Thursday, August 23, 2018

Statues, History, and Whitewash

Statues and monuments have been in the news in Eastern Europe, United States and now Canada.

In Eastern Europe, counties of the former Soviet Union or members of the Warsaw Pact are ridding themselves of statues of Lenin and Soviet war memorials, changing the Soviet names of cities, towns, and streets. This, of course, infuriates Russia as it sees its influence slipping away. They claim it is "changing history". They should be "eternally grateful for the Soviet Army saving them from the Nazis". Essentially they just exchanged one set of butchers for another so the actions of these counties who feel the statues and monuments are just rubbing their face into it are understandable. Put some of them in museums as part of displays that explain what really happened. Destroy the rest.

There is a revolt in America against statues of Confederate "heroes" and attempts to pull them down have met with varying degrees of success. The bulk of them were put up at the beginning of Jim Crow or during the Civil Rights movement of the 50's and 60's. They were there to remind Blacks that Whites were the master race and would keep them subjugated as long as possible in as many ways as available. Read about this dedication speech. But the cries of "politically correct" and "changing history" are heard often.  Some states have laws against removing them, guess which states. They need to be torn down and some put in museums as part of displays about Slavery, Jim Crow and |Civil Rights so people learn the truth, not just the version they were taught in school or fed on White Supremacy websites.

One of the scare tactics used by White Supremacists in support of keeping the Confederate Statues is that the politically correct class will come after statues of the Founding Father's next because they owned slaves. This is willful ignorance if they cannot distinguish between honouring the founders of a great nation vs honouring traitors. Now if there is a statue somewhere raised to honour a founding father BECAUSE he had slaves the sooner it is gone the better.

(American friends, do I understand this or am I oversimplifying?)

Ken Monkman - The Scream

Which brings us to Canada and Sir John A MacDonald, specifically. Sir John A was one of the Fathers of Confederation, Canada's first Prime Minister, and built the transcontinental railway. For that reason, he is revered in Canadian school books and there are statues of him in several cities, including Regina. Ours was installed in 1967 in honour of Canada's 100th birthday. We sort of knew he was no statesman, more of a sleazy politician with a fondness for booze and scandals involving using election funds for bribery.

Now we learn he was an overt racist, opposed to any people who were not White European, in particular, Chinese and further, while he helped found a nation he had no place in it for the indigenous people. He broke treaties, starved thousands of First Nations on reserves and was instrumental in setting up the residential schools. Tragedy doesn't begin to describe the Residential Schools where children were torn away from their parents, forced to give up language and culture and "assimilate" and were subject to physical, mental and sexual abuse. Many thousands died and are buried in unmarked graves. the survivors carry the scars and have passed their trauma down the generations. It is best referred to as Ethnic Cleansing and Cultural Genocide.

The statues of Sir John A are seen by First Nations people as rubbing their faces in the racism that MacDonald created as he established the relationship between Canada and First Nations. Especially in Saskatchewan but I suspect in every province where indigenous people were subjected to Residential Schools. The statues have to go, except perhaps in Ottawa. And his name removed from schools and other public buildings, along with all others named after people who were instrumental in the Residential Schools. Regina has already taken steps in that direction by renaming Davin School.

Nicholas Davin was sent by Ottawa to study the American Industrial Schools and came back with recommendations that Canada should imitate them. Davin School was opened in 1929. It was not likely named after him for the "Davin Report" but it was his claim to fame.

Some would argue that "everybody was doing it" but that breaks down as there were people who knew right from wrong and spoke against it. There were alternatives. Some call this "whitewashing" history but then some people have always had problems with definitions. Removing or renaming is not whitewashing; whitewashing is what we have been doing for generations in hiding the truth and pretending it never happened. History books must begin to include the ugly side of Canadian history. Students in renamed schools could get a special lesson on why the school was renamed eg that presents both sides of Nicholas Davin.

No person in history is without flaws but we need to weigh the flaws against the other achievements, decide when, where, how, or even IF, that person should be honoured.  And teach Canadian history warts and all.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Editing Software - Perfect It

Intelligent Editing has a software package called  PerfectIt, which I discovered several days ago.  Some software packages I have fallen in love with were pretty specific to certain kinds of work. PerfectIt can be used by anyone who writes anything. It came with a 14-day free trial so I downloaded it and ran my 165 page consulting report through it. It found hundreds of errors and inconsistencies.

It does not do ordinary spell checking but does tell you if you spelled a word more than one way. It does not replace having another human go over your document but it saves them hours of work. It does NOT automatically change anything - YOU are in control of all editing changes it finds. For example, a word might be spelled two different ways deliberately eg behaviour in the text of your document but behavior if you are quoting from an American source. PerfectIt will notify you but you don't change it.

