At the end of 2011 a severe flood crisis devastated much of Thailand and brought misery to millions of people but it also triggered miracles and laid the foundation for a great story of citizen power, an outstanding example of ordinary people responding to a crisis in an age where creativity and technology empowers us to do good at an unprecedented scale. This story is known as Wipe the Tide a massive out-of-the-box fundraising campaign that propelled us from a polluted intersection in downtown Bangkok to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. We would like to present its flood report with all the expenses and details of the projects for all our volunteers, donors and supporters. We hope our story will strengthen the endeavor of those who are striving to do good and set an example to those who believe that the individual can’t make a difference.. The story is a testimony that there has never been better times to live to one’s full potential in making a difference. When the flood crisis was unfolding and threatening Bangkok a megacity of 15 million people, the mass exodus was in full swing and finding drinking water became harder by the day. At that time there were only three options left: Leave the city, remain idle, or do something about it. That’s when we and our friends went for option three and gathered at one of Bangkok’s busiest intersections, armed with a nothing-to-lose attitude, 2 buckets, 2 squeegee and cameras and our mission scribbled on our t-shirts: Raising money to help Thailand’s flood victims. Our tactic – Wiping windshields in return for donations which would eventually develop into a full-blown disaster response machinery driven by the people for the people. This was the beginning of Wipe the Tide, a 7 day campaign held between October and December 2011 that wiped away all cultural barriers and inspired hundreds of people from the expat and Thai community to join hands to support this “new approach” of flood response. Now after more than a year following Wipe the Tide we have written up this summary and the the video message below (followed by a nice best of slide show) in dedication to our community and supporters. Hope you’ll enjoy
The success of Wipe the Tide was due to various factors, the activity itself which turned everyone into a highly effective changemaker played a major role whilst today’s connectivity and self produced media was crucial in kickstarting a one-of-a-kind mobilization of Bangkokians. They raised 2.2 million Baht in only 7 campaign days and less than a combined 30 hours on the streets which had a tremendous positive psychological impact on the participants. The measurable impact and the energy grew stronger throughout the campaign and created not only one of Bangkok’s most dynamic fundraising campaigns but formed and supercharged an awesome community of aspiring changemakers. The video below shows our talk on Wipe the Tide at the Ignite Thailand symposium. People became curious on how we managed to mobilize so many young and diverse people and kept the momentum growing over the course of several weeks? As mentioned above, the answer is, that Wipe the Tide is based on a simple idea that offers a high participation level and thus a sense of ownership. Each participants impact can easily be measured which creates a stronger identity among supporters who will become the evangelists of the movement. If you generate this level of involvement and deliver the purpose and simplicity of the action, the energy and excitement through great videos then the evangelists will do the rest. Good videos are like the tractor beam of the Death Star, if you drag your audience in you have to not only inform them but deliver a concrete action plan for them to follow up on. The idea of wiping windshields for flood donations wasn’t even ours but our friend Michael Stroemer’s. Hence you don’t have to come up with new ideas, good ideas are all around, you just have to take existing ideas to the next level. As bangkokvanguards we are driven by a value system of human compassion and know how to connect to like-minded people this make events like Wipe the Tide possible. We took the idea, we took the lead to facilitate every event and the responsibility to carry its impact forward. Despite the somewhat organic growth of the movement we as the facilitator saw the need to further plan, manage and guide Wipe the Tide to ensure continuous impact. The social fiber of the people who joined Wipe The Tide make the very definition of a vanguard thus we saw it fit to facilitate the events under bangkokvanguards and to consolidate