Netroots Nation Quilt – Progress, and a Related Project

( – promoted by navajo)

Photobucket

The goodwill expressions of two hundred Netroots Nation attendees have been stitched into a star – and a few more Native American bloggers who were not in attendance will add their names to the background sky.  As you know, this particular quilt is intended to benefit a Native American cause, to be chosen by this forum.

It’s coming along.  A couple more days and the star itself will be quilted.

This is the fourth of four quilts having their genesis in the Street Prophets community.  Aunt Arctic designed the first two, I did the second two – but where is all this going?

My desire – and that of everyone who has participated in these projects – is to use the quilts to generate donations for good works or PACs that we support.  We need a good legal opinion to make it happen – and that is going to take some underwriting.

Because of a comment by othniel on DKos, the idea got a lot bigger.  A lot bigger.  I wrote a proposal for something that is like the “Giving Liberally” idea and asked pastordan to nominate me for a Kos Fellowship to pursue it.  He did nominate me.  

I have no idea if my vision will fit within Kos’ framework for fellowships – but I hope it will find support regardless.  That’s why I’m posting it here.  Please take a look and tell me what you think.  If you have suggestions, I look forward to hearing them.

Dear Pastor Dan:

I would like to be considered for this year’s Kos Fellowship program in order to focus on and fully develop netroots charity opportunities (what has been discussed as “Giving Liberally”) that have surfaced in the Street Prophets community as well as on Daily Kos – and respectfully request that you nominate me.

We, the netroots, are at our strongest when we find ways to relate to one another by giving – and not just money but time, ideas, and real, meaningful comfort.  Inclusion of other groups in causes that we care about will strengthen the effort immeasurably – and will be in step with the Obama Administration’s campaign of hope and citizen connectivity.

As you well know, I find a metaphor for netroots relationships in quilting – stitching the energy of people together into something tangible and beautiful.  The Street Prophets quilt project has brought our own Street Prophets community together in ways we never anticipated – and also became a visible, recognizable, and much photographed symbol of community at the Yearly Kos and Netroots Nation conferences.  It has always been my desire to use these quilts as an internet-based fundraiser, much as the Obama campaign did by giving online donors a shot at having dinner with the candidate.  We could give online donors a shot at owning one of the quilts — and what a wonderful focal point each would be for a PAC or a charitable effort.

While an internet “raffle” is a visible, creative use of new media to bring attention to causes and campaigns we care about, it is only one part of what I have in mind.

I would like to see a connective, digital marketplace/hub for monetary donations and practical comfort items for all in our country who have a need – orphaned children, women in shelters, returning veterans, the homeless, and those displaced by major disaster. In addition to the traditional acceptance of money gifts, I envision something like Etsy (www.etsy.com) operating for charities – which would be a novel use of the internet. The market would be organized in such a way that the makers of handmade comfort items be paid for their work – a donor would select an item from the website and buy it for a charity of his/her choice.  Although I expect money gifts to provide the larger part of the impact, I think the marketplace will draw attention and invite hands-on involvement of individuals who might not otherwise get involved in a “liberal” charity effort. (For example, can you imagine the American Legion or the VFW working side by side with us on veteran’s issues?  I can.)

In fact, some of the charity beneficiaries could also contribute in the marketplace as sellers.  What a difference it would make for the women of Pretty Bird Woman House, for instance, to have a way to raise funds with the beautiful work of their hands.  And veteran’s art projects – found to be so helpful to veterans who are struggling with PTSD, would be that much more meaningful if the work found appreciative homes and also raised money that the veterans could give to veterans with immediate needs.

Some examples:

Many of our GLBT members are not able to adopt children under current circumstances.  When the passage of Prop. 8 dealt a hard, emotional blow, it was suggested by othniel that gifts of handmade quilts be bought and sent by the GLBT netroots to orphaned children as tokens of love.  This is a beautiful sentiment, a practical suggestion — and the netroots could make it happen.

Pretty Bird Woman House and other women’s shelters (whether First Nations or not) need clothing, blankets, and other household items.  These are constant needs – not a one-off needs.  How much better it would be if some of these things could come from loving hands rather than cheap imports from overseas?

We have veterans with missing limbs and spinal cord injuries who are bound to wheelchairs.  They, and other citizens who have lost their mobility, could use wheelchair quilts and blankets to keep them warm – especially in cases where the feeling of cold has been lost.  In such a condition, keeping warm can be so important to health.

Years after the event, the displaced of Hurricane Katrina are still displaced.  Habitat for Humanity and other charities are working to correct this – and surely donations of pottery items, curtains, quilts, furniture and other things that make a house a home – would enhance the effort.

From time to time, we hear heartbreaking, personal stories of devastating illness or property loss on Daily Kos, Street Prophets and other blogs.  This charity marketplace would provide another way to give support to our brothers and sisters on the web.

There has been talk about a Giving Liberally program for some time now.  This marketplace/donation program I am describing could be it.  Also, this idea will likely bring our internet communities into contact with other groups in ways that our new Administration will applaud.  Additionally, although one is not likely to make a living by selling handmade items through this exchange, sales may just help make ends meet for some people in this hard time we are in.  It will certainly provide the opportunity for the energy of some to be focused on something useful and outward (rather than woeful and inward) while our collective ship is being righted.

As it was (in a smaller scale) with the Street Prophets quilt project, the results of this charitable marketplace/donation program are not entirely calculable but are likely to be very profound, positive, and will certainly help change lives for the better.  The connectivity of the internet and the netroots make this possible.  I would like the opportunity that the support of a Kos Fellowship would provide to work to bring this project to fruition.  Heaven knows, there might be a very interesting book about the effort down the road – and a blog about giving to keep participants in touch.  I ask for your support, Dan, in order to get the larger support that will make it all doable.

Very truly yours,

Sara Reed (Rain)