Sea Shepherd and Ocean Defenders Alliance Fundraiser
October 14, 2006
By Kurt Lieber
This fundraiser all started from a conversation I had with Michael Moore, Sea Shepherd's Development Director. I wanted to do more than just send in a check for the upcoming Antarctic Campaign to halt the illegal killing of whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. So he quickly suggested that I have a fundraiser at my house. He sent me a book on the "how to's" of hosting a house fundraiser, and I was on my way.
I had organized a fundraiser back in 1998, but that was held in a very large room at a business. My house is pretty small and I was apprehensive about too many people showing up. He assured me that we could keep it to a small crowd. So 3 weeks before the event I sent out flyers to about 120 people that were within a 15 mile radius of my home.
With one week to go before the event, I had received 3 confirmations. Oh great, I thought, only a few people will show up. So I got on the phone and called most of the people that I had sent the flyers to and informed them of what a unique fundraiser this was going to be. We were going to have Chris Aultman give a presentation about his experience during last years Antarctic Campaign as the helicopter pilot, and also, Andre Casanave talk about his experience as a volunteer crewmember during the Harp Seal Campaign of 2005. Then, I was going to talk about my own organization, Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA). I got inspired to start ODA from talking with Paul Watson for so many years and reading his book "Earthforce," and wanted to let people know that individuals can make a difference.
After making the calls, I had a better feeling that maybe we'd get 15 to 20 people to show up. So I bought light snacks (vegetarian, of course) and beverages for 20, and got a few people and businesses to donate items for a silent auction.
The day of the event finally arrived and all seemed well. Scott Sheckman organized the silent auction. Holly Gray (veteran Sea Shepherd crewmember) and Lisa Davis prepared all the food and drinks. Chris and I put the ODA boat in front of my house and lined up 15 lobster traps in front of it. We were all set.
Kurt Lieber with Scott Sheckman
Kurt Lieber in boat with traps
At 4 o'clock people started showing up, then more people and pretty soon there were 40-45 people crammed into a small space! Jeez, I surely didn't anticipate that large of a crowd, but nobody complained or left.
Chris Aultman's presentation
First, we showed a 5-minute video about last year's Antarctic campaign. Chris Aultman's presentation was captivating as he told of his experiences of landing a helicopter on the Farley Mowat. No one had ever done it before and he had to train the crew on what to do during takeoffs and landings. He also talked about the sheer beauty of seeing icebergs the size of skyscrapers, the countless pods of whales in the pristine Antarctic waters, and of course, the Japanese whale killers. The video, combined with Chris's firsthand account made everyone want to sign up for the next campaign.
Andre Casanave's presentation
Next up was Andre Casanave. He told about the brutality of the slaughter and the callousness of the hunters toward the baby seals. Because the hunters want to kill as many as they can in a short period of time, they club one, usually without killing it, then move on to the next victim with no regard for the suffering that the seal is going through.
There was a lengthy discussion afterwards with Andre and Ian Robichaud (long-time Sea Shepherd volunteer and founder of Harpseals.org) about why the hunt continues, some of the history of the hunt, and what is going on to stop it. The bottom line is that the boycott of Canadian seafood products is having a huge affect and we need to keep putting economic pressure on Canada to force them to admit they are losing more money through the boycott than they make from the hunt. Money seems to be the only thing that they understand.
It all ended with my presentation about ODA. I showed a 15-minute video of what we are doing to rid Southern California of the abandoned lobster traps and nets that are killing marine animals long after the gear becomes lost.
Kurt Lieber 's presentation
We sold a lot of T-shirts, all the items in the silent auction were bid on, and most people donated generously. It was an eye-opener for people who had not heard the firsthand accounts before, and we raised some much-needed funds for Sea Shepherd and ODA. Everyone there had a good time, met and made new friends, plus learned a lot about both organizations. I will definitely do this again next year. If anyone wants to do something like this at their house, let me know and I'll give you some tips. It is a great way to raise money, it's easy, fun, and there are a lot of people who want to help.
Thanks to all who came! Andre for traveling 100 miles each way. Scott Sheckman for coming down from San Francisco and helping with the flyer and all the preparations. All the Sea Shepherd crewmembers: Chris Aultman, Andre Casanave, Ian Robichaud, Holly Gray, and Jared Rubin. You all added so much by relaying your stories about past campaigns.
I can't wait to do it again. The whales, dolphins, seals, and lobsters all need us to speak up for them!