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One of life’s little disappointments

If you read my identi.ca or Twitter feeds (and well you should) you might have noticed this little piece of ridiculous self-pity last night:

Well, that’s one project that is now effectively dead and buried. Expect blog entry about it soonish but pretty disappointed right now.

Quite aside from being made up entirely of whinge with a side-order of neediness, which I confess I found utterly galling when re-reading it this morning on the way to writing this blog entry, that dent / tweet / blurt / thing-for-which-there-is-no-good-noun was basically me realising that something that I’d wanted to do wouldn’t come off.

Of course, being me, I posted about it before I’d had chance to think about it. Now that I’ve thought about it I wish I hadn’t moaned, because it’s not all that big of a deal, and it’s certainly not some kind of personal disaster. I don’t half talk nonsense sometimes.

The idea, you see, had been to do a series of photoshoots of people affected by the November floods in Cumbria late last year and to produce a book of all (or at least the best of) the portraits, sales of which would contribute towards the charity fund for helping the victims. I nicked the idea from Joe McNally‘s seminal work Faces of Ground Zero, which is a book of portraits of the heroes of 9/11.

I had all kinds of grandiose ideas, speculating how the portaits could be exhibited in various locations around Cumbria, with the entry fees for the exhibition also going towards the charity fund.

I had this idea back at the time when the floods were still happening, and I promptly emailed the Cumbria Community Foundation to ask them if they were interested and whether they could help me arrange to shoot the subjects I wanted to shoot. The email back said that it was a great idea, but that I should contact the county council, which I duly did by email.

The thing you have to remember about local government is that it moves at a glacial pace. If you want something done you need to nag, because otherwise it simply won’t happen. So I nagged a bit, phoned the council, spoke to someone, got a promise of a response the next day. When it arrived it told me that they council officer writing it also though I was onto a good idea, but that I should in fact contact the Red Cross, who were coordinating all the campaigns. Because I was getting used to this by now, I emailed the Red Cross without asking any further questions (like “why are you telling me to contact the Red Cross when your website says to contact the Cumbria Community Foundation and they told me to contact you?”).

The Red Cross person who replied very promptly to my email was also on board with the idea, but said that I should contact the Cumbria Community Foundation. I double checked that this passing organisation to organisation was indeed legitimate (I was assured that it was), and then emailed the CCF again. Nothing happened for about a week and then I pretty much forgot all about it because I was getting married at the end of December and not in much of a mood to think about anything else.

I remembered all this last week and thought that, whilst maybe not quite as urgent as before, my idea still had merit, so I emailed the CCF yet again. As yet, I’m still awaiting a response, but yesterday the Cumbria Community Foundation declared the flood fund closed. No more donations needed.

So that, dear reader, is why I was being a whingebag last night. Good idea dead before it got started because I didn’t chase it hard enough. I knew full well that if I didn’t work to get what I wanted I wouldn’t get anything at all, because I’m familiar with how charities and local councils work, but I got lazy and didn’t stay as on top of things as I should have.

From this I’ve learned two things:

  1. Working with charities is hard: if you’ve got an idea you must keep pushing it; don’t expect anyone to do it for you.
  2. As 1 but without the first sentence.

Here endeth the lesson.