Friday, 11 July 2008



Our son Alex has been working for Google in Sydney these last few months before he heads off to Oxford late September and he has been telling us of the things they do there for the benefit of the employees, the local community and also the earth, surprisingly enough.

Last week he took part in a local (to the Google office) effort to rehabilitate a misused and now disused area next to a tramline at Pyrmont with a group of local residents who,with a bit of council funding, have been doing bush regeneration there over the last 18 months or so. All Google employees world wide are encouraged (and paid by Google to do) half a day a year of community service like this. That doesn't sound like much, but with tens of thousands of employees, that is the equivalent of one year's full time work for one person per 700 or so employees, or more than 10 years work per 7 thousand employees.

Imagine if every company with a few employees did this, imageall we could get a lot of good stuff done all over the world and, at the same time, introduce these people to places and experiences and contacts they would never otherwise have known about. This in itself could have a snowball effect as some may decide to offer their help on weekends or, through their initial good experiences of planting things, they may decide to start growing some things for themselves and maybe even start a vegetable garden or join a community garden.

We have a small company that writes computer software and I think we should start doing this and telling other businesses in the building about it...sounds like plan. Here come those enthusiasms that I am still liable to...could you do something like this where you work? Could we all do this? I think this needs to become the norm, instead of all these carbon-trading schemes where you just pay someone else money to suck up your carbon through some dodgy tree-planting scheme which, from what I understand, only serves to take over good agricultural land and make profits for investors, with no actual commitments or research into what are the benefits towards solving the carbon problems. People should have to get out and DO something, so they can talk to those who already understand what needs to be done at the same time providing the man-power to get good projects going.


Alex has managed to get himself into a weekly sailing race on Sydney harbour, through some people he is sharing an apartment they are on a windless day with time to take photos!

What a life!...

Today it looks like Feedjit has measles...nice!




...Meanwhile Hugh and Amelia came around to work on some art for my birthday, while Amelia did the work, Hugh read some of my recipe books - in particular one called 'Cooking and Travelling in South-West France' by Australian, Stephanie Alexander...Typical boy!


Unknown said...

Kate, well done on Google giving their staff a half day to help the local community. My work does the same thing. I work for one of the major banks that begin with an A. They give us a full day each year to do community service, but it is kind of compulsory, which is a shame. I believe it is just to elevate their standing in the community, but being a bank they really need it.


Philip said...

If your in need of more cookbooks from France then "Goose Fat and Garlic: Country Recipes from South-West France" is very good. You get the culinary history of the area as well as recipes. I was recommended it by an English couple living in the Perigord. The book has inspired me to raise geese.

Pattie Baker said...

I'll add this to the list of Things Kids need to Know in Life--efirst-hand experience with the tangible and intangible benefits that come from volunteering

Jumbleberry Jam said...

Even Microsoft does this ;-). It's a very American thing, I think - volunteering, I mean. We tend to fill our schedules to overflowing with things to "do". It starts in high school when you are encouraged to the point of burn out so you can get into a good uni. People routinely use a portion of their vacation time to build homes for Habitat for Humanity or take underprivileged kids to camp, etc. I think it's wonderful - in moderation. But I've often seen Americans do it in excess and not always for the right reasons (sorry, feeling a wee bit cynical today...could be the 4 short hours of sleep I had last night :-).

Kate said...

I didn't know this was such a thing in America but I think we could put some heart into it here in Australia and make it connect the people to the natural environment that surrounds them, not just be a tick for the businesses...that's not what I meant at all...and I mean do something for the earth, not for people.

Rachel said...

What I find interesting about the much-maligned (unfairly, IMHO) Gen Y is the fact that so many of them see volunteerism as a standard part of the lifestyle. My younger sister is 25, and she's done various volunteer things most of her life. When she moved to DC after university, one of the things high on her "lifestyle" list was to find opportunities to get involved in community activities. As a result, smart companies like Google will have programs like this specifically to attract and retain young employees. Yeah, it's good PR for the company, but there's also a strong HR reason for it, too. So much the better, sez me!