it’s pledge season. my npr shows are peppered with appeals for donations, my workplace has whole book of worthy causes, and both my inbox and mailbox overfloweth with reminders of the poor and hungry among us.
in past years, i’ve greeted this influx with a mixture of guilt and stress, muttering “yeah, yeah…i’ll get to it…” as i changed the channel or added the envelope to the black hole of Things To Look At Later on my desk. but for some reason, now I find myself looking for opportunities to give.
maybe it’s the fact that for the first time ever, we have two real incomes in the household (or at least one and a half), or maybe it’s because the longer we live here, the more we feel a part of — and responsible for — our community. but i think it can be summed up most concisely in the words of the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation: “to help build a more just, verdant and peaceful world by supporting creative and courageous individuals, effective institutions and fresh ideas.”
just, verdant, and peaceful. that pretty much covers the bases, doesn’t it? justice for people both at home and abroad; justice for the animals who depend on us and for those who just want to be left alone; a verdant world in which purple mountains have not been sacrificed to make way for amber waves of grain; and a peaceful climate that encourages collaboration, innovation, and productive activity.
on a less philosophical level, this has been a hell of a year for a lot of people. the hurricanes hit hard; the financial crash hit harder. from the red cross to the salvation army, organizations are having to scramble to assist people who, if you’d asked them a few months ago, would have said their lives were on track and their prospects were fine.
then there’s the local angle. growth in wake county is booming, especially around the hitherto-quiet farmland and forest of morrisville and RTP. i’m all for the new town plan that puts a greenway, library and cultural center within easy walking distance, and the improvements to dining, housing, entertainment, and employment options around us can only do good things for our property value. but we moved to morrisville because we love the feel of the little town still surrounded by woods, and i hate to think of all that green being razed to make room for (yet more) townhouses. where will we bike? where will the rabbits and deer live? do we really want to trade our lovely mature shade trees for sad little saplings?
and so the sense of guilt and annoyance morphs into something more akin to urgency, crystalized in the NC State Employees Combined Campaign form on my desk. The aforementioned book contains 96 pages of chances to better the world, all at a much-less-painful small, monthly rate. my short list contains 18 contenders. i know i’ve got to whittle it down to just a couple, but what kind of criteria should i be using? which is more important — music in schools or rails-to-trails? domestic violence or literacy? can we justify feeding the body without the soul, or do we lose some vital aspect of ourselves thereby? which causes need support most, and which have an existing solid base?
seriously. it’s pledge season.