Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

FFC Interviews Founder Of “The Way to Begin” Corinna Sanders!

Earlier this year, while juggling the tasks of Facebook stalking, denying Farmtown requests, and desperately trying to think of something clever to say in my Facebook status, I came across a new charitable organization called The Way to Begin, created by my friend Corinna Sanders.

The name alone caught my attention.  And it described exactly how I feel about charity.  With all of the need out there; the “dollar a day” charities, 3rd world hunger, poor quality water and medicine in various places, disasters in Haiti, and the litany of needs on our own soil, one might ask themselves, “Where the heck do I even begin to address all of this?”

Luckily, Corinna and her organization provides a way for people who over-think and become overwhelmed with charity to get involved in simple yet meaningful ways.  The Way to Begin is no where near solving world hunger, but they have made an impact in the St. Louis metro area.  Inspired by this, I asked if Four Finger Culture could do an interview with her, in which she happily agreed.  The following in an hour long interview we had over the internet.

FFC: So in a nutshell, tell the thousands in attendance and the millions watching all over the world (sorry I’ve always wanted to say that) exactly what is The Way to Begin?

CS: The Way to Begin is a year long project I started to give my friends and I (and anyone else who wanted to come along for the ride) the chance to help others and make a difference in our community.

FFC: Very cool project. How are you getting involved in the community? Are you focusing on one specific charity?

CS: No, not just one charity- several! We are focusing on a different project every month.

FFC: Are you doing original charity work or finding other pre-existing charities to get involved with?

CS: I’m mostly finding ones that already exist. My friends have helped me find a lot of worthy causes. Some of them don’t have an actual charity set up yet, but they are still in need of help. For instance, this summer we’re working on a project to help this school in St. Louis where most of the kids are below the poverty level and need school supplies. They’re not asking for anything, but we’re going to help!

FFC: How do you find some of these causes? For instance, the school in St. Louis, how did you come to know of their needs?

CS: The school in St. Louis was found by my friend Todd. He is one of the leaders at the church I go to. August Gate (the church) is really involved in the Soulard and St. Louis communities. They’re always trying to find ways to help out. They asked me to be involved with this because they know that I have organized some things like this in the past.

FFC: What are some of the other charities and causes you’ve helped out with so far?

CS: Let’s see…we’ve helped out with Cookies for Kids Cancer, the APA of Granite City, and we’ve assembled backpack filled with essentials for homeless people.  We’ve also ran a community clothes swap, and I’ve also sold fair trade chocolates to fund a company fighting against human trafficking.

FFC: So you’re definitely doing more than raising funds and asking for donations, you’re actually getting out there in helping in more physical and tangible ways.

CS: Definitely trying. I recognize that I have strengths and weaknesses and I’m trying to do whatever it is I am capable of doing.

FFC: I like that. Especially in harder economic times, people may not have a lot of money, but they can donate things like time and skills.

CS: Exactly.  With the clothes swap I asked people to donate clothes that they don’t wear anymore. Still usable, but it’s just something we leave in the back of our closet but someone would be glad to have.

FFC: Now, what inspired you to start all of this?

CS: Well I think the first start was when my sister-in-law asked me to come to this “Knitting for Newborns” project she heard about. I went, even though I can’t knit! But I went home with the realization that I wanted to help people more. I liked the idea of it. So then I started to organize stuff that I COULD do, and realized I had a ton of friends that were interested and passionate about helping people too.

FFC: I could make assumptions about why it’s called The Way to Begin, but I’ll let you tell me 🙂

CS: I think “The Way to Begin” really describes a lot of people that I know, including myself. We all want to help people, but it’s so much easier to know how to help when you are aware of the community’s needs and who you can give donations to. We all need “a way to begin”.

FFC: That’s a good way to put it. You have something that I feel is a little more unique as far as charities go. I mean, I (sadly and ashamedly) don’t really know the needs of my community. Perhaps people think of charities more in a global way, forgetting about the simple needs of our neighbors.

CS: That’s true. I do think it’s very important to help globally as much as possible, but when someone next door just needs some clothes or food, that can be so easy.

FFC: There are a lot of obstacles when trying to make a grassroots idea a success. Four Finger Culture is dealing with the fact that there are already a million other blog sites out there, so staying relevant and original is a big challenge. What are some of the hurdles you’re dealing with that comes with a brand new charity?

CS: Hmm…I guess sometimes it’s hard to know which causes people will be interested in helping with. I don’t want anyone giving because they feel they have to or out of obligation. But even if only one person helps out, I figure it is better than none!

FFC: Heh. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. I guess you can’t assign a particular number to success, unless the number is one.  Whenever you start something new, you want it to be successful. I guess we all have our own definition of success. So let me ask you this, because this is a grassroots and smaller, more community based project, is it hard not to compare yourself with success of other larger charities?

