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Raising Money for Charity? What a Slime-Ball!



Twestival sign by Billlublin

Twestival sign by Billlublin

Being charitable is one of the three things I think are most important in how we conduct our lives. If you are healthy, you should help someone who is not, if you have eaten, you should help someone who has not in short we should all help people in need. In the final analysis charity is selfish because it makes us feel so good when we help.

Social Media gives us an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to vast audiences and find people who care about the same things we do. As a result the use of social media for charitable causes is of great interest to lots of people.  Some of them you know – Rocky Turner, whose Mothers Fighting for Others is one of my favorite charities, Drew Olanoff whose personal fight with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma spawned the courageous and quirky BlameDrewsCancer, Danny Brown who started the 12 for 12K movement, and of course, Twestival, the social media based charity. Today I got an email on facebook from Danny which said in part;

I just wanted to send this out to you, n case anyone asked about it and you didn’t know what the question was referring to.

Tonight, I was alerted to a very disparaging blog post about the 12for12k project. Not only is it misinformed, to me it also takes away from the immense support you guys offer every month.

Therefore, I have written an official response to the post, which can be found here:

The original one can be found at the following link:

I decided to publish my response since Barbara Talisman has comment moderation on her post, so there’s no guarantee any response from me will be published.

I’ll let you read both Barbara’s post and Danny’s response, since that’s the easiest way for you to understand both of their positions, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth from the very debate. I’ve had some interaction with Danny, and to the best of my knowledge, though he may receive some recognition for his efforts, he doesn’t receive any money from the funds raised for the various charities.  Though I don’t know Barbara at all, and writing this post about Danny has probably done a lot for her visibility in the world of social media, she seems to make a living by charging charities to raise money for them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does make her attack on Danny and the use of social media to raise money somewhat self-serving and disingenuous. Perhaps its not. Maybe she just really feels strongly that Danny deserves to be lambasted for raising money for charity without charging them, and that he has the selfish goal f building his online visibility through his charitable efforts.

Me? I don’t get it. No matter whose numbers are right, there are charities that have received money at no expense to them because of Danny’s efforts and the efforts of the others in the 12 for 12K program. I’ve always said that “there is no such thing as a bad profit” – I think that applies here too “There is no such thing as a bad charitable donation”. So no matter whose numbers are right, the effort was a success – peraps larger, perhaps smaller, but a success nonetheless.

The 12th century philosopher  Maimonides said that there were  different levels of charity – from the lowest to the highest they are:

8. When donations are given grudgingly.
7. When one gives less than he should, but does so cheerfully.
6. When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.
5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.
4. When the recipient is aware of the donor’s identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient.
3. When the donor is aware of the recipient’s identity, but the recipient is unaware of the source.
2. When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.
1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to seek charity.

Even by these scholarly standards, the form of charity being practiced by our social media friends ranks pretty high -And if their efforts builds recognition for Danny (or Rocky, or Drew) so what? Don’t we want to know who the good people are around us?  Isn’t that knowledge good for us and for them? Doesn’t that extend to us the ability to help and feel better about doing something to make a difference? Isn’t some recognition of  their efforts and their leadership only appropriate (even though its not what any of them seem to seek)?

What do you think?

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

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  1. Ken Brand

    September 24, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I’m afraid I’m guilty of myopic “me” thinking. At least most of the time.

    Your post along with my daughters returning (for 2 weeks) from her Peace Corp post is Africa reminds me of the bigger picture and how important charity, in all it’s forms (money, time, knowledge, support, encouragement, etc.) really is.

    Thanks. I’ll be on the lookout.

    Cheers Bill.

  2. Joe Sheehan

    September 24, 2009 at 10:59 am

    My wife has trained me to question the solicitor of contributions as to how much of the money actually gets to the charity. You would be astounded that usually a large percentage of the donation ( as high as 85-90%) is retained by the solicitor to cover the expenses of the fund raising campaign.

    I support various charities, always directly and always anonymously. I just feel better about doing it that way.

    I don’t have a problem with someone using their reputation, influence and fame to raise awareness for their favorite charity as long as it is done tastefully and does not eclipse the public awareness or the need their charity is trying to convey.

  3. Bill Lublin

    September 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    If you hadn’t raised your daighter so well, the Peace Corps would not have had the benefit of her service – Well done! 😉

    Joe – That whole cost of donations thing was part of the issue around the Danny Brown controversy – though I haven’t met him f2f his charitable work sends all the money to the charity (which may then have overhead before it gets to the needed recipient) and as fas as giving without seeking recognition – I’m with you –

    Thanks for reading

  4. Brian Block

    September 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm


    Maimonides was a smart, sorry, brilliant man. If you read his history, his contributions to philosophy, philanthropy, medicine, science, and religion were astounding.