the compassion to further support Thailand in the future. Below are three of our videos that helped us to increase momentum that being said you should remember that it’s not about having the slickest video, it’s about being ‘real’. The vanguards of windshield fundraising, 1.group: 6 people + 3 camera people. Read More. 50 people with buckets and squeegee joined Wipe the Tide after our first video release providing as with enough footage to create a second video which generated over 4,000 views in less than 12 hours prior to the event. The Wipe the Tide platoon then grew to over 150 volunteers occupying more than ten intersections and delivering ammunition for an awesome third video. WIPE THE TIDE – Bangkokvanguards in Action from bangkokvanguards on Vimeo. At the 4th Wipe over 250 volunteers were occupying many of the Central Bangkok’s main intersections and more and more mainstream media covered the story. In the campaigns that followed our Wipe the Tide crowd would invade other parts of Bangkok such as the Westside Thonburi Wipe or the great Chinatown Wipe. READ MORE. Given the momentum and energy of Wipe the Tide we couldn’t help ourselves but to initiate additional campaigns such as the Add One Flood relief campaign, which supported immediate flood relief missions by having customers adding one item to their shopping basket (based on a list of things flood victims needed the most). After paying, customers could then donate the item at our station at the entrance, which quickly filled up our shopping carts which would then be picked up by a partner NGO, be repacked and delivered to flooded communities. Thus Add One was an effective supply chain leading from a supermarket shelf straight flooded communities READ MORE. At its height we had three campaigns running parallel. Hugs for Thailand was the third campaign that called on the hugger in you and to spread untamed love in support of flood victims. You donate and a hippo, tiger or soft panda will squeeze you. READ MORE Hugs For Thailand – 2 from Amornthep Sachamuneewongse on Vimeo. It was obvious then that Christmas would turn out different this time and so we did what we do best calling for a large scale Santa operation that saw Santa Clauses and their support teams of over 150 people visit over 20 flood affected slum communities to deliver gifts and positive energy to over 1,000 children and their families. Thus Santa Cause was born and this is our annual vanguards-style celebration of the season of giving in close corporations with community leaders and NGO’s. READ MORE – TO SUPPORT JOIN HERE Gift The Tide from Amornthep Sachamuneewongse on Vimeo. While all our volunteers were out and about fundraising like champions we teamed up with other groups who were specialized in research, recon-missions, logistics and relief missions such as BKK Clean up, Operation November Rain among others. We helped deliver supplies into flooded areas and supported the network with roughly 100,000 THB. However since donations usually decrease once the flood recedes our main objective was to retain the funds for flood rehabilitation projects. The magic of Wipe the Tide and the other campaigns however did not pave the way for a seamless implementation of our funds. READ MORE. Setting up flood rehabilitation projects by ourselves proofed much harder than expected. It brought lots of responsibilities in an area where we lacked experience but we recognized our shortcomings and adopted quickly. READ MORE We consulted with bigger organizations and searched tirelessly for individuals and small organizations who knew what they were doing but lacked funding. After months of research, collaboration, countless journeys and meetings all the donations are now supporting essential long term flood relief projects run by a network of inspiring individuals and groups committing themselves to bring Thailand back on its feet. These projects cover a range of measures from flood prevention and flood warning devices in the mountains to organic farming initiatives in flood affected communities, from income generation in flood affected slums to house repair and flood prevention measures in rural areas. READ MORE
Choosing small scale organization over big and famous organizations took time, grew pressure and required commitment but it would not only help those with less exposure and support but create an effective disaster relief network from the people for the people. It’s been an enriching time and we can say that it’s not only about a flood relief network but about a network of friends working for the betterment of Thailand.
