January 14, 2016

Dating a man who worked in forensics gave me a new perspective. Rupert’s day job gave back so much. He worked specifically on sexual assault and battery, and he helps get criminals off the street. While my two startups bring people joy, at the end of the day, I’m just helping people drink better cocktails. 

I want to do more. 

I booked tickets to D.C. for the inauguration. I nearly made it out to Standing Rock. I gave free hugs in San Francisco at the Ferry Building the morning after the election and in Oakland during the protest later that same day. Then 36 people died in the Ghostship warehouse fire just down the street from me. 

I live 2.8 miles from Ghostship. I thankfully didn’t lose anyone in the fire, but I have a friend who was first on scene and three others who almost attended that night. I knew I’d found my pro bono work. This was local. This was important. This was where I could make a difference. 

I attended a meeting at Omni Commons a few days after the fire. We broke out into groups, and I announced to the fundraising group, “I’d like to create a non profit that raises money for DIY warehouse spaces at risk of eviction or that are simply dangerous.” I quickly saw that I was in good company. 

Four short weeks later, we’ve created a fiscally sponsored non profit and have raised over $15,000. We have an attorney, a former fire fighter, the architect that wrote the Oakland fire code, several pro bono architects, artists living in at risk warehouses, and their advocates. I’m one of three leads in the finance group, and while every other team has one lead, the three of us operate as one. We’ve only just met and we just feed off each other in the most amazing way. 

I’m home from a fundraising event with nearly $500 cash on my desk. A few friends organized an event at a small bar in Alameda, invited some bands, and contacted us. Of all the funds related to Ghostship right now, Handsome Hawk told us, this was the one that had boots on the ground and was actually working in the DIY Spaces. He gave us a moment at the mic. I started us off by thanking Alameda’s Fireside Lounge and Handsome Hawk, the evenings promoter. I then asked the crowd for a moment of silence to honor the 36 lives lost in the fire. Quieting an entire loud bar was an amazing feeling. It was moving. I was inspired by the moment of silence the DJs asked for at the Flaming Lotus Girl’s fundraiser. The benefit it provided was that we had everyone’s attention. Isaac spoke about the community’s proximity to the tragedy. Everyone in that room was no more than one degree away from at least one of the 36. Ari wrapped it up with info about the fund and asked people to approach us with questions between bands. 

And the band played on. 

We have two more events benefitting our fund this month. We have a Facebook page and a website and an Instagram account. I am being put in touch with reporters and city officials. 

Most importantly, we are making a difference in our community. Community was there for me when the man who inspired me to make a difference died at age 45 in a motorcycle accident.The guilt that I felt when I saw myself beginning to move forward with my life without him has faded, and now I am honoring him and respecting his memory by remembering how high he raised the bar and not settling for anything less, be it giving back, career, love, familial relationships, and friendships. 
Safer DIY Spaces can be found here

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