One of the strengths of the US lies in the self organizing nature of its citizens. Football (soccer) clubs that host thousands of kids in suburban towns are run in a self organized hive of activity, where parents act as investors, managers, coaches and referees. Voluntary work is highly recognized by US employers who rightly believe that people that have run workshops, helped maintain a highway or run civic groups have accumulated useful skills and experience that make them better employees.
Portuguese are not used to voluntary work but that is changing. A remarkable example of a great non-profit initiative is TEDxEdges the result of the extraordinary work of Rui Ribeiro, André Marquet and Artur Arsénio. The event on Friday 18 Sep 2009, had a fresh quality to it. Rui, André and Artur have assembled an impressive lineup of speakers. Speakers were very sensitive to the tight schedule, a novelty in a country that is still discovering a new respect for being on time. The presentations were interesting and lively and some folks actually took a vacation day off to be there. I came out of there truly impressed and more energized to help and contribute.
Rui, André, Artur: thank you.