The Haiti Relief Art Project was born in the spring of 2011, as I thought about ways to raise funds so that I could volunteer in Haiti as a relief worker with All Hands, the same group I worked with in West Sumatra after the 7.6 earthquake there. Someone suggested that I create a Kickstarter project. But Kickstarter is for art projects. Going to Haiti to build schools, install biosand water filters, and clear rubble from last year's catastrophic earthquake is not exactly an art project. The suggestion sparked an idea, though: I could create art based on my experiences in Haiti and use it to raise money for relief work.
I left for Haiti in February, and loved working with All Hands there. I didn't get the artwork done in Haiti as I had hoped—the days were too full. In addition to the regular All Hands projects, I also started a creative reuse project to reduce the camp's waste, and helped design a permaculture project for the local orphanage. The days flew by, and soon I was back home in San Francisco.
Over the summer, I began painting, inspired by the Haitian folk art style. I had forgotten just how long it actually takes to complete a painting! I finished in October, and began looking for printers. My hope was to pick four designs, two by Haitian artists and two by me, and turn them into cards, prints, and blank journals. I had a small sample run printed of the first two designs—the ones by Haitian artists—and gave them to people who donated in the spring.
When I launched my Kickstarter page, I had hoped to raise money both for my travel expenses and for printing costs. Many people gave generously, and I raised enough money to cover all of my travel costs as well as to bring some much-needed supplies to Haiti. Unfortunately, I did not raise enough money for printing more than the small sample run of journals. So now, as I prepare to go back to Haiti once again to join the dedicated All Hands volunteers, I am launching another fundraiser. This time my goal is not only to cover travel and supplies, but also to launch the Haiti Relief Art Project as a long-term, sustainable fundraiser so that I can continue to do disaster relief work for several months of every year.
My vision for the next round of journals is that they would be filled not only with blank pages, but also with "inspiration pages" and "history pages.” Inspiration pages would each feature a different inspiring project that is currently going on in Haiti, along with information about how to get involved or support the project. History pages will each feature an aspect of Haitian history, from a Haitian perspective rather than a Eurocentric perspective. So much of Haiti's current situation is a direct result of its history as the first successful national slave revolt and the first black Republic—and the US/European response of economic policies that kept it impoverished. I hope the journals will reach people who would not otherwise learn about Haitian history.
I’m scheduled to return to Haiti on November 29, 2011, and stay through the end of the year or longer. I’d like to write the history pages and inspiration pages while in Haiti. When I get back to the United States, I will look for ways to sell the journals, as well as the cards and prints, on a wider scale—online, in shops, through distributors, and at events. A small nonprofit has offered to sponsor the project with its 501(c)(3) status, and all proceeds will be used to fund relief work.
I hope you will consider supporting my vision with a donation! Click the PayPal button below, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to send a check.
Here's a blurb that might end up on the back cover:
Beginning with a broken toe in the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova, Ordinary Stories of Magic, Adventure, and Chocolate traces a personal journey through urban squats of Western Europe, Central American countryside, an Alaskan winter without electricity or indoor plumbing, the streets of Istanbul and Southern India, across Bosnia, Serbia and Romania on a bicycle, and eventually into the political countercurrents of Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba and Colombia.
More than a travel memoir, this collection of true stories relentlessly pushes at the edges of cultural boundaries, while tracing a path of personal evolution through activism, love, loss, birth, death, politics, and exploration of the ever-evolving mysteries of life. It is a tale of what is possible when a young woman insists on staring down her fears, keeping magic as a travel companion, and sampling all the chocolate along the way.
Ordinary Stories of Magic, Adventure, and Chocolate is a playful, personal story that pokes at politics and cultural differences, but focuses on our ultimate interconnectedness, and seeks to offer a reminder of the magic that is always around us, the ordinary magic we tend to overlook, the mysteries we get too busy to ponder. And in that ubiquitous magic we may just find reason to live with more trust and compassion, with less fear, and with more openness to the infinite possibility of life. We may find that we are capable of much more than we realize. Read More ...
Ordinary Stories of Magic, Adventure, and Chocolate
November 11, 2011
“What happened to the book?” you’re asking. “It was finished, right? Ordinary Stories of Magic, Adventure, and Chocolate, the memoir of travel and magic and activism all over the world? It was going to be published this summer, right?”
Yes, yes it was, and then I had to go and start changing things. But really, it’s a good thing, I promise! As I researched publishing, I learned that it’s cost prohibitive to publish a book that’s so much longer than average. Then I realized there were sections I could take out that actually make the book more engaging, with a more compelling storyline and pace. I’ll publish the omitted sections on this website after publication, so you can see the original version if you want to. I’m excited about the changes.
I decided to go with indie publishing. After researching all the options, I decided that indie publishing is more in line with my values, allows me to keep control of my work, and might end up being financially better in the end. In the short term, it’s a lot more work—I’ll be doing all the design, layout, printing logistics, distribution, etc. It’s a bit daunting, but to me it beats writing proposals and begging agents and publishers to pull my manuscript out of their slosh piles... Read More ...
I guess it started when I was a kid. Or maybe I was born with it, a gene passed on from my immigrant parents, even though they claim they don’t understand why I do it.
In elementary school I snuck off campus at recess and ran around the block, just to see if I could. I explored every possible route home, to see what they all were like. My favorite school day of the year was... Read More...