Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Intro: Eleanor

Name: Eleanor, a.k.a. EclecticElegance

Location: Colorado Springs, CO.

Hiya! :)

Right now I'm a senior in college, concurrently majoring both in English and Chemistry with an emphasis in pre-dentistry, but I also love to write.

When I joined CleanPlace almost three years ago as a freshman in college, I had not written any fiction in five years and almost no poetry for a year. Once I started sharing my writing on there and receiving feedback from the other members and the mentors, I rediscovered my muse. Now I've written more in those two years than all my other years of writing in middle school and high school combined, and my poetry and prose are both much more vivid than they ever used to be. There are things I continue to learn to balance in my writing as I discover my voice, but CleanPlace reawakened my longing to capture life in the lyricisms found in the written word. Since I've been on CleanPlace, I've been published in my college's literary arts journal twice and have read my poetry at an open mic and a poetry slam at school, and now I am focusing on submitting work to contests and online magazines.

Though I'm typically a cautious person, I do have an adventurous streak that longs to set out on epic quests. :) I'll attempt any sort of challenge you'd like to throw at me, provided it falls within the rules laid out here. Like sing songs in a crowded hallway between classes with a friend. Anything that makes others smile. So dare me!

I'm usually roaming about eastern Colorado--going to school, hanging out with my family, tutoring Chemistry, or hiking with one of our three doggies. I also love playing my antique violin from the late 1800s, even though I can't do the vibrato just yet. I've also been known to wear random costumes on campus--a rose-colored Victorian outfit, complete with a white parasol, to my 19th Century British Literature class, or my red cloak, speckled with Scarlet Pimpernel flowers, to Biology one Wednesday last spring.

I await your dares with much anticipation! :)

(Bio page updated 5/13/2012)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dare: Michelles at Michelle's

Dare: My second dare was to gather people named Michelle in front of the old Michelle's restaurant/candy shop downtown. (Sadly, it's been closed for several years, and nothing new has gone into the space.)

It sounded cute and fun until I realized . . .

I don't know anyone named Michelle.

Almost. The only Michelle I know currently lives on the other side of the country. This presents a certain amount of problems, since the dare didn't include the cost of flying a Michelle across the U.S.

I put off my dare, figuring a solution would come to me. It was Nia (Sara) who suggested pictures of people named Michelle. Then I just got busy, until last week, when Nia called me and said, "Let's do your dare on Thursday!"

So on Thursday, Nia pulled up in the driveway. I grabbed my one Michelle picture and a jacket and ran out the door. That's when the thunder and lightning started.

The rain held off for the most part, only sprinkling while Nia and I hurried from our parking spot a few stores down. When I stood in front of Michelle's, I felt very vulnerable holding a metal picture frame while lightning flashed way too close for my comfort. (Which explains that not-so-thrilled expression on my face.)

We were never in any immediate danger, as Nia could tell you, but I'm always very jumpy about thunder and lightning. Having my picture taken outside during a thunderstorm was a scarier experience than eating peas!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dare: Take Cookies to a Nun

This turned out to be surprisingly easy and productive, if a bit nerve-wracking at first. Google informed me that there's a center for women recovering from substance abuse run by Sisters of the Good Shepherd close to my apartment. I called them up and the nun who answered had no idea how to handle my bizarre request to drop off cookies on a Saturday night, so she gave me the cell phone number for Sister Marguerite, the manager. Sister Marguerite was extremely friendly, and accepted my proposition, agreeing to meet me at the administrative office, so I bought some cookies at a nearby grocery store.

She gave me helpful directions, and even left the gate open for my arrival.

When I was about to leave she asked if I had any questions for her, so we sat down in her office and chatted about the homeless shelter some Stanford friends and I are planning to launch in the next few years. She promised to call if she came up with any potential contacts for us. She was very astute, and intuited the dare I had been given when I asked to take a picture with her. She seemed to like the idea of Dare Us To Move when I explained myself :). Thank you for sending me on this quest, Sara, and for getting all of us moving, David.

P.S. I'm planning to email the picture of Sister Marguerite and I to Sara, who gave me the challenge, but I'd rather not post the photo online, because I forgot to ask her if that was okay with her.

