Flannery Correspondence

April 14, 2013

Matching Donations

Brian had this to say today:

I am committed to 25 in Change.  In fact, I’m going hungry for them.  (Today we ran out of sponsorships so we’re skipping dinner.  If we don’t pump up the partnerships/sponsorships we’ll skip breakfast tomorrow and so on.)

Having skin in the game is important.  I’m sacrificing my comfort and habitual fullness.  But it’s no big a deal.

For some reason, it doesn’t feel like a big deal unless I’m giving up something that deeply, deeply matters to me.  Like money.  I’m not in love with money — but I like having my family in a warm house.  I like providing food for my children, even if I’m starving myself for a cause.  I work long stressful ours to scratch out a dollar or two to take home for the sake of my family.  Money matters to me.

So Christa and I agreed we will match any donations I receive [1] during these 25 days of rice and beans.  But it’s hard to match donations to an organization that limits donations to $25 per person.  (That’s right.  You can only sponsor one advocate like me and only one time.  If you want to do more, spread the word:  When someone asks you why you’re not eating fast food, tell them.)

We want to keep the spirit and focus of 25 in Change:  School meals to hungry children around the world.  We decided to match all donations to another charity:  Pastor Andrew Kizito is taking a small group from our local church in Aurora to a small village in Uganda in June.  His ministry, Kuza Africa, has a school that feeds and teaches children.  They are currently fundraising for a water project to provide a long-term supply of clean drinking water.  (What’s worse than hunger?  Thirst.  Imagine being thirsty with no way to get safe or clean or even drinkable water.)

If I can successfully acquire 75 partners (goal: 3 meals per day for 25 days), that means that together Christa and I and all my advocates raised $1875 each for two charities.  That’s not bad.


[1]  http://25inchange.org/advocate/brian-flannery/

April 13, 2013

Daily Change, April 13th

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — bcflannfam @ 01:49

Today’s Daily Change articles:

A map of world hunger and some disturbing facts:  http://www.oxfam.ca/sites/default/files/Enough%20Food_0.pdf
The world produces more food than ever before (17% more than 30 years ago, in fact) yet global hunger approaches 1 billion people.

Business prove you can increase profit by decreasing food waste:  http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/big-story/for-business-food-waste-a-ripe-opportunity-for-savings/224

The autobiography of Muhammad Yunus, the “Banker to the Poor” and founder of Grameen Bank:  http://www.amazon.com/Banker-Poor-Autobiography-Muhammad-Founder/dp/0195795377


April 12, 2013

Daily Change, April 12th

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — bcflannfam @ 02:24

Today’s Daily Change articles:

When Christian churches serve and feed the poor, those churches grow:

April 11, 2013

Being Cold

Being Cold

I hate being cold.  It’s my least favorite discomfort.  I guess I’m soft.  I can handle brief cold — like walking from a warm car to a warm building.

Far worse is when you must remain cold, working in the cold, sitting there miserable while trying to be productive.

In the summer, when it’s most natural to wear thin clothes and short sleeves, some big corporations (like my employer) turn up the air conditioning past cool, past chilly, to refrigerate:  People wearing sweaters shiver and gaze longingly out the conference room window where the real world is sunny and 89°F.  Keeps employees awake and alert, helps avoid the after-lunch sleepies.

In the winter, those same companies are cutting back on their heating expenses, as some cost saving exercise, perhaps to compensate for the summer’s AC bill, or perhaps only out of sheer sadism.  The only time it’s comfortable indoors is when the weather suddenly changes before the system can bring the big building back to uncomfortably nippy.

My nose gets cold.  My ears get cold.  Most of the time I’m not quite cold enough to shiver — but almost.  My fingers get so cold I can no longer type quickly.  My carpals are all tunneled and rusty.

When people describe cold weather as gnawing or biting, that’s right — a subtle, nagging, persistent bother.  I hate that.

I wear layers.  A tank top undershirt then a t-shirt then my proper long sleeve button down shirt.  When that doesn’t cut it, I wear a sweater.  Then a thick wool hat that looks absurd.

Being Hungry

Going hungry is much like being cold.  It’s a steady pester, bugging you subtly and regularly.  Scientists have linked the sensation of hunger to stomach contractions:  It’s trying to grind up food but finds only emptiness.  It makes you generally grouchy and mean.  People learn to avoid you.

