FB Status, November 07, 2011
“I’m speechless… I’m utterly speechless first by the turn out… 150 + people!! Second by what you guys have raised: 328,000 Baht!!! But that’s not all, the evening afterwards in the Cha’s bar, having such a diverse group of people, most having met first time and yet we celebrated, partied, laughed, hugged, and danced as if we had known each other for 20 years!!! This positive energy and pure connection between humans makes life so freaking exciting that I thank god to be on Earth, thank you everyone!!! Now, let’s take it easy for a day and then full steam ahead again!!!”
WIPE THE TIDE – Bangkokvanguards in Action from bangkokvanguards on Vimeo.
On Monday, November 07, just before I wrote the update above I tumbled out of bed, feeling as if I had just done some workout with Mike Tyson. Mondays were usually the aftermath of the legendary -Wipe-the-Tide- after parties. Facebook exploded right into my face clearing all feelings of dizziness or drowsiness, a digital tide unveiled with responses, messages, likes, comments, emails, video and pictures, sms and calls coming in from all directions, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, email, phone and smoke signals. The power of technology was felt at every level and would fuel the momentum towards the fourth wipe.
The momentum was to be exploited as to outdo the success of Wipe 1 -3 and reach our self-imposed target of 1 million Baht. But before we’d go back into action it was great to just lay back and enjoy the positive energy our latest wipe had triggered and that was sweeping across Facebook. Honestly I’ve never been on telly but from comments I learned that we were at Channel 11 and the next piece of news came from Thai PBS News Channel through video clips being shared by our friends and volunteers. Die schriftliche Zusammenfassung auf Thai:
We were amazed to see that we made it into the Thai news but even my amazement was soon to be outstripped by a phone calls I got from Central World Plaza, Bangkok’s largest shopping and lifestyle mall vowed to fully support the campaign and play our video trailers on their massive Panasonic screen. It was a crazy day, calls, vows, interviews and pledges from Baskin&Robbins‘s request to station one of our Wipe the Tide platoons in front of their store in exchange for free ice cream flow to a staff member of Mini- Cooper Thailand supporting us with equipment and holding out the possibility of a flood relief Mini Cooper in support. We had reporters of Bangkok Post the country’s largest international newspaper wipe alongside us and reporting with a full article on the campaign.
FB Status update, November 11, 2011
“I went outside to grab the actually paper edition of the Bangkok Post Newspaper and just read article and what a great summary of Wipe the Tide it is!! I’m overwhelmed. And the BURNER IS: Central World Plaza is going to promote our campaign by playing our videos on their massive TV screen, with all the infos on the next wipe action!!! Guys, what is happening here????”
With all this media exposure and our proclaimed aim of raising one million Baht the pressure of defining the relief projects grew and we tried as good as we can to gather as much information on projects. FB Status, November 07,2011
“The first three waves of our donations safe and secure on a Bangkok Bank Account and it’s not going to move until we find or create a great project to support. The money will not go into one single project and the fundraising won’t stop here. Our first aim is get the million but parallel we’re researching ways on how to use this money wisely and effectively especially in the long run!! Please submit your suggestions!!“
We were invited to Gareth Finch for a follow up interview on Wipe the Tide and there we wanted to bring the message across that we’re scoping out the possibilities for our funds.
FB Status Update November 10, 2011:
“If you’re reading the Bangkok Post newspaper tomorrow, turn to the Life section there will be an article on Wipe the Tide!! :o)Oh and here’s another interview on Wipe the Tide with Gareth Finch and his randomdream podcast, five guys on one sofa, it was packed but the interview is funny :o) check it out”
The scope of the Wipe the Tide project grew tremendously almost beyond control it seemed. FB Status Update November 12, 2011.
“Hey friends, just to confirm, tomorrow we are out there on Bangkok’s streets to hit the 1 million Baht donation mark!! Need your help, please come out strong and support us, make calls, send mails, spam and bring your friends and grab everyone around you!! We need to conquer Bangkok tomorrow, that’s how we spend a Sunday these days ;o)Got questions? call me: 085-8339218“
All our volunteers were pumped and we kept pushing and pushing with our sights set on raising one million Baht!! The phone wouldn’t be still and I had no choice, there was no way back and little rest. My university classes and my teaching job were feeling the brunt but all these amazing people and memories made up for it and fortunately my boss as well as my university lecturer understood.