Dare: Face Your Fears (Part Five)

Part I: Eat Something You Haven't Dared to Eat.

When I walked into Crepevine, this dare was the last thing on my mind. I started scanning the menu in my usual fashion, reading the ingredients of each option until I found one that displeased me and hastily skipping to the next prospective dinner. After a minute, I noticed to my dismay that I was nearing the end of the list with only a pittance of meals having survived my rigorous filter. I perked up when I realized that made this the perfect restaurant to try something I wouldn't have dared to eat. Reversing my algorithm to seek out the least tasty item on the menu, I succeeded far more rapidly. The Florentine Savory Crepe contains a total of 3 raw ingredients that I would eat on a less masochistic day: spinach, jack cheese, and the crepe shell itself. They just happened to be the three mildest ingredients and succumb to the villainy of of mushrooms, glazed onions, and, my newfound arch-nemesis, cottage cheese.

I foolishly gulped down all of the tasty carrot juice before starting on the monster crepe, leaving no safety valve by which to wash out the taste.

Just the sight of cottage cheese makes me cringe.

But I would not be deterred.

And though it was painful, I can now say with certainty that I need not taste cottage cheese again for another five years.

Yum incarnate rewarded my conquest.

Part II: Meet Someone You Haven't Dared To Meet.

While I've had a plethora of fantastic opportunities to complete this dare on account of interactions with fellow bus and metro passengers and pedestrians, I make a habit of avoiding carrying my rather expensive camera through one of the less safe neighborhoods of San Francisco. All this to say, that this dare was far more deliberate than the previous one. With my camera swinging against my chest, I rode my bike up and down 3rd Street, which had provided no end of interesting characters unlike most people I typically interact with. After 45 minutes of failures and lacks of courage, I heard a lot of singing and locked my bike to the support of a nearby tree. It turned out the singing was coming from a Baptist Church, but there were some guys chatting in Spanish outside the building next door, so I asked them what that building was. They explained that it was an Alcoholics Anonymous, so I asked if everyone was welcome. They said yes, so I headed in and started chatting with Jorge, who was lounged on half a row of chairs near the back. He opened by asking how my day had been in Spanish, which made me realize that this AA was intended for Spanish speakers.

I explained that I'd had a long day, and he asked where I was from (Alabama) and whether I had problems with alcohol (no) or drugs (also no). "I'm actually just here to meet people," I stammered, to which he shrugged a "that's cool." The service was just starting, and I had a meeting at the same time, so I bailed promising to return next week when I had more time. Jorge informed me it would be same-time, same-place.

I didn't feel like it would've been right to take photographs at an anonymous meeting, so I snapped a shot of the entrance. (I also falsified Jorge's name.)

Part III: Summarize au Haiku.

Cottage of the mind
splurging bitterly enchains
our dour existence.

Dare: Haggis and Haggis and Haggis, Oh My!

Unfortunately, some of my friends know me a bit too well, specifically that I'm a picky eater who does not easily try new foods. So Mrs. Burklin dared me to not only try haggis, but to eat at least ten bites. I first tried it in Glasgow as part of another dare, but I was not impressed. It was like a mushy, spicy meatloaf made of sheep innards. Fortunately, Scotland has no end of ways to prepare haggis, and just like the South back in America, Scotland loves deep frying.

So I had haggis fish 'n' chips style! And yes, french fries are called "chips" over here. As it turns out, the haggis was not only edible but enjoyable, and if I ever go back and don't feel like trying out some other Scottish dish, I know I'll be going back for more haggis. And just in case you have any doubts, here's my "clean" plate!

And as you might observe, yes, I had ketchup with the haggis. To complete the dare, here is a little limerick:


I went to a café for haggis,
and thought there was something amiss.
But the meat was superb
so the truth could disturb
naught of my sheep innards' bliss.

Dare: Link Goes to Scotland (The Scottish Milk Bar)

When MangyCat dared me to go to a Scottish pub and order a glass of milk, I'm not sure that she realized just how perfect a dare that was. For those of you who are not video game nerds, allow me to explain. One of my favorite games is called The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, in which you play a hero named Link, who always wears his green garb and a sword. As it is a kid-friendly game, they never make any direct references to alcohol. This does not stop them from including a bar in the game. Instead, the bar serves milk which Link can use to replenish his health! So when Mangy asked me to go order milk from a pub in Scotland, I immediately made the connection to the game and carried out the task with pleasure!

