100 Shows For Haiti: A Grassroots Call for Solidarity With Haiti

This is an invitation to join a grassroots response to the ongoing needs in post-earthquake Haiti. Musicians, artists, activists, and a laundry list of everyday folk just like yourself have used the internet to aggregate their myriad talents in a unique do-it-yourself initiative called "The 100 Shows For Haiti." The benefits span a broad range of events ranging from bake sales, to house parties with a cover charge benefiting Haiti, to concerts with thousands of attendees. To learn more about the effort you can email info@100showsforhaiti.com, if you would like to do your own event, email mypart@100showsforhaiti.com. The idea is to embolden the start-up activist in all of us, to show participants that no matter how big or small your efforts are, your efforts count and that -- collectively -- we can do something huge!

[Photo by: 100 Shows for Haiti]

The 100 Shows For Haiti concept was the brainchild of Maurice Mitchell. Mitchell, a lobbyist and community organizer who spends his days advocating funding for public schools in lower income communities and who spends his weekends singing in the political punk band Cipher was meditating on a retreat when the idea of a completely D.I.Y. grassroots response to the ongoing needs in Haiti came to him. The initial call-to-action would appear on the internet and the idea would then snowball -- small events, large events, sponsors, all in a pay-it-forward fashion. This web site would aggregate, list, and cross-promote their events and help spread the buzz.

Maurice called me at work, to tell me his idea. I, in turn, call three of my close friends on my lunch break, Danielle Thompson and James Sylvester of the Sparrow Media Project, and my friend Greg Bennick who has worked extensively on the ground in Haiti since the earthquake. Within hours we were on board with Maurice and by that time the next day a web site was up, a facebook page was created and immediately we began pooling our contacts and burning up our cell phones spreading the word.

They say that no news is good news. This, however, does not hold true in the case of the ongoing needs in post-earthquake Port au Prince, Haiti. This issue's diminished presence in the news cycle is not a sign that the crisis has somehow subsided simply because the most obvious spectacles have passed. The fact remains that since the earth quake only 2 percent of the debris has been cleaned up, U.S. congress has yet to release the 1.5 billion dollars in recovery aid they promised in February of this year, questions over the transfer of power in Haiti has created tumult in the streets and has left already homeless Haitians feeling even further disenfranchised and desperate and moreover this fall's rainy season coupled with grinding poverty, ineffective sewage treatment and inadequate access to potable water has created a perfect storm of virulent and infectious bacterial strains like cholera. The people of Haiti continue to suffer and need our solidarity.

100 percent of the proceeds raised at the events will be split between two important efforts on the ground in Haiti. Efforts run by Haitians for Haitians like the efforts of Dr. Jacques Denis and the Centre de Sante Saint Martin II medical center in Port au Prince, Haiti, and the efforts of the New York City-based organization Haitian Women For Haitian Refugees. Access to medical care is paramount in Haiti and the Centre de Sante Saint Martin II is one of the few care providers with an open-door, completely free, walk up policy. Dr. Jacques Denis decided after the earthquake to provide free access to medical care to every person in need of it for as long as he possibly can afford to do so.

The 100 Shows For Haiti benefit series will help him to keep his doors open and allow him to keep his medical services completely free. The second benefactor, Haitian Women For Haitian Refugees, is working both directly on the ground in Haitian refugee camps and here in the states empowering displaced Haitian families, helping them gain employment in their new settings and providing them much needed moral support after losing so very much.

In less than two months since Maurice shared his vision with my friends and I, we have seen the 100 Shows For Haiti idea snowball to include events in the U.K., South Korea, Germany, and in over a half dozen states across the country and more events are being listed every day. Moreover, we are seeing people's creativity flourish in remarkable ways as this project takes shape. From an interpretive dance event in California, to the creative use of film in Dustin Miller's 35 Seconds or Phillip Knowlton's, Lift Up, a film about Haitians who fly kites as beacons of hope, to Clara Polito's vegan cupcake-sale benefiting Haiti, to more some of the more obvious fundraising events like rock shows with contributions from artists like Lights Resolve, every artist, activist, and volunteer involved plays a role in bringing much needed aide to Haiti. Solidarity with solid, tangible, results.

This is an invitation to be a part of this grassroots effort. Go to the 100 Shows For Haiti website, share it on your facebook, tumblr, blog about it, tweet about it, encourage your friends to get involved, and moreover get involved yourself. I invite you to reach inside yourself, harness your creativity, and contribute your own event. If not you, who? If not now, when?

For a full list of confirmed events and information on how to do your own event visit http://100showsforhaiti.com.

*Lift Up is just one example of artists harnessing their talents to raise much needed awareness to the ongoing needs in Haiti. The film follows two brothers as they return to their native Haiti to pay tribute to their late grandfather, and to all those that passed away in the January 12th earthquake. Lift Up's directors Huguens Jean & Philip Knowlton will be participating in the 100 Shows For Haiti benefit drive.