Monday, February 16, 2009

Koala Kare: Help Anna Campbell Help Australia

From The Associate Press/npr: Extremely hot, dry and windy conditions [Feb. 8] fanned dozens of fires into raging infernos that reduced entire towns to ashes. The confirmed death toll is 181 but is expected to exceed 200. More than 1,800 homes were destroyed and 7,500 people displaced. ©Associated Press

Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 17, Bella Anna Campbell GuestBlogs to tell us how Romance Writers of Australia's Bushfires Book Appeal -- spearheaded by authors Anne Gracie and Rom Writers' of Australia prez Kelly Hunter -- is reaching out to YOU, and to the international online romance community.

Take a moment to view some of the video of not only havoc wrecked in the blink of an eye, but valiant effort of Australians to save human- and wildlife as well as land. You'll understand why Anne Gracie says, "We know that for many affected families, books will not be high on their list of necessities for some time to come. But we also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough."

So RWAustralia's come up with the RWAustralia Bushfire Book Appeal. They need/kindly request your new -- or -- in-pristine-condition used fiction books -- children's, romance, mystery, thriller, genre fiction, whatever! Please pack 'n send 'em to: RWA Bushfire Book Appeal: c/o 89 Rennie St; Thornbury Vic 3071. When folks DU have time to take a breather, they may enjoy having a little escapist read time thanks to RWAustralia and you, before heading back in with sleeves rolled up.

Anna'll be here tomorrow with more info, plus news on how thing's are faring Down Under with our resilient Aussie friends...

What message would you like to send Anna, our RWAustralia mates and folks Down Under who're shoring things up and moving forward?


Unknown said...

Hey Michelle, it's great you're posting this and reminding everyone of what's been happening to our friends Down Under. My prayers are with those who have lost so much, and I hope they all know we are thinking of them and want to help.

I saw he footage of one older couple who was separated in the fires and they showed their reunion on the news. It was both sad and uplifting. I'm interested in hearing how we can help.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

What a story, Stace. I'm kinda glad I didn't see it, cause I'd probably still be crying. Ok. like,is there anything cooler than a dirty firefighter feeding a cute little koala water? Male Perspective Guy told me about this video. But he totally didn't get all choked up over the idea of a cuddly widdle koala getting hydration.

The thing is, aren't koalas pretty aggressive? So that's what made this video so movign for me.The poor little guy's so traumatized he'll actually take water and be petted and lift his little paw like he's a kitten or something.

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, thanks so much for getting behind this! As far as I'm concerned, you get the keys to the country for the day, Bella! Actually that's the thing that hits me so hard about that video - koalas, while they may look cute, are actually pretty grumpy and hard to get along with. That poor little guy is obviously so traumatised by what he's been through, he's just lost. It made me cry too.

Anyway, see you tomorrow, Bellas!

ev said...

Over at Plotmonkeys someone is trying to find out if we can ship DU using Media Mail, which would be much cheaper. Someone else mentioned trying to get the postage donated. I plan on going through my piles of stuff including the ARC's I just got from my old store.

(and to get off topic for a moment, I posted the other day when Suz Brockmann was here and it didn't post. I hate computers!)

Playground Monitor said...

My heart goes out to the folks DU. This is just horrid and now I hear they've not only arrested someone and charged him with arson, but possession of child pornography. The destruction is bad enough without knowing it was a deliberate action.

I don't have many books to donate but wonder if perhaps we could donate through PayPal to a postage fund or straight to RWAustralia to defray their costs of distributing books or even to let them buy books there.

All of Australia needs to remember we're thinking of you at this very awful time in your lives.


Anna Campbell said...

Ev, thanks so much for trying to do this. I agree the postage is the killer. There's a couple of other appeals and I'll give website details when I put up tomorrow's blog. Part of my blog will say how overwhelmingly touched I've been by the way people internationally have cared so much about what's happened recently in Oz. But just in case you don't get there, please accept our thanks for your generosity!

Anna Campbell said...

