Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Monday, December 5, 2011

By Cathleen Falsani 12-05-2011
Via Wiki Commons
Igloo image via Wiki Commons

A word to the Occupation: When life gives you cold and snow, make igloos! Reuters tells us that a Swiss youth party is calling on Occupiers to stage an "Occupy" World Economic Forum protest from igloos when the global elite descend on the ski resort of Davos for their annual meeting in January. "Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests, the youth wing of the Socialist Party (JUSO) invited occupy activists from around the world to set up a "Camp Igloo" in the Swiss mountain town from January 21 next year."

This Christmas, buy a gun for the one you love (and help keep 'em out of Africa — the guns, not your loved ones.) The fine folks at bring word of a hot new item for the Christmas season: Buying repurposed AK-47s. No, I promise it's a good idea. Here, let me let them explain:

What if you could help get Ak-47s out of war zones, and even destroy them?

That attractive premise is the foundation of Fonderie 47, a new social enterprise that buys AK-47s in conflict zones and, with the help of master craftsmen like Roland Iten, turns them into high-end jewelry. A set of cufflinks destroys 100 assault rifles in Africa, a set of earrings, 500.

Purchasing the weapons not only takes them off the continent, but also helps drive up the price for AK-47s, making the existing rifles harder to get. ...The social enterprise is the brainchild of Peter Thum, the entrepreneur behind Ethos Water, and partner John Zapolski. Ethos, now owned by Starbucks, sells bottled water with a social mission—some of the revenue goes to support water investment in the developing world. On a trip to Nairobi, Thum saw teenagers with AK-47s, which served as a wake-up call.

“I thought about what the presence of these weapons meant not only for our money and the goals we were trying to achieve but for anybody investing in development or business in Africa,” Thum told Forbes magazine.

You never know what you'll find on Google Earth: Thrall, Texas, for instance. The team behind the forthcoming film, Abel's Field, found its perfect small-town Texas location after spotting Thrall’s high school football stadium on Google Earth. “Abel's Field takes place in the fictional town of Sinai, Texas, where football is king,” said he film's producer Tore Knos. “We had narrowed our search to Central Texas to be near the filmmaking community in Austin. And in July, our director, Gordie Haakstad, scoured that area online. After spotting it on Google Earth, it just took one visit to Thrall, and we knew we had found our ‘Sinai.’”

Abel's Field stars Kevin Sorbo (Soul Surfer, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) as Abel, a man with a dark past but a guiding faith. As groundskeeper at the local high school, Abel is forced to work with student Seth McArdle (Samuel Davis), a young man responsible for raising his little twin sisters and someone continually running afoul of school authorities. Thrall, about an hour northeast of Austin, welcomed the Abel's Field production, allowing use of the high school for location shots, a church youth building for production offices and, of course, the people of Thrall as extras. Once a booming oil town of 5,000, Thrall’s current population is less than 800.

Emo Phillips: Stand-up Theologian? In her post earlier today on God's Politics, Susan Isaacs name-checked our favorite stand-up comic of yesteryear: the enigmatic Emo Phillips (of the Downers Grove, Ill., Phillipses.) We thought you might like to see Emo perform the joke that Susan quotes, the one voted the funniest "God joke" of all time.


A shaky as .... an Occupier on the Roof?* Solar Mosaic is a marketplace that anyone can use to create solar projects and finance them from their communities, locally and online. It's latest endeavor, Occupy Rooftops, has gone gangbusters in the media lately. But, as the Mosaic folks tell us on their blog, "More exciting than all the media attention has been the stories from people on the ground, people who had dreams of going solar but weren't sure how to turn that idea into a reality. That is, until they saw there were hundreds of people just like them, people all around the world who had been dreaming the same dream. Then they saw that there were ample resources to support them, an online guide, free satellite-based solar assessments and $1,000 project planning grants to help them get their project off the ground.

Some of the Occupy Rooftops projects include:

  • Jay Huebner, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, Florida said, "Our church is committed to integrating an Earth-oriented spirituality into our worship. We hope that by forming a solar cooperative, we can use this experience as a teaching tool and give congregation members the courage to go solar on their own houses, farms and businesses." Jay thanked Solar Mosaic and our partners for helping his church get started. He's expecting dozens of people to join him on Sunday November 20th and even has invited two solar installers to join and offer their technical expertise!
  • In Bucharest, Romania, Lavinia Andrei has decided to use #Occupy Rooftops to demonstrate that it is possible for normal, everyday people to create renewable energy. Together with over 20 friends, she's done an inventory of buildings in her community that could benefit from solar. When asked why she decided to participate, Lavinia answered, "Renewable energy should be an instrument for individuals and small communities to improve their standard of life, reduce their energy costs and live in harmony with the environment." 
  • In Yerevan, Georgia, Kati Kiria is working with a team to put solar panels on a kindergarden for disabled children. She is inspired by the need to address climate change and is eager to create solutions in her own community.

"Thanks, Mr. Narwal!" Daisy the dog really likes Santa. Or at least Buddy the Elf.


Having trouble shopping for the loved one who already has everything? has a gaggle of gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for Christmas-gift recipient (and the gift giver who has deep pockets and a heart for charity.) It's slogan is "Do Good, Live Better," and while the latter is arguable, the options are pretty fantastic (in the literal sense of the word) and your hard-earned cash benefits myriad charitable organizations worldwide. For instance, how about five minutes of on-stage stand-up time at Los Angeles' renowned Laugh Factory for the funniest guy you know, with the proceeds going to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Or for your aunt with an unrequited love for acting, a walk-on role on HBO's True Blood (benefitting L.A.'s Gay and Lesbian Center) or an audition with the casting director for Modern Family (with funds helping the National Breast Cancer Coalition.) Feeling nostalgic for the '80s? (Guilty!) How about a private concert by Curt Smith of Tears for Fears with the proceeds going to the Tory Burch Foundation supporting economic empowerment for women and families? The bidding stands at $2,912.44 and the auction closes Wednesday 12/7.

Advent wisdom out of the mouths of ... otters. Well, Muppet otters, to be precise. Anyone else a massive fan of Jim Henson's "Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas"? Take these lines from the song "Barbeque" if you're not or remain unconvinced of the profundity of said otter/puppets.

"When you meet somebody that don't like soul food/They still got a soul..." Amen and pass the napkins.

*For those of you asking, yes. I was in a high school production of "Fiddler." Free autographed copy of any one of my books to the reader who accurately tells me first which role I played. Bonus prize if you can correctly identify my high school nickname. (Hint: It's mentioned above.) Email me HERE.

Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. She is the author of several books, including The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers and her new release, BELIEBER!: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber. Follow Cathleen on Twitter @godgrrl.

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"Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: Monday, December 5, 2011"
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