Volunteering to be hungry is like volunteering not to warm up.  No coat for me, thanks.  The shivers come and go.  Life plods on, slower than usual.  You act slower, think slower, like you’re freezing.  You’re running out of fuel like a car coughing and stalling — then surging — then stalling.

I’m not starving.  I’m not totally out of fuel, just living on much less — maybe 1000 fewer calories than usual (say 60% of my norm).  The body adapts.  We are excellent at coping — biologically the body will endure as long as it doesn’t totally run out of fuel.  Your metabolism slows as your insides learn to live on less.

Hunger Chill

Here’s the best part:  When your metabolism slows down, you get colder.  It’s harder to stay warm (less fuel for your internal furnace).  Everything I hate about being cold and working while cold and being uncomfortable and being hungry all meet together in this experience.

I’m wearing long underwear all the time, besides my usual layers.  I pulled out the big, puffy, down-filled coat and I wear it around at work no matter how dumb it looks.  I drink tall mugs of hot water to try to bring my core temperature up.

I can start to imagine what it would be like to live hungry all the time — how steadily exhausting and annoying, how hopeless and helpless it would be.

That’s why I’m doing this [1] [2]:

  • To experience and inspire empathy with the hungry and
  • To make sure a few hundred thousand children can escape that hunger.


[1]  http://flann.co/100
[2]  https://flannco.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/quick-sponsor-…-i-wither-away/

April 10, 2013

Daily Change, April 10th

Filed under: Uncategorized — bcflannfam @ 02:21

Today’s Daily Change articles:

Study implies you can catch obesity from your friends:  http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/study-of-the-day-among-groups-of-friends-obesity-is-contagious/259620/

How the whole family can fight childhood obesity:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/11/health/13patient.html?_r=1&


April 9, 2013

Daily Change, April 9th

Filed under: Uncategorized — bcflannfam @ 01:49

Today’s Daily Change articles:

Live 20 years longer by eating 40% less:  http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/10599/20120703/diet-life-longevity-food-research-royal-society-summer-science-exhibition.htm
Scientific article:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413111002646

Research on the causes of obesity discovers the main cause is overeating:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=overeating-alone-explains-obesity-e-09-05-14

One effect of obesity on children:  Social isolation.  http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/216208/20110920/obesity-main-cause-of-social-isolation-of-kids.htm#.UXqubrVCtfw


April 8, 2013

Daily Change, April 8th

Filed under: Uncategorized — bcflannfam @ 12:49

Today’s Daily Change articles:

Nine stories of children who not only beat hunger but went on to impact their countries and world, thanks to WFP school meals:  http://www.wfp.org/school-meals/9-kids-who-beat-hunger

Reflections on the question “Why are Americans so unhappy?”:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-goulston-md/why-are-americans-so-unha_b_1112384.html
Includes two stories of people who are impossibly happy despite their circumstances.


Daily Change, April 7th

Filed under: Uncategorized — bcflannfam @ 01:48

During these 25 days, advocates and sponsors/partners receive a copy of a special newspaper called The Daily Change.  It includes a few short articles about hunger plus hunger’s undersung first world homologue, obesity.  It also includes some links to the 25 in Change website (FAQ, how to participate further, etc.) as well as the motivation and inspiration behind what we’re doing.

Here is a summary of the articles from yesterday, Sunday, April 7th:

What malnutrition is and how it affects the human body:  http://www.wfp.org/hunger/malnutrition

Why hunger, not starvation, is the world’s number 1 health risk:  http://www.wfp.org/hunger/what-is
Hunger decreased from affecting 959 million people in 1970 to 791 million in 1997.  Since then it has risen dramatically:  Up to 870 million at last count.  For every eight people in the world, one goes hungry.  Hunger’s affect on immunity, childhood growth, mental activity, and physical energy often leaves its victims with lifelong effects even if it does not immediately or directly kill them.  The immune system is crippled by hunger, especially in children.  A hungry body cannot fight off infections and diseases that would otherwise be far less deadly.

How widespread is inadequate nutrition, especially iron deficiency in the world:  http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ida/en/index.html
Over 30% of the world’s population is anemic.  In developing countries, 50% of pregnant women are anemic; anemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths.

