Donations can cause supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores
This is a situation where good intentions can unintentionally cause problems in a local community. What are the unintended consequences of an act of goodwill?
As a local community pastor, I probably receive 2-3 emails or calls per day from nonprofits and agencies asking for supply donations from folks in the community. These requests encompass everything from food, water, PPE, hand sanitizer, diapers, formula, TOILET PAPER, etc. I know many of you receive the same type of requests.
We all want to help! We all NEED to help in some way. However, we need to think through how to help the RIGHT way.
Under normal conditions (non-COVID-19), local stores and supermarkets are very well stocked with essential items. When you or I go to the store, we can buy as much as we need in the full knowledge that what we take off the shelf will be replaced within hours.
You’ve probably noticed the phrase ‘Supply Chain’ mentioned more and more by the media and government officials. The supply chain starts where a product is sourced like a farm or manufacturer. Those goods make their way to distribution centers and then onto the shelves of neighborhood stores where you and I can purchase them.
The COVID-19 Crisis changed everything.
COVID-19 created a panic, which caused people to purchase more essential items and thus putting stress on the supply chain.
What does all this have to do with nonprofits and agencies asking me and you to donate essential items?
Well, unless you and I have a surplus of essential items in our homes to donate, we typically go to our local store to purchase those items. Then we donate them to the organization that is requesting them. While the intention is good and noble, there are unintended consequences.
This can cause supply disruptions in neighborhood stores.
When I go to my local neighborhood store to buy additional items to donate to an agency in need, I am taking those essential items off the shelf at a time when supply chains are stretched thin. Restocking those items may take days rather than hours depending on the item and location of the store.
There are those in our neighborhoods who depend on the availability of essential items in local stores. The elderly couple on fixed income may be able to go to the store once per week to purchase essential items. If I purchase items before they do with the intent of donating them to another area of need in my community, I’ve unintentionally created a problem – a disruption for that elderly couple. They must go without or ask for help.
Again, we’re all trying to help. But we need to be thoughtful of how we help and source supplies in this current COVID-19 crisis because supply chains are crucial on a micro-level.
How can we help the right way? I have a couple ideas.
1. If you want to donate essential items, give from your stockpile first instead of going to your local store. Even a few cans of food, a box of formula, etc can go a long way to helping a family in need.
2. If you do purchase from a local store, limit your purchase to a couple items to donate. Make sure to leave something on the shelves for others in your community.
3. Call your local store manager and ask them when they restock and time your visit. Again, limit your purchases.
4. Instead of donating essential items, ask the nonprofit or agency if you can donate money. Encourage them to source their needs at the distributor level instead of the neighborhood level. Big box stores and grocers will often help nonprofits source much needed items.
5. Help your community nonprofits connect with larger nonprofits and community resources that have access to distributors higher up the supply chain. Organizations like the United Way, Salvation Army and local food banks have greater supply chain access. Collaboration is everything. Help organizations work together to solve problems and ensure supplies get to the front lines the right way while preserving supplies in neighborhoods.
I hope this is helpful in helping you think through how we can avoid causing disruptions in local supply chains. Your elderly and immune-compromised neighbors with benefit from thoughtful giving.
Seeing people’s faces raises moral and lowers stress.
As Local Outreach Pastor during the COVID19 pandemic, the church is faced with new challenges when it comes to connecting and serving people. While most folks know how to use social media and communications platforms like its second nature, we must consider those who may not know how to use technology to connect.
Think about the elderly widow who is isolated but she has a smart phone. She may not be aware of the capabilities at her fingertips. The objective is to help you help others connect face to face using technology.
Below are some simple videos and instructions you can share with others. Help those feeling isolated and lonely connect. Be their buddy and the face that brings them hope and comfort.
Let’s help our neighbors connect during quarantine during this COVID19 situation. Let’s keep relationships and loving our neighbors at the forefront of our minds while we exercise proper precautions like social-distancing and self-quarantining.
As Local Outreach pastor leading community outreach at a large church in Fort Worth with two multi-sites, a lot of people ask me how they can help others. At a time when social distancing and self-quarantine are necessary to protect our neighbors from COVID19 (corona virus), we must be creative and careful in how we help.
One of the best ways EVERYONE can help is the old-fashioned, time-tested ‘Call Tree.’ I recommend everyone create call trees in their own neighborhoods.
