Category Archives: Conflict Free Minerals

Why we do this

Mr. Sillypants here, taking a few moments away from my coffee-making duties to add a few comments to my lovely wife’s description of our Apple Store experience (detailed oh so beautifully below). 

I’ve had a chance to reflect on today’s outing, both before and after it took place.  I think it’s fair to say that each of us felt that kaliedoscope of swirling emotions beforehand – – – anticipation of the upcoming experience, excitement about the chance to make a statement about Conflict Free legislation, commitment to the idea of raising awareness of the unspeakable horrors which are commonplace to those innocents living in these war-torn areas of conflict . . .

I know I was also nervous about what kind of reaction we’d receive; I wondered if the store manager would be callous or dismissive, I wondered what reaction (if any) we’d receive from patrons or passersby.  As you have likely read already, our experience was very positive, and I find myself even more energized about the chance to do more, to make the most of those opportunities which are all around me.

In the short amount of time since my lovely Ms. Plum suggested and organized this effort (and served as our cheerleader and guide), I’ve had a chance to reflect a bit more, some of which occurred while our amazing Blueberry was running and jumping with wild abandon at the local splash park:

(Photo courtesy of Ms. Plum)
Since our outing this morning, I’ve had many chances to reflect of the amazing richness which has come into my life, largely because of the efforts and passion of those of you who share this global consciousness.  Although I celebrate daily the fire, compassion and sense of social responsibility which is a way of life for Ms. Plum, those of you who carry out these good works in your daily lives, who post powerful and often heartbreaking commentary on the work which is yet to be done, who offer guidance, support and perspective, well, you should know that your passion and fire is an inspiration to us, as well.
Truly, we are better in our lives because of the things you do in yours.  Thank you for this.
When Songbird and I got in the car after our trip to the Apple Store, we wondered aloud what would become of our letter to Steve Jobs – – – would it actually be “sent on to the appropriate people,” or would it end up in the recycling bin as soon as the store manager saw us leave?  (For the record, I have a sense he’ll send it on, just like he promised.)  Songbird and I both discussed our hope that “something good would come out of it.”
Truthfully, “something good has already happened.”  This effort has given me yet another opportunity to think about something bigger than my silly little life, something much more vital than the endless chores which face me every day or even the endless joy from mornings spent kicking a soccer ball with Blueberry.  This trip to the Apple Store caused me to set my sights again on suffering, on inequality, on priviledge – – – and on my responsibility to do what I can to change it, by doing the work I can each and every day.
So, even if our letter never makes it to Steve Jobs, the impact of our effort has been felt and my life has changed.  And, my life continues to change whenever I hear of *your* efforts, *your* good works.
Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things.  We can only do small things with great love.”  Let us all continue to search for and act on those small moments, every day, when we can make a difference.

1 penny a day to "Guarantee Conflict Free"

We’re a pretty typical family. I got up this morning, urged my husband to please make coffee as quickly as possible, cuddled my little boy, sent the dog down to wake up the soccer playing biggie, and watered my hanging baskets on the front porch while wearing my bathrobe. I made pancakes for biggie boy who was heading out early for a soccer tournament, said “yes” to one daughter’s request to borrow the car for the morning, and directed another daughter’s efforts to find a sleeping bag for her upcoming travels. I checked my morning e-mail, ate a bowl of Puffins cereal, and filled the dishwasher. I think I probably tossed a load of laundry in the washing machine and I took the clothes off the line that had stayed there overnight. My husband did much of the same; he made the coffee, poured the coffee, repoured the coffee when I mentioned the mug he gave me had a cracked handle, took the dog out for a morning round of “catch the frisbee”, filled the bird feeders, and supervised the pouring of syrup on the little one’s pancake. He rinsed out a very dirty garbage can, helped our little boy put water in the wading pool, and I think he played a little soccer with our ‘up and at ’em’ tiniest son.

But we’re also a family who has made a commitment to care about the things we care about in the fullest ways we can. We’re a family fighting for social justice. We can’t act on all of our cares (believe me, we have many), but we do make it a point to dedicate ourselves fully to being the best stewards we can for those things we know and care about. Sometimes we do a better job than other times. Today was one of those days we did a pretty good job.

Last year Mr. SillyPants, Blueberry, and I met the fabulous Tami in Chicago and participated in Lisa Shannon’s Run for Congo Women. I wrote about the event here. Lisa Shannon has been an inspiration to families like mine all over the country— families who work for social justice and who work to be good global neighbors.

Today we answered Lisa’s call to action and visited our local APPLE store to deliver a letter to Steve Jobs asking him to support Conflict Minerals Trade Act HR.4128 AS WRITTEN (see letter). We felt like our support for Congolese women and Congolese families made this simple local action MAKE SENSE. It makes sense to end the deaths of an estimated 45,000 people per month in a country wrecked by civil war and a nation whose wealth of resources are being mined to fund death. Yeah, so we did it. We drove a mere 3 minutes to deliver what could be a lifetime to our sisters and brothers in Congo.

See it in pictures – and visit these sites to learn more:   
FB friend Lisa Shannon


(that is NOT my middle finger! I’m holding a jar of pennies oh so awkwardly!)
Telling the story…..
ETA: Some folks asked me about the mood of the event: it was very polite. We didn’t enter the store yelling or chanting or with anger. We asked for the manager and he came right to us. We had a conversation. He listened. We left the letter for Steve Jobs with him. We asked him to assure us that he would make every effort to deliver our letter. He said he would do his best. We encouraged him to look up the legislation and we tipped him off that while folks now know about “Blood Diamonds” many don’t know about “Conflict Minerals.” We felt it was a very successful public action. Of course, we had rehearsed our “schtick” so that we all had something to say – and that’s what we did. We delivered 300 pennies in a jar with a message that this was our family contribution to change the lives of 300 people from the Congo and to offset the costs of 1cent per product for Apple.
We’ll be sending letters to our represenatives to support the Conflict Minerals Trade Act. We’ll also be following Lisa Shannon’s efforts to bring change to Congo families. We’ll act when we can. We’ll run again this fall  the Run For Congo Women .
You can e-mail your Representative here on the Amnesty International site or here at AmericanProgress site to urge their support of this legislation.
We’re just an average family. You can do it too. 

Social Justice Saturday

NOTE – we are off to the APPLE store in our community with this letter in hand, a bunch of pennies, signs, and a compassionate plea for families in Congo. We’re taking part in national effort to get Apple to “guarantee conflict free”. We’ll report back with details.

May 29, 2010

Dear Steve Jobs,

We, as Apple consumers, ask you to please make Apple the industry leader in compassion, not just sales. Please put your full support behind the Conflict Minerals Trade Act HR. 4128 as it is written.

We urge you to continue Apple’s unique and groundbreaking leadership in the technology industry by helping to stop the deadly conflict over minerals in eastern Congo. Advocating stringent trade regulation of tin, tungsten, and tantalum will help stop the deaths of an estimated 450,000 per year in Congo.

Estimates have placed the cost of this legislation at 1 penny per piece of technology. We know that Apple consumers would readily support this miniscule increase in cost to ensure compassionate trade practices around the world.

Thank you for your support of the legislation that will “Guarantee Conflict Free.”