    By the way, last time I was in Israel, I received a blessing at Maimonides tomb.

    Also, you mention that “Being charitable is one of the three things I think are most important in how we conduct our lives.” While you don’t mention the other two, I think that I can make an educated guess 🙂

  5. Bill Lublin

    September 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    @Brian – If healing the world was one of them – you probably have the other one right too! 😉

  6. Brandie Young

    September 24, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Bill – Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. You have a wonderful heart.

  7. Bill Lublin

    September 24, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Brandie – Thanks so much for your kind words – your heart is pretty special too 😉

  8. Danny Brown

    September 25, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Hi there Bill,

    I just wanted to drop by and say thank you for your reasoned view of the “event”. It was an interesting couple of days, for sure, and I’m sincerely grateful for your support of the 12for12k project.

    Just for the record (and to clear up any gray areas):

    1. You’re correct about the donations. Neither myself nor the 12for12k team receive any funding or “share” of the donations. This is just a group of people giving up their time and expertise free of charge to try and help where we can, however we can.

    2. All charities need to have an administrative cost of less than 10%. This is to ensure that as much of the donations as possible goes straight to those who need it the most, and not some bureaucrat in an office.

    3. I will get an updated donations amount soon (we have to get info from charities where people have sent straight to them in the name of 12for12k), but my guesstimates are that it’s just under the $50,000 mark as I write this.

    Our overall goal from the start is to make long-term change. We know money is a solution, but it’s only a part of the overall solution. That’s why we offer free workshops and social strategies to the non-profits we work with, and we’ve helped ease a few into the social space. Next year we’ll be doing even more of this grassroots level approach – I think supporters new and old will really be excited to take part.

    Thanks again for your support and candor, Bill, really appreciate it.


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Green Live & Work

Regenerating architecture: green building product innovations

(Green News) Sustainable design has evolved beyond robotics, and has tapped into the basics, using pre-historic methods: bacteria. Genius!





A Third Grade Teepee

Remembering back to third grade science class, about ten sticks bound together at the top with twine of some sort, and a little beansprout planted at the base of each pole, eventually became the coolest shelter this eight year old had ever seen. Seedlings wound their way up, tendril by tendril until their leaves reached just far enough to clasp and join, and create and fantastic teepee that was actually a food source, too! Talk about the ultimate in sustainability – but that was old school.


Making Something Out of Nothing

Enough about my blast from the past. I was seriously thrown into nostalgia when I thrust onto the path of this fantastic article by Gary Wollenhaupt earlier this week regarding some of the most inspirational green-building products I have heard about in quite sometime. It must have something to do with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Innovation Challenge and building products that seem to become something from nothing! Apparently these folks were up to the task!

So, maybe the little teepee which was representative of the sacred “three sisters” or corn, beans, and squash that the Native Americans utilized as their staple crops symbolized something else to me. The regeneration of soil, the regeneration of the land, and a regeneration of that happy little elementary school structure, covered in beans which became the perfect hiding spot.

Obviously, the teepee wasn’t innovative, but for this little kid, the shelter “appeared out of nowhere” once those leaves filled in. The Forbes article pulled together an arsenal of truly innovative products that are not only environmentally friendly, sustainably-minded products that will certainly turn many green-builders on their heads!

The Home that Regenerates Itself

Innovation comes in many different forms. Lots of great builders looking to build sustainable homes look towards energy efficiency in a hard-core way and building with products that take building to a new level; however, these innovators have gone and created building products that supposedly grow themselves, or are fire-retardant, or are -say what?- regenerating when they are broken? Oh, ok? This sounds like something out of the future, and we don’t even have our hoverboards yet!

Seriously though, it is amazing to think that there is a product made of a bacteria which will regenerate itself. Self-healing materials have been around for a while, but not necessarily for home building. Wollenhaupt noted that the”Bacteria engineered to thrive in dry climates is helping to create a concrete that can repair itself.

The bacteria are mixed into the concrete and release calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, as part of their waste process. The material fills in holes and cracks in the concrete, making it last longer and reducing maintenance costs.” As someone who is incredibly interested in developments like these, I am quite curious as to their durability and what the testing has been like for the products, but can’t wait to see what the future holds for green building products that bring us full circle! Fascinating, isn’t it?

Watch it Grow

It will be fascinating to see what happens when these homes are built out of these biologically and ecologically innovative building products, and if they will indeed withstand the test of time and do as they say they will. Take some time to view the entire roster of impressive applicants to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the California based non-profit who put on the event, check out their information, and applaud their achievements in green-building and design!

Now I want to go in the yard and build a little pole-bean teepee, and watch it grow. I don’t think my back yard is at the “coral-like” regenerating concrete bio-product level quite yet.

