Posts Tagged ‘International Quilt Festival’

Hello, everyone

February 26, 2011

Well, hello.  Everyone just stopped by yesterday, while I was at work.

And I mean everyone.

Seems that Alex Anderson and crew dropped something on their blog, here, about IBOL. I met and spoke for quite some time with Alex and we were in Houston last year, and she chimed in asking how she could help.

So, to everyone stopping by and leaving a comment — be patient, I’ll send you the details just as soon as I finish up tonight with these protests. Democracy in Iraq and the freedom of the people to protests sorta needs to be my top priority today; I promise I’ll sleep less tonight so I can send out some notes.

But I did want to say hello.

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More on the box count, distro, and Houston

October 26, 2010

Busy time here in IBOL land.  Let’s review the bidding.

1.  The box count totaled out at around 900 — which, i have to say, is pretty darn-tootin’ awesome.  I’ll let you in on a little secret — moving by hand all those boxes in IBOL I just about broke me, and I was worried IBOL II would be the death of Nahed.  But she sent me a nice note (more on that in a second) and said that yes, the boxes have all arrived, and that it came to around 900 boxes.  I gotta say — that’s a very fine and respectable number.

2.  Thank you.  I think I’ve said it a few times this time around, but let me say that again.  Thank you.  I’m squirreled away in my quiet life in Hawaii, Nahed is busy making the world a better place in Hawaii, but you –all of you — are what has made this go-round of IBOL such a huge success.  Thank you for your caring, for your generosity, for your willingness to (gasp!) bust your stash in order to reach out and help others.

3.  And Nahed, if you’re reading this, let me again say, oh so very publicly, that you are my hero.  You have made my year.  I had thought IBOL was going to be a one-time hero, but you said you were game and that you could pull it off, and you sure have.

4.  Distro is still ongoing.  I’ve got some photos that Nahed sent, and a wee-bit of background to go with them.

In the middle there, I think, is Ms. Alcy Frelick, the head of the Office of Provincial Affairs at the US Embassy in Baghdad.  She was up in Salah ad Din, visiting the Provincial Reconstruction Team (where Nahed works) and had time to see some of the great things the PRT has been doing — and to visit a local sewing coop, where everyone regaled her with tales of IBOL.

I just love that, the world over, everyone makes cute clothes for kids.  And that red one on the bottom?  It could almost be a Happy Zombie special!

I think I mentioned this before — one of the local radio stations, just north of Tikrit and near the city of Bayji, has a radio station that is both active in the community and active in a lot of women’s issues.  The station was, and I think still is, run by a woman from the area, and she has been a strong supporter of IBOL in the area.  In conjunction with the visit from Ms. Frelick, the station came down to do some interviews as well.  How cool is that?

Do you see yours in here?  Someone will, I’m sure.  These are another example of why I love, love, love the bundle design — a snip here, a snip there, the box comes off, and poof, a bundle of love.  Awesome.

OK, so it’s a little out of focus.  But look — look at the all the thread!  Yahoo!

5.  And Houston.  OK, folks — in a week, the family and I head to the airport and fly across the Pacific and half of America, to meet all of you in Houston at the International Quilt Festival.  Shoot, the excitement is just about going to kill me — or drive me to song.  We’ve got some new threads, a handy-dandy new iPhone so we can take and post photos and videos, and yes, 1000 IBOL business cards to hand out.  Egads — I am sooooo going to be out of my element.  But, I will do my best, and I promise to be nice and police and courteous, and if that fails, to hide behind my kids and made their cuteness will you all over.  I’ll try to make some time to post some of the photos here, but if you want to see it while it happens (and yes, I’ll try to remind you again right before this all kicks off), I’ll be posted a whole lot to Facebook at the little IBOL corner of the world there.  So, grab you family, grab your camera, grab your IBOL shirt, and come meet us in Houston!

