered to businesses, CBCNews.ca).

Employees who are experiencing H1N1 flu symptoms but still feel up to contributing might be able to telework instead.

It will also make it easier to make allowances for employees who need time off work to care for sick children or parents.

Note to businesses in Calgary and area: Calgary Economic Development has a WorkSHIFT program to foster teleworking that you may be able to participate in.

4) If possible, prepare an isolation area in your place of business in case an employee becomes ill on the job and can’t leave right away.

5) Determine which of your business operations/services are critical and create a deployment plan for other employees to cover these areas if possible.

This is especially hard to do for small businesses, but think of the worst case scenario; how would you keep your business going if you and all your employees were sick with swine flu? If you’re a solo operator, do you at least have a person available who can man the phone and reschedule what’s necessary? If you’re a small retailer, do you have friends or relatives that could pinch hit in a crisis?

6) Step up office hygiene practices.

Ensure that staff is talked to about the importance of proper hand washing and that hand washing signs and instructions are up in all restrooms and staffrooms. (Here’s how to properly wash your hands according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.)

Place hand sanitizers (either wall units or bottles) in strategic places and encourage people to use them.

Make sure all office equipment is cleaned and sanitized regularly, especially shared equipment such as keyboards and phones.

7) Develop a communication plan, such as a call tree and a schedule of communications to make sure that all your employees can be contacted in case of a major event such as your business having to close unexpectedly. Make sure key customers and suppliers are also included in your fan out list.

8) Decide what to do if your regular supplies are cut off. Suppliers and transportation companies could be shut down if the H1N1 flu pandemic causes high rates of absenteeism. How will your business be able to continue operating if this happens? Are there alternate suppliers and/or transporters that could fill in? Will you just delay order fulfillment? If so, for how long?

9. Check out local programs and resources. Your city or town may have programs or resources dedicated to helping businesses deal with the H1N1 flu pandemic. For instance, the city of Ottawa offers an Are You Ready program which provides information on emergency preparedness while the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce has partnered with a local nursing organization to help businesses facilitate the administration of flu vaccines to employees.

More Details on Planning for an H1N1 Flu Pandemic

Want to prepare a more detailed business continuity plan for dealing with the H1N1 virus? With the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada, The International Centre for Infectious Diseases has developed a Pandemic Influenza Planning Tool Kit for Business and Employers to help small and medium-sized businesses prepare for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. It includes detailed checklists for managing every aspect of your business before, during and after the H1N1 flu pandemic hits.

The American federal government also offers a collection of resources to help businesses plan for an H1N1 flu pandemic at Flu.gov.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Business, Human Resources | Leave a comment

The Daughter Deficit

Saving the World's Women

In the late 1970s, a Ph.D. student named Monica Das Gupta was conducting anthropological fieldwork in Haryana, a state in the north of India. She observed something striking about families there: parents had a fervent preference for male offspring. Women who had given birth to only daughters were desperate for sons and would keep having children until they had one or two. Midwives were even paid less when a girl was born. “It’s something you notice coming from outside,” says Das Gupta, who today studies population and public health in the World Bank’s development research group. “It just leaps out at you.”
Das Gupta saw that educated, independent-minded women shared this prejudice in Haryana, a state that was one of India’s richest and most developed. In fact, the bias against girls was far more pronounced there than in the poorer region in the east of India where Das Gupta was from. She decided to study the issue in Punjab, then India’s richest state, which had a high rate of female literacy and a high average age of marriage. There too the prejudice for sons flourished. Along with Haryana, Punjab had the country’s highest percentage of so-called missing girls — those aborted, killed as newborns or dead in their first few years from neglect.

Here was a puzzle: Development seemed to have not only failed to help many Indian girls but to have made things worse.

It is rarely good to be female anywhere in the developing world today, but in India and China the situation is dire: in those countries, more than 1.5 million fewer girls are born each year than demographics would predict, and more girls die before they turn 5 than would be expected. (In China in 2007, there were 17.3 million births — and a million missing girls.) Millions more grow up stunted, physically and intellectually, because they are denied the health care and the education that their brothers receive.

Among policymakers, the conventional wisdom is that such selective brutality toward girls can be mitigated by two factors. One is development: surely the wealthier the home, the more educated the parents, the more plugged in to the modern economy, the more a family will invest in its girls. The other is focusing aid on women. The idea is that a mother who has more money, knowledge and authority in the family will direct her resources toward all her children’s health and education. She will fight for her girls.

