I’ve been tweeting and blogging about the SXSW Pepsi Challenge all weekend (and will be until midnight tonight) trying to win a $50,000-grant for homeless advocate Mark Horvath and his InvisiblePeople.tv project. A few tweets could earn Mark the support he desperately needs. The guy has been on the verge of homelessness since 2008 when he started this project to help the homeless. That’s dedication.
I’ve been tweeting like mad because I believe in what Mark is doing. Unfortunately he’s losing to an idea supported by the tech site Mashable, a site with more than a million views a day. (An idea, by the way, that no one has yet invested in or proven—Mark has been doing his thing since 2008; OK, sorry. Shouldn’t rag on the competition, I’m just a little bitter about that.) I’m so passionate about this because a few tweets could give Mark some major support. It kills me that he doesn’t have the support he needs.
So I tweet like mad. But if all our frantic tweeting doesn’t get Mark the $50,000 he deserves, it’s not a total loss. At least we’ll have helped spread the word about what he’s doing.
But the reality is that I’ve been doing a lot more than tweeting.
I’ve got a secret: I’ve been working on a book about homelessness to support Mark’s work. In my wildest dreams I thought I could have had the book ready by this past weekend—conveniently in time for Mark’s appearance at SXSW.
Not so much. It seems putting a book together takes a lot longer than I hoped. The manuscript is nearly finished and going through editing right now, then it needs to be proofed, laid out, designed and published. So realistically it’s probably going to take another month or two. Doh.
The idea behind the book is to provide some support to Mark Horvath and his on-going work to highlight the plight of the homeless. As I mentioned yesterday, Mark has nothing in his fridge. The guy’s broke. He does this because he must, and he’ll do it with or without Pepsi’s $50,000. I thought we needed a resource to raise money for Mark, and since no one else had stepped up to do it, I thought I should. I don’t have much money to give Mark, but I can give him my time and energy. Books aren’t exactly big money-makers, but I figured it could at least be a small source of income for Mark. That’s the plan. We’ll self publish it through CreateSpace and all the proceeds will go to Mark (likely $3-5 per copy on a $10 book).
I’ve talked to a lot of big name social media people (Mark has some amazing connections) and I have close to a dozen folks in the tech, social media, nonprofit and church worlds who contributed something to the book. The core of the book are the stories of the homeless people Mark has collected and shared on InvisiblePeople.tv. I’ve got folks lined up to help with the design and to spread the word when it’s finally ready. It’s a fun little project and I can’t wait for it to be ready.
I decided to announce this fun little project because it cracks me up that I’ve put untold hours into this book project since January and if it’s a smashing success we might raise a few grand for Mark. But a few tweets could earn Mark $50 grand.
But that’s OK. With or without $50,000 we’ll keep fighting for Mark and the countless homeless people who have stories worth sharing. So tweet #RefreshGary until midnight tonight and maybe we can give Mark that $50,000 yet. But either way, we’ll support Mark. This book is just one little effort.
Even though the book isn’t ready, I suppose we could take pre-orders. Hit me in the comments if you like that idea and we’ll set it up. Pre-orders would likely be cheaper for you and mean more money going to Mark. (Gulp—that’s kind of scary to throw out there.)