FFC: Or are you just that pure of heart 😛

CS: LOL, of course it is easy to look at a big charity and think of how much they are able to give. But I really like the way that we’re doing things. We are not just helping one cause, like many charities, we are pursuing multiple charities and therefore are able to give to exactly who we want to. I think that’s kind of cool. I like the freedom of choosing and the ability to find needs that are not necessarily in the spotlight most of the time.

FFC: I really like your ethos. Now your website says that this is a year long project. Will The Way to Begin stop in 2011? Any plans to continue or pass on the torch?

CS: I would love to have it continue, but I don’t have any definite plans for next year. I think the people involved would be more than willing though. They are all so giving.

FFC: If anyone that reads this and is interested in getting involved, where should they go?

CS: They should go to The Way to Begin Facebook page, the blog (www.thewaytobegin.wordpress.com) or email me directly at corinna412@yahoo.com.

I would also like to add that the uniqueness of The Way to Begin is now an inspiration to Four Finger Culture.  Corinna’s mindset isn’t about numbers, it’s about helping people.  So if one person gets helped, then The Way to Begin is a success.  I have to admit that this mindset challenged how I’ve been viewing the popularity and success of Four Finger Culture.  I’ll admit that I’ve cared too much about the numbers and get a little bummed when the website doesn’t get viewed by 1,000 people a day…or 100 people………..or 10 people.   It sucks when there are times where the viewing charts drops like BP stock, but that’s okay.  Thanks to The Way to Begin, I’ve come to realize that if just one person can be impacted by Four Finger Culture, then I’ve done my job.

Rock on, Corinna.  You’re helping more people than you know.

Four Finger Inspirations II: Mumford And Sons “Sigh No More”

One of my relentless missions in life is to find Jesus in modern culture.  I’m not talking about Christian pop culture like Christian music, books, media, etc.  These things are all well and good but will, unfortunately, never impact many people who simply don’t like this particular culture’s style.

I, too, have become increasingly dissatisfied with much of the modern Christian music and media out there.  Again, not that there’s anything wrong with it, it just rarely ever invokes any of my emotional triggers.  I wish it did.  I sometimes wish I could turn on and enjoy the local Christian music station because it would be a lot easier than dealing with the genetic makeup that is me, a picky tortured artist.

So whenever I find something that inspires me in incredible ways, of course I’m going to slap it up on this website.  I encourage you to click the link above, if you’ve not already done so.  And hey, if it’s not your cup of tea or doesn’t give you any tinglies, sorry about that.  Maybe next time.

A big thanks to my buddy Jordan for turning me on to this band.  Jordan is my music pimp.  He is crazier about music than I am and every time he finds a band he knows I’ll like, he tells me about them.  A lot my favorite music is because of him so I believe that everyone in life needs a music pimp.  You just can’t have Jordan.  Go find your own.

What you just heard is a song called “Sigh No More” by the band Mumford And Sons.  I’ve listened to this song about 15 times already today because they pretty much sum up the manifesto of my life in two lines.

“Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be. There is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see, the beauty of love as it was made to be.”

There is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see, the beauty of love as it was made to be.  Holy crap.  Not many people write like this anymore.

As a Christian, I’m convinced that this intended love, this perfect and beautiful thing is Jesus Christ’s love.  There is simply no other religion or philosophy that has ever shared the same radical and intense ethos of love as Jesus.  He set the standard.  And I believe that this sometimes even scandalous love can be the hardest thing for us humans to ascribe to one another. It is truly a weighty mission to fully understand and give this love, especially to people whom we think do not deserve it.

I love this song because, although is has many religious overtones, it connects with a broad group of people.  I’ve read many comments online from non-religious people and atheists defending the message of this song.  One person wrote, “I’m personally not a fan of preaching but if religion can produce music this beautiful among all the other things it has done in the past…”

Even non-Christians still understand the deep need for this perfect love.

What’s ironic is Mumford And Sons is not a Christian band, and I have no evidence that they claim to be Christians, although most of their songs are riddled with Christian themes.  And a few F-bombs here and there as well.  They once stated in an interview, “We’re not a Christian rock band as such, the album deals with dilemmas every man deals with in life as do we. Faith is just one thing we’ve gone with. It’s one subject that can’t be ignored and we’ve tried to deal with it.”

Faith can’t be ignored.

So although these guys will never make the cover of Christianity today, they are ministering.  It goes to show that all good things can be used for God’s purposes.

