Get Prepared 22 Feb

With the second anniversary of the big Christchurch quake about to arrive, I decided to do something a bit more organised than last year’s “check your prep kits everyone” messages.

I’ve started a Facebook page (that feeds on to Twitter):
Get Prepared 22 February. It makes Feb 22, the earthquake anniversary day, the day we all check and refresh our emergency preparedness kits.

The idea is to use social media and a relevant anniversary to help people follow through on their good intentions. This is, of course, another development of the social psychology I did for my Masters research, like the small group action stuff.

It’d be great if this picked up some momentum, but it should work fine with the number of people it already has. Still, if you’re on FB or Twitter, please consider signing up & sharing with your own contacts.

Christchurch is long-term

My friend KiwiInZurich, a regular commenter here, tonight sent me some text messages from Christchurch:

I have access to the cordoned area of chch and it is as bad as the media reports show if not worse. The dmg is very extensive and central chch will be closed for a long time.

Another indicator of the scale of damage: the Rebuilding Christchurch blog suggests moving the CBD.

Surreal. That’s the word.

Tim McNamara of InternetNZ gives a thought-provoking account of a tour of the city yesterday.

The media doesn’t do it justice. If we could just communicate the scale of it everyone would be donating.

There’s heaps of stuff going on, but it isn’t enough – it can’t be. This is a long-term situation. I say this as a reminder to myself: keep contributing. Keep finding ways to contribute.

How to raise $60,000 for ChCh

After the quake in Christchurch, I started thinking about what I could do to help. I think most New Zealanders thought along the same lines. One of the first things I thought of was the OneBookShelf fundraiser bundles that had worked so well for Haiti and Pakistan.

It works like this. The tabletop role-playing game community, due to a range of factors, some years ago developed a marketplace where people pay for copies of books in PDF form. (The whole e-book revolution going on in traditional publishing? The TTRPG crowd have been there, done that and bought the ironic t-shirt.)

Due to another set of factors, the marketplace is heavily concentrated around one vendor, OneBookShelf, which has two linked storefronts, DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. This isn’t a huge commercial sphere – tabletop roleplaying is a hobby long past its cultural prominence. A side effect of this is that the RPG community does feel like a community – in some sense it is small and knowable.

Now all of those conditions mean that when the Haiti disaster arrived, the OneBookShelf team could launch a very effective fundraiser. Publishers donated books to a special bundle. About $1300 retail value of electronic books was sold as a charity bundle for just $20. The sale ran for about a week and raised $175,000 for Haiti.

It was an incredible success, and a lesson in how a marketplace of electronic products can make everyone win. The publishers got to help with a charity effort and got samples of their product into the hands of many, many people who might never have seen them otherwise. The purchasers got the genuine satisfaction of helping and also walked away with a huge stack of cool stuff. And the people of Haiti got a whole lot of money they would not have otherwise got. (I blogged about the Haiti effort a year ago, and talked a bit about what it means for electronic marketplaces.)

Walking down the Terrace I decided that it was time to check in with the NZ-linked RPG publishers I knew to see if they were keen in following the logic of the bundle to raise funds, either on our own or as part of a formal OneBookShelf bundle. I also decided to contact Gareth at Adamant, publisher of much RPG stuff with my name on, to ask for his support.

The Kiwis & expat Kiwis & Scottish honorary Kiwis were keen, with at least one of them already thinking along the same lines. Gareth, likewise, told me he was already investigating the possibility. Apart from my email conversations I saw someone online suggest a bundle fundraiser. So the idea was out there. Gregor Hutton contacted Matt McElroy at OneBookShelf, and Matt was totally on board – I don’t know, he might well have already had things in motion, but either way the bundle was launched. Publishers were invited to contribute and soon a bundle of ~$300 worth of cool stuff went on sale for $20. (A $5 donation option was also made available.) Every cent was destined for the Red Cross NZ appeal, chosen by Matt based on suggestion from me.

The sale just ended. US$46,125 was raised. That’s over $60,000 NZ. I’m astonished and delighted.

I had a role in making this fundraising happen, but just a small one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally taking credit for the part I played! But the vast bulk of thanks must go to Matt and team at OneBookShelf for developing this fundraising model out of nothing a year ago – I think it’s an incredibly innovative approach, one that deserves a huge amount of attention from people working in the charity sphere. And of course huge thanks are due to the publishers who contributed to the bundle, and all the people who blogged and tweeted and above all purchased it.

It’s been an emotional week. The success of this bundle gives me cause to smile.

Not least because, man, there are some cool games in that bundle, and I hope a lot of people play the heck out of ’em.

RPG bundle for Christchurch

Nearly $350 of RPG stuff for $20

All proceeds to earthquake relief in Christchurch.

Helping get this up and running has been a significant preoccupation in the last couple days. I’ve written before about similar efforts to help Pakistan & Haiti. The Christchurch quake isn’t on the massive scale of those disasters, but it has hit our small country pretty damn hard.

If you’re into tabletop games, drop US$20 on this bundle. You will be rewarded with some incredibly cool bits of gaming genius, and you’ll be directly donating to a good cause. Everybody wins.

Thanks to all those who purchase, all those who contributed products, and all those who helped make it happen.