IB♥L World Tour, Version 2: International Quilt Festival

October 11, 2010

So, the deadline for mailing bundles as part of IBOL II has come and gone.  The boxes and bundles are still arriving, and Nahed and her team are still pushing bundles out into Salah ad Din.  And like I did at this point last year, I’m making plans to go see some IBOL supporters and say thanks.

Task:  With my family, attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, 4-7 November.

Purpose: To hand out IBOL business cards and truckloads of thanks to IBOL supporters, in order to raise up to $1000 for the American Cancer Society 2011 Relay for Life.

Endstate:  I have met 1000+ IBOL supporters, handed out all of the cards, taken a ton of photos with people, and had the chance to say “thank you” about a billion times.

Here’s where you come in.

Task: Go to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, 4-7 November, find the IBOL Guy and / or his family, and get a card from him.  If possible, get a photo with him and his family. It’ll be me, the wife, the kids, and maybe even the brother (although I have no idea how I am going to talk him into actually going inside).

Purpose:  To be showered in thanks, and told how awesome you are, and all that good stuff.

Endstate: You walk away with an IBOL card, a smile, and maybe a cheesy photo.

Now, I know what you’re saying — how does this all tie into the Relay for Life?  Simple — someone has challenged me to go to Houston, wade through the teeming masses, sport my IBOL shirt, and hand out cards and heaps of thanks. Do that, and they’ll match me dollar-to-card.  1000 cards, $1000.

Think you can help me reach 1000?

Now, some of you who have been to Houston before are probably thinking, This is going to be so easy.  Finding IBOL guy is going to be a snap – there are only, like, 4 men that show up at this thing, and they all linger near the exits.    Well, it’s not going to be that easy; if Osama bin Laden can hide in the mountains, surely I can hide in a quilting convention (no, I won’t be wearing a burqa).

The odds are very good that on at least one day, I’ll be sporting the greatest t-shirt on the planet.  That should make things easier.  But I may also break down and see about another IBOL shirt, like this.  In fact, my super-wife Kristin has been working on a new design for the business cards (which are less business and more of just a short description of what IBOL is / was), which may turn into a Cafepress option, too.

If I see you wearing something IBOL-related, I will stop and talk to you.  Otherwise, you may have to hunt me down.

And if you can’t make it to Houston and still want to help, by all means, swing by here and help in the effort to find a cure.

Quilts.com and Sew, Mama, Sew!

September 17, 2010

Wow.  Just wow.

Huge week here at the IBOL Pacific Headquarters.

1.  Quilts.com posted a link about IBOL, up on Facebook (here).  For those of you who were involved last year, you will remember how they chimed in with a huge note of support, sent out via email to everyone headed to the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  How huge was their support?  I called it Super Secret Project 2 (SSP2, in IBOL-speak) and it sent a huge flock of people towards the site.  This year, they’re going one step farther — they are coordinating their own mirror support, working with me so that they can directly answer questions and coordinate packages (and answering a lot of emails, instead of me). Last year, I was unable to make it to the quilt show in Houston (I was still in Iraq, after all), but my wife and I are making plans to travel from Hawaii to Houston for the show — and to shake a few hands and to say thanks for all their help in support in spreading the word about IBOL.

2.  For those of you who remember last year, the online store Sew, Mama, Sew! in Beaverton, OR, chimed in to answer a question of mine.  I asked why a business couldn’t make and built bundles at or below cost, so that folks without a stash (like my brother) could also support the effort.  They did just that — with 161 bundles that they made, sold, and mailed to Iraq.  161!  They sold out in no time at all — we’re talking hours, not days or weeks.  It was an awesome gesture, and a great thing for them to do.  (to say thanks, the wife and kids and I made a trip to Beaverton, to see Kristin and her crew and to offer our thanks.)   Well, Kristin emailed me again this year, saying she’d seem my post about thread.  Guess what?  She’s doing it again.  Here’s your chance, or the chance for others, to be involved and support IBOL is you’re stash-light or (gasp!) without a stash at all.  Go here to this post from Sew, Mama, Sew! for more about their $4 thread bundles — it’s a wonderful opportunity.

