What an amazing few days it has been! In terms of adding new fans, we are at an all time high. Just a couple of weeks ago, we struggled to push past 800 fans and over the course of this weekend, we grew from over 900 to 1,125 by Sunday night. We could not be more pleased with the support of our fans and their willingness to invite their friends and family to our noble cause.
However, we still have a long road ahead of us. We are going live on Kickstarter.com this week (hopefully) and will have some new multimedia items to post on the website and Facebook page. We hope these new videos will further enhance our ability to raise awareness for the project and our new directive, to send me to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan for the summer of 2011. By using Kickstarter, we hope to raise the funds we need to pay for the travel costs associated with the directive as well as raising additional money to pay for continued presence at MWR facilities throughout both areas of operation and to generally keep this project alive.
In addition, to the above, we will be posting the non-profit certificate this month to the website. Although many of our non-profit partners do not display this, we want to be as transparent as possible. As I stated earlier, we are a registered non-profit with the State of West Virginia and we are currently pursuing this status on the Federal level but since we do not plan to raise more than $25,000 in the near-term, our status in WV is sufficient. We will also be posting new designs to the merchandise page and revamping the actual page shown on our website completely to make it easier to navigate through and view all of our products. Once again, the funds raised by the sale of these products will go directly to fund and support all aspects of the project to include: the Soldier-On-Assignment Campaign, the general marketing campaign ("Call to Action") which needs brochures, posters, etc to continue to generate interest among our brave men and women deployed overseas, as well as the new directive ("Send Doc to War") campaign.
Keep an eye on our Causes to Support page, as we will be updating that with new links that matter. As tax time approaches and the deadline looms, our more wealthy supporters should take a look at this page to do some last minute write-offs and keep your hard-earned money from the hands of the super-villain we call the IRS. There are many to choose from and all of them are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities.
Don't forget to check out the new "Featured Partners" page just under the Home tab. This page will feature our more distinguished partners and those that share our concern for America's warfighter and those who must endure the horrors of conflict. On the page you can find out more about those partners, what they do and how you can be a part of what they are doing through their website. We encourage all of our fans and supporters to go and check them out. Just to be upfront, we are NOT in any way earning anything by referring to their websites, unless you count Karma as "stated income". So, go check them out, it is worth a few minutes of your time.
We have a lot of tap this week, so keep your eyes and more importantly, your web browsers stuck on our pages. We appreciate all the work our supporters have done over the course of the last few days and over the past 9 months. As I always say, but it’s worth repeating, this project would not be what it is at this moment, and what it will be in the months to come, if it wasn't for each and every one of our loyal supporters. Our gratitude cannot be overstated. Thank you, a thousand times, thank you.
Jaeson "Doc" Parsons
I have some good news but these are the first steps toward the goal of returning to Kuwait and Iraq and then documenting Afghanistan for the first time. I was able to get into touch with a representative from the OASD (PA). They were able to direct me to what paperwork I need to file for entry in each nation. In addition, I need to obtain a Visa to each nation leg of the trip as well as health insurance/life insurance to include just a few of the requirements of travel. The usual, "You're on your own and can't blame us for dying" legal documents. This all needs to be completed before travel. I also need to formally request from each unit I wish to embed with and wait on them to request DOD to which DOD must approve and work its way back through the channels to me........before I can be approved for travel and embed. And of course, our media outlet considering funding a portion of this travel for the project has to agree to sponsor me.
So......I got the paperwork and sent it along with the requirements, a very brief summery of the costs, and what I would be covering personally, which for a very poor student that is currently attending school full-time (19 credit hours this semester alone.) is significant. As more complete lists of the "hard" costs become available, more accurate cost analysis will be, publicly available via our website and Facebook Fan page. This weekend I will be posting this cost analysis and our documentation of incorporation as a non-profit (as of 01/25/11: Control # 99NFK Graffiti of War Foundation). All costs raised by our website (PayPal), through our sale of merchandise through our Merchandise Page along with personal contributions by Doc, SSG D., Mel will go to fund the costs associated with my travel as an independent journalist to capture and document artistic creations for the purpose of completing a book.
The focus of this foundation following the completion of the project is to use those funds to help our brothers and sisters-in-arms use artistic expression to fight this inner battle, to heal those unseen, silent wounds. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot to focus on to ensure the success of garnering the approval of DOD, so we need to take it one-step at a time. And today was a first step forward to get that approval.
As always, we are open to suggestions, ideas, comments, partners towards the common goal, etc. Please feel free to contact Doc
and SSG D
. directly by clicking the link. All of us working on this project can assure all of our fans and supporters we are committed to this project to the very end and will strive towards reality, honesty, and honor. I was once told, "Shoot for the stars, and at the very least you will hit the moon.", so we hope the change the world, but even just one person would be life changing. We hope we can count on your support through this journey, our journey.
