Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Celebrity Spokesperson Christmas Wish List

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday is over and our mailboxes become flooded with conscientious giving requests. I know I like giving money to an agency or organization I support in the name of loved ones who don’t need other gifts—and they do too.

And, as someone who supports one of those agencies, albeit a tiny one, I am always envious of the large humanitarian agencies this time of year. The World Wildlife Founds, the Heifer Internationals, the Nature Conservancies. . . all with their cute mini stuffed snow leopards and Peace on Earth greeting cards and T-shirts and gift memberships and adopt-a-cow . . . and what they also have, being a large brand name that has grown trustworthy over the years, is a celebrity spokesperson . ..or better yet, a celebrity band, that holds concerts and screams “protect the rainforest!” and “Stop the slaughter of elephants!” I have to tell you, some of those celebrities make me swoon. And I KNOW they would be concerned about how none of their charities, for all the wonderful work they do, is concerned with a very important but neglected part of the world where the rarest of the animals and the most fragile of the forest is in imminent danger.

JMD is too small to be able to give out a coffee mug or a stuffed Sumatran tiger with each donation of $50. At one point we had an adopt-a-goat program because JMD operates very successful goat breeding and fattening programs throughout the province. Each beneficiary group (widows and young fighting age males) tended 60 goats; there is communal caring but each beneficiary pair had their own specific goats. Again, our small size and relatively limited reach was our downfall: although many kind people donated $200 to buy a goat, we didn’t receive enough funds to give the identified beneficiaries the number of goats they’d need to be successful, and the last thing you want to do is make some people in a community mad at others for receiving benefits that they don’t. Frankly I feel that the majority of problems arising in any assistance program arise because the agency has not thought through what the assistance does for those who have not received it.

A quick look at the areas affected by international giving, as we have seen over the past few months of research, reveals little to nothing assisting the rainforests of Aceh province, and even less than that being directed to the potentially greater landmass that is rainforest but has not been classified yet as “protected,” or which has had its protected status removed.

And that, my friends, is where we work.

Which celebrity is going to think that advocating for justice and conservation in some dark corner of wildest Indonesia that is not on the tip of everyone’s electronic tongue is going to further their career, improve their reputation, or position them to successfully advocate for the next project they would like to support?

Does that stop me from making my Celebrity Christmas Wish List?

It does not.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

So for those of you who know, who like, or who are the following celebrities, here’s who I think would be a dandy spokesperson, and in the upcoming days I will tell you why:

Ang Lee
Christine Baranski
Alec Baldwin
Brittany Spears
Richard Gere
Sean Penn
Cinta Laura
Irwan Fals
Frank Langella

I’ll be waiting for you call!

In the meantime, just to show that we can do cute too:

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