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Green Live & Work

Superadobe: super sustainable building phenomenon

Taking something that already had the power to be awesome and making it, well, super-powered, that is what one bright-eyed architect did with an age-old building concept. Let’s take a mini-adventure into the world of Superadobe, where a blending of concepts which are thousands of years old with some new ideas has created yet another buzz in the stratosphere of sustainability and green building.





Superadobe, I am Your Father

I believe it was Christopher Nolan who said “Batman and Superman are very different characters but they’re both iconic and elemental.” Either way you cut it, adobe is elemental, and adobe is nothing new; I make the comparison the Batman and Superman because they are both superheros, however different…

Adobe is also something nothing short of super. From the ancient Egyptians to the Anasazi Tribe, many cultures near and far have utilized the brilliant mixture of straw, soil, sand and water tamped together to create a sun-hardened earth house for shelter through the ages. These homes are sturdy, cool on the inside in the heat of the Sun, and warm on the inside during cool nights.

It is quite possibly some of the most amazing architecture that we can find when we look at the history of our progression of architecture, next to the great pyramids and cliff dwellings. Let’s face it, in many parts of the world, because of its magical simplicity, adobe is, after caves, how humans survived the elements.

Superadobe is Born Powerful

In the present, an Iranian born architect, Nader Khalili, has discovered, well- I say present, but it was some twenty plus years ago- how to perfect the concept of adobe and bring it forward into the new age. Through modification of the structural processing of the staging of the adobe, Khalili has managed to create a product and process that he has coined as Superadobe. Khalili has said that “Superadobe is an adobe that is stretched from history into the new century. It is like an umbilical cord connecting the traditional with the future adobe world.” He has an interesting take on adobe and its re-emergence to the “new world” through his superadobe product.

Moon-dust or Sand. Take Your Pick – it is Still Super.

What this really means is that his process of taking long tube-like bags, usually made of sturdy polypropylene or sometimes straight-up burlap, and filling them with sand, or rice or any sort of fill, then creating a trench for the foundation, and forming the frame out of these tubes which are filled with the “fill of choice” and then tamped down, either by hand or with a pneumatic tamper. As the foundation is created, windows can be created by having voids not filled, or cut out after the fact. A huge part of superadobe, beyond the tubular filled bags of soil or the like is the barbed wire which reinforces the shape of the buildings, which are generally a coil of these reinforced tubes which ultimately form a beehive shape. There have been extensive experiments with the concept of superadobe, or the earthbag building concept, which Khalili first came up with after attending a symposium at NASA in 1984 where he was trying to figure out who to build structures on the moon! Imagine, bags full of moondust. That sort of sounds magical, or super! Doesn’t it. Just agree. It does.


From the Moon to Your Backyard it seems that not even Kryptonite will take  this stuff down! Superadobe is one sturdy building concept. It is aerodynamic, just as its predecessor, just regular old adobe is. However; with the beehive and or rounded edges that it tends to take on, it can survive hurricane force gales. A superadobe home or building can be built by unskilled labors in a matter of days by the resources available on site, either of the sandbags, or of the specific tubing and barbed wire. The buildings are sturdy, sustainable, cost effective and can be built in nearly all elements. As a builder, one would look to superadobe from the cost effective standpoint for a client who is thinking about passive solar design; it tends to stay cooler during the day in those hot climates, and warm in the evenings in cold climates. The stuccoed exterior is incredibly low maintenance and provides the client for an exceptional opportunity for reduction in utility bills, or for even being off the grid, if they so desire. New offices looking for an interesting, cost effective and sustainable building concept, could certainly look at superadobe as an option. The unique building structure of the circular and hive-like shapes lend towards something new and different. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be sustainable, and possibly have a quick build, superadobe could be for you.  It From the moon to Costa Rica and everything in between, superadobe is a sustainable building concept that has green building aficionados looking towards the sun. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No. It’s superadobe.

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Green Live & Work

GreenSpur: sustainable construction, reclaimed materials

GreenSpur Unveils their first OneNest Project home built in Virginia, a sustainable construction project that could be duplicated across the world.



sustainable construction

sustainable construction

One of a kind sustainable construction project

This weekend was full of anticipation and completed, what could be called “full-circle-excitement come to fruition” for those who have been keeping tabs on the GreenSpur construction team. Not so long ago, I brought word to you about the incredible opportunity that Mark Turner and his concept team were working on regarding a fully sustainable, green-built home constructed of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS) and reclaimed materials.

This project is the first of its kind and is hopefully going to be one of many that will be replicated internationally as a model of sustainable construction that meets the needs of a true nest.

