It’s fairly commonplace these days for projects, events and endeavours to be crowd-funded. This involves raising a specific amount of money from (usually) a large number of people. It’s not a new idea, but has really taken off in the last 10 years or so. It’s allows artists, writers, developers, etc. to engage directly with their audience via fundraising platforms such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and CircleUp and so on.

In simple terms, the entrepreneur – let’s call her/him Sasha – comes up with an idea (otherwise known as a cunning plan) and selects a funding platform. Next s/he sets a time frame and a financial target, factoring in the 5 – 7% fee that many crowdfunding sites charge.

Next comes creating a succinct and persuasive sales pitch. For the best outcomes, Sasha needs to have a clear message – one that tells a good story and makes people care about the developer and the product. This really means s/he needs to know the target audience and is prepared to use social media to effectively promote the project, create awareness, generate a buzz-factor around the product/idea, and then sustain that by posting regular updates.

Ideally, lots and lots of people then rush forward to pledge an amount towards the goal 🙂

Sometimes the pledges are simply a set donation, but in many cases it’s in exchange for some sort of promised reward – the larger the pledge, the greater the reward. No funds (or rewards) actually change hands if the target goal isn’t achieved within the set time frame.

In my experience, the rewards that are offered as incentives have ranged from a signed letter of thanks to a range of products/services. Many people choose not to select a tangible reward at all, depending on the project and/or their relationship with the developer. In the best of circumstances the projects go ahead, rewards are received, most ‘investors’ are at least fairly happy with the outcome – and the crowd-funding ball keeps on rolling.

Over the years I’ve noticed that other sorts of funding have emerged. One of these is Patreon, which is really aimed at funding ongoing content creation via monthly subscription. This helps artists and creators to focus on content creation, rather than trying to fit their art in around day jobs. It’s simply a modern take on the notion of arts patronage, where artists receive encouragement and financial aid from supporters / philanthropists.

GoFundMe is a somewhat different sort of fundraising. It allows people to launch funding campaigns for medical procedures, emergency help, charities, educational opportunities and so forth. In many instances, people are more than willing to help out wherever they can without expectation of reward. It often depends on what the fundraising rationale is and whether it inspires us or simply gives us a feeling of obligation.

For example, a friend’s sister periodically raises money for her ongoing medical needs this way. Someone else I know is raising funds for a trip overseas. Another needed help to pay emergency vet bills when her dog was hurt. How would I choose who to fund?

Some of these feel like a hand-out, rather than a hand-up. But others, such help with the vet bills, no so much. That particular person felt very uncomfortable asking for money – it felt very much like begging to her. But she needed the help. So she offered to make beautiful handmade earrings (or something similar) for anyone who pledged their help. This made it easier for her to ask for help – and for her friends/family/others to provide it without an overt sense of obligation.

This works for me. It feels like I’d giving a hand up, as though something positive and useful is being done by all concerned. I’d definitely have helped this young lady out if I’d known in time – and not bothered to take up the incentive. The offer would have been enough. Although she does make great earrings….

Over a thousand people gathered in Forrest Place in the Perth CBD recently. Strangers, we came together in the hopes of making a powerful statement to government and to the broader population, using silence as a means to protest the Perth Freight Link project and its impact on the Beeliar wetlands.

Beelier Wetlands is part of the greater Beeliar Regional Park, which extends for 25km along the coast, south of Fremantle. It covers about 3,400 hectares and comprises 26 lakes and a number of wetland regions. The Perth Freight Link – known as Roe 8 – has become a major election issue. The current Premier is determined to see it through, despite clear flaws to the planning and tendering process, repeated breaches of environmental conditions and ongoing public outcry.

A range of protest action has been underway for some time and, with state elections less a month away, the pace has picked up. The objective is to halt – or at least slow – the project in hopes of a change in government on March 11 and subsequent policy change on this issue.

What are you watching?’ someone called out from the balcony overhead.
I wanted to shout back, ‘the incremental, ruthless decimation of beauty!’ – but I didn’t.

Standing in that well of silence in the middle of a busy city was a remarkable and humbling experience. The rumble of traffic behind us, the people-noise from the Sunday Hawker’s market on the other side, and a gaggle of happy kids playing in the fountains in the middle – it all highlighted the  well of silence surrounding 1,000 people.

Silent protest isn’t something that comes naturally in this world of constant noise, activity, mobile phones, internet and people – so many people. Can silence work where vocal outcry and physical obstruction appears to have failed? I don’t know. But what I do know is that when that many people are prepared to give up their Sunday afternoon and stand together in silence, it speaks volumes.

