Monday, July 18, 2011

Heart For Art.

Heart For Art is the name of a movement started by my friend and fellow blogger, Lerner. It began when she read this post by our fellow ANTM contributor Eden, and instead of reading those powerful words and then going on with life, Lerner decided to do something absolutely shocking.

She decided to do something about it.

There has been much talk lately about bloggers who travel to developing nations and then share their first-hand impressions with their readership. "Poverty-tourism", the naysayers are calling it - a shameful, cynical, demeaning term if I've ever heard one. Critics say that these experiences are more about the bloggers, these larger-than-life conjurers of words, than the people who are actually suffering. And their words, they say, don't actually mean anything. Words don't inspire action.

Oh, how wrong those jaded souls are.

When Lerner emailed me saying just how much Eden's post had affected her, and that it had inspired her to do something for the girls living in a group home in Bali - to show them that there are people cheering them on in their journey to become strong young women, I immediately replied. I sent her some virtual fist-pumps and then asked her one very simple thing: Tell me how I can help.

Because that is MY reality as a blogger. My reality is grounded in the belief that words are more powerful than we have the capability to imagine. The words that flow from the first-hand experiences of bloggers are meaningful. They carry weight, and they have the power to spur action. Our words have the power to change the world, if even on the minutest of scales.

This is why I blog. This is why I continually beg you to take part in my crazy altruistic giveaways. This is why I am asking you to join Heart For Art. 

The concept behind Heart For Art is incredibly simple. You can read about the details in today's post at Lerner's blog, but basically it's that bloggers around the world are joining forces today to ask their readers to make art and send it to the young girls in Bali. In return, the girls will send their artwork back to us. That's it.

Today, break out your art supplies with your children, grandchildren, or even on your own and draw from your heart. Draw about your world, your life, your experiences - anything that inspires you, and then tuck that drawing into an envelope and send it to one of the addresses below. It will be forwarded to the young girls in Bali, and believe me, your images will mean more to them than letters (which they won't be able to read, given that English isn't their native language). Your first-hand impressions will show the girls that the world is a great big place that is filled with wonder and possibility. Art will enable us to connect on an emotional level; through art we can let them know that we care, that they are definitely not alone.

This isn't just an exercise in appeasing our Western guilt. This, my friends, is us making a difference.

This is the real deal.

Heart For Art. Please be a part of it with me, and please use it as a springboard to talk about the reality of the world with your loved ones. I've found that these simple conversations are powerful in and of themselves, because they lay the foundation for a future of selflessness, and of empathy. Even the youngest children can grasp these concepts when they see us modeling them for them in our everyday lives.

I sat down with Inara yesterday afternoon and talked with her, openly. We found Bali on a map, and talked about how far away it was from us, what it must be like to live there. I told her that there were children her age living there that didn't have their own parents to take care of them, but that it didn't mean that nobody cared about them. Without prompting, she said that she cared about them too. I asked her if she wanted to help me draw a picture for the girls, to show them what her part of the world was like. We talked about drawing the things that were important to us in the hopes that it would tell the girls that they were important to us, even if we were far apart.

She proudly drew this to share with her "friends from Bali", and I am so incredibly touched by it. I hope the girls will be, too. I hope they will see and feel the love we're sending their way.

For more information on Heart For Art, Foundation 18 (the name of the group home in Bali), and to find out about more ways you can help, please read today's post at Lerner's blog, Stay At Home Babe.

To send your Heart For Art to Bali, just mail your piece(s) to either one of these two addresses. They are both overseas, so it will be more expensive than regular mail, but it's still relatively inexpensive if you're just sending paper envelopes.

Lerner Farrington
Attn: Heart For Art
18 Suffolk Rd
Lincoln, LN1 2UG

Cate Bolt
Attn: Heart For Art
PO Box 239
Glass House Mountains, Qld 4518

And if you have any other questions at all, feel free to email HeartForArt18 at gmail dot com.

Thanks so much, friends.

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