This software would be perfect for academics, students, writers, consultants, bureaucrats, in fact, anyone that produces documents longer than a few pages on a consistent basis. I'm hoping to convince two of my kids, some of their friends, several of my friends to at least try it.  I may have already made a sale to my oldest as she ran a 30 page report through the trial version I had and was some impressed with what all it found.

Try it; you'll like it. Currently priced at USD $70 per year.

Here, in a few words, is what it does (from their website):

Consistent Presentation: Check for consistent presentation of abbreviations (e.g. Nasa/NASA/N.A.S.A.).
A Definition for Every Abbreviation: Ensure that every abbreviation is defined the first time it appears. 
Defined When Presented: Make sure each abbreviation is defined only once, defined only in one way, and only used if it appears more than once.
Consistent Capitalization of Words & Phrases: Check proper names, processes and business terms for capitalization consistency.
Heading Capitalization: Enforce consistent capitalization across headings, such as sentence case or title case.
House Capitalization Rules: You can set PerfectIt to check your house style to ensure that capitalization in all documents reflects your brand guidelines.
House Style
Phrases to Avoid: Make sure every document produced by your organization does not include insensitive, inappropriate or dated terminology and language.
Uniform Branding: Create style sheets to reflect your presentation rules and your brand image.
Unified Voice: Enforce style preferences so that all writers in your organization speak with one voice.
Consistent Hyphenation: Enforce consistent use of hyphens and dashes in common words and phrases, as well as complex terms of art or proper names.
Compounds, Numbers & Directions: Apply consistent hyphenation for prefixes, numbers, fractions, and directions.
Bullets and Lists
List Punctuation: Enforce consistent punctuation, such as periods or semi-colons, in lists and bullets.
Capitals in Bullets, Lists & Tables: Enforce consistent capitalization, such as sentence case or initial case in tables or initial capitals for lists and bullets.
Table Punctuation: Check for consistent punctuation in each cell.
Spelling, Typos, and Numbers
Spelling Errors & Typos: Check for errors that spellcheck won’t catch, including common typing mistakes (e.g. 'manger' instead of 'manager') and embarrassing errors.
Inconsistent Spelling: Check for individual words spelled in more than one way (e.g. 'adviser' and 'advisor').
Consistent Use of Numbers in Sentences: Correct numbers in sentences that were written as numerals but should be spelled out (and vice versa).
Table/Figure Numbering
Table & Figure Order: Find if tables appear in the correct order (e.g. Table 4 should not be before Table 3, which is an easy mistake to make when copy/pasting in multiple author documents).
Table & Figure Headers: Check for missing table/figure headings as well as inconsistent naming.

NOTE: Since I wrote Intelligent editing about how much I liked the software, they offered me 30% discount to buy it. I figured they should wait until I sell a few copies first. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Baraka Shea Butter - Benefit to the Kperisi Community

Value Chains that Create Value: Your Purchase Makes a Difference

Baraka Shea Butter was founded on the belief that we could organize a business value chain that would create benefit all the way along, from the producers through to our
end users, and would do it in a way that would benefit all of us, including the
founders and operators of Baraka. 
I think we are getting there. Not perfect by a long way – still lots to learn and
plenty of room for improvement, but we are making solid progress. Together.
With your encouragement, support and feedback, I think we are doing that. Your
purchases are having a direct impact on the women and families that make
Baraka Shea Butter. And many of you are using that community impact and
connection in your own marketing, helping you to sell more products and connect
more directly with your customers and markets.
I’ve just returned from a month in Ghana, a month spent mostly in the north and
with the amazing women that make Baraka Shea Butter. So many came and told
me the difference that your purchases are making in their lives, how they are able
to provide for their children and families, how they don’t have to travel to cities
to try and earn some cash income, how life at home has improved, and how
proud they are to be able to make a product that all of you value so much.

Your feedback (and we share your comments and reviews with them) encourages
them to work harder on quality and consistency and do more to support you.
And, it goes both ways. We hear from so many of you about how you are
motivated to do more, knowing the impact it has on real people and real
communities. We hear you tell us how your customers value your products more
because of that impact. Many of you tell us you can feel the impact in the energy
of the Baraka Shea Butter you use – energy that goes from their hands to yours
and to your customers.
I feel that we are getting the model right, it is evolving in the right direction.
The more value we create for the producers, the more value is available for
Baraka’s customers to capture through their products and creations, and
the more they can connect with their customers and markets. And, of course, the more everyone buys and uses the better Baraka does itself
(and trust me, we are in this for the money too – I love to have an impact,
but I need to pay my bills and support my family too).
It is great to think that the Baraka Shea Butter business model allows all of
us to be part of a value chain that serves our business and personal needs
while simultaneously giving the women of Kperisi the opportunity to earn
income. They don’t ask for charity, just for a chance to work and be paid
All this leads to the Annual Meeting of the Kperisi Women’s Group to
review Baraka Shea Butters Community Certified Fair Trade endorsement
for 2018. An exciting time I am proud to announce that the women unanimously confirmed Baraka as a Community Certified Fair Trade partner (see excerpt below from their minutes). And watch for an upcoming video from one of the women’s leaders as she discusses the meeting and their Fair Trade certification.
It was humbling and emotional as they recounted our history over the past
10+ years and what we have accomplished together (and together with
your support) and they expressed their appreciation for the support.
I explained that the purchases we make, the price we pay in excess of
market prices and the direct support we are able to offer is only because of
the continued support of the larger Baraka community. All of you who
purchase Baraka Shea Butter contribute directly to this.
Excerpt from the Annual Meeting Minutes...The meeting discussed the operations during the past year, which was the
first year under the Community Certified Fair-Trade system they
established when they decided to take control over their own Fair Trade
certification process.

