Saturday, July 18, 2009

What is 36cents about, anyway?

Look, I'm just some guy. Chances are, you are too. (You could possibly also be just some gal. But I'm not sure "gal" is the correct usage anymore, so let's just say we're a bunch of gender-neutral "just some guys," OK?)

Anyway. I'm just some guy. Despite what my mother and father and the good folks at Bell Shoals Preschool in Brandon, FL, taught me*, I realize that I am just an average, ordinary individual who has had the opportunity to undertake some pretty extraordinary adventures: trips to Africa and India, being a contestant on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and even attending the SPAM Jam in June 2002.

But even after all the fun things I've gotten to do, I know that I'm just like you. Well, not just like YOU, because you're a unique and beautiful snowflake, a beloved child of God unlike any other, but you know what I mean -- we're all in this together.

We're here together to do what we're here to do. For some of us, that means doing Big and Famous Things, like running for political office or starring in movies or writing best-selling novels. For others, it means doing Smaller and More Important Things, like healing the sick or fixing broken plumbing or raising one or more children or enforcing the law or creating works of art or over-the-road trucking or maintaining accurate and up-to-date files.

My dreams are not your dreams, but we both have dreams. My gifts are not your gifts, but we both have gifts. My resources are not your resources, but we both have resources.

36cents, The Great 36-Cent Experiment, is based on the idea that we all have something to give, and when we each give a little toward the same goal, that goal gets a lot easier to reach. What you give may be little to you, but it could mean the world to me. By shifting our frame of reference and seeing the power of small gifts multiplied many times, we can literally ¢hange everything. (I made up that tagline myself. Pretty cool, right?!)

As I was looking at my 36th birthday looming large (this Tuesday), I started wondering: how can I use my birthday to make a difference. I don't think I'm called to start a non-profit organization. (My mom: "Whew!" My dad: "Superwhew!") But I do think I am called to make a difference in the world by teaching others and by demonstrating what can happen when we are all facing the same direction, giving even a little bit of ourselves.

So, I asked people to consider sending me a quarter, a dime, and a penny for my birthday. I'm four days into 36cents, and my dear friends and family (and acquaintances and strangers) have already contributed over $50 to the dream, in amounts from 36¢ to $36.

The original dream, of course, was that one million people would send me 36¢ -- for a total of $360,000 -- so I've got a ways to go! I've decided to extend this experiment to the whole year that I'm 36 years old. So I've got 368 days to find 999,987 more people to donate 36¢ to our shared vision.

As I was laying out what I would do if a million people each gave me 36¢, I had a hard time coming up with what $360,000 could do. I don't really want to own a house, and I don't really need a boat or anything (perhaps a nice kayak for the loch, but that's not Big Money). So when it got to $50,000 left and I just could NOT figure out what to do with the rest of the money, it dawned on me -- why not crowdsource the rest of it and invite anyone who contributes any amount to offer a suggestion about how that remaining $50,000 would be used?

So that's what I'm doing. Over the next few days, I'll be rolling out some sort of internet presence for 36cents, which will include ways to share the dream, ways to contribute, ways to start your own Experiment, and most importantly, a way to share all the contributors' dreams for that $50,000 chunk and determine how those funds will be used.

Like with any adventure, I'm not really sure where this one will take me, but I'm excited to share it with you. I hope you'll help spread the word and, if you choose to make a contribution to the cause, I hope you'll participate by sharing what you think would be a good use of the 50 grand!

* "Special, special, I am very special. / God made me that way! / Special, special, I am very special. / God ... made ... me ... / (wait for it, wait for it) SPECIAL!" Which I recently performed in front of a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall.** Here's the audio:

** There is literally only one thing true about that sentence fragment -- the fact that, sadly for you, the singing part of the recording is me.

You're on Facebook, but ya wanna hear the recording? Ya gotta click over to for the full multimedia experience.

1 comment:

jss said...

I was hoping for the original version of "I Am Very Special". There's a big difference between a 36 year old singing it and a 3.6 year old singing it! Still, good job and Happy Birthday!