At least to those who are prepared to listen.


This amazing street art went up Stevens Street Reserve in Fremantle last week to draw attention to the issue. Sadly, it was defaced by vandals within days of being painted. Perhaps it’s a little too close to the bone for some?

Whether the combination of our silent protest, the wall art, the determined and committed protesters on the ground on the Roe 8 site and support in the Senate in Canberra make a difference, the reality is that nothing fails more surely than NOT TRYING.

Despite my best intentions, this Sunday morning saw me up (and dressed) by 6am. The plan was to sleep in, have a lazy breakfast in bed and read my book for a while. But the sleep fairy scampered off at the usual time, leaving me wide awake – so it was clearly tea o’clock, followed by an attempt at blog o’clock, despite being rather low on inspiration.

Returning to (almost) full-time work this week has stretched me in numerous ways, not the least of which has been the impact of daily interaction with large numbers of people and the need to present a happy-smiley-helpful face to them all. Every day. After a year of semi-hermiting, this required some internal adjustment and quite a few early nights to recharge.

Glyde-In Community Learning Centre

There are upsides, of course, ranging from increased income for a few weeks (always useful) to the delightful work environment and the extraordinary community spirit I encounter on-site daily. It really is a lovely place to work.

But, whilst it’s all good fun, the daily rush has reduced my contemplation time to the drive to and from Fremantle each day. Since the 20 minute commute each way is mostly spent either mentally preparing for work or recovering from it, I completely failed to come up with a blog-topic. A cool, quiet house and a cup of tea in the early hours of this morning made me introspective, however, and my mind started to fill up with various things from the past week – so I’ll share those.

  • Being a grandparent can be an emotional rollercoaster. My grandies are fur-babies: two adorable Ocicats, Cloud and George, and their very cute (pure black) companion-kitty, Corvy.  They’re usually a source of endless entertainment, amusing stories and cuddles, but last week was rather different. Over the space of four days we all went from anticipation to worry, dismay to serious concern, followed by relief, elation and – finally – crushing disappointment. and sorrow. I can only guess what Daughter Dearest and K went through as they assisted Cloud to give birth to one kitten, which came out backwards and didn’t survive. As if that wasn’t enough, after an extended labor they then rushed her off to the vet, where a second kit was delivered by caesarean. That little girl only survived for two days. *Much sad* Cloud’s recovering well and her parents are bouncing back slowly, but it’s been a rough week for them. *All the hugs*

  • I love the rain, particularly when its accompanied by cool weather. But this time of year is usually very hot and dry, with average highs of 31.7 and lows  of 18.3 degrees. Despite bracing myself for it, I generally find the unrelenting heat (particularly at night) oppressive. So the local impact of a tropical low over the western Pilbara provided a very welcome respite this week, delivering record rainfalls and the coldest February day on record. Hurrah! Of course it helped that flood waters weren’t an issue locally, for which I’m grateful – but it was good to see some people able to make the most of things!

  • Compost bins are a combination of ghastly-eek and great satisfaction. The eek is the occasional wriggly or scuttley thing, along with the somewhat squishy texture of some of the compost. Rubber gloves are the answer to all that and reduce the aargh-factor substantially. The satisfying part is filling six big bags with compost – and using four of them when planting out our fig tree and transplanting our rose bushes later in the day.

  • Flying trees are rather exciting! It was pretty amazing to see just how efficiently two people could dig up our 3.6 metre Ugly Tree (aka Dragon Tree / Dracaena Draco) and remove it. We’d advertised it as ‘bring your own crane for removal’ – and they did! We were happy to bid the Ugly Tree a fond farewell and will be planting a Persimmon in its place – along with some more of our home-grown compost 🙂

  • Finally, I stepped up and  joined a newly formed writing group at the local library this weekend. My objective is to challenge myself to write different things and in different ways. As a warm-up exercise, we each chose a writing prompt from a set of cards (provided). My prompt was Open your mind to new ideas – which was rather amusing under the circumstances. Our homework assignment for next time is to write a short piece, focusing on a specific word. In this instance the word is decayand it’ll be interesting to see what responses emerge.

There were other things (it was a busy week), but these are the ones that floated to the top. How was your week?

The first time I watched Fiddler on the Roof  was when I was 14. It made a huge impression on me at the time. I laughed, I cried, and I went away profoundly moved by the story.