Marilyn, I'm not sure about direct money donations to the book collection. I'm going to put up links to the bushfire appeals for the Red Cross, the RSPCA and Wildlife Victoria - all very worthy causes. I just want to cry when I think of all the animals killed in the fire and the thousands that will die in coming weeks because their habitat has gone or because of injuries they've sustained. Don't get me started on the people who started these fires deliberately!

orannia said...

I think this is an amazing idea!

I've been watching the news religiously of late and the devastation is incredible. I spoke to a Melbourne friend last night and she said when they flew into Melbourne (from Sydney) last week you could see the smoke etc.

NZ has just sent firefighters across to help and there are appeal boxes everywhere here, including one at my workplace.

Anna Campbell said...

Orannia, it's been amazing how EVERYONE all round the world has rallied to this. And honestly, I think the koala video and the koala photo that was what I saw originally must have led to millions in donations. It's just so touching - the way the koala touches his hand as if to say thank you. Gets me every single time I see it. I knew about the NZ firefighters - we joke about the ditch dividing us but it doesn't really, does it?

I think all the firefighters and police and ambos and all the emergency workers are such heroes. And the conditions there must have literally been hell. When you see pictures of the fires on the go, it's like something out of Dante. My brother fought a fire up near our farm a few years ago and he said it was the worst job he'd ever done in his entire life. And believe me, he had plenty to compare it to.

I'm a long way from the actual fires (and from the floods in the north) but this stuff hits everyone, doesn't it?

azteclady said...

I'm spreading the word around and keeping you all in my prayers--these things have long reach and the ripples will be felt for years to come.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas. We Americans, are no strangers to having the international community reach out to help and comfort us when we've been left staring at the ruins of senseless destruction.

Knowing our sister writers and readers DU are suffering directly and/or indirectly from the bush fires naturally makes us want to provide whatever we're able.

Just the other day, Suz Brockmann gave us permission to think on the overwhelming amount of good done for and by us as a community of people who love romance.

Today and tomorrow, I'm asking you to gather your good karma points, perhaps pool resources with your fellow blog buddies from other sites and/or local readers and rwa groups, etc., and decide what you might be able to do to help our friends in Oz.

And remember, Hugh Jackman is Australian. Doesn't have much to do with anything, cept he's cute, we like him, and it's nice to think on that bright bit o sunshiny, talented man flesh in the midst of a more sober topic.

With all due respect, of course.

Anna Campbell said...

Azteclady, thank you so much! You're right about the effects being long-lasting and far-reaching. Aside from the loss of life, some of the towns that have been completely destroyed were old historic communities that have been there since first white settlement. You can't replace that.

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I was starting to get very somber and you gave me such a grin! Hugh Jackman as a reason to donate to the Bushfire appeal? Works for me!!!

Actually I think when these awful things happen, the whole world does pull together. One of the most touching things I've ever seen was after 9/11. The American Consulate in Sydney is in a huge high rise in the CBD. I went past in the bus on the weekend after the tragedy and noticed that the entire main escalators (closed down for Sunday) were covered in flowers that people had left as tributes. Still gives me goosebumps to think about that.

Monica Burns said...

My heart is with all those who've lost so much. Whether it's family members or a home, it's devastating. I can only imagine, and what I visualize is small in comparison to what it must really be like.

I'll pop in for more info tomorrow from Anna about what we can do.

azteclady said...

Update: posted at Karen Scott's blog, at Suzanne Brockmann's scrolling message board, and at the library in MyMedia-Forum.

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, Monica! Much appreciated. I remember driving through Victoria the year after the last REALLY devastating bushfires there (they called it Ash Wednesday) in 1983. Those fires had been the benchmark for natural disaster - until this lot. Even a year afterwards, you went through miles and miles of bush that were nothing but ash and the black scorched remnants of trees. No birds, no animals. Absolutely tragic. And as I said, Ash Wednesday's fires didn't come near the ferocity of these latest ones.

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks for posting everywhere, Azteclady!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

eve, thanks for looking into that. Let us know. I'll be doing the same. I think everyone's first thought is, "Can't we just send a donation and let RWAustralia buy books for folks?" I'm not sure if they're able to, what with not-for-profit laws and the red tape for setting up acceptance of charitable donations, etc. Maybe Anna'll have more info on that tomorrow. And perhaps we'll know by then, too, the best way to send books DU in terms of postage efficiency.

