Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thank you!

A belated but very sincere thank-you to the tremendous volunteers who made the Make Something Party happen, and those who came out to participate. We were thrilled with the turnout for this first-time event. We already have ideas for making it even better next year. See you at the Make Something Party 2010!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Make Something Party: Why It Matters

The Make Something Party is tomorrow, and we couldn't be more excited! The entire event has come together so smoothly, thanks to a fantastic group of volunteers.

But lest we get caught up in details, logistics, and self-congratulation, here's a brief reflection upon why we're doing this in the first place:
1. Spend Less. And the purpose of spending less isn't so that you'll have more left in your wallet on December 26. The purpose is to take us back to Christmas. Christmas, which celebrates the scandalous, messy birth of a rebellious Savior -- it is this Christmas that gets swallowed up by the consumer frenzy at the mall, the ring of cash registers, the flashing lights. Why do we give gifts at Christmas anyway? How much more STUFF do most of us really need cluttering up our lives? We give gifts in commemoration of God's gift to us. By making a conscious effort to spend less, we can begin to silence the numbing white noise of consumerism, and reclaim the meaning of this Advent season.

2. Give More. At Christmas, we're celebrating God's creativity and sacrifice. How much creativity and sacrifice really goes into passing our credit cards around at the mall? If you attend the Make Something Party, you'll be spending $1-20 for a gift that you create. With your own two hands. It might not look as spiffy as something mass produced by machines. It may take a little longer than running in and out of a store (time, for most of us, is the ultimate sacrifice!). But it will be imbued with so much more love and meaning.

AND, here's the best part: the point isn't to save money so that you can spend more on yourself in 2010. The point is that the money you save on gifts that people don't really need can go towards those who really DO need. In particular, we encourage you to consider supporting the following nonprofit organizations:
Project Peace East Bay, which creates partnerships in an effort to cultivate more just and sustainable communities in Berkeley, Oakland, and the surrounding areas, and
Wine to Water, which provides clean water to needy people around the world.

We hope you feel as excited as we do about the Make Something Party. We're looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, and even if you can't attend, we hope that you'll make this entire holiday season your own personal Make Something Party.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sneak Preview....

Plans are really coming together as we count down the days until December 6! Because a natural question is: "What can I make at the Make Something Party?" here's a preview of some of the crafts that will be just waiting for your hands to assemble:

-Painted glass ornaments
-Handmade rubber stamps (make your own to decorate notecards, journals, etc!)
-Beaded jewelry
-Handpainted canvas tote bags
-Knitted goods
-Wineglass charms
-Refrigerator magnets

In addition, local photographer Matt Beardsley will be on hand to take your family's portrait for the BARGAIN price of $20 (you get prints and a digital file). Then, you can make your own frame!

For those who aren't feeling particularly crafty, there will be a selection of handmade goods available for purchase. These include gifts from Trade As One (see previous post for more details). AND we're thrilled to announce the participation of Dsenyo, a company that offers handmade bags and accessories from sustainable African textiles.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gifts with Meaning

We're excited to announce that Trade as One will be a part of this year's Make Something Parties on Sunday, December 6th. If you haven't already read through these posts (do it! there's some good stuff down there!), the ethos behind these parties is to add personal meaning and significance to the gifts we give at Christmas. In addition to handmade gifts and gifts of presence, another way to add meaning and significance to our gifts is to buy Fair Trade. Fair Trade uses our spending power to give sustainable jobs to the poorest of the poor, the woman freed from trafficking, the person with HIV/AIDS. Fair Trade is a way to vote for treating the poor with dignity by paying them a living wage, by insisting that environmental principles are respected, by ensuring that children are educated not used for labor.

This Christmas, we’re trying to rediscover the role that gifts played in the first Christmas. If you look at the gifts the wise men brought Jesus, you’ll see that they were imbued with great meaning.

Gold – for a king.

Frankinscence – for worship.

Myrrh – used in burial.