Yet these strategies — though invaluable — underestimate the complexity of the situation in certain countries. To be sure, China and India are poor. But in both nations, girls are actually more likely to be missing in richer areas than in poorer ones, and in cities than in rural areas. Having more money, a better education and (in India) belonging to a higher caste all raise the probability that a family will discriminate against its daughters. The bias against girls applies in some of the wealthiest and best-educated nations in the world, including, in recent years, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. It also holds among Indian immigrants in Britain and among Chinese, Indian and South Korean immigrants in the United States. In the last few years, the percentage of missing girls has been among the highest in the middle-income, high-education nations of the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Nor does a rise in a woman’s autonomy or power in the family necessarily counteract prejudice against girls. Researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute have found that while increasing women’s decision-making power would reduce discrimination against girls in some parts of South Asia, it would make things worse in the north and west of India. “When women’s power is increased,” wrote Lisa C. Smith and Elizabeth M. Byron, “they use it to favor boys.”

Why should this be? A clue lies in what Das Gupta uncovered in her research in Punjab in the 1980s. At the time, it was assumed that parents in certain societies simply did not value girls. And in important ways, this was true. But Das Gupta complicated this picture. She found that it was not true that all daughters were mistreated equally. A firstborn daughter was not typically subjected to inferior treatment; she was treated like her brothers. But a subsequent daughter born to an educated mother was 2.36 times as likely to die before her fifth birthday as her siblings were to die before theirs — mainly because she was less likely to see a doctor. It turned out that a kind of economic logic was at work: with a firstborn girl, families still had plenty of chances to have a boy; but with each additional girl, the pressure to have a son increased. The effect of birth order that Das Gupta discovered has now been confirmed in subsequent studies of missing girls.

What unites communities with historically high rates of discrimination against girls is a rigid patriarchal culture that makes having a son a financial and social necessity. When a daughter grows up and marries, she essentially becomes chattel in her husband’s parents’ home and has very limited contact with her natal family. Even if she earns a good living, it will be of no help to her own parents in their old age. So for parents, investing in a daughter is truly, in the Hindi expression, planting a seed in the neighbor’s garden. Sons, by contrast, provide a kind of social security. A family with only daughters will also likely lose its land when the father dies: although women can legally inherit property, in areas of north India and China, they risk ostracism or even murder if they claim what is theirs. And sons are particularly important to mothers, who acquire power and authority when they have married sons. Sons, according to Chinese custom, are also needed to care for the souls of dead ancestors.

What Das Gupta discovered is that wealthier and more educated women face this same imperative to have boys as uneducated poor women — but they have smaller families, thus increasing the felt urgency of each birth. In a family that expects to have seven children, the birth of a girl is a disappointment; in a family that anticipates only two or three children, it is a tragedy.

Thus development can worsen, not improve, traditional discrimination. This can happen in other ways too. With the access it brings to cutting-edge technology, development can also offer more sophisticated and easier options for exercising old-fashioned prejudice. In China and in the north and west of India, for instance, the spread of ultrasound technology, which can inform parents of the sex of their fetus, has turned a pool of missing girls into an ocean. The birth of girls has long been avoided through infanticide, which is still practiced often in China. But there are even more couples who would abort a pregnancy than would kill a newborn. Ultrasound has been advertised in India as “pay 5,000 rupees today and save 500,000 rupees tomorrow.” In both countries, it is illegal to inform parents of the sex of their fetus, and sex-selective abortion is banned. But it is practiced widely and rarely punished.

Finally, because higher education and income levels generate more resources, development offers new opportunities to discriminate against living girls. After all, if people are very poor, boys and girls are necessarily deprived equally — there is little to dole out to anyone. But as parents gain the tools to help their children survive and thrive (and indeed, all children do better as their parents’ education and income levels advance), they allocate advantages like doctor visits to boys and firstborn girls, leaving subsequent daughters behind.

To be sure, development can eventually lead to more equal treatment for girls: South Korea’s birth ratios are now approaching normality. But policymakers need to realize that this type of development works slowly and mainly indirectly, by softening a son-centered culture. The solution is not to abandon development or to stop providing, say, microcredit to women. But these efforts should be joined by an awareness of the unintended consequences of development and by efforts, aimed at parents, to weaken the cultural preference for sons.

The lesson here is subtle but critical: Development brings about immense and valuable cultural change — much of it swiftly — but it doesn’t necessarily change all aspects of a culture at the same rate. (India and China have myriad laws outlawing discrimination against girls that are widely ignored. And how to explain the persistence of missing girls among Asian immigrants in America?) In the short and medium terms, the resulting clashes between modern capabilities and old prejudices can make some aspects of life worse before they make them better.

Tina Rosenberg is a contributing writer for the Times magazine.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Community Economic Development (CED) | , , , , | Leave a comment