For months I’ve been spending numerous hours of my evenings and weekends on the development of a project called SaveTogether.org, an online platform that will serve as a person-to-person fundraising intermediary for the asset-building field. I first wrote about the concept on this blog way back in June 2007, and it has actually started to pick up a fair amount of steam in the past 6 months. Terrific people in 5 or 6 different cities across the country are spending a lot of personal time (unpaid) to get this off the ground. We’ve still got months of work to go before launch, but it feels within reach.
The other night I was rushing my 7-year-old daughter into bed so I could get on the phone for another SaveTogether call, and she asked me why I was having all these evening calls and and all these weekend mornings trying to get work done before the day’s family activities begin. There was a bit of irritation in her voice: it’s obvious she finds my “work” pretty dull — just typing on the computer and talking on the phone, not (in her words) a real job like teaching, medicine, art, or music (I’m glad she puts those latter two in the category of real jobs, unlike too many adults).
I explained that I was working on something I think is pretty important, a new way to help people who are facing financial difficulties but are working hard to afford to go to college, or start a business, or buy a home. I said I knew she had heard about this bad economy we’re in, which made it all the more urgent that people work together to start finding solutions to our country’s economic problems, like we hear Obama talking about on the radio; this project was a way I could contribute, although it meant putting in lots of extra hours and I was sorry that it took my attention away from her some of the time.
There was a respectful pause; I got the sense my explanation had sunk in and that she could sort of appreciate all the effort for something I found exciting and important, just as she wants appreciation for the effort that goes in to her often distracting and messy yet impassioned art projects. She thought about my words a moment longer, then said “Okay, but can you also do something to get rid of all the McDonald’s. Then everyone wouldn’t be as fat and unhealthy.”
Clearly my wife’s healthy food rants were making a strong impression, plus my daughter had McDonald’s on her mind because she had recently made her first visit to the golden arches and found it a major disappointment. The ice cream was nothing special, and it turns out she had liked being the only kid in her class who had never been to McDonald’s. Now that had been taken away from her and she seemed to want McDonald’s to be punished for stealing her individuality.
Causes benefit from having a bad guy, and the bad guys of our current economic malaise are a bit abstract to a 7-year-old (even one who’s a budding activist) compared to the omnipresent McDonald’s corporation.
I told her I’d see what I could do. I’m a father after all; we don’t like to disappoint. I’ll just have to make room in the business plan: develop website; forge partnerships; raise money; build assets for the poor; wipe out McDonald’s.