These gifts spoke prophetically about Jesus’ life. So the opportunity here is to buy a gift for someone that they’ll love, and in so doing tell a story of redemption. It’s a way to use our Christmas purchasing to be Good News to the poor. So come and see what we're doing, make a gift, buy a Fair Trade gift, and tell a powerful story this Christmas.

I'm including our video, so that you can see a bit more about what we do, and (hopefully) pass it on to your friends:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Location Update!

Due to anticipated high attendance at the Rockridge Make Something Party, we are delighted to announce that this event (from 3:30-5 PM) will now be held at Glitter & Razz. This does not actually change the event location; Glitter & Razz is located underneath College Avenue Presbyterian Church at 5951 College Avenue in Oakland. But we're thrilled to be partnering with Glitter & Razz for the first time! It's a locally-owned and operated business that is committed to supporting families in the community by offering children opportunities for creative exploration.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

One Month to Go!

The Make Something Party will launch one month from today! There's no requirement to RSVP, but if you're planning to attend we'd love to know, because it will help us make sure that we have enough materials for everyone. You can let us know that you're coming in either of two places: our Facebook page, or our website.

The details are coming together nicely. Here's what it will look like so far:
-5 tables with easy-to-make gift projects tailored to a variety of ages/interests
-a selection of tables where "craft experts" will teach you how to make high quality gifts
-instruction sheets and material kits will be available so that you can make more gifts at home
-you pay only for the cost of materials (average about $5 per gift)
-a table of gifts available for purchase from Trade As One
We still need volunteers!
If you are skilled at a particular craft and would like to have a table where you can teach others to make it/sell some of your own products, we'd love to have you. Or, if you're unskilled but are interested in leading others in making a simple, pre-planned craft, we'd also love to have you. Please email to volunteer or get more information.

We look forward to seeing you next month on the 6th!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let's Party: The Ethos of Making Stuff

Hi Everybody,

My name is John, and I'm one of the co-founders of The Renew Project in Oakland. We're honored to join in this year's Make Something Party at Christ Church! Let me tell you why my family is getting involved, and why you really should join us on Sunday, December 6:
  • I'll spend less on Christmas. I've done the "Black Friday" thing in the past, and my stomach has hit the floor when the bills come due. It's fairly obvious that our economy isn't at its' most vibrant stage ever, but should we sacrifice our financial peace to help retailers cover their losses? Christmas is a beautiful time to reflect on the indescribable gift of God and the blessing of family and friends - and spending often creates an unhelpful distraction. By making stuff, I'm reminding myself that what matters isn't what I spend, but how I live.
  • My gifts will be more meaningful. Seriously, your brother-in-law can live without the 500,000th copy of Transformers 2, even if it is on sale for only four hours at a ridiculously low price. Bargain prices don't always equate with quality, especially when we have the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces for our friends and family. Our gifts will mean more to the people we care about most, and they won't lose their sentimental value as quickly as something mass-produced on an assembly line. By making stuff, I'm giving away objects that are connected to my personality and the story of my relationships.
  • I'll have the freedom to invest in something worthwhile. With the money I save on Christmas, I can help do something truly radical - like helping to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa. I can help dig a clean water well or invest in a micro loan to empower a woman in a developing country to start her own business. These are gifts that will outlast a single day under the tree, gifts that can potentially shift the trajectory of a person's entire life. By making stuff, I'm living into a new imagination about the power of my wealth to change the world for good.
  • I get to practice creativity. Too often I forget that I was formed, in my mother's womb, "fearfully and wonderfully" by an amazingly creative being, (Psalm 139). Virtually everything in life these days seems to be pre-packaged, technologically-enhanced and marketed to my unique tastes. I could potentially get by without ever practicing creativity again. But what kind of life would that be? By making stuff, I'm tapping into the creative energies that were lovingly placed in me by our Father in heaven.

  • John O'Hara is co-founder of The Renew Project,a new community in Oakland that is inviting people into the creative mission of God through Jesus-centered Action and Life Integration. Learn more at their website,

    John is married to Serena and together they have two insanely beautiful boys, Gabriel and Joshua. They're moving to Oakland in 2010.