I’ve never been a huge fan of artists using charity as a marketing tool or as a way to make themselves look nice; yet it is a positive thing if you can inspire your followers to get more active with their own local communities!
Tomorrow I’ll be helping out again by doing a fundraiser for a local village hall! This is the best way that I can help as an artist so I hope that the event will be well attended!
Now follows an entry that I wrote a while back about getting involved if you want to help out but isn’t quite sure how to go about it!
A major difference between living in a major city vs. country living is that “life” is more “valuable” in a territory where humans are scarce! An interesting and spooky detail to note! Whenever you run into someone in a village you establish eye-contact and greet one another; in addition you have interactions that are based on trust.
If you then go into town and see some of those characters that live in the same desolate territory as yourself you’ll notice that they just blend into the town landscape together with all the other people, creating the impression of a big, unidentifiable, mass. It is even worse in big cities where you walk down a crowded street without ever establishing eye-contact with anyone and where everyone is consumed with their own things.
Last time I was staying at a hotel due to work I thought of it as comical when I passed a young woman in the corridor who just walked past me all glassy-eyed without even looking at me; “how rude” I thought to myself, “she didn’t even say hi.”
Yet it has become the standard that there are thousands of parallel paths that never cross one another as everyone goes about their business.
I’ve been guilty of this myself, because this has become the default setting of human beings in our part of the world.
You can get out of this habit if you move into an area where human capital is a rarity.
To give you an example of how detached humans have become I offer this tiny story that I’ve never shared with anyone before:
Some years back when I was travelling with Craig Ogden (my classical-guitarist-partner-in-crime) I saw a young, female, drug addict, who was stumbling around in the main pedestrian street of Oslo.
Out of all of the people who were walking down this street, nobody noticed this woman who was clearly in distress.
She nearly got hit by a car and was clearly a danger to herself.
She was in need of urgent care.
So what do you do in a situation like that?
First we walked behind her like two baby-sitters watching over a self-destructive toddler….
This was obviously not something that could go on indefinitely since we had a plane to catch, nevertheless we “stalked” this young lady to ensure that she didn’t succeed in her suicide mission.
Second we had to find someone else who could take over since we weren’t going to be there forever, so we started inquiring around asking various security personnel outside some of the shops if they could call an ambulance or some sort of authority figure.
Some of the people working inside the shops were less enthusiastic; they displayed no empathy at all, and brushed it aside, since “there is a lot of that around here.” Among the other pedestrians there were a couple of people who walked up to the woman and asked her how she was doing, which was very superficial. She was not doing ok at all. Yet once she feigned that she was alright, clearly drugged and/or intoxicated, the individual who had asked if she was ok just walked on. This was just a polite, little hick up in their autopilot, the concern did not seem genuine nor heartfelt. Just superficial politeness. There was one furious man who came thundering over to the security personnel we were dealing with demanding that they do something to save the life of the woman wandering about.
One man and us.
In the end I have no idea what happened to her since we had to leave, but it was an interesting experience to observe the general indifference, and the helplessness of the security people who seemed confused and clueless about how to deal with our concern. It was obvious that they struggled to think outside of their own personal pattern and mission statement. They were there to look for shoplifters, not to call an ambulance or the police to take charge of a drug-abuser. They didn’t know how to handle something that was outside of their own perimeter and framework.
As far as “the people” was concerned they simply did not see her.
This can explain how little kids can drown in overcrowded pools. People are locked into their own activities to such an extent that a child can drown behind them or a young woman die of an overdose right next to them.
If more people had valued “life” that day they would have noticed the self-destructive woman stumbling amongst them; several people would have taken action and she would have received medical attention.
So what do you do if you notice an issue and you want to contribute?
Here are a few examples:
- A while back I wrote about the “crumbling state of affairs” regarding England’s places of worship. I pasted in links to some churches that were in desperate need of repair work and wrote about the importance of England’s irreplaceable heritage. First I shared my knowledge of the problem since I did not have the ability to sort out the issue myself. I wrote about it several times actually. Then I decided that the best thing that I could do was to do a fundraiser concert in order to raise funds for my local church. Not knowing whether or not it would be a success I did it anyway and was very happy to see the turnout! We raised the money that we wanted and I could say that my initiative had been a success since the goal had been fulfilled!
- During the crisis of Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Jose I was asked by a follower if I could shred a riff for my American followers. This gave me the idea that I could help out by writing a song specifically for the victims of the extreme weather, while posting links in the description area of my video to organisations looking for donors to facilitate their volunteer work in disaster areas. I don’t know how successful this venture was, but I thought it was a good idea and helped in the way that artists can help, by using their talents and gifts for a purpose.
- After attending a shocking lecture about persecuted Christians around the world I shared the information that I was handed out on my blog. I urged my followers to check out the organisation working to help Christians who are imprisoned, maimed, alienated or impoverished due to their Christian faith. This organisation obviously look for donors and money like all other charitable organisations, so I was wondering how I could be of any use. That’s when I realised that there was one thing that I could do which was to write cards to persecuted individuals. It broke my heart when I wrote individual letters to an entire family over in Asia and then saw that their names had been taken off the website of the charity since I assumed that maybe they had been killed off or imprisoned as well, which was what had happened to the father in the family. I have no idea what happened to my letters, but I hope that it brought some light to the recipients. A little ray of hope in a dark and cold world. Once again I resorted to using my artistic skills in making custom-made, hand-made cards.
- I decided to get involved with my local “Village Show” since I know that they are always looking for people. I took it upon myself to do online PR which was a challenge since you need people to spread the word in order to get the social-media snowball rolling. There simply weren’t enough people who signed up for the Facebook page and out of those who did there were only a few who ever interacted with the content that I put out there. I did however write a little promotional text for the event which was printed in the local news-letter, I made a hand-made drawing for one of the promo leaflets as well and volunteered on the day of the show by working in the children’s tent. I also helped with putting up the various marquees before the event. Even though I contributed a little it was obvious that it was appreciated since every helping hand counts when arranging a “Village Fair,” when thinking about all of the people who turned up it is quite astonishing what a small group of volunteers can accomplish. The various stalls and the show looked great.
- MicroPlastics is something that I’ve been writing about here on my blog and something that I’ve singed petitions about as well. I sent some emails to local representatives asking about our water but received no reply which is the standard when it comes to these type of things. I championed using biodegradable cutlery, cups and plates at the local “Village Show,” and was happy to see that biodegradable straws were present in the bar at the show, at least. Yet it can be difficult to know how to go about an “eco-issue” as you don’t want to come across as an annoying eco-warrior, in addition you also need manpower if you are to exert any political influence. The good news is that petitions have been flying left-right-and-centre to such an extent online that it has resulted in governments across Europe taking the issue seriously due to citizen pressure. The quality of our environment is such a pressing and serious concern regardless of race, ideology or location, yet it is one where organisation is needed, with the exception of minding one’s own garbage and/ or picking up the trash after others.
These are just some examples of small things that can be done! It is possible to volunteer one’s time and/or create specific objects/things in the name of charity! When I was going to throw away some old clothes I put them all in a “clothes bank” so that others could get them. If more people engage with their local communities we will gradually create a much better and friendlier world, and I much rather experience that than the coldness that has become so prevalent, in a detached, atomised, modernised, reality!