The Year of the Flood Tour is over - 112 days, 7 countries, @38 cities, @45 events - and I'm crawling around the house trying to find the scattered bits of my so-called normal life.
What was the Tour, anyway? What did I learn? Did the fundraising work? Will I ever do it again? Is there hope? Such questions have been asked.
What it was A combination of a book launch; a website to accommodate all countries and editions, with a Twitter feed, a Blog, a Music page, and more; and a series of "Events," three readers, a singing group, and a fundraising element. These "Events" emerged from the three narrative voices and fourteen God's Gardeners Hymns in the book. The Hymns were set to music almost accidentally, when composer Orville Stoeber saw the book in manuscript. The environmental component came from a conversation with BirdLife International: how to reach out to those unfamiliar with bird problems?
The "Events" have been described as "Mr. Potato Head:" we gave anyone wishing to do an Event the basic potato - script and music -- and they added the features -- the readers and singers, the costumes, and so forth. I, as Narrator, would arrive not knowing what to expect. When initially describing the concept to Ron Mann, I mentioned summer camp productions. Others have likened the form to English Miracle Plays - put on by the community, with ordinary folks playing the roles. The Tour Blog shows the enormous variety this method produced.
What I learned The Twitter, the Blog: these were features of the beautiful www.yearoftheflood.com website. The Twittering wasn't so bad: Tweets can be done on the run. I now have 12,600+ new best friends, and they've been unseen companions. They've supplied helpful answers, told me about organic shade-grown coffees - the other kind kills birds - pointed out my spelling mistakes ("wierd"), and added commentary. One even created a Science Scout Badge just for me! (It incorporates a gas mask and a Martian and a death's head. Cute!)
The Blog was another story. I had to sort of figure out WordPress, and how to work iPhoto. But having committed to the dreaded Blog, I trudged on. I also learned that websites are expensive to set up and run, and that I should have arranged this one differently, and included more ad space to help pay for it. The fundraising The Tour did raise a lot of money, though not always for the primary targets, although organizations such as the RSPB and Nature Canada collected donations and distributed brochures and raised their media profiles. A number of appearances that weren't "Events" raised more, because expenses were lower - WildEarth Guardians in New Mexico cleared @ $9,000, for instance. But many worked hard, and many benefitted. And many had fun, myself included.
Would I do it again? Impossible, unless I write another novel with three narrative voices and fourteen hymns. But I've just had an inquiry about turning Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth into a play. Maybe some songs? "Jingle, jingle, jingle, listen to my wallet tingle," or "Oh raving heck, I'm deep in debt! What they hey, Let others pay!" Something like that?
Is there hope? That question was the one most frequently asked. What did I say? Hope is built in. If you have it, there's more. As for the future, we can't really predict it because there are too many variables. The biggest variable is us: we humans. How will we behave? Look in the mirror.
And happy Year of the Flood! Remember: So far, it's only a book.