So I Have This Idea…

I spent several days in Memphis.

My current employer decided to send a contingency from the center of the state west to work on a project. So I spent three nights in the Crowne Plaze in downtown Memphis. By the way, it was OK, but I don’t recommend you stay there. It’s never a good sign when you have to pay to park in a locked lot so they can have a guard drive around it all night.

A photo my pet-sitter sent me of the gang hiding from her.

But this is not a hotel review post.

Hanging out in Memphis reminded me of my days living in New Orleans. It’s a different way of life there. The people are more laid-back. No one’s in a hurry. That’s nice when you’re on the interstate and it’s not bumper-to-bumper traffic. It’s not nice when you wait 10 minutes to get a cup of ice water at a McDonald’s… AFTER you place your order.

The experience got me doing some existential thinking.

I am tired. My body is tired, and so is my spirit. This “normal people” way of life is cancerous, and having to deal with stupid people who think they know what they’re doing makes me tired.

So…. what to do?

Bubba is lying in the chair I just got up from. They’ve all been close since I returned.

And that is where I’m at. I’m considering starting a non-profit. Not sure doing what yet. But I know my calling is in helping others, and a non-profit that uses my talents to help others would be win-win.

If I get a good enough idea, I could try a kickstarter to get me off the ground then play the grant-writing game to keep me going.

Some ideas I’m kicking around are:

On-site counseling for persons living in poverty-stricken areas to help address the high rates of stress, trauma and other issues related to living in areas where this is high crime and few opportunities. The problem is that while definitely needed, I don’t know how I’d convince local governments to invest in the service. They prefer to let churches do it for free.

A lobbying group kinda like AARP but for poor people. The idea would be to help the poor maneuver the political system to help them be heard. Wouldn’t it be awesome to start Homeless Lobby Day and get that demographic ready to meet with and lobby their legislators the same way realtors do? I think so.

Or how about a think tank designed to call out how ridiculous some rules are that are supposed to help certain groups but actually make those programs difficult for normal people to maneuver and ripe for abuse by bad actors? You know, like the non-profit status that anybody can get with a lawyer and a few hundred bucks?

A lot of pondering and planning. A lot of selling of such an idea. But hey, what have a got to lose?

So, what do you think? Can you think of a non-profit you’d like to see started?


19 thoughts on “So I Have This Idea…

  1. Just a gentle jest–if you’re hoping not to feel burn out, I wouldn’t recommend starting a nonprofit. 😉

    But seriously, following your values and your passions and pursuing meaningful work is the direction to go. Your ideas are very large. I tend to be a small and local thinker and don’t have good ideas for comprehensive solutions.

    But I love the way you’re thinking and I would gladly support a Kickstarter campaign for anything you work toward to address the concerns of poor people. Sadly, even the progressive wing of the democratic party only talks about the middle class.

    If you’re interested in a big idea (like the AARP for poor people), you should be touching base with William Barber and the new Poor People’s Campaign.

    On a smaller scale, I used to work with a great after school program in North Philadelphia. We’d do homework help and tutoring after school. But it was also a helpful way to support working parents who couldn’t afford daycare. We’d provide meals and take the kids on field trips–especially on days when school was closed.

    The woman who ran the program just did whatever needed doing for these children and her families. It was a great way to have a meaningful impact in an extremely poor neighborhood.

    They aren’t big programs. But they can make a big difference for people in that location. And bigger advocacy work can grow from there.

    Keep thinking and meditating. I look forward to seeing where you decide to go.

    1. I know I have to start small, but I can dream big. People like to donate to big dreamers anyway. Sell an idea to help folks in Nashville and most of my money will come from Nashville. Sell a dream to save the world and the money comes from all over the world.

      After school programs are now a government thing. You can apply for federal funds to run your program, and federal funds for food to feed program participants, but you’ll have to then jump through government rules and regulations (see idea #3). The government can make difficult the best of ideas. However, government involvement lessens the likelihood you’ll be hoodwinked by a narcissist selling you a bill of goods.

