Friday, August 28, 2009



Our first ever “I Live Here” Malawi Prison Project event was this past Saturday at the wonderful Causecast space in Santa Monica.  And we are happy to report that it was an amazing success! Thank you so much for all of your warm wishes, kind messages and helping us to spread the word. We are truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support that has surrounded the I Live Here Project.

There were some small bumps along the way that we thought we would share with you about what not to do and what to do when planning an event.

Part One:  July 22-Aug 22/09

 “The Idea”

The installation - This monster piece of art, which looked back at the material collected over the nine years of making ILH.  We felt it was a crucial part of the event, as we hoped that if people came, they could briefly experience the journey that led to the Malawi project. For Mia, re-visiting the material was a very intimate experience. She had saved all her notes from the very beginning this odyssey. Putting the material in order made her realize how much has changed since she started. Mia noted that there have been a lot of miles, tears, relationships, houses, laughter, humility, sadness and joy that have brought her to this point with the project today.  

Installation Work in Progress

Part Two:  Friday, Aug 21/09

“The Kettle Incident”

Judy was supposed to feed Rainbow, Mia’s dog, before we all headed down to the venue to install the piece.  Judy had been working ‘round the clock and had not slept in what appeared at least a week. She put her all into the event, which explains the exhaustion and perhaps the delirium that we were all feeling. As we are getting ready to leave, Judy whisper-yells … "Mia" and points out that the electric kettle is melting, due to the fact that she put it on the stove. One can only assume fatigue induduced this normally bright woman's attempt to burn down the house. Erica was shocked to see a mini Kettle explosion, which looked like a pile of tar and dismembered electrical wires, and worked hurriedly to clean it up. Oddly, it made us all laugh hysterically, which felt like a much needed relief.

 (Needless to say, Judy will no longer be feeding Rainbow)

Part Three: Friday, Aug 21st 6pm-1:30am

“Are we Megadeath?”

We arrived at Causecast to install the piece. There is a time to be polite and a time to speak the truth.

The installation looked terrible in the space.

A cross between a haunted house and a cover band advertising a Megadeath concert in high-school auditorium.  Our hearts dropped. You could see that these amazing volunteers were thinking “WTF”? about the piece.

We felt exposed and embarrassed, as though we had failed to covey all that we thought we were expressing in the month of putting this together.

Mia made the first rip, tearing the pages off the boards that they had been so carefully glued on by all that worked on this piece.

 And we started again.

 Here is the upside to the story: all these volunteers stayed so late building this piece of art from the ground up, just because they saw that we needed help. In a way, the spirit of building from fragments an act of faith, which represents the sprit of the book.

Part Three: Saturday, August 22nd: 6:55pm

 “Running a Little Late”

A ton of volunteers showed up early that morning, working on the installation.  Carla and Lovely from GBK, the killer event planning company, that came on board at the last minute and pulled this together for us, stayed until six am hanging lights the night before. If you need “wing women “ for your event, call these ladies.

Just before the doors opened, Mia realized the tent in the installation was not finished and started painting in her dress!!!

Part Four: Amazing Talent

You gotta have the music and the drink:

Tom Schnabel, Chris Douritas, Adrian Giovind all of KCRW and DJ Kid Lightning set the tone with music for the night. The sounds were like this smooth carpet ride that carried you from country to country. The totally cool and zen Richard Betts provided the wine. This guy makes such beautiful wine and is a super duper important sommelier. He is able to actually make wine sound accessible and not just something that fancy people can understand.

Part Five: Have a live auction

Through ticket sales, the silent auction and live auction, we reached our fundraising goal and are ready to launch the program in Malawi!!!!!!!!!

It’s an amazing thing to see that in just a few minutes we were able to hit our fundraising goal. Especially in this economy, to have people show up and support makes us all believe that we are on the road to doing something that resonates.

Part Six: Eat cold pizza

There is nothing better than cold pizza and cake at the end of an event. Enough said.

Program Notes

Here is a piece of music that explains the sprit of the evening and the project.

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen “Anthem”

Just dive in and do your best, nothing will ever be perfect. It’s the imperfections that hold the best stuff of life.

Mia leaves for Malawi tomorrow because of all of you and will be writing, while she is over there.

Thank you for supporting this incredible labor of love.

Lots of Hugs,

Mia, Erica and Judy


  1. Congratulations guys! I hope this is the first of many events, hopefully some of them here in Europe.
    You're doing such a great work!

    Have a great time in Malawi Mia, BUON VIAGGIO!

    greetings from Milano

  2. So glad you met your goal! If you need someone to watch Rainbow - just let me know. It's the hamsters I have a problem with.

    Ps, I only burn metal kettles to a Megadeath, well once, cause I forgot to put the whistle down all the way. Maybe I shouldn't put that on the application :)

    Pss, thank you for sharing this event with us. I'm looking forward to hearing from you again. :)

  3. It was an amazing mural to see- and you guys should be so proud for what you accomplished. I am so glad it was a success and thank you for allowing me to help fundraise in my home state and many blessings and good luck on all your upcoming adventures...Lori