Monday, May 31, 2010

Save The Bag!

Dear friends of Bags4Darfur;
I am entirely unsure what ransom amount is required to release me and put me in my rightful place in front of my beloved Bernina. The universe is a difficult captor to negotiate with. As it has conspired against me in the forms of soccer, gardening, work, yard sales, and sudden, torrential downpours that leak into my basement... I cast sidelong, wistful gazes at the stacks of wonderment that I call fabric. And I hope.
Meanwhile, faithful supporters cajole me with offerings of unfinished quilts, vintage thrift shop cast-offs, and church rummage sale plunder. Mop in hand, I whine my way past the delicacies and back down to my wrongful place in the dank, be-puddled cellar.
(insert dramatic sigh here)
Who will save me? What can be done to redeem this thwarted lover of fibers and place her, scissors in hand, at the fount of the ancient poly/cotton blend?
Meanwhile, it appears that I may have dropped off the face of the earth, and relegated my love for all things sewn to the past. Not so. I mourn it deeply, and wait impatiently. There is NO immediate plan to cease bag making. I still have roughly a zillion plans for bag creations. I have promises to keep. I have addictions to fuel. I have supplies in store to take me roughly into my 70's.
Marketing and time remain my biggest challenges. How do I continue to put out a good product, support women in the Sudan, and keep interest alive? Meanwhile spinning a small mountain of other plates? How do I generate new interest so that funds raised somewhat matches my time invested?
Thanks to response to my "help" bulletin, I am considering a facebook option, that might be more user friendly. Instead of readers having to check back daily to see if there is any bag action, a notice would be posted to any fan's wall (or something like that. I may have all the terminology wrong here).
Right now I am working on a short list of "favours". People who appealed to my soft side and made me do what I pretend not to do- customs.
So, I'm not sure whether to apologize or just wave and smile. I found last spring/summer to be tremendously challenging as well, in terms of keeping up the bag production. Last year I chose to take a break for a number of months, but I felt as though I had lost a lot of people that way.
This project is dear to my heart. It pulls together so much of what I believe in- God of love, using old and discarded and making it wonderful, and most of all- supporting our sisters/mothers/daughters/fellow human beings in Sudan who have pretty much no choices in their lives. And plenty of trauma. (Just reading "A Thousand Sisters" by Lisa Shannon**)
I have no desire to stop.
Just waiting on that ransom, is all.
**I had a great life—a successful business, a fiancĂ©, a home, and security. But in the wake of my Dad’s death, and soon-to-be thirty years old, I found myself depressed, camped out in my living room watching Oprah. It was there that I learned about Congo, widely called the worst place on earth to be a woman. Awakened to the atrocities –millions dead, women being raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers –I had to do something.


Dancin' Momma said...

You got the terms right! :)

Lori said...

Hang in there Joyce! Life happens. This too shall pass. Etc. etc. etc.

We have similiar problems here in Southern Alberta. Much to much rain and not enough soil to hold it all. March being the driest on record for the last hundred years and now this.

Your loyal followers understand and will return. Facebook sounds like a good idea even though I'm not on it.

Giulia said...

A quick note, Joyce. I don't know about FB. Some of us are well on our way to shutting down our might want to wait. It's just my initial reaction. Why is it so tough for anyone to subscribe to your feed (if they don't have a blog & link to you as many of us do)? I don't see the problem.

Now the other problem? Yeah, I hear you. More than I wish to say here.

Cheers to whatever you decide. (In the summer, at some point, I put up a suitable photograph on both blogs & 'go fishing' or whatever) As long as you put in a provisional "when I'll be back" date (which you can amend! I did.) no one should think you've disappeared.

Lots & lots of us take a break or more than one during the year. I'm helping a friend's nephew set up a sports blog this week. I'm showing him examples of "good away" & "hey what happened to that dude?"

Criminy. That wasn't quick. Sorry kid. Just want you to understand that no one's going anywhere.


joyce said...

thank you, Susan. That was reassuring. It's hard to measure what's "working", sometimes, isn't it? I have some hesitations about FB too. ie- i have fabric labels made up for the website, I don't like the "trite' nature of FB, and I hear of a lot of people who weary of it and cancel their accounts. I myself have never become terribly fond of fb. I use it sort of as a contact source for sending messages. But I'm always up for new ideas and suggestions, so I've not decided either way. I think one of my ideas was to continue with the webpage, since i've been at that for several years, but then to add a "fan page" at FB to alert people to redirect to the webpage. But maybe that just adds work? I'm not sure. All in all, I wish I were independently wealthy, or liked money less so that I could stop working for money and have more time. Problem is that I like working, and I got super tired of poverty when we lived there for the first 14 or so years of our marriage. So, I'm not about to retire, no way, no how.

Lori, you're right about life happening, and that's the way it ought to be. I mean to enjoy what comes along, including the mania that is the fresh green of spring. More outdoors, less Bernina. That's not a bad thing, I just worry about people growing impatient with me here in blog land.

DDae- you've been so helpful. I hope you too are patient with me as I fumble along! (whatever I decide) And did you get your bag? hope so.

joyce said...

one more question for Susan- I've never actually figured out how to prescribe to a feed. Is it relatively simple? And so, I assume that it's possible to subscribe to my blog that way? I didn't have to set it up to accept a feed?