Jaeson "Doc" Parsons
I received a letter today from a well known Hollywood actor, well rather I should say, that I received a letter "on behalf" a very well known Hollywood Actor. It was very exciting before I knew it was "on behalf". It is amazing how two words, so insignificant, could squash the hopes so quickly and completely. I thought I would share the letter with the fans and supporters of the website. First, let me give you some background.
About 4 months ago, after we were forced to remove the image resembling "Ron Burgundy" from Anchorman, I thought I would try to contact Mr. Ferrell to see if he would be kind enough to let our project use the service-member created billboard, which sits, outside a Fallujah chow hall. In addition, I thought I might contact 10 different celebrities that have supported the military in the past. I sent out 12 letters in all, which included a letter to Mr. Gary Sinise.
Without boring you all with the details of each letter, they were basically all the same. I will give you the summary of what I requested. I did NOT ask any of them for monetary support. I did NOT ask any of them to speak or "officially" endorse our project. I did NOT ask any of them to provide our project with memorabilia to which we might raise money to support the project. I didn't even ask for an autograph, although in retrospect, maybe I should have. I did ask if we could send each of them a shirt, free of charge of course, for them to wear at their convenience to help raise awareness about the project and our foundation. That was basically it, briefly.
So far, four of the letters have been returned undeliverable (I sent each letter certified mail so I could ensure delivery or return) and the remaining eight have not been answered, until now. However, Mr. Sinise's office had the courtesy to respond to my letter.
A very nice letter, but a letdown. I don't even believe that Mr. Sinise had the privilege of reading my letter asking to send him a project shirt, free of charge. I feel that if Mr. Sinise did read the letter, he would have let us send him a free shirt to wear.
I would like to know the thoughts of our fans and supporters on this. Should we send his office a shirt? Should we send another, rebuttal letter? Should we send him more than just a shirt, maybe something more, like four or five? Do you think Mr. Sinise would be interested in helping spread the word about the project, even if it is just a mention to those he knows?
This endeavor is a new thing for all of us working on the project and we need all the input and help we can get. We would all appreciate your input, comments and direction with this and more. Please either post your comments or send them directly to us at email@example.com
As always, thanks for reading my ramblings, thank you all for your continued support!
Jaeson "Doc" Parsons
Those of you may know (and those that don't just scroll down), we here at the Graffiti of War Project have changed gears and headed in a new direction with the ambitious new directive. The success of the Project and subsequent Foundation depends on our ability to collect, document, and finish the book and we refuse to let anything prevent us from achieving that goal.....it's what the Army taught us. "Failure is never an option!"
Therefore, after we decided this new directive, we contacted some important, relatively silent, supporters/partners (which must remain anonymous until a decision has been made) to inquire as to whether they could help us succeed. They are in the process of making that decision with the help of some analysis that my partners and I are working on. This analysis will determine the a) viability of documenting images in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, and b) the costs associated with embarking on this adventure, for lack of a better word.
I am working on determining the viability of the endeavor. I have contacted some of our supporters currently in country that work in MWR facilities across Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, I have sent inquiries to some contacts within the Defense Department and other military agencies. Lastly, I have inquired with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense in Public Affairs OASD (PA). According to government policy, the Defense Department grants members of the press access to certain military units deployed to operations around the globe in part to show some transparency to these operations to further democratic ideals. This policy is very strict as to the guidelines organizations must follow, but I found it encouraging news to our cause. The viability is definitely there! We CAN be embedded in country for the purpose of media exposure. Now, on to cost analysis.
In the interest of ensuring the success of the new directive, we are going to try to raise as much funds (personal and through donations and merchandise sales) to deflect some of the cost associated with sending a member of our team to Southwest Asia. We have completed the paperwork for the non-profit, Graffiti of War Foundation and are awaiting approval from the West Virginia Secretary of State (we do not plan on raising more than $20,000 at the beginning so in the interest of time, we will not file for 501(c)(3) until we receive our status from the State). We will also be creating a fundraising site on www.Kickstarter.com
where we will be awarding merchandise for donations of a certain amount. All of the proceeds will be going to fund the excursion to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
I will be submitting the viability/cost analysis by next week to our anonymous supporter/partner. We hope to hear whether we have attained their official support for the project in the few weeks that follow. As soon as we hear the news, you can be sure we will be posting it on Facebook as well as on our blog. In the mean time, we need anyone and everyone to send us their comments, their suggestions, their support, and their advice to us via this blog post, Facebook
and our email
This new opportunity could be the only one we will need to push this project all the way to the finish line! No question about it. So, pray to whatever God you pray to, or if you are not of faith, just keep this project and us in your thoughts, we need all the support we can get. As always, all of us remain commited to this project to the very end.
