Sunday, January 17, 2010

We support Medecins Sans Frontières in Haiti today
And invite you to do the same

Paris. Sunday, 17 January 2010.
Greetings from a city living this mid-January 2010 day in peace, health and security. Our children are safe, our neighbors about to sit down to a full Sunday meal, and most of us will venture out onto the streets of our cities tomorrow morning to another full and peaceful day. You too I hope. But that is not at all the case in Haiti and its tragic streets. What can we do?

I: What we can do today
[Summary: Take 5 minutes, go to, and make your donation. You will be glad you did.]
But why do I interrupt your peaceful weekend with this unasked-for message? Because I am sure that somewhere in your heart you feel it is important that you take some kind of action in such an agonizing case. But what to do from so far away?

Here's a thought. As it happens over the last couple of decades through our work with The Commons (since 1973), the New Mobility Agenda (since 1988) and over the last year on World Streets, I have had the great luck to meet, correspond with, get to know, and on occasion work directly with several thousand highly creative and engaged people in some eighty countries on all continents, just about all of whom know about adversity, and who I know have big hearts and are good neighbors in all senses of the word. Now that's a lot of the right kind of people to know at a time of great need.

* Click here for video presenting MSF emergency report
Paul McPhun, MSF operations manager, gives a briefing here on the situation for MSF and our patients in Haiti, including damage sustained to MSF medical centres, our medical focus, the types of injuries and traumas we are seeing, further response plans, how medical teams are overwhelmed, having worked all night and concerns over staff and patients unaccounted for.
So following the latest from Haiti, here is the idea that struck me. Suppose you and I and the couple of thousand others we have come to know and resepct, come together to bond and carry out the same simple neighborly act that takes just a few minutes -- and which I am sure every one of us, even the most modest, can afford with no great pain? If I do it, if you do it, then others will do it too. We may amaze ourselves. Let's see how this might work.

It's simple: We move to our computer or "smart" phone, click to Medecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders at and make a donation, large or small. Say ten or twenty Euros/dollars as a symbolic statement. Or perhaps the price of a meal this evening with someone you love, that latest iPhone that you may not really need, or more, That will be your choice, but the important thing is that we make our donation here and now, or in some other way no matter how small. And if you already did it, well go ahead and do it again.

I had already been thinking about Haiti of late for several reasons. Recently we started work with an NGO -- EcoWorks International who maintain a small office in Port au Prince, where only two of their ten colleagues on the ground there have yet to report in– to lay the base for what we hoped were going to become a series of collaborative workshops with local groups, agencies and operators in support of low cost, high impact appropriate transport innovations across the country. The situation we were originally looking at on the ground was already about as tragic as you can imagine. But even that has been catastrophically cut short, for now, though we are ready to go as soon as circumstances permit. However as you are aware there is a great deal that must be done first.

So what about this, old friends and colleagues from all over this troubled planet? What about joining hands today in clicking to MSF's donation page at Once there all you have to do is pick your country and whip through their efficient donation cycle, using credit card or PayPal. I just did it here through their French site just now: it took all of five minutes, lightened my purse by a few Euros, and hey! I feel just one small bit better already. I am not just one more passive soul sitting this one out next to a blabbing TV. Of course I want to have done more, but we each do what we can afford.

May I then invite you, may I encourage you, may I entreat you to do the same? You will know that you have done the right thing. And once you have, if you find a minute please do drop a quick email to us here to to let us know that you have stepped up to the challenge, we can add your name to our World Streets honor roll.

If World Streets in all its forms and extensions and rhetoric and bustle does not care right down to our guts about what happens on the streets of the world, we are no more than idle chatterers.

Thank you for proving otherwise,

Eric Britton

PS. We next invite you to look to: World Streets/Haitian Streets: What to do once the emergency has been met

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