Giulia said...

Hey there, Joyce. I just arrived here from subscribing to your feed:) At the bottom, where it's says Posts - Atom. Click on it, & there it is in the corner of my homepage (I use Firefox) tool bar. As purty as can be.

Let's talk about adding B4D to networked blogs on FB. Then it will just automatically feed there & back to your we blog. I didn't even realize I'd done that with one & heck if both aren't there. I found out when people were clicking 'like' or whatever. (Sometimes 'whatever':)

And I just got off FB because I had to respond to some friends there you go. It's easier for some folks to keep everybody in one place, esp. in let's say, challenging environments. I just made myself gag with that DC-speak.

Must run out in to 90+ heat without sunglasses (!) which I will fetch from friend tomorrow. Scrounging for non-poofy hat so as not to look utterly ridiculous.

Will check in later or tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

I for one like the facebook idea (in fact, I think I mentioned it to Jenni)... I've had so many people at school and randomly on the street comment on my bag, and as far as facebook goes, sometimes it's easier to direct people there as they're online a lot! Your decision tho!

I'll be praying for you!

joyce said...

JE- I appreciate all the feedback. What do peoople think of the concept of combining the networking wonders of FB with the existing blog? Will FBers think that's too much work to click over to a website? What about people without a FB account who currently look at bags on the blog? Can they look at stuff on FB without an account? (DDae, feel free to jump back in if you have more insights)

Giulia said...

Hi Joyce--they don't have to click automatically happens. In fact, this a.m. I was surprised to see that someone commented on my "personal" (as in 1st person) bricolage (rather than the GG blog) from FB. I do wish they would come over to comment but oh well.

As for non-FB you have to have an account, I'm pretty sure.

BTW, I just arrived here again via your feed on my toolbar...just to make sure it's working & it is working just fine.


Jen P said...

Hi Joyce - as a marketing type, I would be thrilled and honoured to donate my services to Bags4Darfur. Facebook and blogging and lots of other tools can be very successful. I happen to be unemployed (OK, paying work) and would love to help out. Email me a jpinarski at gmail dot com.

Jen Pinarski

Dancin' Momma said...

Hi Joyce!

Jumping back in :) The biggest issue with doing a feed from your blog onto Facebook is that you could end up with people not commenting/bidding in the right place. It could get very confusing (I feed my blog onto my Facebook page and get comments in both places). I agree with an earlier poster, and I think I mentioned this before, but I think you would get a lot of new blood (aka shoppers), through a new and very popular social networking site like Facebook (if you read the news reports, almost no one actually left Facebook, even the originator of the push says that was not his intention but instead to educate people about privacy and safety online). I know I have a lot of friends that would "fan" you very quickly, but who after one look here, may not come back again (rss feeds do not generate new users, but only keep a dedicated few informed of your blog's activites). Facebook is a great tool for you to communicate and build your customer relationships because it is easy to stay on people's radar, and generate the interest and curiousity of new people unaware of your amazing work. This is one of the reasons social networking is a key component in many PR/Marketing campaigns.

As for people seeing it who are not part of Facebook, they definitely can see any photos you post, when you create an album it provides you with a link right at the top to share the album with people not on Facebook. Or if you go with the "event" format I recommendeded in my earlier chats with you, you can invite people not on Facebook to attend the event (and anyone attending your event can invite anyone else, etc.)

Let me know either here or by email if you have any other questions. My thought would be, what do you have to lose... try it for a few months, post on here how to find you on Facebook and ask everyone to come and join you in this experiment. There is no cost, and I would guess that by the end of the summer you will have a good idea of how well it is working.

Sorry long ramble :)

Dancin' Momma said...

Sorry, to clarify I didn't mean Facebook was "new", I meant it would be a new approach for you. :)

Melodie Ramos said...

Joyce, I do not have a Facebook account. I think Facebook could be good for you if and only if: brings more traffic to your blog requires little to no work on your part

But I do not want to have to use Facebook to bid or to see bags. That is a bandwagon I refuse to get on.

Good Luck!

JayP said...

I see the issue to be more with having to clone Joyce. More Joyce's with all that talent, inspiration and drive = more bags. Marketing the bags or selling them via a retail store that supports the Darfur cause I think is the easy part. 'They' can grow meat in a petri dish now...why can't they make another Joyce?

What about a once a month sewing blitz? People volunteer for a three or four month period for efficiency, and they work 6-7 hours days once a month to do mass amounts of cutting and sewing under the direction of Joyce. We find a sewing factory that would be willing to provide the location complete with sewing machines, cutting tables etc. They get the media recognition for 'giving back'.

The bags need to stay as one of a kinds and have the 'Joyce flair' but we can't have Joyce burn out so we need to create an army of Sewers 4 Darfur.

Lori said...

I agree with JayP. The problem is more that you need help sewing. I like the idea of a sewing marathon and would be there if I didn't live in Alberta.

Would you be interested in guest sewers. I could sew a bag (it wouldn't be like yours with all those great pockets) and post it. You send people to my blog for pictures. You accept comments and payment for the auction. I mail bag to the winner.

Or other sewers could send you bags and you do everything but sew the bag until you're 'back on your feet' or 'in the swing of things' or the 'saddle again'.

Or you could just do less and have one auction every week, 2 or 3 weeks or month and bidding could last a week.