Here I am with two of my flatmates at the William Wallace, a great and friendly pub right by campus. We asked to take a picture of the place, and immediately the bartender offered to take a picture with us behind the bar, so that was awesome! Unfortunately, they didn't have any milk, but we had a good time nonetheless.

Dare: Face Your Fears (Part Four)

A picky eater in Scotland dared to eat what he's never dared to eat before, that's me. So of course the natural choice is Scotland's iconic dish: haggis. That's it above on the top left of the plate, the nasty ground up excuse for meat. I say that, but it wasn't all that bad once I got past the bit that it's made from sheep innards. It was actually quite a bit spicier than I had imagined, which ended up being my mine complaint. I won't say I liked it, but I did manage to down it as the next picture proves.

Next I had to meet someone I had never dared to meet. Although I am rather introverted, there hasn't really been anyone I've seen so far whom I haven't dared to meet. Well, except this one time. There's this hill right by campus, Dumyat Hill, and I was having trouble finding a path going up it because I simply didn't know the way. So I ended up walking straight up the steep side through the sheep pasture. And quite a few of them had horns, and they eyed me warily as I climbed. Fortunately they didn't give me too much trouble, except once or twice they looked like they might come at me. A week or two later, I decided to fulfill the dare by going back and daring to meet the sheep! Unfortunately, as I found out, the only reason they had eyed me was because they were getting ready to run. So I took the part of the American tourist running around with his camera trying to get a picture with the sheep. I couldn't find any friendly ones, except this young lamb who hadn't yet learned to run from me, so I got a picture! But just as I was about to try and add myself in, his parents bolted and so he followed them. Nevertheless, the picture below has no zoom, and you can see the lamb just getting up to run off. But our brief meeting was rather pleasant.

Of course there's something poetic about meeting and eating the same animal, so I came up with the following haiku to tie it all together.

American Tourist

I met with the sheep,
took a picture of the sheep,
and then I ate him.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dare: Give a Gift

Dare: “I dare you to give a gift to a randomly selected stranger with a child (for the child). ($10 pledge)”

I must say that this dare was a blast of fun--especially picking out the gift. What I chose was one of those fuzzy black posters that you colored with markers and on it was a scene from the movie Cars. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of coloring posters like that on road trips in the car.

I bought the gift a few weeks ago after getting out from a conference. I didn't know what I wanted to buy at first that would be a good choice but when I saw the posters I knew instantly. Since then school has kept me extremely busy and by the time I got out it was late in the day and hard to go somewhere where I would feel comfortable asking a parent and any kids I had been seeing were never a boy in the right age range. Yesterday I finally had the time so me and my best friend drove to the local Barnes & Noble (yes, a lot of cool people go there--and she wanted to grab a book anyways). We got there and I headed straight for the children's section and the first people I encountered was a mom and her son. I asked her if he liked Cars and when she told me that he loved them, I went on to explain about Dare Us To Move, my dare, DuTM's vision, and ask if I could. Turns out, she had just taken him to see Cars 2! Talk about perfect timing, right?

Here's to a happy boy!

Dare: Give Time to Health

Dare: Volunteer 10 hours of time to HealthQuarters Ministries in Colorado Springs. The founder and CEO is an author named Dave Frahm who is also a naturopathic doctor. ($100 dare)

This dare came to me from one of the amazing ladies in my Arbonne success line.

HealthQuarters’ website
says: Since 1994 HealthQuarters Ministries has helped thousands of people regain their health both physically and spiritually. Specializing in alternative medicine HealthQuarters Ministries educates those who want to take control of their own health while implementing any diet and lifestyle changes necessary.

I completed this dare with three visits. On the first, I did a lot of typing to get lists of symptoms ready for their website.

On following visits, I was able to create a few sign-in documents for future volunteers and community service, a spreadsheet for them to track the hours people are donating, and also get those symptom lists uploaded onto their website so Carrie, the office manager, can link them to the pages.