On November 13, we were set to go for the fourth strike. This was to be the biggest we’ve landed so far. The diversity of people willing to lend a hand and to contribute in times where Thailand needed help was simply mind-blowing. From highschool kids, to managers and tourists, every age, every religion and nationality appeared to have sent their most awesome ambassadors. Not only the diversity of this crowd made them special but their energy and readiness could be felt
The size of the crowd made it challenging to welcome every volunteer and thank them for supporting our campaign and as much as I wanted to talk to everyone it was simply impossible with the myriad of questions, requests and tasks whizzing around. Till this day I feel I should have done more to engage with them, looking at the pictures all I feel is gratitude and admiration for these wonderful people. But as mentioned the reality was that my mind was all over the place, converging a million thoughts into actions that ranged from call backs, securing my and other people’s belongings, matching names and faces and answering questions of my group leaders.
The day was bright and sunny when over 250 people gathered in front of Central World’s main entrance, dressed in white t-shirts bearing their personal call to the public and flood victims. The flood seemed not be in this country. It was a beautiful summer day, seemingly devoid of any natural catastrophe, a multi-national flashmob of Bangkokians tired of looking at the dreadful news and reading about the plight that befell their friends and relatives in and around Bangkok. It was time for action and everyone was ready to roll out to their assigned intersections. After Central World took the group picture nearly 300 volunteers swarmed off to occupy major intersections in downtown Bangkok once again.
This time we cut out Nana intersection (people are way ‘too friendly’ there) Victory Monument, and the area in front of Platinum Mall (too dangerous). Instead we added Ratchathevi and Silom and added more people to upper and lower Ratchadamri Road. I stayed behind with a small team of volunteers to assign late comers to various teams and to make sure that groups can be resupplied with additional squeegee, signs and donation boxes. People spontaneously joined to create more signs and donation boxes which I would send out on my bike.
. We all shared this incredible feeling of having mobilized such a great community from all walks of life and placed at numerous major intersections to do something most of them had probably never done before, washing the windshields of cars.
Coming out on my Gary Fisher Bike from the underground car park beneath Central World and plunging into this insanely congested 8-lane Ratchadamri I heard the Chemical Brothers soundtrack of our Wipe the Tide trailer filling the street and the plaza as it boomed from the massive Panasonic screen. The video: I felt like a pizza boy at the height of his time in Thailand filled with so much adrenalin whilst delivering signs and spare donation boxes instead of pizza and lasagna.
My supply loop took me from Ratchaprason to Hendri Dunant, MBK, Ratchathevi, Pratunam, Witthayu and Ratchaprasong intersections spotting the same scene everywhere, white shirt mobs with squeegees and signs and smiles shaking their boxes in disbelief on how much money they raised. My only wish I had while cutting through the traffic like a lunatic was to have more cyclists with me. Imagine having a mobile wipe platoon, delivering water, positive energy and other supplies to Bangkok action spots.
4.30pm just when traffic was getting denser our groups had to pull out and flock back to Central World to deliver the donation to the bank before closing time. At 5p.m. the front square of Central World turned it into a public show of grassroot charity unprecedented at this scale.
Each group powered by the experience started counting their donations and each announcement seemed to outdo the previous. The energy and vibe created would have any outdoor beer fest pale in comparison. It was mind blowing to look from where we had come with my friend Michael Stroemer when we started with 9 people at one stop light to this epic moment.
As groups announced their individual amounts people started wondering whether we hit the one million Baht, only the bank’s final count will tell us and the bank was already used to our onslaughts with donation boxes but this time it had even the most hardened banker surrender.
We have to thank the Bangkok Bank staff at Central World for working overtime to count our donations, however the final amount could not be announced on the very day but only on the day after when the coins were counted as well. Coins were always an issue.
What constituted the wipe was the bond that bound all volunteers together, the experience of a full day of all-out fundraising with all the kindness, surprises, exhaustion and fun that come along in such endeavors. Supposed the energy-level in the morning was moderate, it was now on the verge of exploding.
To raise a large amount of money is one thing, the deed itself, the contribution to the entirety of the cause and the interaction and new friendships resulting from it create a likewise tremendous positive psychological impact on every volunteer. The feeling of empowerment and achievement in times where people may despair or resign cannot neither be bought nor learned from books, it can only be experienced joining good causes and committing oneself to make a positive difference, be in flood relief or in tackling the omnipresent challenges of our world.
I still owe the answer whether the Wipe the Tide community has achieved its goal of breaching one million Baht and the answer was: YES!!! The energy and charm of the volunteers got people to donate 613,000 Baht within 3 hours raising the total amount of donations to 1.1million Baht. It made us feel unstoppable, the yardstick needed to be placed higher, some were ambitious enough to go for the wipe the million in one day others were cautious, foreseeing an exhaustion in the movement. What scenario would settle in? How would we keep or even increase momentum? For that very day it was not so important, it was about celebrating the success, the community, the cause and what follows beyond will be spared for further stories in our blog.
If you want to support our campaigns and projects feel free to join us on Facebook, help spread the word, we’re working on a number of projects and we want to carry the spirit of Wipe the Tide beyond flood relief.