I just reached my 100th sale on Etsy about an hour ago (thanks, Brooke!) and I've been thinking a lot lately about the money that I make from selling art. I was recently asked if I would mind donating a piece to the art center that is organizing an upcoming show, and the answer was easy. Non-profit arts centers are on the chopping block in Michigan right now-- and I'm so infuriated that I sent our Governor a nasty letter about it when she announced her intent to cut this funding several months ago. (If you'd like to email Jennifer Granholm and tell her that the arts are not expendable, you can click here.) Anyway, I eagerly signed up to donate a piece, and started thinking about how I could help in other small ways. I tried researching museums and non-profit organizations that run art auctions-- when I came up largely empty-handed I started to change my approach.
If nothing else, my work is about the places I've been. When I think about all that these places have given me, I'm amazed. My perspectives and beliefs have been so heavily influenced by the beauty that I've witnessed, and really, the only way I give back to these spaces is through voting for politicians who may or may not rally around them.
I think that its time to put my money where my mouth is, so I started to look for organizations who are taking monetary donations, and that was much easier.
1) Alliance for the Great Lakes
This group participates in a whole variety of activities in order to help preserve the largest freshwater system on Earth, the Great Lakes. If you've never seen the Great Lakes, you're really missing out-- they're an amazing treasure carved out by the glaciers, every bit of shoreline is stunning. I grew up with parents who were passionate about trekking us all over Michigan to visit these lakes every summer, and I've seen all of them by lonely Lake Ontario (the little guy on the far right)
Later I had the good fortune of meeting a wonderful guy who loves visiting these natural treasures as much as I do-- here's a couple of his photos of our favorite spot on Lake Michigan.
From now on I will be contributing to the Alliance for the Great Lakes by donating $1 from every Petoskey Stones print sold on Etsy. Most of these prints are sold to lovely people who tell me about fond memories of childhoods spent hunting for Petoskey Stones on the shores of Lake Michigan, just like I did. It seems fitting that I use this print to help keep that experience alive for generations to come.
2) Global ReLeaf of Michigan
Global ReLeaf's mission is really simple-- they want to plant trees in Michigan. This group is based out of Ann Arbor, where I work and spend a lot of my time paddling the Huron. When you start canoeing all over the place you realize that the Huron is special-- despite the fact that it flows through one of the most sought after communities in Michigan, its shores remain almost completely undeveloped with the exception of sprawling natural parks.
Here's a slice of autumn beauty on the Huron:
I'd like to offset some of the lumber that I use to stretch screen prints, so from now on I will donate $1 from every Hiawatha Birches or Log Slice print purchased on Etsy in order to help them realize this endeavor.
3) Odwalla Plant a Tree Program
My original intent was to donate to this project, which is planting trees in State Parks throughout the country for the rest of the year. Then I realized that Odwalla is donating the trees, and all you have to do is click a button and they'll plant one in the state of your choice! Please take a minute to visit the site and have them stick one in the ground just for you.
I would eventually like to donate from show sales to these organizations too-- first I need to develop an inventory system that works (or an inventory system, period.) I write down everything before shows, but then I get home and don't feel like counting what's left (the crucial step I'm missing) and then I sell a few online and before I know it I'm just kind of staring blankly at my storage.
Hopefully my little donations will help plant a couple trees and clean up a few feet of shoreline in the woods and lakes that have done so much for me.