Anna,, "grumpy," is such a sweet way to describe koala temperment. :) I remember as a kid being so disappointed to find out the beasts weren't as cuddly as they looked; we all were crazy for em here. Thanks so much for agreeing to visit with us tomorrow to help us know how we might help and generally let us know how things are going with folks now.

You've said it well, Play. And to know some of the fire was deliberately set [I guess allegedly has to be added here]makes the tragedy even less understandable. When we deal with wildfires here - as they've done in Australia -- we shudder knowing there's a cycle to it that's older than recorded time. But still, we work to tame the land and keep safe w/in nature. But to know someone wanted to 'see fire,' or however they refer to it totally revolts.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Grazie mille, azteclady,. You're the soul of friendship and solidarity.

You've really hit on something, Mon. If you can't visualize it with a writer's imagination... What Anna's bro said about his experience fighting a fire kind of stays w/one, no?

Orannia,, I've been thinking about you w/this, wondering whether you've got friends affected and assuming it must be a 'close to home' experience for NZers.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

...although 'close to home' doesn't quite mean what it used to w/the Inet, does it? Everything hits kinda close to home now, and that's not necessarily a bad thing for any of us.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually have any of you guys read Virgin River by Robyn Carr? Brilliant book. But what made me laugh is all the illicit plantations in the forest in that book made me think of my brother telling me about these fires near his place a few years ago. He grows avocadoes on the family farm - all completely legit! But apparently there was a heap of very strange smelling smoke when the fire ripped through the thick bush in these inaccessible hills! And he said he saw people come out of the scrub who clearly weren't there for the scenery!

Anna Campbell said...

Koalas are actually pretty big and powerful - and those claws they use to hold onto their spot in the tree can really do some damage. I have actually cuddled one as a kid (in hindsight, I wonder if the poor thing was drugged as photos with the koala were a huge moneymaker for the wildlife sanctuary). They're incredibly soft. It's not surprising that they were nearly wiped out at the end of the 19th century by fur hunters.

Michelle, I think it's pretty 100% certain that a lot of the fires were deliberately lit. The problem comes when they try to pin it on an individual. Apparently arson cases are notoriously hard to make stick. Sigh. One guy they've arrested has been charged with holding child pornography as well. Isn't that just charming?

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, I'm not sure about cash donations to the book appeal, precisely for the reasons you set out. My immediate reaction is if people want to give money, the Red Cross appeal is probably the best place to go:

I've also got links to a couple of the animal and wildlife charities in tomorrow's blog because so many people (like me) have been just heartbroken to think of how the animals have suffered through this.

I'm very much on the sidelines of administering the actual appeal. I'll see if I can get someone who might know more to pop by tomorrow.

It would be fantastic if we could find out about the media mail rates. The UK have this wonderful printed matter only rate that makes sending books a viable option. Wish the US did!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, just want to make something clear! The fire my brother was fighting was a few years ago and in the Great Dividing Range west of Brisbane in Queensland. A thousand miles or more north of where the current fires are at. And bad as it was, a mere drop in the bucket in comparison.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yes, Anna. I didn't make my reference quite clear enough.

Ok, Yanks. Here's what my super-nice friend, Mark, from my UPS box place found out for me about US Postal Service rates to Australia:

Priority International Rate (up to 20 lbs in PI flat rate box)

-Large (12x12x5.5): $53.95
-Regular (11 7/8x3 3/8x13.5/8: $41.95


-Up to 11 lbs in a box: $55.00
-Each lb after is $5
-You may mail up to 66 lbs
-Someone at USPS will need to help you decide size of boxes to pack because boxes must be able to fit in the "M bag" the post office will ship them in.

Mark also suggested you might contact the Australian consulate nearest you to see whether they've got some sort of shipping arrangement set up already that might include 'relief' shipments.

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, actually I'm kinda giggling. I just thought my reference to funny-smelling smoke might give completely the wrong idea!

