Book ‘Change the World for Ten Bucks’ proposes simple, effective actions

The organization We Are What We Do offers simple ideas for improving the world – and a recipe for Gingerbread Men!
Courtesy of: Chronicle Books and Family Features
June 2009

BOOK OF IDEAS: The book ‘Change the World for Ten Bucks,’ edited by Eugenie Harvey, proposes 50 everyday actions that can have a big impact.


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The book “Change the World for Ten Bucks” (Chronicle Books 2009) proposes simple actions that everyone can undertake to make a global impact.

It makes sense then, that the site promoting the title, http://ChangeTheWorldForTenBucks.com features a handy tool that lets visitors find volunteer opportunities in their own communities (via VolunteerMatch.org, a Web site that lists volunteer opportunities).

The book itself offers simple, often whimsical ideas that can be done any day. Not all of them are suited for everyone, nor do all the ideas seem equally valuable. Taken as a whole though, the collection provides some polite reminders of good behavior, a few novel ideas for bettering the world, and some idiosyncratic fun.

Inspired by the public

The idea behind the book took shape after the British organization We Are What We Do asked people to answer the question, “What would you ask one million people to do to change the world?” The responses weren’t sweeping policy changes, but small, everyday actions:

• Keep a promise.

• Read a story to a child.

• Learn something new.

• Run an errand for an elderly neighbor or single parent.

Fifty of the best suggestions are included in the book, which came out in the United States this spring after selling well overseas and in Canada.

“This project carries a much-needed message of hope for people everywhere,” said Eugenie Harvey, co-founder of We Are What We Do and the book’s editor. “Love yourself, cherish life, protect our future.”

She said, “We are about bringing the kinds of lasting change which will positively affect our environment, our local, national and international communities and ourselves.”

For example, the book includes a postcard to send to someone who inspires you (Action 35), two pages stuck together as a reminder not to throw gum in the street (Action 24), tear-out tabs to make introductions to the neighbors (Action 45), and dozens of other creative prompts for positive change.

Browse book’s ideas online

In addition to the volunteering link on the book’s site, visitors to ChangeTheWorldForTenBucks.com can post their own ideas for simple world-changing actions. There’s also a link there to http://Apps.Facebook.com/change_the_world, which displays all 50 actions, and lets people with accounts on popular social-networking site Facebook track their own progress through the list.

Food for thought

Here’s an excerpt of some of the material in the book.

Action 02 – Spend time with someone of a different generation.

Action 07 – Go play in the dirt. After all those years of your mother telling you not to, we’re making an appeal to the rebel in you.

Flowers, vegetables, herbs, house plants, bamboo, ferns, trees – we don’t mind what it is, just get planting.

You’ll turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, calm your mind, relax your body, and potentially have something delicious to eat.

Even being short on space is an opportunity to get creative and connect with your inner child by planting bean sprouts in an egg shell.

Action 30 – Bake something for a friend. Next time you need to buy a friend a present, don’t. Make them one instead.

Gingerbread Men

½ cup softened butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cream together butter and sugar.
3. Beat in the egg and syrup.
4. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix.
5. Chill the dough before rolling onto a lightly floured board, to a 1/8 inch thickness.
6. Cut into shapes, using a gingerbread cutter.
7. Bake on a lightly greased tray for 8 to 10 minutes.
8. Give away immediately.

From “Change the World for Ten Bucks,” Chronicle Books 2009


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