In May of 2008, Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar and left an astounding 138,000 people dead in its wake. It was a natural disaster of almost unimaginable proportions. What made matters worse was the paranoid military establishment of Myanmar. Generals refused to allow aid from just about any outside group that was willing to come in and provide relief. But one organization was able to break through the cruel blockade of the Myanmar military. That group was Avaaz — at the time just one year into its operation after being established in 2007.

Avaaz members mobilized and formed supply lines leveraging a network of monasteries. They bypassed the government and worked with monks to bring food, medical aid and shelter to the people devastated by Nargis. This is precisely the kind of work Avaaz does every day and has been doing for more than a decade. Avaaz is the world’s largest online social activist group. It uses an Internet platform to connect millions of people around the globe who just want to step up and do something — to provide help in the planet’s most troubled situations and locations.

Avaaz is a play on the Persian word for “voice.” It’s a meaningful name because that’s just what Avaaz does — it gives voice to millions of people who may not otherwise have a say in what’s happening in the world around them. Avaaz empowers people. Avaaz makes it possible for anyone to join easily — all it takes is a few taps on a keyboard to make a small donation or join a local community group that is taking solid action on important issues. Avaaz is also grassroots. It accepts no large cash donations from corporations or greedy billionaires. Avaaz is all about ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place. Learn More.

You may have heard of this story if you live in San Francisco or have heard horror stories from friends or loved ones about the price of rent there. On July 5th, a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors announced that he is proposing a tax on tech companies in the area to help tackle the issue of skyrocketing rent and rapidly accelerating number of chronically homeless individuals in the city.

For years, the issue of rising rent in San Francisco has been a fact that has publicly been spun as a sign of progress for the geographically small city but is known to have had a pretty impactful effect on the city’s residents, many of whom had been living there for generations before they were priced out of their homes and sometimes even the city by skyrocketing housing prices that incoming tech companies exacerbated and did little to help grapple with.

Economic growth is good, and the fact that the city gave tax breaks to companies that relocated to low-income communities in the city was arguably a good move, but it helped to spur the development of a situation where wealthy tech companies relocated to the city for many different reasons thereby pushing out low-income residents who couldn’t meet the rising price that tech companies’ demand creates in the housing market.

Perhaps this new “tech tax” isn’t the best idea out there, but it’s worth the conversation in San Francisco.