Procrastinating for a cause

Theresa Bruskin

Well it’s that time again. You know what I mean, the time when all of your classes inexplicably want your blood, sweat and tears at exactly the same time. I’ve got so much to do this week that I’m living off Coke Zero, and naturally, can’t concentrate on anything.

So instead of writing a long column – because I’m guessing I’m not the only one having a seemingly impossible week – I’m going to try something a little different. I’m a sucker for forward thinkers, especially for those who use the Internet in creative ways, so here’s a list of five Web sites or organizations I think everyone should know about.

1. GirlEffect.org: Want to change the world? Try donating money to one of the 600 million girls in developing countries. Girl Effect’s premise is that if you give a girl some resources and send her to school, she’ll live a longer, healthier and happier life, marry when she chooses, have healthier children and through improving her own life, will better her family, her community and the world. Raising her standard of living sets off a chain reaction and, according to Girl Effect, can lead to the end of poverty. “Invest in a girl and she will do the rest.”

2. MatadorNetwork.com: Matador, the self-proclaimed most-read independent travel publication online is a “community of travelers, adventurers, and grassroots organizations” focused on experiencing and bettering life at home and abroad. With headlines such as “How to Travel by Cargo Ship,” “How to Mastermind an Adventure That Makes the Masses Jealous,” among many others, Matador shows it knows the true meaning of wanderlust. This site lets me live vicariously through travelers I envy and keep a tally of things I want to do someday. Call it inspiration for graduating.

3. Mint.com: This Web site is super cool. You submit your bank account information and any other loans, car payments and other financial commitments, then set spending levels for different categories. I set budgets for rent, gas money, coffee shops, groceries, etc. Mint keeps track of my debit card purchases and tells me when I’ve exceeded my budget, when I have payments coming up and gives me neat little charts of my spending. Now, I know this sounds like an advert for them, but if you’re like me and don’t keep a precise record of spending, this is really helpful.

4. Dweebist.com: Mick Hagen (better known as one of the only people online to memorize the whole Jai Ho dance) updates this blog every day or so with witty graphics and such, calling it “an intersection of design, technology and geek.” It’s not a groundbreaking concept, but it always amuses me. However, the novelty of this Web site isn’t in the content, as much as it is who’s behind it. Hagen founded Zinch.com, which tries to match high school students with scholarships and colleges based on who they really are, not just their test scores. Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve and Bowling Green are among the schools who have signed up for the free service. (Hint: Kent State would look awesome on this list.) The idea is to make college admissions fun and personal.

5. Feministing.com: It’s hard to be brief with this one because it’s where I spend a majority of my time when I should be doing something else, but here goes. I’m not going to try to make you all feminists (not right now, anyway), except to say this: If you believe in gender equality, then you’re probably a feminist. Now, about the Web site. Feministing has built a community around its cause. Aside from the main editors, who get discussion moving by sharing news stories, people of interest, and organizations, there’s a huge network of men and women who add at least a dozen posts every day. You don’t have to agree with them, but they always make me stop and think.

Theresa Bruskin is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]