The women discussed how they have worked with Baraka Shea Butter and
Wayne Dunn for over 10 years and have had a very fair, productive and
valuable relationship. In addition to always paying 15-20% above market
price and providing ad-hoc support to development and education the
women noted that Baraka has financed and supported major projects in the
community including:

• Provision of school uniforms and school supplies for all school age
children in the community;
• Engaging a trainer and organizing a productivity and income generation
training program;
• Facilitating the construction of storage sheds and a work area;
• Provision of an organic grinding mill and processing shed
• Support for rehabilitation of the Chief’s Palace
• Support for community events and activities
• Provision of Shea Butter processing equipment including roasters and
other equipment
The women agreed to continue with the Community Certified Fair Trade
process and to confirm Baraka Shea Butter to use the Community Certified
Fair Trade logo. This was affirmed by unanimous consent of all present at
the meeting.
Thank you for being part of this exciting journey with us. Together we are all
making a difference, for all of us in the value chain. The women agreed to continue with the Community Certified Fair Trade process and to confirm Baraka Shea Butter to use the Community Certified Fair Trade logo. This was affirmed by unanimous consent of all present at the meeting.
Reprinted with permission

Friday, August 3, 2018

Baraka Shea Butter: How it is made

Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is usually yellow in color when raw, with more processed versions being ivory or white in color. Shea butter is a triglyceride derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid. Shea butter melts at body temperature. Proponents of its use for skin care maintain that it absorbs rapidly into the skin, acts as a "refatting" agent, and has good water-binding properties. 

Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetics industry for skin- and hair-related products (lip gloss, skin moisturizer creams and emulsions, and hair conditioners for dry and brittle hair). It is also used by soap makers, typically in small amounts (5–7% of the oils in the recipe, but as high as 25%), because it has plenty of unsaponifiables, and higher amounts result in softer soaps that have less cleaning abilities. It is an excellent emollient for dry skin. No evidence shows it is a cure, but it alleviates the pain associated with tightness and itching. (Wikipedia)

My friend Wayne Dunn has been consulting in Corporate Social Responsibility since long before I met him and that was 20 years ago. His wife, Gifty Serbeh-Dunn, is from Wa in NW Ghana so Wayne has good connections in Ghana and has spent quite a bit of time there. Several years ago, he began working with a women's cooperative in Kperisi to produce and market shea butter. Wayne's company, Baraka Shea Butter, now imports several containers per year of raw organic shea butter to be turned into cosmetics by his customers. The following is an excerpt from his August newsletter, reprinted with permission.

Hello from Baraka-ville!

 I’m excited about the impact we (you too) are all having as we build a business and value-chain that has a positive impact on the women who make Baraka Shea Butter, on those of you who make incredible products with it, on your customers, who benefit from your creations and the amazing healing and from restorative qualities of hand-crafted unrefined shea butter.

It has been a great month.  I am putting the finishing touches on a Baraka Inside program to help you let your customers know more about the care you take in sourcing ingredients and the impact their purchases make.

We have been encouraged to create this program by many of you, as you continue to ask for material to share, as you tell your community how proud you are of the impact that your products are having.  From those of you who use 5-10kg/year to larger customers like Rocky Mountain Soaps who use tens of thousands of kgs , we believe that the authentic community connection and impact of Baraka Shea Butter makes a difference.

 Rocky Mountain Soaps have a wonderfully illustrated webpage on making shea butter. 


We want to help you to sell more and do more. That will help our business (we must make a living too) and will have a huge impact in Kperisi, as we will be able to buy more and leave more money in the community.  Watch for a new newsletter and Facebook Group that will discuss marketing products made from Baraka Shea Butter. In addition, they will provide posts, videos, and resources that you can use.

As always, we welcome your feedback!

We are also putting the finishing touches on a tour that would give those of you that want to visit Ghana, the experience to make your own Baraka Shea Butter, participate in traditional community celebrations, and see first-hand the impact your purchases make.  Sign up here if you want more information when it is released.  The trip will be around eight days in Ghana, late February 2019.

If you want to know more about the impact we have on the community, listen to Zenabu Imoru and the Kperisi Chief as they discuss Baraka in the community