Wednesday, November 10, 2010

REPORTER in Madison, Georgia

Yesterday I drove from Tennessee to Georgia. A long but very relaxing trip. I arrived in Madison at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. It's a stunning building. A 1895 Romanesque Revival red brick building. The structure was built in 1895 as one of the South's first graded public schools.

The acoustics were fantastic. The crowd was large and interested. Some were Kristof fans. Some were new to his work and the crisis in Congo. The Q&A ran long, then we retired into another beautiful room for a reception with beer and wine and snacks.

There, the conversations continued. Many people had questions about what they could do to help. As usual, most people feel overwhelmed by the scope of the crisis in Congo. To answer them, I steal something that Kristof said to the audience at Sundance: "Perfect is the enemy of the good." In other words, don't think we're going to solve the problems in Congo. Just find an issue that moves you, study it, then get creative. It's not all about sending checks (although that can really help). For real world examples of creative giving/service, I HIGHLY recommend reading Kristof and his wife's new book, Half the Sky.

We talked about Kristof, micro-financing, Women for Women International, and shrinking newspaper organizations. And we talked about compassion. It's wonderful to stand with a stranger in a new town and talk earnestly about the nature of empathy and the potential in our hearts. It's also wonderful to have chats with students who can't wait to graduate so that they can 'get out into the world' and start helping. They give me a lot of hope.

I have the day off today. I'm going to drive 30 miles to my alma mater, the University of Georgia. I haven't been back in 12 years. Should be strange.