tsunami relief close to home

I just received a letter from a grant writer here in Ypsi named Patrick, and I thought that it was worth sharing. Here it is. If you like his idea, and if you’d be interested in helping out, or even if you’ve just got an idea to share, leave a comment and I’ll pass everything along to him.

I don’t know why I come up with these ideas, but I can’t keep them out of my brain. I guess I’m just not busy enough. Here’s my latest:

I think we should do something local for the tsunami victims. I have in mind a film festival, perhaps an Asian one. I thought we might try to find a venue at EMU (Eastern Michigan University), find a bit of sponsorship money, and get as much donated as possible. All the money would go to a reputable organization (perhaps American Friends Service Committee or Doctors without Borders). Here’s the website for a film clearinghouse that I’ve asked to provide films free, or at a significantly reduced rate. The film theme might be tied to south Asia since that’s where the tsunami caused most of the damage — maybe a focus on Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan and Indonesian films.

My questions for you are (1) are you interested in being involved?, (2) do you know others who might be interested?, and (3) do you have ideas on how to make this work?

My thought is that the victims will need help for several months and probably years, so we can do this in 6-8 weeks, after the US media have lost focus. That way, it will work to bring some local focus back onto the plight of the victims, tease out money after the big cash deluge of these weeks is over and it will give us enough time to organize a good event. My plan would be to find a core group of people, bring them together in the next two weeks, and see if we can make this happen. If I can find a source of cheap films, this could be a pretty good event.

At minimum, we’ll need (1) inexpensive but interesting films; (2) someone with some film expertise who can run the technical aspect of showing the films; (3) a publicity committee; (4) a venue to show the films. I’m sure there are lots of things I’m forgetting…

So, there’s the idea. If you get a chance, leave a note and let Patrick (and me) know what you think of it. I haven’t discussed it with him, but it seems to me that there might also be the possibility of putting a fundraiser like this on the road if it’s successful. Perhaps that’s something for those of you outside of Michigan to consider, should this ambitious idea of Patrick’s get off the ground.

…As for making financial donations to groups doing work in the area right now, here’s a useful link that Laura from the Ypsi Dixit just left in the comments section. If you click on it, it’ll take you to a non-for-profit watchdog group called the American Institute of Philanthropy, and a nice compilation of ratings that they’ve put together for the various organizations presently soliciting contributions.

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  1. Tony Buttons
    Posted January 4, 2005 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Sorry I haven’t been around lately, but I’ve been on vacation (in a part of my house where there isn’t a computer).

    If it’s not too late, I’d like to suggest that you also check out Charity Navigator. It’s a useful tool.

  2. Posted January 7, 2005 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of the film festival, Mark. I’d be interested in attending. I have no contacts in the film world, although talking to Elliot down at the DFT/DIA might be helpful.

    Whew! I was thankful to see Oxfam on the approved list, as that’s where I gave my money for the disaster relief.

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