Flying into the Nest

Minimalism, with a true rustic elegance is what you find peering out at you as you make your way up the steep, curving drive to the Delaplane OneNest home set atop a perfect hill overlooking the foothills of the Shenandoah mountains. It is almost as if someone has called in the gentle fog to hover just at the top of the treeline for intrigue, mystery and sultry ambiance to pull you into the site. Recall those mystical tendrils of smoke that lure… that is what pulls you here…to something new and exciting.

Before you get to the site, strategically placed communal fire pits with site-found logs are hissing, popping and generating that delightful campfire smell and then there is that house. With the elevation of a classic barn marrying a contemporary sanctuary, OneNest sits there among newly planted native river-birch trees, nestled in yet peeking out. The patina of the tin a deliberate match to the brick-red rust of the seamed and painted hardi-plank that covers the SIPS.

The standing seam metal roof line is a delicate yet masculine balance to the reclaimed history that is woven into this home through the use of wood paneling straight from past cabin quarters of the John Marshall property. The facade wouldn’t be complete without the mirror image of floor to ceiling windows flanking a steeple like fireplace that is masoned in stone harvested directly from the site. Usable porches galore. Panoramic views of the fog rolling on and on across the pits and valleys of the foothills while the cows come home. A matching barn is just beyond the main house that has an awning wide enough for a classic riding tractor. Classic is right. This is just the exterior.

Getting Cozy on the inside

Delivering more inside, OneNest’s vaulted ceilings are welcoming and open, leaving one to be baffled by the thought that this space is one-thousand square feet. It could be thousands more; the trompe l’oeil affect of the grande windows to the view beyond pulls the eye out and into the distance. The living room has very functional usable built-ins and is open to the stunning kitchen with a wonderful amount of storage. The fantastic use of counterbalanced Connecticut-style pull down lanterns is just one more ‘trick of the eye’ and fun for the gorgeous space and means to draw the eye up to the loft space above which is the master suite.

Past the kitchen, a full bath, well appointed and glowing is to the left, and storage to the right. Beyond that, windows, again floor to ceiling brighten the space and pull in the outdoors while highlighting the spiral staircases to go up and up into the nest. Before heading up, a nosy poke into the crawl space reveals some more smart design, wine-cellar in the crawl built from galvanized metal buckets and wine-racks; a good use of space in an otherwise unusable crawl!

The second floor is home to the lofted main bedroom, which has a lovely view of the great wide yonder and can be conveniently enclosed with thoughtful curtains; wrapped around the far right of the bedroom is a little nook- great for reading, a dog-friend or maybe some lovely indoor plants for creating a nice indoor air quality. The master spa-bath is impeccable with an egg-shaped soaker tub, walk-in shower complete with rain head and well, it is simple, yet stunning. Plus, there is a fireplace above the bath. Nice… I

n the central stairwell, up once again, the next level houses the guest room with incredibly functional use of space, reclaimed wood and a sumptuous bathroom which is just incredibly well done. This OneNest space is an unbelievable four stories of beautiful, reclaimed, green living space built to help the owner truly nest in, living in what they need.

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

Nesting as a Trend

Why OneNest? Business partner, Arian Lewis, stated “this is something that can be replicated in any country across the world. I’m currently talking with contacts in Malaysia to see about using our concept houses there.”

Lewis is the partner based out of the Oxford England team, who has been working on outreach to developing nations. These homes can be built anywhere. They are sustainable and don’t have to take up a lot of space or resources. Minimal or luxury finishes can be put into them and the product can be built an a relatively small amount of time.

Mark Turner, the brainchild behind GreenSpur and the OneNest project, said when asked what the biggest take away should be for the project, “Well, this was absolutely a labor of love and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to do something different that other builders weren’t doing and that would change the way things were being built in the construction industry.” He has proved it once before when he built a net-zero house on Capitol Hill, now he has done it again with the OneNest project’s first completed home, built in 100 days in Delaplane, VA.

Turner reminds us all that “OneNest is the context of everything in one world- a natural resting place.” Mark has also been quoted, “When I think about designing and building PLACE, I am inspired by Stegner’s quote, ‘There it was, there it is, the PLACE where during the best of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.’ This 1000 SF OneNest Project is our team’s best attempt to capture this spirit. We are using radical approaches in design, materials and building science to capture that simple notion that we all universally yearn for: ‘happiness its headquarters.'” I love this about this team, they are so grounded in their since of duty to balance and harmony with nature, life and the elements.

What is Next for OneNest

Looking at their mission, Delaplane was a lovely place to select for the first part of this project’s journey. Just off of John Marshall Highway in historic wine country, this may be an idealistic “happiness headquarters.” The first OneNest will be open for extended stays as well as events for the next six months to continue to the conversation within the community and beyond about this intriguing and passionate design and building concept.

Where do you think we’ll see more of these beautiful, sustainable creations across the States and internationally? Start the conversation by making the visit.

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