  2. totally can relate: “I am tired. My body is tired, and so is my spirit. This ‘normal people’ way of life is cancerous, and having to deal with stupid people who think they know what they’re doing makes me tired.”

    I love the lobbying idea to be honest – I think the timing is spot on, and being able to pull together a coherent and impassioned message for the voiceless would be impactful. AND if successful it could then encompass the other ideas you suggest

    1. The problem is I don’t think I’m the one to bring the people together. I am an idea person, but I don’t have the charisma to put out in front of those ideas, and we all know that Americans like personalities more than principles. My stance is I see a problem and know if I wait for someone in the government or public sector to decide it needs to be fixed, we’ll be waiting a long time.

      Instead all I have to do is find a young, charismatic man to sell my idea to the public,then be the fundraiser so I can build a team to do the hard work.

  3. Wow, that is a slow pace. I get tense if my order isn’t already ready at window 2 when I pay at window one at the drive up. I think those are wonderful ideas, you need to make a pros and cons list for each and then look into grant funding. There are a lot of cats in need too. 🙂

  4. It does feel as if everything is a fight right now. Is it our age? Is it that we’ve already given much of ourselves to others? Maybe both. If what you need is rest, I’d take a hard look at that ‘happy” thing again. You are committed to the four-legged variety of rescue, as well as, I believe, a paid work commitment to the two-legged variety of rescue. There is no doubt that both of these groups are in dire need of a spokesperson, but which group would involve you in situations that would anger and tire you even further? Which group brings you more frequent rest because you can’t help but smile when no one is looking? If you’re looking for rest–real rest–maybe start with the cause that would bring rewards sooner, and only you know which of these groups could draw you into a mutually rewarding campaign more quickly.

    1. I’m sure you mean well but you don’t get it. You know what would make me happy? To stick it to the stuffed shirts that take advantage of vulnerable people. I’m tired of not being heard. I’m tired of constant bitching about problems and no willing to work toward a solution. But my tiredness comes from frustration.

      I would not work in the animal welfare arena because those folks are all nuts. Helping the vulnerable is easier because most people don’t care about those folks.

      1. Actually, I did hear you. I think you mentioned ‘a funny joke,’ animal antics and kids. You know, things that make you smile, be ‘happy’?

        And I really do get it unless my ‘tiredness’ is different than yours. It is caused by frustration. I’m frustrated because I can’t scream loud enough, can’t move fast enough, can’t work hard enough, and there’s just not enough of me to go around and, on top of it all, someone calls me “nuts.” No worries, I’ve been called worse.

        Carry on. Seek help and justice for the underdogs in this world. You are a kind person. Just don’t forget that.


        Your Devoted Nut

  5. I guess there comes a time when we need to love the work that we do,I can’t give you any helpful insights or tips but My guess would be draw up a list of pros and cons for each idea,see what funding you can get and how to go about getting extra funding as you need it and see how feasible each idea is and then decide to go for which one for,good luck but I am sure you won’t need it,xx Rachel

  6. I feel those are all great ideas, Jen. Personally, I’d love to see a non-profit dedicated to ensuring the U.S. has a 100% literacy rate within, say, 25 or 30 years. I can already hear the naysayers denouncing it as a fruitless endeavor. But I don’t care. As a writer and avid reader, I’m obviously biased. Yet I know that a solid education is a cornerstone of a truly advanced and productive society.

    1. I would like that as well. Unfortunately there are already many organizations addressing this area (so you’d think that problem would be solved by now)

  7. Love the idea of starting a non-profit. All the best as you answer your internal questions on best way to make a difference. No doubt, answers will come to you when you think it through thoroughly.

  8. How thoughtful of you. So many ideas. But if you are tired, a non-profit is exhausting. I recommend looking at someone or some org that has been successful in a similar type of services. See how they got started. Emulate them. Best of luck.

    1. I am tired because groups who claim to want to solve problems don’t show that in their actions. The only thing for me to decide is if it’s worth for me to bother.

      1. Always worth it to help those in need. The question I have is, how do you take care of yourself so that you have the energy to take care of others? Bless you for even thinking about it.

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