Topol’s voice (as Tevye, the narrator) stayed with me over the years, and at odd times I’d find myself saying things like Tradition! – or – On the other hand… usually in a poor imitation of his rich tones and gregarious manner. It always made me smile.

Twenty years later I hired the video and sat my kids down to watch it with me, having told them it was an excellent film. They were 10 and 12 at the time. It may have been a little to soon for me to be trying to inspire their social conscience and historical awareness, because they soon got bored and opted for bed instead. But I watched it through to the end anyway.

I laughed, I cried, and I came away profoundly moved by the story, but with a far more nuanced understanding of the historical context. It reinforced the memes and rekindled my awareness of complex sociocultural issues.

Heading into the New Year, these are the things on my mind. I’ve realised that it’s not about resolutions or making changes, it’s about awareness of my core values and an understanding everyone in this world is a brother or sister and should be treated as such.

When I watched Fiddler on the Roof for the third time this week, fully 44 years since I first sat in a darkened cinema and fell under its spell, my puppies kept me company. They were only slightly confused when I laughed, cried, and sang along to every tune.

Once again I was moved. If anything, I was more moved by the stark realisation that some things never seem to change. Details, certainly. Situations, of course. But whether it’s in Antevka (Tevye’s village in pre-revolutionary Russia), in Turkey, or closer to home in Papua New Guinea, whether it’s religious, ethnic or simply a struggle for power, people face discrimination, oppression and isolation. And they cope with strength, courage and determination. These appear to be universal themes across time and space. Sometimes the good guys win, but often they don’t.

So I end this year as I started it: with the words of one of my favourite songs as my New Year’s wish to all for 2017. I do hope that the good guys win more often in the year ahead and that you all travel safely through it.

Let the Good Guys Win (Murray McLauchlan)

May I get what I want / Not what I deserve / May the coming year not throw a single curve / May I hurt nobody / May I tell no lies / If I can’t go on give me strength to try

Bring the old year out / Bring the new year in / Bring us all good luck / Let the good guys win

May the one you love / Be the one you get / May you get some place you haven’t been to yet / And may your friends around you / Never do you wrong / May your eyes be clear / And may your heart be strong

Bring the old year out / Bring the new year in / Bring us all good luck / Let the good guys win

May the times to come / Be the best you’ve had / May peace rule the world / Let it make us glad

When you see something wrong / Try and make it right / Pull your shadowed world /Into the bright sunlight

Bring the old year out / Bring the new year in / Bring us all good luck / Let the good guys win.

 

 

So many charitable organisations these days want detailed information from donors. This, of course, is so that they can encourage people to become repeat donors, to buy lottery tickets, to sponsor and support – on their terms.

In many cases, however, this ploy often has a negative effect on those self same donors. Many kind and helpful people end up with donor fatigue. We feel taken advantage of or harassed and many of us opt out of donating at all. But the thing is that many of us aren’t necessarily tired of donating or helping. In fact we’d love to.

But how do we help? Where can we give on our own terms, rather than on those imposed on us by one or other organization?

With Christmas on the horizon, I was thinking about all this quite a lot. Then, a few weeks ago, I found out about Manna’s Hampers for the Homeless initiative. It spoke directly to my ongoing concern that not everyone gets to eat every day, even in Australia.

The idea of providing some basic necessities for people in need had enormous appeal. So I put the suggestion out, asking people I know – and people they know – to consider stepping up and helping out, at whatever level they were comfortable with.

And you did.

Donations started to arrive on our doorstep a few days later and soon my study was overflowing with tins of baked beans and tuna, with toothpaste, biscuits, lollies and more. I’ve been both humbled and overwhelmed by the response.

Thank you. Thank you for letting me know how this has impacted on each of you. I agree that the stark contrast to our far more privileged lives is sobering – and the realization that our contributions will make a real difference to people’s lives is indeed heart-warming,

I thought you’d like to know that we surpassed our arbitrarily chosen target for donations by a goodly margin. Between us we gathered 15 complete hampers, as well as some carry-over items. Lolo Caseiro, the Kitchen Manager at Manna, and her son Kai helped me unload the boxes when I delivered them to the depot this morning. They were delighted with everything and assured me that it would all be used. They’ll be distributing 300 hampers to the homeless of Perth close to or on Christmas Day and our contributions will be included.

We did a good thing, folks.

xmas-hampers-for-the-homeless_2016

Lolo and Kai at Manna with our hamper contributions.