I love this blog and I always will; it’s some of my best work. For a long time I thought I’d start writing here again. I actually reorganized my whole life to give myself time to write. I shifted from full time work to independent consulting and coaching so I wouldn’t have to worry about employer approval of my work. As a bonus, I now live in Cairo, a city with a thousand inspirations to write.
It turns out that I still want to write, but not here. This blog is the story of me facing a particular situation; the transition from entry-level development work into jobs with real responsibility. When you stop being a serf and start being able to shape things, you need to think very hard about your impact. This blog is where I did that thinking. It’s me, growing up, as a development professional. It’s where I identified what I believe to be true about good development work.
I’m still thinking. But when I face a challenge now, I know what to do. I don’t have answers, but I know how to attack a problem. My outrage has been (mostly) transfigured into motivation. I don’t need to think through the kinds of problems I used to, because I have done that thinking and it’s part of me now.
I’m still writing. Just not here.
Here at Blood and Milk, I figured out what I know. My next step is how to apply it: This World Needs Brave. I’m thinking now about how to be a decent person in a broken world. How to be brave enough to make things better. If I have figured out that you can’t run a decent health project without buy-in from nurses, how do I go about using that knowledge in my work? When do I speak up? And how? It’s a mixture of coaching and career advice and me trying to learn from the many, many mistakes I’ve made. It’s about finding my brave and helping other people find theirs.
I won’t be taking down Blood and Milk. People still find it useful, and I’m happy to pay the hosting fees. But if you have liked Blood and Milk, you might like this new thing, too. Please take a look.
I’ll finish with a quote from the new blog:
“Our systems are too damaged to function without exceptional people. So it’s time to become exceptional. To do jobs that matter, to do them better, to leverage our time and our money and our willingness to make a lot of fucking noise in an attempt to force this broken world to turn out just a little bit better.”
I would really like to go to University next year but am still unable to decide what to study. All i know is that i am interested in social problems such as poverty, poor education and inequality to name a few. I am not sure what degree would suit me or give me the skills to make positive changes that actually work and would have a lasting impact.
This is probably the most common question I get, and the easiest to answer. There is no undergraduate degree that will give you the skills you need to achieve lasting change in the world. Choose a degree that sounds fascinating to you, and has classes that sound like you’d love to take them. Once you have an undergrad degree, then you can look at jobs that bring change in the world and probably a graduate degree. In the beginning, though, just start with an undergrad education you can love.
Observant readers will have noticed I have not updated this blog since February. I have every intention of starting again soon. Really soon. In the meantime, I’ve started writing in other places.
I am now writing regularly for UN Dispatch on global health issues – see me eviscerate Russian HIV policy right over here. I will also be contributing to Humanosphere. My first piece, of which I am rather proud, is an op-ed explaining exactly why we should allow as many Syrian refugees as possible into the US. I’m also still active on twitter, and on Instagram.
That’s half my big news. Here’s the other half: I left my job with USAID and I am out in the world as an independent consultant. This is mostly great. I can write anything I want to without worrying about clearances, I can choose work I care about, and I can live in Cairo, the big mango, the mother of the world.
However. I have to market myself and go around talking people into hiring me. This is horrific. But if you need someone to troubleshoot your underperforming project, force your logframes to make sense, or write a proposal, keep me in mind.
A friend of mine in Tajikistan used to consistently buy prepackaged foods for her children. Anything specifically marketed to kids caught her attention. She’d buy it – all of it, and feed it to them, even when it was more expensive than other options. So, functionally, she was raising her kids on a diet of junk food.
Technically, they’re not 2015-specific worries, or even solely worries so much as some ideas. But it’s 2015 now, and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately:
I have so many feelings about the article on Aleppo’s Civil Defense Force. Tragedy brings out the good and true in some people. I’ve seen it happen. Not everyone – it turns plenty of us (I include myself there) mean and selfish. But some people turn into something like saints. This article about Aleppo’s Civil Defense Force reminded me, vividly of that truth. I wonder, though – what happens to these boys if they do survive the war? Syria is burning in part because there isn’t enough meaningful work for young people.
1. Miami, and delusion. Miami is sinking under water, and everyone pretends it’s not happening. My parents lived in Miami a few years back, and I noticed that myself. everyone went around living in the city – buying real estate, developing land, renovating houses on the beach – and nobody seemed to notice the city will be underwater very, very soon. And not in a mortgage sense. It’s a strange lesson in the human capacity to cling to the narrative that’s comfortable, not the narrative that contains any truth. The storm sewers of Miami Beach now flow backward and no one considers what that means.
2. Ebola. I made this argument in a fragmented way on twitter – Ebola could be a game changer. Alex Evans makes it better, on Global Dashboard. Ebola is a disease so terrifying and infectious that it makes the need for decent health systems compelling. The question is – will anyone actually be compelled?
3. Two incisive and very different takes on sexism from the New Yorker. First, an article about the British scholar Mary Beard, and how being a well-paid cisgender white person make misogyny slightly easier to handle. That sounds like a snarky description, but I believe Dr. Beard would agree with it. Next, the toxic stew of xenophobia and sexism that apparently led the British police to believe that eleven-year-olds can consent to sex. And, as I consider it, another example of the human need for comfortable narratives.