Thanks so much for talking to UPS for us.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oh,no, especially w/reference to the Carr book, it gave us exactly the right idea. :)

Trish Morey said...

Michelle, it's fabulous you're getting behind this fantastic initiative of both Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter - I know they'll be thrilled to see the word getting out so far and wide!

It has indeed been a tragic few weeks downunder and as the deathtoll sadly keeps rising, it's uplifting to see the overwhelming support extended by those not affected. It really restores your faith in people.

Gorgeous too to see the helping hand extended to our furry wildlife. It's been so hot recently (40C plus temps for days and days) and the koalas have been coming (some dropping) out of trees, dehydrated and desperate for water. I found one just last week at the base of a tree while walking pooch and it was just so disoriented and lacklustre. A week of nurturing by the locals and it's back in the treetops where it belongs. They can be grumpy (and heck, they're nocturnal and not used to being dallied with by day - you try waking me up at night - I'm grumpy too:-)) but they really seem to know that people want to help. And they are the sweetest creatures - check out this slide show if you want more cute pix of koalas trying to beat the heat - it's from nine news.msn, so a good egg...

Real feelgood stuff. Like people sending books. That's real feelgood stuff too. Thanks to all who contribute. And thanks again to Michelle and Anna for bringing to notice. Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter will be chuffed the message is getting out so far afield.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hiya, Trish! Grazie. We need the feelgood stuff, which is the answer to folks' questioning why we care so much about animals when humans are suffering so greatly in this event. Of course we understand the human factor; we're humans. But still being able to feel empathy for creatures amidst emotion-numbing tragedy is part of our humanity and separates us from, well, I dunno, animals? Although I've had some pretty canny kitties.

Anywayz, my husband was telling me he didn't quite understand why the koala vid spoke to so many folks worldwide, but he was glad it did.

I'm glad you took time to share a bit of your experience -- hooray for you and pooch and the healed koala! -- and for cheering everyone on. :)

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, lovely to see you! Laughed at your reason for why koalas are grumpy! They're just awake in what for them is the middle of the night! Snort!

Michelle, I think part of the reason I feel for the animals (which as you say in no way means I don't feel for the humans too) is that in many ways, they're such innocent victims, especially when arsonists are involved.

Trish Morey said...

Oh, and speaking of *snort* Anna, have you heard them grunting? It's like a chainsaw on steroids. Very disconcerting in the middle of the night with the windows open.

And when they get romantic - oh my... - but I guess there's nothing wrong with advertising:-))

It's so true about them being innocent victims. They're utterly defenceless against fire - heck, they live in trees. No sprinkler systems up there. No KFS (koala fire service).

Michelle, I think you're right. I feel the time we stop worrying about such defenceless creatures and abandon attempts to help them, is the time we lose something of our humanity.

Anna Campbell said...

It is a strange noise, isn't it, Trish?

Kelly Hunter said...

Greetings Michelle, Hi Miz Anna.

Thanky you for spreading word of Romance Writers of Australia's Bushfires Book Appeal.

Marilyn, we wondered about taking monetary donations but rapidly came to the conclusion that the Australian Red Cross and various other specialist aid agencies were far better equipped to do this than we were.

We decided to stick with what we knew, and that was books. Fabulous, feelgood, books, and we knew exactly where to find those!

The online romance writing and reading community really is a marvellous one.

With thanks for your support.

Kelly Hunter
President, Romance Writers of Australia Inc.

Portia Da Costa said...

Yikes, I how did I miss today's/yesterday's post? Buried nose deep in page proofs, alas...

The bushfire devastation is terrible, and I simply can't imagine what it must be like what it must be like to lose so much in such a sudden and nightmarish way. And of course, it beggars belief that so much of this was caused intentionally by arsonists.

But thank you fo showing us the vid of the firefighter and the koala... a moment of sweetness amongst all the nightmares.

Martha Eskuchen said...

I missed yesterday too. Definitely have DU folks and critters in my prayers. So amazing how people are taking care of the very shy Kolas. I will check out the options too to send support.