Jaeson "Doc" Parsonsdocparsons@unconventionalmilitaryart.com
For the past 9 months we have relied on those who are deployed to be our eyes on the ground. We have spent high amounts of capital (this number is of course relative to our source of funding, our wallets) on trying to raise awareness of the project. We have contacted hundreds of people, dozens of organizations as well as departments in the Army all trying to find the solution to our content problem. The majority of the time our efforts have been less than successful. We have also tried creative ways to encourage our supporters and service members to contribute their photos with, again, the same dismal result. Although we have been able to secure the praise and interest of the MWR, KBR, Fluor (government contractors for our non-military readers), CNN, the USO, The Military Times and Stars & Stripes newspaper as well as the generous assistance of Maxim.com with the addition in their web-page and upcoming Military issue, the flood of images we have been hoping for has eluded us. We have been able to secure over 200 images, but this is far, far short of what we need.
These events have brought us to a new direction that we have been, more or less, forced into considering. That being said, We feel this should have been our goal from the beginning. We have decided that it has become necessary to be the Project's eyes on the ground and devote the summer of 2011 to traveling to as many areas of Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait as we can and are allowed to by the powers that be.
I know this may sound a bit out there, but the success of this Project absolutely depends on it. We believe that in the course of the past 9 months, we have made enough friends and contacts, many in key positions that can help our new directive, that our success of achieving this travel is better than the odds of the Project's success in the hands of others.
Now, this does NOT mean that we will no longer be accepting submissions. On the contrary, we are still looking for service members and civilians to submit their photos. We are still looking to sponsor service members downrange with our "Soldiers-on-Assignment" campaign.
That being said, this new directive will ensure we capture a wide variety of artistic expression and we are no longer at the mercy of our inability to raise effective awareness of the Project. We know what we are looking for and it will ensure we get a diverse range content. This takes the guess work and uncertainty of the content out of the equation and more importantly, speeds up our timetable of completion. Which brings me to my final point, the fact that due to recent changes in foreign policy, we are on the brink of losing a large portion of these images with the withdraw of US troops from Iraq by 2012. We have less than a year to document them after which we will lose this window into the minds of those enduring these conflicts. The bridge we plan to build between service members and civilians vanishes, this cultural phenomena lost to this generation and those to come.
This project has grown to be more than just an idea to many of us and many of you. My commitment to this project runs deep because so do my wounds of PTSD. Raising awareness of how these conflicts have affected me, us, those who have come before us and those who will follow in our boot-steps when we are faint memories, is bigger than this project. However, it is our hope that this is a step in the right direction and we are committed to ensuring that
proverbial step becomes a tangible reality.
As this new directive takes shape and we know more, we will update you. In the mean time, PLEASE, help us spread the word of our intentions, our ideas and most importantly the needs of the Project. Send us your questions, your comments, and MOST importantly, YOUR IDEAS!! We could never have gotten this far without our most important partner, all of you. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to what lies ahead.
Jaeson "Doc" Parsons
As many of you know, we hit a new high on our supporters/fans count on our Facebook page. This acheivement was a shared effort of those who believe in this project. To reward a few who stepped up, late in the night, and pushed us to our goal of 800 fans, 23 hours early, we decided to send the recruiter and his recruitee a T-shirt. Now, many of you may think, "what about me, I recruited people too?".
Well, starting, Time Now, we will be announcing some competitions on Facebook and in this blog, that will let you try and earn your much deserved recognition and reward. We hope this will create more buzz for the project and push us closer to our goal of 1000 fans and 1000 photos before our 1-year anniversary in April.
So, make sure you check out the Facebook AND the blog to be sure you don't miss the opportunity to get your free stuff from the Graffiti of War Project. In the mean time, get out there in cyberspace and get us the support and fans we need to ensure the success of this project. Who knows.....you might be the next lucky participant to win.
Also, we welcome comments, questions, concerns, and any other type of activity, the more the BETTER! So if you don't know and want to....Just ask. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
or post your comments on this blog and Facebook.
A new year has begun for the project and though Winter has put a freeze on some of the excitement surrounding our idea, we feel renewed in the fact that it remains a culturally important and significant proposal. There are some exciting developments to explore in the first few months of 2011. One of which is the article to be published in Maxim's Military Issue. We feel this will give us some much need exposure and relight the intensity behind our supporters from the Fall of 2010. In addition, our interview with BoingBoing is still set for the next month and we have high hopes for the buzz this will generate.
That being said, we need the help of those who have been fans of our site and our project idea from the beginning. We need individual participation to get the powers that be in the greater media to take notice of what we are doing. Our non-profit status is on the brink of approval which will solidify our intent to use the funds from the book for the Graffiti of War Foundation. It has and remains our primary focus of the overall project......to help those afflicted with the silent wounds of war to find healing and restoration through artistic expression.
Without the support of everyone doing their part to help this cause inch forward, the odds of success dramatically fall. You have my word, and the word of all those intensely involved in this endeavor, that we will do whatever it takes to see this project through. We hope that we can count on your support, by any means necessary, to ensure that NO ONE is left behind fighting the battles in their mind. We aim to ensure that EVERYONE comes home.
We look forward to your ideas, support, encouragement and criticism throughout this year as we come closer to completion.
Jaeson "Doc" Parsons