This is a simple, safe and highly effective way for out people to engage with their neighbors. It’s also ‘low-tech’ relational.
Definition: A call tree is a simple communication model used to notify friends and neighbors of an emergency or need. The idea comes from crisis management protocols. A call tree is also known as a phone tree, call list, phone chain or text chain.
One person gathers contact information for a group. In the event of an emergency or urgent need, someone from the group can text/call the Point of Contact (POC) who will send out a group text to ask for help – meeting the need or dealing with the emergency.
Simple Steps to creating a call tree:
Step 1: You invite 8-10 neighbors to join a neighborhood call tree for emergencies or urgent needs.
Step 2: You offer your cell number to neighbors. Ask for the participating neighbor to text their name back to you to be included in the call tree. (This ensures the contact information is accurate).
Step 3: After gathering all willing neighbors’ contact info, you can loop in everyone in the group with a group ‘welcome’ text.
Step 4: Move quickly when an emergency need arises.
1. Give First by offering your cell number to neighbors. Always “invite” your neighbor to join the group. If they decline, just offer them your cell phone number and let them know to contact you if they need anything.
2. Be clear on the outset that this is a neighborhood call tree for emergencies and urgent needs only (medical emergency such as illness, food/water, grocery run, prescription pick-up, job loss, elderly neighbor welfare check-in).
3, Inform your neighbors that you will NOT share their contact info with anyone outside the neighborhood call tree.
4. Place a time limit of 30 days on the call tree. On the outset, inform your neighbors that the call tree will be active for 30 days. If we’re still dealing with COVID-19 in 30 days, ask each neighbor if they want to remain on the call tree. Then run it for another 30 days (repeat if necessary)
5. SOCIAL DISTANCING: Due to the current environment, we recommend writing a note and putting on their doorstep in the event you don’t see them often – inviting them to the neighborhood call tree – make sure write your cell number, full name and address in the note.
If you already know your neighbors and have their contact, encourage them to reach out to others you may not know. Be available by sharing your contact info and willingness to help.
Make note of any first responders or medical personnel in your neighborhood. Write them a thank you note – invite them to join the neighborhood call tree.
Contact your neighborhood patrol officer and let him/her know you have a neighborhood call tree and invite them to join – or ask if you can contact them if a need arises.
If anyone in your area becomes ill with COVID-19 (or any other illness), find ways to serve them and their family using the call tree.
There you have it! A call tree is simple, low-tech way to build relationships and meet needs in your community at a time when we are forced to limit our human contact due to social distancing.
Read previous post: Alone Together
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Welcome to Part 3 of my blog series about Google. If you have not read my first post, I’d recommend reading Google: Friend or Foe Part 1 and 2 before continuing.
What type of threat do companies like Google pose?
First, I think one threat tech companies pose is rooted in their surveillance business models, data collection, in addition to outside business relationships with governments (foreign and domestic) and other third parties. How will they use data? We’ve already seen the privacy issues, subsequent lawsuits and investigations.
Case in point, ten years ago China executed a state-sponsored cyber attack against Google and other large businesses. Many believe the attack was a response to Google’s decision to stop offering their search engine in the Chinese market due to human rights concerns. In addition the totalitarian communist state wanted to censor, monitor and limit Google search results. This began an interesting relationship between Google and the NSA (National Security Agency).
Once you investigate links with China, you will discover Google’s “Dragonfly” project. In a 2018, article from Just Security entitled, “Google’s Dragonfly: A Bellwether for Human Rights in the Digital Age”
“This “history” throws yesterday’s news about Google’s secret “Dragonfly” project, a search engine that will meet Beijing’s demands for censorship, into disturbing relief. Ever since 2010, the Chinese government has never quite gotten over the rebuke leveled against it by an uppity Western ICT company, which in retrospect clearly discredited the government on the world stage. Google took the type of action in support of human rights that few governments, let alone the private sector, would dare attempt. Of course, the Chinese government viewed the incident as a threat to regime control …. But, in the end, the Chinese government merely had to wait its challenger out, and all would be well.”
“Resisting no longer makes any business sense when the laws and policies of your country of origin and other active markets begin to resemble those of the country from which you withdrew.”