Take Kend from Fatshore Co.Ltd for example an engineer who devoted his knowledge, skills and heart to protect mountain villages (the first victims of the flood) against landslides by installing flood warning systems in combination with Mirror Foundation’s aid of diverse flood prevention measures. READ MORE
Or Khun Preeda who devotes his time and energy to help people with disabilities, sets up social businesses and initiative and takes on a million projects whilst being tied to a wheelchair himself. We funded an organic farming initiative spearheaded by Mr.Preeda and his team who work to not only get flood affected farmers back on their feet (130 families at a time) but help make communities more sustainable through the introduction of sustainable farming READ MORE. here and here READ MORE In Ayutthaya we then helped ‘Gen V’ a young, energetic group who just like us were born during the flood crisis. We provided funding for a number of projects covering local volunteer training, research and funded equipment such as boats, engines, furniture for a flood relief center, freshwater supply systems and water filters among others things. READ MORE To show how much bizeps power there is in the vanguards community we helped to fund and repair flood damaged foster homes run by Khun Jintana and the Holt Sahathai Foundation. power und helped funding Khun Jintana Holt Sathahai Foundation
At the outskirts of Bangkok we teamed up with Friends International who are supporting slum communities and street children. The flood had destroyed an alternative income project (a social business selling accessories made from recycled paper) at the Saphan Siri community. Funding was eventually cut, throwing back the community’s progress and causing severe problems. Wipe the Tide helped to revive the project and we connected exchange BBA students to help out with the marketing plan of the business. READ MORE
In the course of all the projects we had brought together an awesome group of people from around the globe who were eager to do some good and to experience Thailand from a different angle. Even though many of us may be living far away from home, surrounding yourself with people who do not only got the brains but also big hearts and dreams makes your life inspiring and enriching. There’s no better social environment than being with these people. It’s hard to find the right words to express our gratitude for their work to affect and support positive changes in Thailand. It’s theier values and attitudes that create the identity of bangkokvanguards COMMUNITY. The best way to express our gratitude to these people is to take bangkokvanguards to next level to support them more effectively. A door to the next level opened up when an email by the U.S. State Department reached us, inviting us to share our experience of Wipe the Tide at the Bangkok Techcamp. Techcamp is part of Civil Society 2.0 a global U.S. initiative announced by Hilary Clinton which sees civil society as one of three pillars of a free nation besides a representative government and a well-functioning market. Civil society is crucial in lifting and supporting nations to reach for higher standards of progress and prosperity and this is the mission of bangkokvanguards – lifting and supporting Thailand on its way forward in a sustainable way. Techcamps aims to achieve this by “creating a self-sustaining movement to connect social good organizations with technology based tools and volunteers to help raise digital literacy and increase their impact in the 21st century”. Our approach is to design projects, campaigns and journeys connected to the causes of civil society and a holistic Thailand experience. We want to connect tourists, locals and companies to be part of tackling problems in Thai society.
At the Techcamp we also discussed the application of technology to causes such as cultural and environmental preservation. READ MORE.
The potential of the synergies between causes, technology and offline action is tremendous and we’re excited to further collaborate and support Techcamp to achieve our shared goal of advancing civil society. After our great Techcamp experience the ripple effects of Wipe the Tide didn’t end there but reached even further thanks to Katie Dowd and Alec Ross from the State Department for suggesting me to the 50th anniversary of the Achievement Summit in Washington D.C. The Achievement summit is a phenomenal 4 day event in which a young international delegation of changemakers and social innovators who were to meet Peace Nobel Price and Pulitzer Price winners, foreign ministers, heads of states, top scientists, military commanders and the who is who of the most successful and most influential people in an awesome symposium of round table discussions and idea exchanges. We are honored to have been part of this experience and would like to express our gratitude to Catherine and Wayne Reynolds who granted Michael the participation of the summit. Read More
Set in Washington’s sacred and historical places the presentations and speeches of the young delegates and the inspiring messages and exchanges with the established shakers and movers of our planet who shared with us their stories of achievements and failures, their struggles and passions, their hopes and visions reminded us of the capacity that we carry in ourselves, a capacity to not only live to our full potential but to inspire and motivate others to help shift humanity onto the right path. Partying with Colin Powell and Aretha Franklin on the last night or sitting across from the head of the human genome project may had a “slight” touch of surrealness but it reaffirmed our belief that hard work pays off and that with a bit of luck anything is possible for us and for you. The days in D.C. had truly surpassed our wildest expectations and fueled our ambition and determination to develop bangkokvanguards into a contributor to this global endeavor of doing good. With the onset of 2013 we’re taking stock and synchronizing all the things that happened since Wipe the Tide and try to balance it with our university studies, our part-time jobs and our strive to establish ourselves as a social enterprise. We know that these kind of networks, the networks for good are the best networks because they’re driven by something higher. Strengthening these networks, creating new friendships and embarking onto new adventures (with or without a fulltime job) makes life this wonderful adventure. For those looking for an adventure or a vent to let off some positive energy, and to carry forward the values of a positive, global culture we’re more than happy to get connected.
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Signing the documents to register our own little company/social enterprise.
Tags: achievement, Achievement Summit, activism, Bangkok, Bangkok Vanguards, bangkokvanguards, changemakers, civil society, collaboration, flood relief, incredible journey, innovation, social change, social innovation, Thailand, volunteering, wipe the tide
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