By now just about everyone in the Gulf South has heard about BP’s Deepwater Horizon well spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico at an estimated rate of 210,000 gal/day.
It is turning out to look worse and worse as the days go by, and I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Gulf South is on the cusp of one of the worst ecological disasters in a while.
As the days go by, and the press conferences drag on, there isn’t much we can sit here and do. We don’t have a boat, we don’t have very much time to go down and personally volunteer with the cleanup, but one of the things we can do is design. So, we decided to design a t-shirt to raise awareness of what’s going on in the gulf, and hopefully raise some money to help with the cleanup.
We’re a very young company, and we don’t have the influence or following of some of the more well known t-shirt companies in the Greater New Orleans area, but we’ve got some of the best fans around, and damnit if we don’t have some heart!
So we decided last week that we would donate half of the profits (we still gotta eat) to a local non-profit. We weren’t sure which one yet. We knew we wanted to help protect the wildlife of the fragile South Louisiana eco system, and we knew we wanted to keep the money local.
We wanted to do our due diligence and find the organization that fit our values. We wanted to make sure that your hard earned money wasn’t being wasted, and we certainly wanted to make sure it wouldn’t end up in the hands of BP.
We thought to ourselves almost immediately “The Audubon Institute!” They’re local, they help protect animals, and we thought they’d be a perfect match to donate whatever amount of money we raised.
So, we sent this email to several non profits this weekend, one of them being the Audubon Institute.
Hello. We’re Jeremy Miller and Aimee Shultz, owners of the local t-shirt company, Shultzilla.
We’ve recently designed a t-shirt to sell to raise awareness of the dangers of offshore drilling, and how it affects our coast. Half of our profits will be donated to help save/clean the wildlife that have been effected by the recent oil spill.
We are currently researching organizations with this mission. We wanted to find out if the Audubon Institute fit the criteria we’re looking for.
First, we wanted to donate to an organization that is going to help clean wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico or help protect animals from future disasters such as this one. Secondly, we would like to donate to a local organization. It would be nice to keep the money within the area of SouthLA. We’d also prefer that the money didn’t end up in the hands of BP, through various channels.
We wanted to find out if The Audubon Institute would be the organization we are looking for.
If The Audubon Institute is not the right organization, do you have any recommendations on what group would fit with what we’re trying to do?
We appreciate everything you do for Louisiana. Thanks for your time.
Jeremy Miller & Aimee Shultz
We figured we wouldn’t hear anything until Monday, but when I hadn’t heard anything back, I called and spoke with a representative on the phone who gave me an address, and where to mail the check.
We still had questions about how the money would be used, who specifically it would benefit, etc. So we were planning to email again to follow up on Tuesday. As I said, we still hadn’t found a worthy cause. The shirts would be finished soon, and we thought it was time to figure it out.
Well, around 7:30 on 05/03/10, we received a very friendly email from Lani McWilliams, Director of Member Services & ECommerce for the Audbubon Institute, right before launching their collaboration with a local t-shirt designer.
Hello Jeremy & Aimee!
Thank you so much for your inquiry and generosity. I sincerely appreciate your thinking about Audubon Nature Institute. As luck would have it, we have been in conversations with another local t-shirt designer and expect to annnounce collaboration this week. I am sure there are many organizations currently on the ground working toward the same end and that you will have no problem finding a worthy group to benefit from your talent and willingness to give.
Thank you again, Lani
Now, I got out of this email two things. First, that the Audubon instite had already found a t-shirt company to raise money for the Audubon Institute, and secondly, that they didn’t want/need our money.
If you re read our email to the Audubon Institute, it doesn’t say anything about wanting to do a collaboration with the Audubon Institute. It doesn’t mention trying to get press or exposure by designing a t-shirt having to do with the recent oil spill.
We very specifically said:
We wanted to find out if the Audubon Institute fit the criteria we’re looking for.
First, we wanted to donate to an organization that is going to help clean wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico or help protect animals from future disasters such as this one. Secondly, we would like to donate to a local organization. It would be nice to keep the money within the area of South LA. We’d also prefer that the money didn’t end up in the hands of BP, through various channels.
Now you’ll notice in our email that Lani didn’t answer our questions, and then she basically told us to get lost. I have to be honest, I was completely taken aback when I read it. I had to read it again to make sure I wasn’t missing the part where Lani said “we’d still appreciate any money you can give to help the wildlife of South Louisiana.” Unfortunately, that part of the email wasn’t there.
It looks like we’re still on the look out for the right organization. We’ve crossed the Audubon Institute off our list of reliable non profits.
If you know of one that is willing to take our money, please let us know. It might not be $10,00o, but it certainly is a start.