On the home front, if you want to explore Google’s U.S. partnerships with government agencies, political groups, nonprofits and the like, check out their ‘Transparency’ page.
Another interesting article was written by Harvard Law Review in 2018 entitled, “Cooperation or Resistance?: The Role of Tech Companies in Government Surveillance”
Second, I think the biggest threat comes from the Social Engineering aspect of Google’s capabilities.
Remember, social engineering is used to manipulate people. When your platform is capable of shaping thought, behavior follows. Behind every artifact or innovation is a worldview – a philosophy of the person or group that created it. What is this artifact or innovation for? What is its purpose?
What is the dominant philosophy behind driving the current and future business model at Google? Does the philosophy view humans as dignified individuals or machines or something else? What are the political and economic philosophies expressed through search algorithms and social engineering.
Everything is fine when the people at the top are of goodwill toward their fellow humans. However, when organizations and their partners become self-serving, abusive or tyrannical, a perceived threat becomes real. Individual lives and whole societies will be impacted.
I don’t think we fully understand the power and implications of these technologies.
When a company makes profits by collecting, organizing and manipulating the personal data of billions of people we must attempt to understand potential threats and risks involved. In the wrong hands, these powerful tools can cause great harm or be misused to the detriment of humanity.
At the end of the day, Google is able to curate your internet experience to the places Google wants you to go. It controls what you see and what you don’t see. In other words, Google can herd people where they want them to go through powerful algorithms. Because Google has millions of data points on billions of individuals, Google’s powerful AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology can predict your behavior with creepy accuracy. If Google can tell you where to find the information you think you are looking for but Google wants to to see and what to buy, it can tell you what to say and think. It already does.
Without anyone knowing, Google is shaping the worldview of billions of people. The question is what is the shape of the worldview Google intends for users? How will Google treat worldviews that counter it’s own? Shaping thought can be beneficial but that is what parents, teachers, mentors, artists and leaders do – not tech companies.
The First of the Ten Commandments is; “…You shall have no other gods before me”. After digging into the tech giant’s business model, activates, partnerships and philosophy, I believe Google’s first commandment is “You shall have no other gods but Google.” Think about it.
After reading this series of posts, are you seeing a general theme?
What can we do about it?
Don’t just take my word for it, do your own research.
Take a technology inventory. List all of the technology devices and platforms connected to you and your family.
Welcome to Part 2 of my blog series about Google. If you have not read my first post, I’d recommend readingGoogle: Friend or Foe Part 1 before continuing. Part 2 builds on the foundation of my previous post.
I think the best way to understand “What Google is actually doing?” is to see that Google is in the “thought-shaping” and digital human data-trafficking business.
When an organization’s stated mission is to “organize the world’s information”, we know that based on what Google does with information tells us more about the purpose. Information shapes thought. Thought and beliefs drive behavior. Therefore, I submit that Google is shaping thoughts of billions of people and by extension, driving behavior. But, to what end?
What is Google actually doing?
YouTube, AdSense, FitBit, Nest, DoubleClick and over 200 others are not the end of Google’s reach. Google is a major stake holder and data repository for genetics-testing company 23andMe. Seems harmless enough. However, 23andMe is partnered with big pharma drug giant Gloxo-Smith-Kline for research into disease using data collected. Most 23andMe customers are unaware of this. [source link]
“In its filing, Google also noted that Anne Wojcicki is a co-founder of 23andMe and is a member of the board of directors. Wojcicki is married to Sergey Brin, Google’s president of technology and company co-founder. The search giant also outlined other intertwined relationships beyond Brin and Wojcicki: Sergey also holds approximately 35 percent of Google’s Class B common stock. Prior to Google’s investment in 23andMe, Sergey provided approximately $2.6 million in interim debt financing to 23andMe…” [source link]
In other words, Google is interested in genetic data on millions of people. That’s of interest to me.
Google surveillance in your home
On the home front, Google’s purchase of Nest is an interesting play. Nest is well known for their ‘smart’ thermostats and ‘user-friendly’ security camera systems for homes and businesses. What is not so well known is Google placing microphones on their in-home ‘smart’ thermostats. Apparently, Nest ‘forgot’ to include the one feature most people concerned about privacy care about on their product feature list for in-home thermostats – a microphone. [source link]
Of course, there is Google Home, a virtual assistant similar to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. These devices are constantly monitoring or ‘listening’.