IBOL, and being a geek

August 29, 2010

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Well, if you read the IBOL book, it may not be a surprise.

I’m a total geek, and I love having access to the raw back-end statistics about how IBOL floats around the internet.

In IBOL I last year, the whole thing started with me just creating the blog. That was it. There was no following, there were no fans. There was no Facebook page, there was no key word to search for. Just a new blog on WordPress.  10 views one day, then up to a few hundred. And then, boom, there’d be an explosion, two or three or four times as much traffic in a single day — and I could dig and see where it was all coming from.

Some website would have made mention of it. Some blogger would have posted something about. There had been a guild meeting, or an email to members. Or it had made it into a new forum or online group.

Often, it would be a one-day spike, but after a while, they’d start to overlap and the statistics would stay elevated. Hundreds of visits a day became thousands of visits a day. And it all went through the roof when things like newspaper articles started, and when the quilts.com crew sent out an amazing email to everyone headed to the Houston Quilt Festival.

I learned to watch things like this Google link, but the WordPress stuff also has a section where I can secret see who is linking to IBOL, and from where people are coming to the site.   It was easy to spot the big, well connected websites and blogs that were sending lots and lots of people to IBOL, but I’ll be honest – I most treasured find the little things.

So, yeah.  Neat to see all this again.  Almost a week into IBOL II, and there have been a little over 5000 visits to the blog (4 days in the 400 to 700 visitors per day range, and one day at 1700).  There have been a good 225  or some comments left on the website, and I’ve seen more than a fair share of references to people passing along the address in their guild and group.  Having been through IBOL I, this all means something to me — IBOL II is going to be just fine.

IB♥L II: Give A Little

August 24, 2010

Thank you for being so patient.  Just over a year after launching the Iraqi Bundles of Love (IBOL) project, it’s time to to do it again.  Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s do IBOL II.

I’ll give you the details first — some of you, I’m told, are rather impatient and would rather just get to making more boxes.  But if you keep reading, I’ll tell you some of how this came to be.

IBOL II, like the original IBOL project last year, is intended to be a short-duration project.  And like last time, it’s intended to surge fabric and sewing (and knitting!) materials into Salah ad Din, in northern Iraq (where I was last year, too).  The general premise is the same.  Willing contributors can send a flat-rate box of sewing / quilting / knitting supplies, all bundled up.  Once it’s there, someone will open the box, pull out the fully-contained bundle, and hand it off (with others) for distribution in the SaD area.  The stated intent of this operation is to put sewing and quilting and knitting supplies into the hands of two types of recipients:  locals who desperately need such things, and local sewing co-ops and other small businesses who have received grants or loans (typically to purchase sewing machines, rent space, etc).

Like last time, there’s no press release, no announcement on Oprah, no guest appearance on the Colbert Report.  There will be blog posts, emails, some photos, some silliness, some IBOL kittehs, and — you can count on it — some ice cream.  Email your guild, call your sister — tell ’em it’s time to do this again.  IBOL is still going to work via word of mouth.

It’s a chance for all of us to go into our stashes — our fabric, our yarn, our needles, our thread — and find some stuff that we’re willing to share with our partners in Iraq.  No one expects you to empty your stash — it’s a chance to give a little.

Here’s the most important thing:  Packages for IBOL 2.1 (because I hope there will be a 2.2 and a 2.3!) need to be in the mail not later than 01 October (that’s a Friday).  Do you think you can do that?  In the mail, not later than 01 October.  That’s just over a month from now.  Click below to read more of the details.

(more…)

The End of Phase 2b

October 18, 2009

Wow, I’m a bit tired.

I got up last night before midnight, in order to go and meet the forklift guy and the truck guys. One 10k forklift and two eighteen-wheeler trucks in tow, we went out to IBOL World HQ and Warehouse, and loaded the six pallets onto the trucks. Loaded, the trucks rolled away and headed to the container yard, where they’ll likely hang out for a few days before moving on. The hour was late, the dust was blowing, so I broke out a disposable camera someone had sent me a while ago, and took a few pictures; it’ll be weeks before I can get them developed and posted.

