Articles by Ethan Wilkes:
December 4, 2012 by Ethan Wilkes
In a small office on East 20th Street in New York City, Reboot is working toward a social contract for the 21st century. Because the rules of the game are changing. An emboldened global citizenry, empowered by increased connectivity, is demanding more from its leadership: justice, accountability, a shot at a decent life, and a livelihood with dignity. And, frankly, because we can do better.
Too many of the world’s people live in difficult, debilitating circumstances. Some factors are beyond our control. We cannot prevent the occurrence of droughts, floods, and earthquakes. Luck of the draw dictates whether we are born into a rich country or a poor one, with fertile soil or famine, with clean drinking water or waterborne diseases.
But many disasters are not random acts of fate. They are man-made, the products of bad decisions and ineffective systems that compound the negative effects of unpredictable events. Hurricane Katrina was unavoidable. The socio-economic breakdown in New Orleans that ensued from an inadequate, poorly planned government response was not. As development practitioners, we share a responsibility to mitigate what factors we can, not just out of a desire “to do good” but to actively minimize harm.
August 29, 2012 by Ethan Wilkes
In Eli Marmar’s life story, water is a recurring theme. “I was raised in the Bay Area as a competitive swimmer and spent my formative years in the ocean surfing. It rained on my wedding day. My son was born in a birthing tub.” No surprise then that he launched his company Freewaters with one mission: provide clean drinking water, one pair of sandals at a time. That’s right, sandals. San Francisco-based shoemaker Freewaters
Beyond the traditional selling points of price and presentation, companies like Freewaters are offering products that directly support a humanitarian purpose—and the concept is catching on fast.
May 7, 2012 by Ethan Wilkes
Identity matters in international affairs. How political, economic, or military power moves the affairs of state is easy to see. But it is what people believe and hold to be true—their identities—that underpins these power resources and define their use.
From transnational movements to nation brands and even new nationhood, national identities are increasingly vying for international influence. They are being packaged for global consumption and exist inasmuch as they earn international recognition.
December 19, 2011 by Ethan Wilkes
Note: All photos are the exclusive property of Ethan Wilkes. Photos of North Korea were taken in August 2007 and shots of South Korea in September 2009.
There are parts of the planet that are hopelessly poor. North Korea should not be one of them. Sitting at the crossroads of one of the most economically dynamic regions of the world, the dismal state of decay that this country currently finds itself is not a product of poor geography, but of decades of maligned politics and policies.
When stepping off the Tupolev Tu-154 and onto the tarmac at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, the impression is an immediate and profound “it doesn’t have to be this way.” Once seeing South Korea that impression is only reaffirmed tenfold.
September 24, 2011 by Ethan Wilkes
As young American Jews, we had come to Israel as ambassadors of the Birthright mission: “to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world.” We had come in search of understanding, and an opportunity to view Israel in its entirety. They told us not to go, that the West Bank was not safe for us.
But to visit Israel and avoid the Palestinian Territories on hearsay would have made us guilty of the very indifference that the Birthright program seeks to overcome.
March 31, 2011 by Ethan Wilkes
We are Generation Wiki. We are interconnected collaborative creatures, and we like to share. We link and like, comment, post and poke. We Yelp when we’re hungry, Skype when we’re lonely and Gchat throughout the day. Our cell phone bills are light on minutes and long on data almost every month.
We are the first of our kind. A computer has sat comfortably in some nook of our home for as long as we can remember. We grew up trying to find Carmen Sandiego, and came of age to the beeps and cackles of a 14k modem connecting to America Online. Before we had our own car, before we had our own cash and before we had a fake ID, we had chat rooms, instant messages and inboxes. We had an entire world wide web of possibilities with which to explore beyond the confines of our bedroom walls. Our rebellion was data-driven, a battle cry of zeros and ones where power grew out of the results of a search engine.