Pay It Forward
responding to Ramona's Pay It Forward challenge ... well, to be honest, i already live that way. i believe the adage 'we make the world we live in and then we live in the world we've made'. i just don't really talk about the things i do because i don't really need to or believe in feeding my own ego (it's spiritual poison). but for the sake of inspiring others, here goes ....
1. I Refuse to Buy Plastic Bags for My Store!
I hate plastic bags. I know that customers respond to pretty, expensive bags and they make a store seem upscale and precious and would likely raise the profile of my store and help me make more profit. But the planet is dying and i can't stand the idea of facilitating the creation of more chemical waste (who knows what's involved in making them, much less what leaches out when we dispose of them). I won't be the author of my own demise, so i ask all my customers if they want a bag, and when they do i use grocery bags (they're clean, just the ones that carried dry goods). When my friends bring stuff home from the store i give them a cotton tote-bag from my collection of swag-bags and they bring it back the next time i see them. Finally, i went out to a storage store (at Yonge & Eglinton, on the east side of the second block north) and bought a couple of light nylon shopping totes that flatten into nothingness and i carry one with me at all times so if i'm out and buy something i will always have a bag with me.
2. I help people when I see they are stuck
Sometimes in life people get stuck but don't ask for help. When i see this i offer help. For example, a few years ago Chelle needed to raise 12K for a service dog for her austistic daughter. Chelle was raising money on her own but it was in dribs and drabs and it looked to me like it was going to take forever to get the money together. So i started asking around, soliciting donations from wealthy people i'm marginally connected to, my dad's lion's club, etc. dontations came in, but Chelle still needed 6K, so i asked her if I could go down to Speakers Corner and toot her horn (Chell was too shy). I stopped by and did the bit in the middle of an errand day on my day off with her website scribbled on a piece of scrap paper and I guess it worked, because it aired a month later and a few weeks after that Chelle got a call from Arthur's Juice company ... they saw the spot and donated the rest of the money (and make an excellent mango smoothie)! this one was seriously was no skin off my back, there's sincerely no reason to toot my own horn.
another example is getting my doctor to take on a friend when they can't get anyone else to see them; really nothing to talk about but it makes a huge difference to the recipient. I guess Shelna's wedding shrug (sept 6/07 blog entry) is a little more involved (I hope she doesn't feel indebted to me). Shelna was making something to wear to her wedding, but it just wasn't progressing very fast. She just moved and was living in the middle of a pile of boxes and i knew she had a lot to do for the wedding, i knew form experience that the likelihood of it being finished in time was minimal, but she still needed something to wear over her shoulders. So at the wedding shower i asked her if she would like me to make her a lace shrug, a rescue shrug. she grudgingly accepted, saying that when the ski-patrol offers you a lift down the hill you should accept it (a version of don't be too proud to accept help when it's offered). So i happily laboured for a week on a pattern i'd already done and got it done in 7 days flat. I figured it would make her feel good to know that that thing was in place for the wedding and i was burning out on the project anyway. still, it's not a huge deal, i was going to be knitting anyway and i needed to get her a wedding gift. regardless i'm pleased as punch because it's a wedding gift she'll use for the rest of her life and that she can use on a daily basis - a great gift!
3. I Don't Take What I don't Need
Presuming I win the pay it forward contest, please give my gift to someone who doesn't have much, maybe someone on social assistance. I don't need any yarn and if I did have my eye on one of the prizes and I did win i'd still replace it with another gift to give to someone in need. The only time i ever won a contest was in a studio art class in university. Someone had left a really nice portfolio behind and the Professor put everyone's names in a hat and drew for it. I already had a portfolio, I'd had it since grade 9. the new one was bigger, so i took it and had the prof draw another name and gave my old one (it was in excellent condition) to that person. everyone was surprised that i chose to do this, and i'll tell you that their response shocked me at the time and still dissapoints me to this day. shouldn't generosity be a given?
4. I Spread the Wealth Around
I give stuff away to friends that I don't use anymore. I guess I could sell it, none of us are rich, but what I would make from the sale would be marginal and what the people in my life save is significant. A zip drive, a scanner, clothes, furniture, store samples, stash yarn to friends living on a tight budget, books, magazines, etc.
5. I Facilitate Charitable Activities (and Not Just When I'm Solicited)
People ask me to help with promoting their craft related charities. They usually ask me to accept donations and post a sign, which are no sweat. Sometimes they ask me to post a button on my blog, which involves HTML which i don't really like doing but I'm happy to do to spread the word for a good cause. I'll disseminate their info on my website and withing my professional networks to help them. I accept donated yarn and get it to seniors groups who knit and crochet blankets for children's hospitals and women making a life after leaving shelters. I organize yarn swaps for people who are financially limited to working from their stashes and to cull yarn donations for the aforementioned seniors knitters. I offer free assistance for knitters who want to make garments for the homeless.
6. I Organize Communities When People Need to Connect
Some people may disagree, but I was born in Toronto and I've lived here most of my life and I feel that I can say with authority that this city has become a very cold place. It wasn't like that in the 70s or the Early 80s, but for at least the last 15 years this city has been CHILLY! it's really hard to meet people here and harder to establish close relationships. Most of the time if you talk to someone you don't know in public they'll treat you like you're psychotic and this attitude did not supersede knitters. In 2004 I stared Knit-O-Matic, an online group for knitters in Toronto to help people meet, connect and hopefully create a sense of collectivity. I promoted it by posting little signs whenever I went to places where knitters might lurk. We started organizing Stitch 'N Bitches all over the city, which is big and spread out. There are currently over 750 and I feel that every knitter in this city can now can find their own place and peeps.
7. i do other things like ...
- volunteer at highschools to teach kids how to knit, etc
- i share my knowedge & information
- i'm always honest with my clients, i never sell them something that is wrong for them unadvised
Addenda: Sept 12, 2007
i've thought of things that i don't already do ...
1. Carol had a great idea i'm going to put to work and donate good clothes directly to the women's shelter. one caveat: if you have cool clothes and wear a size 8 to 10 please bring them to me first!
2. i'll donate all the good art books and journals i have to clear out to make space for more knitting books and journals to my alumni association. they have a big book sale every year to raise money to grease the gears that make the college run. UC was really good to me and this is the best way i can to give back to them and also make sure the books manage to get back into hands who want & need them. i used to love those books sales, they were great!