This morning, as I’ve perused the blog world, I’m seeing what I think to be a wonderful trend – people speaking up for what they believe. So in solidarity (a concept that often gets underappreciated), here are links to a few ways we can support those who are taking a stand for important things.

1. Horace, at To Delight and to Instruct, has pointed out a potentially very dangerous situation at the University of Toledo where the university, led by the new president, is seeking to focus only on STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses) while limiting resources and support for other courses unless they prepare students for work in the sciences and mathematics. This trend is national as the U.S. tries to compete with other countries in these areas. . . I find the desire to compete to be silly – a bit like an elementary school footrace into the woods at the end of the playground – but I can see value in these studies, just not to the detriment of others. So visit Horace’s post and see lots of valuable resources on the topic, and if you’re willing, sign the University of Toledo petition.

2. TJ at Toujours Jacques is taking on The Compact, where he doesn’t buy anything new for one month . . . I’m doing the mini version – a couple of weeks – and then we’ll go from there. Take a look at join up if you’d like.

3. For all your BookMoochers, they’ve set up a system for recycling your packaging. When you visit that link, also read the comments because the users have some great ideas. For me, I try to reuse envelopes and then create padding by wrapping the book in a little plastic grocery bag or two, because no matter how hard I try I still end up with a billion of those things.

4. Andi at Unlikely Activist has gone water bottle-free through the use of Brita. I carry a reusable plastic bottle – but have just learned that I’m ingesting toxins – so it’s off to find – once I’m done with my time with The Compact – to find something else. Meanwhile, I’ll keep drinking out of those crazy things called “glasses.”

5. I’m starting to investigate micro-finance a lot lately, seeing how I can give money (the little I have to give) in ways that are meaningful. Two organizations I really like are Kiva and Hope International. (Hope Intl is run by a guy I graduated from college with, so I have a little bias there.) Both of these organizations help folks like us give small amounts – $10, $25 – that they then compile into a loan amount that is specified by the person using the loan. These loans, in amounts as small as $500, are then used for people to start businesses that will then allow them to pay back the loan and continue making profit after the loan is paid off. If I put this idea in terms that I understand, I think about it like what I would need to buy that used PRIUS I’ve been eyeing. I would either have to save enough money to buy it, or take out a loan. For people in developing countries, savings is almost always out of the question because they have so little income to begin with, and they have no collateral so they can’t get a loan. It’s in instances like those that micro-finance makes a difference.

One final thought – for the EcoJustice Challenge, I did my night without electricity last night. I didn’t get started right on time (8:15 instead of 7:30) but I did it . . . I read by candlelight and was, interestingly enough, asleep by 9:30 – must have been tired. It was a peaceful evening, and it also gave me an excuse to stop grading papers since I couldn’t see well enough to make good commentary . . . Sure, I could have lit a few more candles, but let’s not get picky here. . .

Take action, speak out, rock hard – that’s my motto for the day.