On Wednesday October 15th, I intend to participate in Blog Action Day 2008 and encourage those of you who write your own public-access blogs to consider doing so as well. Heck, even if your blog is a private journal for your friends' readership only, consider participating anyhow. (It's probably a more interesting writing prompt than whatever LJ will come up with that day!) Blog Action Day is kind of like an enormous blog carnival on a specific, consciousness-raising topic.
It can be a cool challenge, especially if you have a narrow-topic blog like this one, to figure out how to apply the theme to your own subject--it's always something really broad though, it's just a matter of some creative thinking. Last year's topic was The Environment, and i wrote one of my most-read and linked-to posts for it, Running a Costume Shop in a Drought, about ideas for reducing water usage in a shop where you do a lot of vat and machine dyebaths.
This year's topic is Poverty. I've been brainstorming what i'll write about--something to do with costume construction on literally no budget, i think, because even the poorest communities find ways to make theatre, and find ways to make costume elements for that theatre. (If you've got a suggestion, please comment; i'd love to hear your suggestions and input!)
There's also always a fundraising aspect to Blog Action Day that you can take part in, in whatever manner you choose. There are usually a couple of charities that are linked on the main site, or you can choose a related charity of your choice. You can donate any earnings you receive from your blog that day (like if you get a percentage of ad revenues), or request that your readership make donations, or run a donation-fueled raffle or auction (especially if your blog documents your artwork or artisanship or retail/service business). This year's "official" charities are microlending site Kiva.org and the Global Fund, which fights AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
Last year, i found out about the event on the day-of, and all i did was write my post; i didn't have time to plan or consider the charity aspect. This year, I'm doing two things, and i'm starting one of them in advance of the date.
Because i am both a costumer and an educator working in the US, the first charity i'm supporting is Donors Choose, a site that allows you to fund projects for underprivileged and underfunded schools around the nation. I'm adopting a few "pet projects" that i'm going to try to get funded over the course of this academic year--projects that directly relate to what i do, cultivation of an appreciate for theatre and its production, particularly costuming.
The most immediate of those projects is Mrs. W's theatre program at Queen City High School, Queen City, TX, who are seeking funding for sewing machines so that they can set up a sewing lab space for making costumes. This project expires tomorrow and right now, has only my own donation funding it.
Queen City is a small town near the eastern border of Texas, right up near the state lines into Arkansas and Louisiana. It's about halfway between Little Rock and Dallas. Here's what Mrs. W says about her students and her project proposal:
Nearly half (47 percent) of my students are considered at-risk students. Most students in my school come from single-parent or economically disadvantaged homes. For many of my students, school is a safe and secure place where they can escape from the problems they face at home.
[...] I am asking for sewing machines that will allow students to create their own costumes. By making their own costumes, students will be able to save the school money (ordering costumes is quite expensive compared to buying fabric). In addition, by making their own costumes, students will have a sense of ownership in the program.
By supporting our upcoming program with sewing machines, you will not only be a part of an amazing educational experience for these students, but you will also help them learn skills that they can use throughout their lives. Many of my students are not college-bound students, so the sewing skills they will learn in class will help them secure careers in the textile industry or as homemakers.
I already donated $54 toward this project, leaving only $600 to be raised. I know times are hard right now--the economy is tanking, gas prices are exorbitant (if you can even find gas, which here in the shortage-plagued South is not easy right now), and it feels like the worst time ever to consider charitable giving. Every little bit you have counts toward getting by.
Here's the thing: if every person who reads this blog on LiveJournal alone gave only $2 to this project, those kids would have sewing machines tomorrow. Two dollars! Or five, or ten, whatever you want to contribute.
If you honestly don't have the money, don't feel bad or ashamed or anything--times, as i said, are tough. Maybe instead you can spread the wealth by spreading the word; send the link to your local costume society email list or repost it in your own costume-related blog perhaps.
How great would it be though if by tomorrow night, all of us pooling the change we dig out of our couches, bought these kids in Texas sewing machines? ...Not only to help them in the making of costumes for their drama program, but in learning such a valuable vocational skill set so that they might also mend or make their own clothing and linens, or get work as dressmakers or alterations professionals, not to mention the interpersonal collaborative skills that producing theatre itself engenders.
You could donate on behalf of your own school/class/costume society/etc., or you could donate in someone's honor--say, your grandma who taught you how to sew, or your sister who does costumes at her church pageant every year, or your high school drama teacher. You can also donate anonymously.
And if, by some chance, you click through to contribute and the project has been funded already, check out some of the other great school projects I've assembled here, all costuming and theatre related! I'm going to keep coming back to these projects over the course of the academic year and donating, myself, and continuing to update that links page as new ones pop up.
If you're an educator and your school suffers from underfunding, check into doing some project propositions through Donors Choose. And, if your school or class or church or temple or synagogue or book club or sorority or dance troupe wants to adopt some pet projects of your own, search the site on whatever keyword floats your boat and find some students out there who'd really appreciate your help!
Oh, and i mentioned a second charity...but that'll wait til the 15th. :D
ETA (3:30pm): In answer to the question, "What happens if I donate but the project doesn't make its funding deadline?"--you'll receive site credit, and can apply the funding to another worthy project of your choice. If we can't get these kids in Queen City their sewing machines, there's a number of related projects on my Giving Page, including Ms. K's class in Yorktown, VA, also seeking sewing machines for costuming, or Ms. S's NYC middle-schoolers, hoping to costume Beauty and the Beast this spring, or Mrs. F's 6th-8th grade drama classes, who need textbooks for adding a technical theatre component.
ETA (5:20pm): Bravo, y'all, go go go! I see three folks have already chipped in and we're down to $560 left!
ETA (10/13/08 9:12am): They're funded! Queen City's getting sewing machines!! Bravo, you guys, that is so wonderful. Please, if you still want to participate, choose one of the many other worthy projects on my Giving Page and throw a couple dollars their way.