I started this blog in January as a vehicle for my 2010 daily art project. I love doing regular art -- that genre in which you set directions for yourself and then follow the directions every day. I've had several different daily art projects in the last decade, working sometimes in fabric, sometimes by mail and now with a photograph every day. To encourage my local art friends to try daily art, I found a list of other people who are doing or have done such projects, and every one of them reinforces my feeling that regular art is good for your art and for your soul.
But today I discovered a daily art project that trumps everything I've ever done or seen. Betty Londergan, a former advertising writer who lives in Atlanta, found herself unemployed, unemployable and empty-nested, not to mention poorer than she was before the great financial bust. To make herself focus on what's good in life instead of feeling sorry for herself, she decided to give away $100 to a good cause every day this year and write about it in a blog.
Now two-thirds of the way through the year, she has come up with a remarkable list of people and organizations to help. Most of them are charities, of course, in many places around the world; Londergan's interests are wide-ranging, including promotion of peace, women's empowerment, disease prevention, education, environmental preservation, religion, art and music. Some of her beneficiaries are simply people who need a hand, such as the 18-year-old young man who aged out of foster care and had absolutely no possessions to take with him to college. Some are good people who deserve an attaboy for doing their jobs faithfully and well, such as the trash collectors who work on Londergan's street.
Along the way she has collected a small army of folks who follow her blog, suggest good causes that she might consider for her daily donations, and often step up to make their own contributions to the causes she writes about.
I suppose Betty Londergan would not describe this project as daily art, but I would -- it's performance art, every bit as compelling as the artists who live in a room for a year or lie naked under the floor in a museum or walk a path through the streets to trace pictures on huge city maps. Actually, her performance art is arguably more compelling, because its social benefit is direct and tangible rather than solely intellectual.
The project certainly is a huge commitment of time as well as money. Her daily articles are well-researched, well-written and thoroughly persuasive. As a professional-writer-turned-blogger myself, I can tell how much work it takes to do this project and make it so persuasive and appealing. It's clearly her day job, and she does it well.
I discovered the blog because last week Londergan gave money to the Alliance for American Quilts, and the president of that organization posted about it to the Quiltart list. I checked out the link and didn't leave the site all afternoon, transfixed by the generosity, scope and commitment of this remarkable woman. I dare you to check it out too and not be profoundly moved.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
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