Give thanks by giving back

Skyline

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian friends and truthfully anyone who just likes the narcosis of turkey and pumpkin pie, no matter what time of year.

I have an abundance of reasons to be thankful this year, as with all previous, but perhaps my greatest thanks is for my ability and resources to give back to my communities: financially, spiritually, however love is needed.

Below, I describe a couple of projects I have underway that will hopefully bear fruit for any number of groups.

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Opportunity #1

As an avid fan of the Toronto Marlies hockey team and avid photographer, I have been combining my passions by photographing the home games.

A couple of years ago, I took that one step further by designing a photo calendar for the hockey season (Oct to Sep), listing all the games & many player birthdays.

The first year, it was just a gift from me to many of the other season seat holders.

You Can Play

Last year, I sold them to anyone interested simply to cover my expenses. At the end of last season, however, my ticket agent & friend Wayne arranged to have the team sign the calendar and we auctioned it off with a team-signed stick on Facebook.

I was blown away.

Between the winning bid and two matching bids, we raised $1050 for You Can Play (American link), a group that supports inclusiveness in sports with a focus on the LGBTQ community.

MLSE Fdn

 

This year, I am doing the same, but donating $5 from every sale (calendars are $20) to the MLSE Foundation, an org that uses sports to build communities.

Of the 75 calendars I ordered, I only have 16 left after the two-day home opener this weekend (both Toronto victories). Fans from as far away as the United Kingdom are jumping on-board to help support my effort, the team and the MLSE Foundation.

If you’re interested in supporting the effort by purchasing a calendar, feel free to reach out to me on my Facebook page or via my Twitter page. And you can find my photography (not just hockey) on my Instagram account.

Also, Wayne is again having one signed by the team, so watch another auction in the coming months!

100 Days to a Better World

Opportunity #2

I love walking all over the city of Toronto and pretty much anywhere else I visit, photographing both the wildlife and the urban art landscape of graffiti and murals. With that in mind, I recently decided to see if I could use that walking habit to raise some money for charity.

100 Days To A Better World is the result.

For 100 days (to Dec 25), I will record my daily walking distance and my total to-date, inviting people to sponsor my distance (per km).

When the 100 days is completed and the cumulative distance is known, those lovely individuals can then donate their total sponsorship to a charity of THEIR choice.

Rather than focus on a charity I think is worthy, I want to convince people to give their money to groups they think are worthy. We spread the love.

To date, with the generous support of many people, I am earning about $3.30/km.

As of October 8 (Day 23), my total distance is 263.41 km (158 miles); so, we have already raised $870 for various charities.

I appreciate that some people may have an upper limit on what they can afford – in case I go crazy and hit 1000 km (I am frighteningly on pace for that). No problem.

If they can’t afford any money but are willing to cheer me on, then I am honoured to have their support.

Just in doing the exercise, in having the conversation, I feel that I am making this a better world. That charitable organizations may also benefit is the icing.

Painted Lady

Making a difference in the world doesn’t have to be difficult or even cost you anything financially.

It can centre on your passions, the things you do in everyday life and/or that bring you joy. It is as much about offering your time and spirit as anything.

It is about being open and loving. It is about being thankful.

I wish everyone all the best both in this season of thanks and throughout the months and years ahead.

Living happiness

In February 2018, an organization called The Expansion Project is hosting a men’s retreat in Barbados as part of their efforts to help men and women find their ways to personal transformation and happiness.

I am hoping to speak at this retreat, and as part of the submission, they asked us all to do short videos, introducing ourselves, our proposed talks and how our subjects align with The Expansion Project’s mission.

The video above offers my thoughts on the role of passion in happiness, somewhat stemming from my recent blog post of Happy as a verb.

The fundamental premise is that happiness resides within us from our earliest days and simply awaits us to remove the layers of muck and mire that have built up over decades of living a life we may not have chosen, doing what was expected of us rather than what we longed to do. Reconnecting with your passions is the first step to removing that mess and uncovering your dormant happiness.

Please watch the video and give me your thoughts.

At the very least, in the comments section, please list your favourite charity, as The Expansion Project wants to donate some of their proceeds back to the community.

P. S. The Expansion Project is also hosting a similar retreat for women in the Cayman Islands in November 2017.

See also:

The Expansion Project on Facebook

Randall C Willis on Facebook

Hair-raising fundraising

Hairsuit

So, I just discovered there is something called Decembeard, a charitable campaign to raise funds for colorectal cancer (presumably to fight it rather than promote it).

Decembeard follows tightly on the heels (chins?) of Movember and its promotion of awareness of prostate cancer.

As I have reported elsewhere, the women were not to be outdone and I know one of the founders of Julyna, a campaign to bushwhack cervical cancer. (At least this one is anatomically related in the geographic sense.)

So, how many more of these can we do?

  • Pituary – Arm pit macramé to promote conditions of the pituitary gland
  • Fepubeary – Growing the short ‘n’ curlies to raise awareness about deforestation
  • Partch – Creatively parting all of your body hair to promote the wax industry
  • Earpril – Wild and wooley ear hair in support of local symphonies
  • Might – Strength training just because bathing suit season is upon us and we’re tired of looking at that
  • Stoone – Heavy colonic bombardment to promote awareness of illegal dumping
  • Julyna
  • Ah-ah-ahgust – High volume nasal ejections to support diseases of the immune system
  • Septumber – Full-frontal snoring to raise awareness about sleep disorders
  • Proctober – Sort of Hands Across America’s rectum to promote taxation reform
  • Movember
  • Decembeard

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Crowds are fickle beasts – Crowd-funding conundrum

I pledge: To stop whinging about or rolling my eyes at stories about some big film company or Hollywood star using crowd-funding to support their latest endeavours, whether in part or in whole (e.g., Veronica Mars movie, Zach Braff, Corner Gas movie).

Artistic life support

Although many of us probably assumed that crowd-funding was designed to give the little guy or gal a leg up in the pursuit of his or her dream, it is merely a vehicle for fundraising and gauging public interest in projects of any type. Period. Full stop.

Given the potential cash-cow it represents, companies and individuals of all stripes would be foolhardy not to take advantage of this opportunity.

I have heard and have argued that these mega-projects take attention and dollars away from smaller projects that might never otherwise see the light of day. There may be merit in this argument…but I don’t know that it matters.

The crowd-funding companies get a piece of the action, so you know they’re good with the big-ticket projects. They are not charities, despite being used by charities.

If the small independents want an exclusive, altruistic crowd-funding domain then they can start one and make up their own rules for which projects are allowed in and which ones aren’t.

The marketing angle is built in: Stick it to The Man, even if she’s The Woman. (Unless, of course, the crowd-funding site is dedicated to projects led exclusively by women.)

Crowdfunding

(Images are property of owners and are used here without permission because the post office was too crowded.)