Additionally, Google has filed a few interesting patents. Perhaps, ‘invasive’ is a better descriptor. These new technologies use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze other technologies inside the home, clothing, chemicals and even voices in your home. [source link]
Google made inroads into the smart phone market. It’s Android mobile operating system has dominated the mobile market. Its devices are cheap and come loaded with Google apps. The Android operating system is collecting data on users who may not use Google’s other products or platforms. There are 2 Billion Android users worldwide as of 2017. [source link]
Google surveillance at your child’s school
Google also launched it’s Google ChromeBook, cloud-based personal computing hardware. It’s also very cheap but you’re locked into Google’s offerings with the device. The key to understand its growing pervasiveness in schools is knowing that the low price-point is a strategy to gain marketshare and essentially aimed at data collection. If a child is forced by his school to use a Google ChromeBook, he is being groomed to grant access to his data to a tech giant for life. How will that data be used?
Google is being sued in New Mexico for collecting and misusing data on children who are required to use ChromeBooks in schools. [source link]
The growing ‘tech in the classroom’ or “edtech” industry is worth BILLIONS of dollars. So, there is a huge push by big tech to cram as much technology as possible into classrooms and homes in the name of “better education.” There’s little to no research supporting the pervasive use of tech in the classroom is beneficial. In fact studies are proving that “the digital interface does not stimulate the brain as well as an analog interface. Off-loading the cognitive effort that makes critical brain connections stronger is like paying someone else to do your exercise for you.”
Remember, this is a profit-centered approach, not a student-centered approach.
Google surveillance on the school bus?
“In places such as Hot Springs, Va., Alphabet Inc.’s Google has wired school buses, turning them into rolling study halls for students with long commutes and sometimes patchy or nonexistent Wi-Fi at home. Google says the program, a pilot which is in 15 school districts in 13 states, will be funded at least through the end of this school year.” [source link]
Google surveilling your location, email, documents, photos and network
Google Maps was the best free mobile GPS system available… until Waze was introduced and began giving Google Maps a run for their money. Google acquired Waze for nearly a $1 Billion before Apple or another competitor could buy them. [source link]
All of this and more on top of the world’s most powerful search engine and email client used (Gmail) [source link]. While most know that Google stores personal data related to search, few are aware that Google is collecting data from Gmail accounts. [source link]
Google Docs is popular for document storage and search capabilities. Google Photos platform receives 1.4 Billion uploads per day by users. Let’s not forget Google Fiber (broadband internet and IPTV).
Are you starting to see a pattern? A good detective identifies behavior patterns. Patterns lead to evidence.
Google may have begun with good intentions but as I have demonstrated they have followed a path of bad actions that are a cause for concern.
BTW. None of this has gone unnoticed by the Feds, the U.S. Department of Justice has ramped up it’s investigation into this tech behemoth. [source link]
Why do companies like Google and Facebook offer their products for free or cheap? Because their surveillance business model turns the user into the “product” they can sell. Google and Facebook are in the ‘Digital Human data-trafficking” business. They manipulate people and sell the digital profiles of billions of people. They surveil you and sell everything they know about you to the highest bidder … and you let them.
In my next post, we’ll talk about the type of threat companies like Google pose and what can we do about it.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” continues to be relevant in our cultural moment. His words challenge the church to embrace it’s full purpose. The extent to which the Gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed and integrated into the life of the church is the extent to which the church is relevant and effective in society.
The quiescent church is the gateway to injustice, brokenness and disorder. The witness of the church should be felt throughout the culture as the Gospel message empowers believers to pursue justice and reconciliation, serve the needy, create beauty and restore what is broken. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin transforms the believer. This Gospel, rightly lived out will teach, sanctify and transform the society in which believers dwell. It will be distinctly ‘sacrificial’, restorative and bold in its expression.
Martin Luther King Jr. operated from a distinctly Christian worldview. It informed his purpose, his view of reality and drove his behavior. This nation has benefited from his worldview and his actions. His challenge to the church echoes today. Dr. King knew what he was about. Do you know what you are about?
We know what our salvation saved us from (eternal separation from God’s presence, goodness and joy).
But a better question is;
What is our salvation for?
[Put another way, what is the purpose of our salvation?]
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.