The last 7 months haven't been so much of a steep learning curve, as a swift implementation of what was always important to me. You see I visited a local market when I was 7 and don't recall the actual purchase, but very much do remember that 'Save The Whales' Greenpeace sticker, that had pride of place on the back of my bedroom door from that time forth. It was from that early age, I had the realisation that all was not well with our world.
As a child it's easy to see what's wrong and how to rectify problems. Whales are beautiful, intelligence and majestic so why would anyone want to hunt them, never mind to the point of extinction? So just stop, right?
Back then I was only aware of the problems faced by whales, trouble is now it's not just whales is it? It's Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers, Sharks and so, many, many more. The list is sadly endless, in fact the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) endangered species red list currently shows that one in four mammals are in jeopardy of extinction.
Now I know what you're thinking, that I dropped out of society, dyed my hair green, got lots of piercings and chained myself to a tree when I grew up, but I didn't. I joined the rat race like most others and watched the situation from afar. Too far.
As an adult it's also easy to see what's wrong with the world and how to rectify the problems. Sadly we also realise the complications and stumbling blocks that oh so often make us give up and give in, before we sometimes even make an attempt.
Now I've always toyed with the idea of working towards doing something that would actually make a snippet of a difference in this God damn mess of a world but didn't know what, or more to the point, how. I mean where do you even start? Charity begins at home right? Not always it would seem.
In November 2012, fate some might say, brought me face to face with an Asian Elephant called 'Mae Lanna' in the Mae Taeng Valley, Thailand and changed my perspective. Not on what the world was or could be, but on what I could perhaps do about it.
My experience took place in a wonderful rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary called Elephant Nature Park (ENP), north of Chiang Mai. 'Mae Lanna' was an Elephant who had previously been taken from her Mother at an early age and brutally 'trained' to make her 'tourist compliant' so she could be used for providing tourists with rides along various idyllic beaches, including Krabi and the famous Phi Phi island.
She was later moved to work, dragging heavy trees for long hours each day at a rubber plantation, when she 'mysteriously' lost 85% of her sight in an accident. All but useless to her owners, she was sent away and used for street begging, where tourists were encouraged to pay to feed the Elephant, who was deliberately kept hungry to keep the money rolling in.
It was around this time 'Mae Lanna' was found by Lek Chailert, the founder of Elephant Nature Park (ENP), who subsequently rescued her from this horrific life to the sanctuary that is Elephant Nature Park. 'Mae Lanna' now lives and will live the rest of her long life, at ENP with many other similarly rescued Elephants.
It was seeing 'Mae Lanna' in her newly found paradise and hearing her story, that gave me the inspiration I needed to actually DO something to help. But what, was the question.
Elephant Nature Park has a program where you can 'sponsor' an Elephant and receive a certificate of sponsorship in return. Three Elephant sponsors later, I had no doubt done some good but still wanted to help more, on a longer term basis.
Now apart from a sponsored walk during the summer of 1985 for Live Aid, I'd never actually tried to raise money for anything, despite sponsoring many others over the years. I had a few ideas floating about but none of them were what people usually do (if there is such a thing), to raise money for charity.
On my return from Thailand I was quite overwhelmed by my experience at ENP and subsequently wrote a song called "Where Will It End?' The song and video are about many conservation issues including the earlier mentioned Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers, Sharks and many, many more.
Over the years, I'd tinkered with music just as a hobby and had contributed to a couple of charity gigs. During this time I realised it was easy to 'loose' equipment at the end of the night, so crudely got a can of paint and sprayed a Red 'X' on all my equipment, so I could readily identify it.
My idea to help ENP was conceived with the song 'Where Will It End?' but what name to release it under? In the absence of dreaming up an inspiring conservation type of name, the can of spray paint that I'd used to preserve what was important to me sprang to mind and 'The Red X Project' was born.
The mission of 'The Red X Project' is to raise funds and awareness for Elephant Nature Park (ENP), Thailand and to spread awareness about the plight of the Asian Elephant. The song is released on iTunes, Amazon and several other music sales sites, with 100% of the profits donated directly to ENP. I have signed a fundraising contract with ENP to this effect.
As I have discovered, it takes an awful lot of £0.79 song sales to raise any amount of money for charity, unless of course you are perhaps a Global Rockstar that is. Fundraising as I am also realising, isn't necessarily about what you can do, it's really more about what you can motivate others collectively to do.
Now I don't think for a minute I could raise vast amounts of money for ENP merely from the sale of a song, however I do believe in innovation and thinking a little bit differently when it comes to fundraising. So, I have entered the song 'Where Will It End?' into a competition, called, well em, yes, GlobalRockstar!
At the risk of putting the judges off, I'd just like to clarify that I personally have no interest in being a GlobalRockstar and am happy to live an anonymous life, however, the competition comes with a cash prize of $10,000 USD which I have pledged to donate 100% of to Elephant Nature Park, Thailand, should I win. The opportunities that the platform of winning would provide to raise awareness, would also be phenomenal.
What are the chances of that though? What are the chances? Much to my surprise, having rallied the 'Elephant faithful troops' to vote, 'Where Will It End?' by 'The Red X Project' is currently sitting at number 1 in the UK GlobalRockstar charts and is, even more surprisingly, number 10 in the worldwide GlobalRockstar charts.
Being a stoic Scot, I don't want to consider the 'o' word that the rest of the world uses (optimistic!), however I am tempted. After all someone has to win it and what could be better than the prize money being donated to a fantastic cause and the publicity used to raise awareness of conservation issues, instead of self promotion or gain.
GlobalRockstar is a vote based competition. The prize is $10,000 USD which as I have said I will donate 100% of to Elephant Nature Park, Thailand, should I win. There is also musical equipment to be won which if I win I would use to further produce music to sell and donate 100% of the profits to ENP.
The concept of 'The Red X Project' was born when I took a can of spray paint and marked that which was important to me, that which I wanted to protect. That name has now been applied to raising awareness and funds for Elephant Nature Park and very much continues to mark that which is important to me and that which I want to protect.
Trouble is I can't do it on my own. So here's the bit where I mentioned fundraising being more about motivating others collectively to do something.
I invite you to vote in the GlobalRockstar competition for 'The Red X Project,' daily if you can, if not as often as you remember. I believe it might just be possible to win this competition, provide funds for Elephant Nature Park and possibly more importantly, gain a platform that will allow us all to engage in Elephant GlobalRescue via GlobalRockstar.
A situation like this would dictate we think as adults and foresee the stumbling blocks and complications that could stand in the way, but what if, for a change, for just once, we thought how we used to as children, kept things simple and just did what we knew was right. Right?
In these days of austerity, fundraising can be a touchy subject, however with some innovation, there apparently is more than one way to shine the proverbial penny and the click of a vote button on a daily basis, might just be it.
Please visit the following sites for more information.
Vote at GlobalRockstar: http://www.global-rockstar.com/user/the-red-x-project/
The Red X Project: www.facebook.com/TheRedXProject
Elephant Nature Park: www.elephantnaturepark.org
Watch 'Where Will It End?' Youtube: http://youtu.be/ufKyIyZkp4c
To buy the song 'Where Will It End? visit:
AMAZON US: http://amzn.com/B00BMQTRP0