Sarasota Edition

PHILANTHROPY – do you mean me?

By Virginia “Ginya” Carnahan, APR.CPRC, Director of Marketing & Development, Dattoli Cancer Center & Brachytherapy Research Institute

PHILANTHROPY – do you mean me?This is the time of year when your mailbox (physical and virtual) gets filled with stuff.  Lots of stuff.  Stuff besides the usual bills.

Believe it or not, there are still many companies that send out the tried-and-true printed catalogs of unique holiday gifts at this time.  And there are the carefully crafted messages from organizations seeking your “$upport” at the end of the year.  The professional fund-raisers call this “seasonal prospecting.”

Whether it is an appeal to feed the homeless, protect the environment, cure a disease or save the library, the fund raisers have their eyes on you.  The end of the year has proven to be the most effective time to communicate your need and receive “gifts” of support in return.  Many people are feeling a sense of caring and goodwill around the holidays and are inclined, when asked and encouraged, to “give back.”

I recently learned about a project that is designed to provide artists with a convenient, easy method of giving back.  The Art Abandonment Project, from what I can tell, was started a couple of years ago in the U.S. Northwest (maybe Eugene, OR) by a fellow named Michael deMeng.  Like many artists, he was constantly creating things – sketching, painting, making collages.  On occasion he would draw something that interested him on a cocktail napkin or scrap of paper and would leave it wherever with a note.

Michael shared what he was doing with a few Facebook friends and they suggested he start a group of like-minded folks who could chronicle their own “art abandonment” adventures on Facebook.  In the first week, the group mushroomed to 2,500 members.  Today there are more than 35,000 international members who are inspired to share their art anonymously with the world.

Many participants post photos of their projects on the Facebook page; most leave a little explanation of the project with the piece of art when it is abandoned.  “Finders” are encouraged to respond to the Facebook page when they find the abandoned art piece.  The feel-good quotient of this experience is phenomenal on both sides of the event.  Artists comment that they are inspired to do more and better artwork by the sharing experience.  Finders often seem to be in need of a lift just when they spy the anonymous “gift.”

Of the project, Michael shares these thoughts:
• It is important to be able to let one’s art live beyond its creator
• This is a new way of sharing with an unsuspected patron
• In this tight economy, it allows people to stay involved with art without financial outlay
• It is addictive and fun – imagining where one’s art ends up

On the Facebook page, there are suggestions of how to get involved, and how to explain the concept.  There are examples of labels that can be used with the abandoned art pieces.

Even if you don’t think you are a real “artist” you can abandon craft pieces, poems, photos, calligraphy and the like.  And you can join the site just to follow these adventures.  Just beware that it becomes addictive.

Another special facet of this project is that you don’t have to live in a metropolitan area to share your art.  A quick scan of the site today revealed abandonments by artists in Perkiomenville, PA; Ishmening, MI; and Pea Ridge, WV; along with Mornington, VIC, Australia; Cobden, Ontario; and Oxfordshire, England.  There are participants in New York City, too – as well as Tampa, Lakeland and Miami.

You will be amazed at the items abandoned and where they are left to be found.  There is what I call “serious” art and there is whimsical art.  It all comes from the heart of the artist.  I have seen fabulous paintings, delicate ceramic pieces, fine wood carvings, hand-made dolls, unique jewelry, fanciful knitted hats and scarves, and much more.  They are left in hospital waiting rooms, Walmart stores, public parks, elevators, and on busses and trains.

Take a peek and see what all these talented creative people are giving back.  It might inspire you to uncover something that you could abandon or purposefully deliver to someone else.  I like to make some kind of food gifts for my friends during the holidays.  Last year I made cranberry-orange butter; this year I think I’ll make bourbon caramel sauce for ice cream.  I don’t think these are abandonable.  I will, however, certainly write a few checks to my favorite charities to “give back.”

Happy holidays to you all – the artists and the craftsmen and the everyday people like me.

Dattoli Cancer Center & Brachytherapy Research Institute
1-877-DATTOLI |

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