I have, more or less, figured out how to distribute 3445 bundles. I never thought that would happen, folks.

This week, those six pallets, representing around 1500 bundles and about 12,000 pounds of love, will head to Kirkuk City (map). Five of the pallets will stay there, with one of our combat brigades, and the sixth will get cross-loaded and head further on into the Kurdish region to Sulaymaniyah (map).

So, about 2000 bundles made their way our into my neck of the woods, and the rest are headed to Kirkuk. This might not seem like much to you, but it means a lot to me.

Saddam Hussein is from these parts of the woods. Part of what had me thinking about this whole IBOL thing was wanting to make some kind of a positive impact on this area. Thank you — there are two thousand bundles coursing their way through this area. Which is pretty fantastic.

And if you watch the news as much as I do, or maybe even a fraction of what I watch and read, you’ll know that Kirkuk is… interesting. It’s disputed. It’s debated. It’s seemingly tied to most every other topic here in Iraq. At times it’s been led by Turks, Arabs and Kurds. It’s rich history, diverse people and mixed cultures makes it a land, a city, a community in need of some, well, love.

My year here is almost up. I’m working with the unit replacing mine. My kids are counting the days until I leave Iraq, for what may well be the last time. When I was young, Iraq was a re-emerging leader in the Arab world, but faltered and spiraled downwards under Saddam Hussein. But even during the darkest of times, when this land was being ravaged by war or hate or strife, I’ve held out hope that I’d be able to help do something to move this country closer to not just peace but the greatness it is capable of. I never would have guessed it would be this — almost 3500 boxes, packed by some amazing and great people, distributed here, there, and everywhere in northern Iraq.

So, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I have two more things to do. Well, okay, three. I’ll be in touch with the folks that have these last 1500 or so, and I’ll see what I can get from them to share here on the website. I also know that there’s a small snippet on IBOL in our own unit magazine, if I can every get my hands on the digital version of it.

The second thing is to see what if anything will carry on after I leave here. The warehouse is still there. CSM Flores and his crew think their replacements will support is being used the same way — if someone does something crazy like this. I need to find that someone, I guess. I’d like to leave here with a name and an address, and to be able to tell you to send what you want, when you want – I have no idea if I’ll be able to put that together.

And lastly, I need to look back at this whole thing, and do some writing. For my unit, for the Army, I need to capture what this was, why it worked, and what can be used again. This IBOL thing was pretty powerful; I’d hate for the Army to not learn something from this little undertaking. I’d like some crazy dreamer out there to have that crazy dream, and not have to start from complete scratch like I sometimes felt I did. Why think tens when you can think thousands. Writing about this, teaching the Army about this, is my Phase 3.

Thanks, IBOLsters!

Two last things, before I call it a day and go to sleep. Who saw my wife’s quilt in Houston, and who took a photo that they can send me?

And who is going to be near either Eugene or Beaverton, Oregon, before Thanksgiving? The IBOL Guy Family World Tour will be kicking off then, with stops in Oregon and the mountains east of San Bernardino, CA. Coffee’s going to be on me, and the locations will be small fabric and / or yarn places.

It’s time we had a little talk

September 11, 2009

When I started the project, I didn’t know how big it would get.

Or how it would spread across the web. Or the world.

Or how many people would take an interest, and volunteer to participate.

Or how many people would actually send a box.

Or how many boxes an individual would send.

Or the total amount of boxes, or their volume, or their weight.

Or when they’d arrive.

Or how I’d actually distribute them.

I also did not have permission from anyone to do this.

All I knew was that I had an idea, that it seemed like a good idea, and that I probably needed to act on it.