Why Rives Is An Inspiration To Four Finger Culture

Check out the Youtube video above.  If you’ve not heard of this guy, then I’m glad I can be the one to introduce him to you.  Rives is an incredible poet, and his Mockingbird poem is my absolute favorite. I love this poem, not only because he’s an awesome wordsmith, but because the meaning of this poem is the inspiration of this website.

Everyone wants to be heard.

The old adage, “Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one and they all stink,” is just simply an awful statement.  But that statement is fairly accurate – only because we’ve allowed it to be.  Now I’m not talking about opinions where people mercilessly criticise and disparage people for no good reason.  I like to call those douchebagisms.  I’m talking about opinions about life and love and God and sex and food and bodily noises and anything else under the sun.  Those are the opinons that should be treated with careful respect, no matter how ridiculous they may seem to you.

When did it become the standard to treat opinions that are foreign or that disagreed with our own as hostile?  When did we start defending our own opinions as though we were defending a fort?  When did we stop seeing disagreements as opportunities to learn?

When did it become okay to never admit that we’re wrong?

This is what Four Finger Culture is all about.  I want to make it clear that we’re not for invoking debate and disagreements – although they are okay as long as they’re done respectfully.  We are about the exchanging of ideas about anything relevant – which may even be about bodily noises.

We want Four Finger Culture to be a big fat internet Mockingbird.

The Ten Best (And Worst) Ways To Die In An Apocalypse – Part 1 Of 3

Well, since I kicked off the website with a blog that was a little heady, I thought I’d balance it out with a bit o’ humor.

There’s been a lot of movies in the last decade that deal with the world coming to a horrifying end.  A few of these movies got me thinking that if the world really ended in the ways a few of these movies predicted, it wouldn’t be all that bad – just like pulling off a band aid.  Rip – ouch! – it’s over.

I know I’m being a little dark here, but if you knew you had only five minutes before something relatively quick and painless ended your story, would you really spend it running around screaming your head off?  I mean, if we were all just watching some fiery meteor that was minutes away from consuming the planet, I’d probably crack a joke or something.

“Hey, anyone got any sun screen?”

So in light of the heaviest topic there is, I’ve put together what I think are the 10 best and worst ways we all could die in an apocalypse.

Let’s start with the best ones.

5th best way to die – Global Warming

And yet, the Canadians STILL wouldn't cancel school.

In 2004, the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow” came out and oh-so subtly told us what would happen if we didn’t immediately stop driving SUVs and running air conditioners in the summer.  (Sarcasm)  In a nutshell, the global warming caused these ginormous tornadoes and hurricanes to rip through the land like this kid ripping paper.

Cute video huh?

It gets worse.  These twisters also caused the temperature to drop to -150 Fahrenheit.  And that’s cold.

Now, if this were to happen, the only way you’d survive is if you were lucky enough to not be impaled or smashed by flying…well everything would be flying, including yourself.  So if you were outside while this was happening, the last thing that would probably go through your mind would be your butt.  Literally.

Now, if you were inside during the storms, the only way you’d survive the cold is if you were in a building where just about everything was flammable, like a library or the Christmas tree section of Target.  And this would be the only time where momma would be dead wrong when she said that playing with fire is naughty, because the heat from the flames is your only sliver of hope in surviving.  Just don’t get carried away and burn down the building.

By now you might be wondering why this is listed as one of the best ways to die.  After all, dieing in a twister or being turned into Dippin Dots would suck.  But there is one silver lining in this very dark cloud.  The other essential in staying alive in this scenario is body heat.  Lots and lots of body heat.  So husbands, grab your wives because when survival is on the line, “I’m just not in the mood” is simply not a good enough excuse.  And yes, even in the face of global extinction, men are looking to score.

4th best way to die – Dinosaurs reclaim the planet

So if Jurassic Park came true (and you know there’s some quack scientist out there attempting it) and every race of dinosaur was all safe and secure on some little island off the coast of Costa Rica, you know those big evil creatures would eventually find a way off and into our cities.  A few years later, after the passing of a few healthy dino-mating seasons, the world has a big, and I do mean big, problem.

Imagine this:  You’ve just left Starbucks and a giant Pterodactyl grabs you out of nowhere and takes you for a little ride in his talons.  An optimist might think, “Hey cool!  It’s like I’m flying!”  But whatever joy you get out of the flight is immediately replaced with dread as now you’re in a giant nest where 3 Pterodactyl babies are fighting over who gets to eat the part of you that tastes best.

So why is this one of the better ways to die?

Simple.  You’re life, or rather, your death would not have been in vain.  Many cultures throughout time have taken pride in the way they die, and being eaten so another creature could survive really isn’t that bad of a way to go.  You’re contributing to the circle of life.  You should get a medal for your selflessness…that is…if you had a body to pin it on.

Join us next week when I post part 2 of this…disturbing series 🙂

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