Laugh Your Blessings

How Satire Can Save the World.

In some of the world’s most dangerous, politically-stifled geographies — from Azerbaijan to Russia — activists are using comedy to say publicly what would otherwise be unspeakable.

In all the recent debates about whether social media was responsible for movements like the Arab spring or the Tea Part [sic], we’ve forgotten that sometimes humor matters more than the straight news and information, especially in closed media environments. Those who have the ability to make fun of their leaders have the ability to lead a free life in many more aspects.

Here are six key examples from around the world to demonstrate how satire can move the needle on difficult issues that are otherwise unmovable.

Pronoia at the Heart of the Lost City

Work, Reimagined: Detroit Gets Creative. How residents of America’s most famously down and out city are building livelihoods that also rebuild their communities.

And so began We Want Green Too, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “re-educate, re-train and re-build a 21st-century, sustainable Detroit.” [Former Ford Motor Company employee] Gloria [Lowe] is working to assemble various teams with all the basic skills to make crumbling homes liveable: dry walling, painting, floor repair, and so on.

In addition to veterans, she’s finding craftsmen among former prison inmates, recovering addicts, and other un- or underemployed Detroiters. “You have people who are challenged, they don’t have jobs. Why not make their jobs re-structuring their own communities?” says Gloria.

Uniting Behind Pronoiac Goals

Nicaragua’s push to generate 94 percent of its own electricity from renewable resources by 2016 without damaging the environment has united the country.

“The energy issue is an essential component for our sustainable development to assure the wellbeing and progress of the current and future generations,” says Emilio Rappaccioli, Nicaragua’s minister of energy and mines.

Ortega worked with Nicaragua’s private sector and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez to fix its immediate energy problem by installing an additional capacity of 343 megawatts of power – 41 percent more power than Nicaragua was producing five years ago.

That means that for the first time in more than a decade, Nicaragua is producing a comfortable surplus of energy.