World Vasectomy Day is encouraging men to join forces and take responsibility for family planning. This is an opportunity to bring people together to talk about our collective responsibility while offering men a concrete way to contribute towards a solution by having a vasectomy.
Jonathan Stack sometimes wonders, “Why in the world did I have to open my big fat mouth and start this crazy project?”
Personal Journal: July 18, 2013
4:42 am. I’m in a panic.
There’s only three months to go before October 18th, the day designated for World Vasectomy Day. It’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever undertaken and my mind is racing.
4:43 am. I stare up at the ceiling and, like every day these past few months, I ask myself the same question.
Why in the world did I have to open my big fat mouth and start this crazy project?
It’s crazy. We’re producing an event that’s meant to take place in 25 countries with 1,000 men putting their balls on the line for Mother Earth. It’s the largest vasectomy-athon in history. In fact, it’s the only one. Our goal is to inspire a global conversation whose topics range from, “Getting men to shoulder greater responsibility for family planning” to “the devastating impact of a growing human population on a planet with finite resources.”
I remember that this all started out as a simple film about fatherhood and fertility. It would have stayed that way, but as I got deeper into it, I learned an extremely “Inconvenient Truth about Population;” the life form capable of infinite magnificence is the same life form responsible for unspeakable horrors. We are cannibalizing our planet and if we don’t shift our consciousness, we’re all doomed.
It took me a while to pluck up the courage, but I had my vasectomy and it’s probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t want more children. I need to take better care of the ones I have.
It’s now 5:17 am and I decide to start working.
A confession. Yesterday there were three of us working full time to pull off this event when there should be 30. Two in Australia and just myself here in NY. Today there are only two and half plus a few friends who’ve offered to volunteer. Money is an issue.
Did I mention that we’re crowdfunding? Right. It looks pretty good on paper and the materials, including the video http://indiegogo.com/projects/world-vasectomy-day are really cool, but in fact, it’s about as humbling as can be imagined. They say it’s online fundraising but truthfully, it’s online begging. Now, I suppose if you’ve got a crowd following you, then crowdfunding is an accurate term and probably a lot of fun, but I don’t think my parents, my sister, my producer in Australia, Dr Stein and his family, 27 friends who come to my barbecue who are not allowed to leave without a donation and a few odd friends who probably feel pity for me, constitute a crowd. I believe the crowd is out there, but it’s July and they’re at the beach. Overpopulation does not look so bad in a bikini and a hot day is just another perk.
I look at the list of people who have donated and I’m a bit encouraged by a contribution from a woman in Maryland who was inspired by my blog posts. She gives me $25 and suggests we create a special ‘no baby shower’ package for men that would contain a six pack of beer, some frozen peas and a subscription to an inappropriate magazine of your choice. Maybe, it’s the beginning of something intriguing.
We’re meant to raise $50,000 and we’re at $8,651 after 3 days. I guess it could be worse, but frankly, I’m not completely convinced.
I’ve sent out hundreds of emails to friends all over the world. Some are even fellow filmmakers to whom I’ve given footage for free over my career. I figure they’ll write me a check out of guilt or just plain decency. Instead, one asks to have his name removed from the campaign news mailing list. This whole thing is beginning to feel like a referendum on my popularity and I’m not doing well.
Even my best friend is dubious. He says, ‘when it comes to fundraising and movement building (and he’s an expert), complexity works against you. I think he’s saying that a campaign that endorses vasectomies because they improve your sex life and also might be the best solution for the planet’s salvation is a bit too broad. He might have a point but a: it’s too late and b: I like complexity.
9:48 am. I go down stairs to make coffee and start Skyping. Good news, we’ve found a doctor in Australia willing to join our campaign. He goes by the name Dr Snip. Sounds about right to me. Australia is our base for this event. It turns out that Australians have the highest rate of vasectomies, along with New Zealand, of any country in the world.
Very positive, but the real reason we’re working out of Australia is that my producing partner and dear friend, Simon Nasht, is financially backing this whole thing. Truthfully, there are times I wish he would have protected me from myself and stopped the madness, but in fact, he’s a bit nuts too.
Fifteen years ago Simon convinced me to support a project by an Israeli who was making a film about his own alien abduction. At one point, I realized that rather than being crazy or actually abducted, our “star” might be in fact, a crazy abductee. I invested $70,000 and never heard from him again. I wish I had it now.
So what’s $50,000 for a project whose main goal is to save the planet? Nothing if I can only figure out how to expand my crowd and get them energized even though it’s summer and no one is thinking about saving the world. I try to summon the courage to make more phone calls by watching the video of a crazy dancing guy that tells you everything you need to know about crowdfunding.
It’s 11:21 a.m. and I look myself in the mirror and decide that to succeed, this campaign is going to need a good stunt. My first thought, how about having Dr Stein do a live vasectomy on television. Better if I can get a celebrity to be the patient or even better a really rich celebrity.
I’ve been doing my homework. I base myself on the work of Professor Paul Murtaugh at Oregon State University who has figured out how to calculate the carbon footprint reduction of a vasectomy. Distilled to its essential, with one vasectomy you can lower your carbon footprint 28 times more than a lifetime of recycling, reusing and reducing. For an average American, this equates to 10,000 metric tons of C02. If it were a billionaire’s son with private jets and multiple homes it would be more like 10 million tons. If it were a Bangladeshi, just under a ton. Well, the world is not a fair place when it comes to equal access to the planet’s resources and as such, when it comes to CO2 reduction, not all vasectomies are created equally.
1:13 pm. I have a solution. I talk with Sean Southey, the head of PCI (Population Communication International) who agrees to do his vasectomy live. What if I can arrange to have his vasectomy done in Times Square as a publicity stunt? Dollar signs float before my eyes. I call up Dr Sarah Miller, a female vasectomist who works in the Bronx to confirm her participation. She’s as passionate about our cause as I am and I leave her a message but before she calls me back, I’ve already found out that the Department of Health legal code prevents outdoor vasectomies.
It’s now 2:47 pm. I feel a bit thwarted so I drink a glass of wine and now slightly inebriated, I check our Indiegogo website and I see that someone has donated $500 and we’ve passed $9,300. I’m feeling great again. This crowdfunding is an emotional rollercoaster. I have a second glass of wine to celebrate.
4:18 pm. I get an email from Al Jazeera television. I want them to broadcast The Vasectomist as part of World Vasectomy Day. Our film is a provocative portrait of Dr Doug Stein, the world’s leading provider of vasectomies and the main reason I’m even doing this. He’s a real life Don Quixote with an impossible dream and I am Sancho Panza. At least I was until I started crowdfunding. I think our roles are starting to reverse and I don’t like it. I open up the email and it’s not a yes, but at least it’s not a no. I’ll take that as reason enough to celebrate some more.
Now, bolstered by the lovely wine and the not horribly negative email, I go outside and lay on my hammock, wracking my brains to find the miracle solution to our financial crisis.
I remember my distant cousins who we’d go visit on weekends when I preferred staying home to play in the park. I email every cousin and and start instant messaging three of them. I ask for a donation. They say sure but … we shall see.
It’s now 11:11pm and I remember I have to write my weekly blog. I decide to write an article about the hazards of crowdfunding.
My final mantra before bed … the biggest challenge we face on this planet is ourselves. But it’s the biggest opportunity as well. I continue on.
We want you to join in a new conversation about population and consumption, by asking men to take a very personal action to change the world.
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