The Life Righting Collective runs courses to encourage self-exploration through life writing, raises funds for course fees and brings people together to share their stories and grow community.

How the Life Righting Collective began

Dawn Garisch

The launch of the LRC webpage falls almost exactly a year to the day after the seed of the idea came into contact with water. I was chatting to Lucy Alexander and Giles Griffin after yet another inspiring follow-up gathering of life writers, saying that I wished I could do two things – take the writing courses more frequently to people who want to write but do not have financial resources and find a way to publish some of the moving work that I hear on every course.

They said: Let’s do it! So we met, and planned, and tried to raise funds, at first unsuccessfully, and then we found a private sponsor who was so blown away when he heard the work, that he immediately agreed to fund the budget for the first year. This included three sponsored courses of up to 18 people each in Cape Town, Barrydale and Port Elizabeth, and the first edition of the Life Writing Anthology (in process as we speak). We are still reeling with gratitude.

There are only two problems, or shall I say ‘challenges’. First, I wrote the budget for the first year of operation. Moi, who has almost no clue, and has a tendency to the Luddite. So I didn’t even consider including the cost of a logo, for example. And what I put in for admin was woefully inadequate. However, with the generous help of what has become a six-member executive committee (Johan Jordaan, Linda Kaoma and Nina Geraghty joined this year), the hard work of setting up this NPO is happening.

Which brings me to the second ‘challenge’. While a dream stays a dream, there is a lot of energy that stays in one’s inner cloud. Once the dream starts to download into reality, there is more work involved than any of us imagined. The upside is that the Exco are hard-working, funny, full of good ideas and are totally committed to the project. We have also sent emails out to everyone on the mailing list generated over seven years of running courses, inviting people to show support by becoming members of the LRC, by offering to donate time, skills and/or money. The response has been very heartening, so thank you very much to everyone who has volunteered – you will be hearing from us when the dust settles.

We also have three board members who will check up on us and help us with sound advice about money, community, writing, etc – thank you to Zuleiga Adams, Philippa Kabali-Kagwa and Marc Solomon for fitting the LRC into their busy lives.

So the LRC website is up and running, our Facebook page generated over 200 ‘likes’ in in its first three days, heartwarming submissions are coming in for the anthology and over 20 people have volunteered money donations, which will help my shortfall in the budget. The only stumbling block so far is our attempts to register as a Non-Profit Organisation. These are bureaucratic delays, and we are confident that there will be no problem registering. The second phase (I’m learning so much on the trot!) - once the LRC is registered with the Department of Social Development - is to register as a PBO, or Public Benefit Organisation, which we clearly are, but the taxman might not agree. If we can register as a PBO, that has implications both for people who donate to the LRC, and for the organisation itself. Get down on your knees and light candles please!

I am in danger of waffling on, as there is so much to tell, but I will keep that for the next instalment. In the meantime, let me wrap up by announcing that we will have our first Annual General Party soon, to celebrate the wonderful people who are a part of our writing tribe. So watch this space for more information, join the LRC, and come to the party…

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The Life Righting Collective runs courses to encourage self-exploration through life writing, raises funds for course fees and brings people together to share their stories and grow community.
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