If you’ve been following the commentary on the 1 Million Shirts idea, you’ve probably seen most of these links floating around the twitterverse and such. If you have to catch up with all the buzz in one large sitting though, these posts give a nice rundown of what’s been said, what’s happening with the program, and some interesting social media experts’ insights on how this explosion of debate and criticism could be just the “tip of the iceberg” to having more open discussion of the practicality of aid programs.
In addition to the links in my previous post, Laura at Aid Watch weighed in with a suggestion for the guys at 1 Million Shirts, and Alanna Shaikh made a list of the top five things people say to aid critics and took the time to transcribe and respond to the first video posted by Jason (mastermind behind this project). He also posted a second video. One of the many aid workers not ready to make nice was Tales from the Hood, another ex-pat gave the initiative the Oscar for terrible aid idea, and Project Diaspora called it the 1 Millionth Stupid Idea by Wannabe Do Gooders. And information about the organizations that suggested or encouraged sending 1 Million Shirts came out, as officially documented on Twitter by @iwearyourshirt.
Now the social media commentary. Do you want to read all the tweets about 1 Million Shirts? You can. It’s an interesting list to skim, though I will admit to not reading each of the 1000+ blurbs of 140 characters. A few of the gems supporting the project (which still pop up intermittently with all of the critical ones):
@woodwardmw: If recycled shirts save water, why not ship #1millionshirts from Africa to be worn in the US? Would be better for African clothing industry (Please see previous post about my questions about the “save water” and “increase potential for clean water” arguments.)
@color_myworld #1MillionShirts is gonna donate some tee’s. you probably should too. =]
@RachelWillcox RT @PTMaddiganEsq: I’m going to send my old shirts asap so #1millionshirts can clothe people in Africa & help the environment. Learn how:…
So there were definitely supporters out there, who hopefully will take notice of some of the criticism and understand the possible negative implications of this project. Note that many of these were probably a result of the Mashable post about the power of social media in this initiative. All of this, while aid experts were posting something akin to @bill_easterly: “Bad advocacy ideas never die: nobody wants your old #1millionshirts http://bit.ly/aE7mMG”
Christopher Fabian, from the UNICEF Innovation team, made an eloquent statement about the importance of this open criticism of the initiative, and another blogger even made a connection between the “boobquake” experiment Monday and the 1 Million Shirts debate yesterday. If you want a rosy post about gifts-in-kind amongst all of the thorns, check out this article about Direct Relief International, recommended by Michael Keizer. Or, if you’ve followed the debate and want to join the conversation (literally) with Jason, aid experts, and random twitter followers, there will be a conference call at noon ET on Friday. I’ll add an update with the call-in information when @iwearyourshirt shares it.
And finally, for those of you who want something beyond this rough and dirty rundown of what happened in the past 24 hours surrounding 1 Million Shirts (which is slightly reminiscent and probably as thorough as an intro sequence for Glee), Wanderlust puts all the pieces together in a well-thought and lengthy post about the debate.