And so I did.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I spent time with my mail folks and the warehouse folks. I worked it out with my mail folks that any boxes coming to me would be delivered to the warehouse — if lots of bundles started to arrive (for some crazy reason), it just made sense to be ready and to have the IBOL’s go right to the warehouse. The warehouse folks had received the first few boxes mailed directly to them by then — maybe 80. I had received the other 414 or so total at that point, had given some out to a couple of local units, moved others to the warehouse, but still had about 80 in my own room.

On Monday, I moved some of mine to the warehouse, and posted photos here.

Tuesday, I got one in the mail; the warehouse got none.

Wednesday, I got one. The warehouse got 357 more in the mail.

Thursday, I got none. They got 365 more in the mail.

Today, I got my Sports Illustrated, but not my Hot Rod. I was kind of bummed. I was really hoping the new Hot Rod would arrive. I mean, after all, the new Sports Illustrated had arrived — shouldn’t Hot Rod arrive, too? Oh, and the warehouse, they got 697 bundles in the mail.

The urban legend is that 11 pallets of mail were flown in yesterday, six of which were for IBOL. I had two soldiers separately tell me that one.

I have not been to the warehouse since Monday, but I am told that there are a few over there now . Received to date? 1921, between what’s come to me and what’s gone right to the warehouse. So, there’s probably 1600 bundles at the warehouse right now.

And I thought 50 boxes was going to be a pretty good indicator of success.

Honest to goodness, between all of the passing of information in emails and in guilds and that crazy email from the Houston folks and the Sew Mama Sew stuff, I have no idea how many people have mailed boxes, much less how to estimate that.

I have no idea how many actual boxes are en route, or how to even begin to take a guess at that. Honest to goodness, I had a wonder lady explain to me in an email today that she put 19 bundles in the mail. Nineteen! And if you think that’s unique, I could probably rattle of the names of a half or full dozen more people who have mailed over 10. This is some crazy scary math, even trying to extrapolate this stuff out (~2600 comments, maybe minus 100 for non-requests of the address; 150+ from Sew Mama Sew; the Houston email went to maybe 50,000+ people; there are probably 36 to 60 guilds or groups that shared the address…)

Does your brain hurt now, too? Yeah, this is what I am dealing with — in and around my day job. Which also makes my brain hurt.

I have two good-sized units that are lining up trucks and pick up dates, and seem to think they’ll be in a position to deliver tons of IBOLS — which, if the boxes really do average out to 7 or 8 lbs per box, and there really do turn out to be 3000 to 5000 IBOLs, there really are going to be tons of IBOLs to deliver.

How does one distribute something like three to five thousand bundles? Very carefully, I suppose. It’s a bit like eating an elephant — figure out what size bites you can take, and keep eating. I’ve got plan A, and a plan B. I’ll spare you the details, but will try to get and share some photos. Not sure when I can get to the warehouse, either — I’ll see what I can do about tomorrow.

More later — I need to go sleep. Apparently, it’s Patriot Day (not to confuse anyone) — where did August go? Seriously, I need to work less and sleep more.

I’ve said thank you about a half a billion times, right? Make it half a billion and one — thank you.

The Festival Brigade

August 28, 2009

Did you notice that I have seemed to have had Houston on the brain lately?

That’s not by accident. Quilts Inc, the folks who run the annual International Quilt Festival in Houston, just posted about IBOL to their site and are, apparently, going to send an email to a few people to tell them about IBOL.

In guy terms, that’s about the same as having the NFL running commercials for you during the Super Bowl.

So, hello Festival Brigade. I’ve been waiting for you to arrive. I’m so very happy you’re here. Poke around some — there are a lot of nice people who drop in from time to time.

Feel free to swing by here, and see my challenge for you. And feel free to swing by here, and read about how the Festival Brigade came to be.

Oh, and thank you. Obviously, if you followed the email trail here, you’re at least somewhat interested in helping. And for that, I am so very grateful.

(PS — I did a phone interview today, with this guy.)

International Quilt Festival

August 27, 2009

I’ve added a new page, over there on the right. It’s for all of you going to the quilt festival in Houston in October. It’s a chance to get together and share ideas. I’ve left you mine, and I’d like to hear yours.