(Disclaimer:  These links are food for thought.  They originate from 25 in Change.  We Flannerys like what 25 in Change is doing to fight hunger but we don’t always agree with or favor all of the ideas presented here.  It is healthy to be aware of all these ideas without having to agree wholeheartedly.  If nothing else they are good for the sake of discussion, thought, and the healthy comfort-challenge that comes from different philosophies pursuing the common goals of reducing hunger, improving health, and cultivating efficient systems.  We look forward to covering some of the controversies surrounding the different perspectives on hunger and how to fight it soon.)

(Forward to articles from today, Monday, April 8th)

April 7, 2013

25inChange: First Day

Filed under: Charity, Charity and Generosity, Good Causes — Tags: , , , , , — bcflannfam @ 05:23

Yesterday and the day before I kept expecting my wife to do a big rice and beans cook-a-thon.  It never happened.  We had a cup or two of rice left over in the fridge.  No beans, though, except the worst kind: butter beans.  I hate butter beans.

Sundays are crazy for us.  Eating breakfast is rare for Sundays.  Maybe coffee.  Maybe a cold bowl of cereal.  Today, nothing.  Get the kids up, fed, in the car, to church less than 25 minutes late, throw the kids into their childcare or Sunday school rooms, attend a worship service or a class, smile, chat, greet, hobnob in hallways, attend second service/class/childcare rotation, collect everyone again, back home!

I finally got around to eating at 11:45 AM by skipping second service.  I have never enjoyed a bowl of rice and beans like I did this morning.  Every kernel was amazing; every bean sumptuous (butter beans!).  I kept asking Christa to confirm how much salt and oil I was allowed to use:  It seemed like so much!  I was wallowing in flavor-country.

My youngest child toddled over to me, miming with his hands that he wanted some.  Some food.  Some of my food.  No way, dude.  Perhaps, in an actual starvation situation, I would consider sharing some of my portion with my offspring.  Not now.  You can eat an unlimited amount of any other food in this house.  Go forage in the back yard for all I care.

We raced off to a quick small group prayer meeting on the church playground.  I still had my bowl in my hand:  Eating it slowly, savoring it.  While mobilizing kids to the playground, the stroller struck uneven pavement and sent my toddler falling forwards, unharmed but angry and soon crying.  I dropped everything, snacks, bottles, diaper bags, jackets — everything except my bowl of rice and beans.  I picked him up and comforted him. He put his foot in my bowl of rice and beans.

That was a decision point for me:  Put down the crying baby or the bowl of food?  I put the child down.  At this point I was willing to scour the ground to make sure I hadn’t dropped a single grain or bean.  Nothing lost. No calorie missed.  And besides, kids are robust, right?

My smiling toddler

He’ll be fine

April 5, 2013

Quick! Sponsor me before I wither away.

Filed under: Charity, Charity and Generosity, Good Causes — Tags: , , , , , — bcflannfam @ 04:59

Starting April 7th, Brian will eat only small meals of rice and beans — and only when a meal is sponsored.  He is an advocate with 25 in Change.  You may sponsor one of his meals for $25 if you promise to avoid “fast food” for 25 days.  Think you can do it?  I’d like to see you try:


Click the orange “Sponsor” button and partner with us!

We want word to spread and we want the habit of avoiding “fast food” spread.  Each sponsor may only sponsor one meal, no more.  Each sponsor may only sponsor one advocate, no more.  So tell everyone!

For more information, see some of my recent posts:

And read 25 in Change’s FAQ:

His final bio, in case it renders poorly on http://25inchange.org/advocate/brian-flannery/:

I have children; I love them and want them to grow up grateful and generous. When we find ourselves prosperous and well fed, I want to avoid the ambivalence and entitlement that can sneak up on you. I want to endow my family with awareness of a world full of opportunities to love people in sincere, tangible, and fundamental ways… plus the opportunity to trade an unexamined life for one of humility, sacrifice, and deeper joy. Eating nothing but a small amount of rice and beans for a few days seems like a small and temporary inconvenience — a worthwhile exchange in order to raise funds to fight starvation and make these statements:

“Here’s some food.”
“Here’s some of my precious time.”
“Here’s a Savior who wants you alive and healthy: body, soul, and spirit.”

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