Catchafire Launch Event, The Puck Building, New York
June 28, 2010
Every time something horrific happens like a devastating earthquake, massive flooding, avoidable oil spills, I try to check myself when I'm about to crank about something insignificant like the internal temperature of a cocktail wiener. Sometimes the people and places in need become so innumerable, it's overwhelming. And it's definitely easier to just be apathetic. Catchafire aims to change this apathy, do a little leg work for you, and get your keister in charitable motion. Last night, they launched.
I couldn't wait to head out from my sweltering apartment to The Puck Building, which no doubt was pumping out the A/C. In fact, when I walked into the lobby, I may have uttered something like "sweet merciful Jesus," laid flat on the marble, and swum happily in place. One of those things happened. I oozed into the elevator with a handful of others. The doors opened to a long line of people checking in and, when I glanced over their heads, a room full of mingling do-gooders.
It was hot. Not Africa-hot, but hot. You could tell the A/C was trying, but it wasn't whole-hearted. I glanced around and saw a table with a spread of food. Was not anticipating food at a 7:30 p.m. event, what a nice surprise! There was a bar set up at the windows, giving beer and wine drinkers a nice view of Soho over the heads of their corkers. A table to the right of the door was set up with page after page of non profits looking for help. So what's the story with that anyway?
Let's create fictional character Chauncey McCracken. Chauncey is a systems architect by day and creative/web designer/Parkour freerunner at night. Lately Chauncey has been feeling stifled by her blade center and wants to do more with her design skills -- build that portfolio and all, but also do something good for someone other than The Man.
What Chauncey could do is head over to Catchafire.org, fill our her profile, and then wait to be matched with an organization that maybe needs some new header graphics, logo work, a complete site refresh. In real life land, say I sign up -- I would volunteer my photog skills. The nonprofit in need benefits from the skills, and you benefit from the feelgoods and the exposure as well.
I'm impressed with this idea for so many reasons. When I moved to NYC the first thing I did was sign up for NYCares. Great organization doing amazing things from teaching to painting to feeding to... well, everything. But look at the size of this city! And look at the amount of people who are aware of their good fortune (not necessarily in monetary form) and want to help. This results in sign-up lists filling almost instantly. This resulted in me feeling frustrated that I now belonged to the community in name only. Catchafire seems to provide the solution to the "well... now how the hell can I help?" question. Obviously, I dig.
Celebrating the 50 Nonprofits & Social Enterprises, 50 Professionals, 50 Projects launch last night was a gaggle of sweaty peoples. Those I met, photostalked, or briefly chatted with were Mitch Kapler, whose specialty is interactive media and entertainment marketing; Rod Arnold of Charity:Water and a speaker last night; Soraya Darabi of Drop.io and also one of the speakers last night; Damien Ragsdale; Andrew Lin; Andy So; writer Courtney Boyd Myers; Allyssa Hosten; Richaela Primus; Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise; Aaron Raskin of Harbinger Pro; Peter Mandeno of Wok+Wine: Paull Young of Charity:Water; Lila Cardell of Waves for Development; Dave Aabo of Waves for Development; Jenny Huang; Cindy Gallop of ifwerantheworld; Brian Litvak of Sportsvite.com; Jane Slusser of Catchafire; Conall Jones; and Nick Gray.
I felt a trickle of sweat balance on my elbow as my camera threatened to slip out of my sweat-gloved hand. When the trickle plopped to the ground below, I took that as my cue to leave. Catchafire had a great, body-heat-multiplying turn out and I predict they're going to blow up this summer, but man, I had to scurry out of there before I melted into puddle of salt.
Very important note: Delicious food and beverages were provided by GrandDaisy Bakery, who laid out the pizzas, including potato pizza; Chilensis, who provided wine; Brooklyn Brewery for the icy cold beer; and Pepsi & more from Pepsi, of course!
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