The Pitch

16 Oct 2009, by Brian in Uncategorized

I sent this email out today to launch the site and announce to friends and family that we are participating in the Mongol Rally.

The time has come again when Kim and I set about taking another long and far flung journey around the world.  And this time we are taking you along for the ride! Literally.

Over the past several months we have gone from just knowing we wanted to go to Mongolia, to finding out about this event called the Mongol Rally, to registering for 2 teams to participate.

And we want you to be involved!

Here’s the basic idea:
* next summer (July/August) we will drive 2 small cars (what the Adventurists call “unsuitable”, but I don’t really understand all their British slang) from London to Ulaan Baatar.
* Raise at least $2000 per car for Mercy Corps in Mongolia.
* Donate the vehicles to the charity when (if) you arrive in Mongolia.

We have set a few extra “rules” for ourselves as well:
* make the trip sustainable by reducing our impact (vehicle fuel efficiency, reducing air travel where possible, purifying our own drinking water, using solar power, etc)
* additionally donate the gear for the trip rather than shipping it home (tents, sleeping bags, camping supplies)…
* We are forming a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for sustainable travel, so we plan on making this adventure the first of many similar endeavors.

How are we taking you along?
We are literally taking some of you with us!  We have 2 teams registered, which means a caravan of 2 cars. We have already sought the help and advice of some friends and family to make sure we complete this journey safely. There is potentially (limited) space for more people to join our team. If you are interested, please contact me for more details.

Obviously not everybody can join us in the cars, but we would be thrilled to have you involved by possibly meeting us along our route. We’ll be traveling through Eastern Europe, Turkey, Central Asia, Russia, and of course Mongolia. There will be many opportunities to make your own journeys coincide with ours.

Of course traveling is also not an option for everybody. We will be filming this adventure and documenting it in as real time as possible with audio, video and photo blogs along the way.  We would love for you to virtually join the trip from the other side of the world.

You can also be part of our home based team if you would like to help us with fundraising or have any advice (logistical, vehicular, etc) for us.

Why are we doing this?
I could write another whole email about why we chose Mongolia (look for that in a future blog post).  Instead I’ll focus on why we are doing the rally.   We have been reading all about Mongolia’s compelling history (I highly recommend Stanley Stewart and Jasper Becker’s books) to prepare for this trip.  Nearly 70 years of communist control followed by a rapid fall have been chaotic and destructive to the economy and culture.

The last 20 years have seen some of the fastest growth of a young democracy and economy ever, but it has left most Mongolians behind.  With their indigenous herding culture disrupted by the Russians and lacking the knowledge and experience to operate most of the industries that are growing now, many Mongolians are unemployed and extremely poor.  Some families are so unable to provide for their children that they are forced into homelessness.  Mongolia has a wealth of natural resources, but they are managed by foreign operations that know how to extract them (and most of the profits are thus sent elsewhere).

We’d like to see these resources managed by Mongolians who will use them responsibly and preserve their land to restore their indigenous herding culture. Mercy Corps directly addresses these problems by giving homeless children shelter, building schools to educate them, and finding employment opportunities to stimulate a sustainable locally owned economy.

We want to see the beauty of Mongolia for ourselves while we help to preserve the land and the culture for future generations… and if a little adventure is involved there is no harm in that.

All of this of course requires a lot of time, planning, and money to organize.  Everybody on our team has committed a lot of time and money already to this adventure, but we can not do this all ourselves.  We can take care of our own plane tickets and travel expenses (we do not expect anybody to send us on vacation), but we still need to raise money for the vehicles and equipment, all of which will be donated, that will be required to complete the 10,000 mile drive, in addition to the direct contributions to Mercy Corps.

We really need your help to raise this money.  I know that everybody’s budget is tighter right now, but remember that even as our own economy starts to rebound, Mongolia’s commodity based economy is suffering the delayed effects of falling prices around the world.  The smallest amount we can give will go very far to help a child there develop the skills they need to build a thriving economy of their own.

We can also reach our goal by spreading the word to as many people as possible. If we can each only give small amounts, but reach enough people we can raise more than enough to make this happen. Please consider giving even just $5 or $10 to help us reach our goal. No amount is too small. If you are able to give more or to make a monthly contribution then we can reach our goal that much sooner.

If your employer matches charitable contributions, Mercy Corps is a tax exempt 501(c)3, and we are also currently registering for our own non-profit status (we’ll update you when this is complete). Over the next year we will be organizing several exciting fund raising events for you to attend, so stay tuned for more info! In the meantime there are 3 ways to contribute  here .

I hope you can be part of this journey with us in one way or another.
Please visit our site
Join our Facebook group
Follow us on Twitter
And spread the word to everybody you know.

Thank you!

Brian Shrader


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