Japan Earthquake: How Knitters Can Help (or not)

My friend Jodi came across this article from Mary Mooney of OregonLive.com, and I thought it was really interesting.

Here it is (and leave a comment to let me know what you think):

Helping Japan: How your knitting can (and can't) help

For knitters, helping folks in need is as automatic as stashing yarn. We don't think about it, we just do it. And we take pride in doing it well.

And that's why in light of recent events in Japan, I'm making this public service announcement to our fiberly tribe, the same announcement I made last year when folks started knitting to help Haiti: Don't do it. Do NOT knit anything to send to Japan. Not socks, not mittens, not blankets. Not those washcloths that absolutely anyone can use. Not a thing.

Here's why:

The country's infrastructure is shot. Shipping anything to Japan is a nightmare right now. Even if you can get stuff over there, distribution's a mess. The aid agencies say the single most important thing we can do is donate cash, so that they can get exactly what they need with as few complications (like shipping stuff across the Pacific) as possible. Believe them, folks. Please.

Earlier this year The Oregonian ran a story about people in the Pacific Northwest looking back on Haiti a year after the quake. It included a segment about a young woman who turned plastic shopping bags into tarps for Haitians. Great idea by a lovely, enthusiastic young person desperate to help. She planned to get 50 made, and others pitched in to make it happen. Know how many of her lovingly constructed tarps made it to Haiti? Three. It would've cost $3,000 to ship the rest.

So here's my challenge to you loving, gifted and generous people: Let's learn from our mistakes. Let's help Japan, and let's do it right. Send a donation to an aid agency that's targeting Japan. Create a pattern to sell on Etsy and donate the proceeds. Go through your stash and sell some of it to benefit Japan. Sell your beautiful handiwork and donate the cash. Tell everyone you know what you're doing, and why you've chosen not to send handcrafted items to Japan.

We've got talent and skill that can help ease the suffering across the Pacific. Let's make sure our help gets there.

Mary Mooney

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