Feb. 26th, 2010

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In April 2011 the BookCrossing anniversary convention will be held in Washington DC. I'll be there (naturally) and I'm pencilling in a roadtrip. Just sketchy at the moment, but it's something my co-driver and I have been kicking around for a bit.

We fly into New York, where one of my taxidriver contacts will have bought us a second-hand yellow cab, one of those big old Ford Crown Victorias. We then drive down to DC for the convention.

After the con, we drive to Chicago, where Route 66 begins. And follow it all the way down to Los Angeles. Side trips to Lamberts Cafe in Missouri, possibly Las Vegas. After dipping our toes in the Pacific at Santa Monica, we head north along Highway 1 to San Francisco. Where we leave the cab, auctioned off on eBay.

We two cabbies may do a bit of charity fund-raising along the way.

If we have enough interest, we could do a convoy of multiple vehicles.

As I said, just pencilled in, many of the details to be worked out, but we're thinking about it and thinking it sounds like a plan.
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There's idle time in taxidriving. After the afternoon rush to the airport, to car repairers, to and from Parliament House, there's a quiet evening period where the work is steady but slow. Some nights get busy after midnight as we take home the nightclubbers.

But there's always time to crank the seat back, reach down for a book, and read a few pages before the next passenger shows up.

Lately the reading material has been a book on changing lives. An inspirational book talking of the beneficial impact of very small loans to the world's poorest people. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, was once a professor of economics, who looked out of his office window to a small village and wondered how the theories he was teaching related to the residents.

On investigation, he found that the poorest people in the village were very poor indeed, held back by poor access to money offered at usurious interest rates. A woman would work all day weaving intricate crafts for a profit of a few cents, which she spent on feeding her children. If she could gain just a small amount of money to escape the money-lenders who were also her raw material suppliers and the tied buyers of her work, she could prosper and profit.

From a small seed loan came a great organisation, breaking free of money-lenders, private banks and government corruption and ineptitude. Aimed at small loans to the very poorest, Grameen Bank prospered, spinning off programs and organisations across the globe.

His book, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, has been my taxicab reading material for the past week.

Read the rest of the post here.


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