How can we help?

Peace mural by Renda Writer in Asheville, North Carolina

How can we help?

It’s a question people have asked for years about A Peace of My Mind and I never had a good answer. Until now.

For those of you who want the short version, we have turned A Peace of My Mind into a nonprofit and we could use your help. Click here to make a donation.

For those of you who’d like the longer version, keep reading. I’ll put another link at the bottom.

I’ve toyed around with the idea of nonprofit status for years. But I told myself that an art project shouldn’t be run by a board. I didn’t want the additional paperwork. I started the process several times and it seemed daunting. Truth be told, I knew I was making excuses, but I am a creature of habit and change can come slow. All along the way, during my Q&A sessions after public talks about the project, people would ask, “How can we help?”

I’d smile, take a deep breath and say something like, “You can buy a book…maybe follow us on social media…” and my voice would trail off. I knew it was an unsatisfying answer.

It happened again last summer. I did a virtual presentation for a Minneapolis church about the series we created after George Floyd was killed. There were about 70 people on the Zoom call. We had a powerful conversation and then somebody asked the question. “How can we help?” I fumbled again. “You can buy a book…share our posts…tell your friends…”

We went on to answer a couple more questions and then the Zoom call was done. A few minutes later my phone rang. “You blew it,” my friend who had been on the Zoom call said through the phone.

“What do you mean?” I countered. “I thought it went great.”

“Oh the program WAS great,” he said, “right up until that person asked how they could help. THEN…you blew it.”

He was right. There had been 70 people on that call who were ready to help. They were excited about A Peace of My Mind and they wanted to be a part of it. They wanted to help make a bigger impact, and I offered no way for them to do it.

My friend went on to say he would help me set up the nonprofit. He had done it before. He would hold my hand through the entire process and do as little or as much of the heavy lifting as I wanted him to.

Truth be told, I hadn’t had the headspace to do this before. We were in building mode. Running hard and trying to develop content. Then develop programming. Then I was just trying to keep up with the schedule. As a life-long entrepreneur, I was used to doing everything myself and I just stubbornly forged down that path without looking back.

Then covid happened and the world slowed down. My schedule freed up. That’s the nice way of saying it. But it gave us a little room to reconsider and rethink the structure of things.

Last summer we ran a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo. More than 300 people supported our effort and it launched us on this cross country journey we are now on. It opened my eyes to a whole new model of community support that could increase our capacity to tell important stories.

Suddenly we weren’t driven by a programming schedule. With this community support, we had the ability to simply go where the stories needed to be told. We had the flexibility to stay in a region, build relationships and find new connections. We had the chance to listen even more deeply.

I hope you’ve been following the journey. I hope you’ve seen the stories. If you helped us with our Indiegogo campaign last summer, you have made all of this possible, and now, there’s no turning back.

We’ve seen that people want to help and we’ve seen what’s possible with a broad base of support.

My friend helped me fill out the 501c3 application. We built a small board of folks who have known and encouraged the project for years, our paperwork is filed with the IRS, and our status is “pending.”

I’m told the review process can be long and slow, so we have also put in place a fiscal sponsorship with the Listen First Project. They have their nonprofit status, and they will tuck us under their wing as our own nonprofit status is pending. Listen First Project can receive tax deductible donations on our behalf right now, and pass them through to us until we have official recognition.

So we are off and running, and once again we are asking for your help.

We are going to keep doing what we are doing. We’ve seen how these stories can connect people. We’ve seen how they can help explore complex issues in new ways. We’ve seen the power of listening and bridge building. We’ve seen how stories can elevate humanity and give us hope.

We’d love your support, but we’d love your input, too. What are the stories you’d like to hear? What are the ideas you’d like to explore? Drop us a line. Tell us about your connections, your questions and your suggestions. We are in this thing together.

Our next several months will bring us up and down the west coast. Watch for stories that explore housing security, domestic violence, wildfire ecology and water scarcity.

As the world comes back to life, we will return to programming again, because sharing these stories is an important part of our work. But with your help, we can start going places that may not have the budget to bring us on their own. With your help, we can find a balance of programming and new content. With your help we can put ourselves in the places where we will have the biggest impact and do the most good.

It’s up to you. A Peace of My Mind has always grown organically and it has always enjoyed grassroots support at key moments to help us expand our reach. But this is a whole new model. We are asking for your help to build a foundation of support that can help us build our capacity…possibly build our team…and expand our reach in new ways and into new places.

You can send a check or give online. You can make a one-time donation or set up a recurring gift annually or monthly with our secure online portal. $5 helps. $100 helps. $1,000 helps. Don’t let me get in the way of your imagination.

We’ve been working on this project for more than a decade now. What started as a small personal pursuit has turned into my life’s work. I see of world of potential where we can use stories to bridge divides and build community. And I can’t wait for the next time someone asks me, “How can we help?” Because next time, I will smile and reply, “You can help us grow. You can help us tell ourselves a new story of hope.”

If you’re ready to help, you’ll find all you need to know at this link.

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