I love a dare that gets us out into the community, where we are not only helping CleanPlace but also helping others. I had fun lending my hands (quite literally), and it was great to learn about their ministry.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dare: Face Your Fears (Part Three)

I'm a pretty adventurous eater these days, so I couldn't really think of anything that would be a challenge (that I could afford). Once upon a time, though, I was a ridiculously picky eater. I didn't like much of anything, and I would spend hours sitting at the dinner table across from my father as he urged me to just swallow the bite I'd been holding in my mouth. One of the foods I really didn't like was peas, and I've never gotten over it. One of my usernames is even "ihatepeas." I stopped eating them as soon as I was old enough to pick and choose what I put on my plate.

So I ate peas for my dare. And not a small amount, either. Frankly, I did not enjoy myself. I had to drink a lot of iced tea to get the mushy taste out of my mouth.

I think you can tell by the look on my face that I wasn't converted to a love of peas. Here's my haiku to commemorate the event:

little balls of ick

bursting into mushy green

and I still hate them.

For the second part of my dare, I waited until the weekend of my cousin's wedding because I knew there would be a number of people I didn't know. At the rehearsal dinner, I happened to meet Sharalynn, a very nice young lady who is dating my other cousin. She lives in Philadelphia, and she sings opera. How cool is that? (The opera part. I have no idea what Philly is like.)

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of us together. But I do have this haiku:

ambushed by grandmas,

she smiles and says she sings, but

we don't get to hear

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dare: Into the Fire

The Dare:
I dare you to sing "Into the Fire" with one other person (if you can find one) loudly on a fairly public street corner in Tokyo.

I couldn't find anyone else, so it was up to me and me alone to complete this dare.

It is hard not to stand out as a blond-headed, 5'9 American here in Japan. I've tried to avoid acting or appearing too foreign--but then along comes a dare that involves singing on a street corner.

Well that is a good way to stand out.

Most people here would never think of singing in a public place, so I guess it was up to an outsider to make a little noise for a good cause.

I chose one of my favorite corners (by one of my favorite convenience stores), cleared my throat and started to sing. At first it was difficult to sing anyway but softly, but as I kept singing my voice kept getting louder. Instead of embarrassment, I started to feel enjoyment.

"Climbing higher and higher and into the fire we go..."

It was a little amusing to get stares from school children, or the smiles of toddlers as they passed with their mothers. All in all it proved to be a fun experience, despite having to stand out even more than I already do.

- Telpe

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dare: Operation Baby Pic

The dare (from my parents of course) was to post the above picture of myself as my Facebook profile for two weeks, so I uploaded it to Facebook today.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dare: Face Your Fears (Part Two)

The Challenge: Eat something you haven't dared to eat, meet someone you haven't dared to meet, and write your experiences in a poem.

I am not a very picky eater, so I had to think long and hard about this challenge. Being in Japan makes it fairly easy to find strange and exotic food, but being adventurous, nothing scared me--that is, until I went to Kaiten Zushi and saw fish eggs going around on the conveyor belt.

There is something disgusting and unnatural about stealing some poor fish’s eggs and then devouring them (I dislike chickens and therefore feel no remorse for eating their eggs). Being slimy, shiny, round and weird colours, they do not even look appealing. Maybe for some people fish eggs are no big deal, but I have never been tempted to try it. Not even once.

As soon as I thought to myself, when looking at those fish eggs, “I would never eat that!” I knew that for this dare, it was perfect, and that I must.

And so I took the plate of fish egg sushi, and decided to approach it the same way I approach cold water--jump right in without too much thought. And, to my surprise, I discovered that they did not in fact taste as bad as they looked, and though I still think it’s weird to steal fish eggs then eat them, it was not a half bad experience.

Here is my poem:

Red, bubbly fish eggs.
I would not dare to eat them,
yet I do. Tasty.

As for meeting someone I dared not meet, I found it more difficult. When you don’t speak someones language, it is hard to meet them properly. But I realized that fact in itself made the challenge perfect, and easily within my grasp.

When a Japanese friend of my host came to the door, I bravely met the lady and helped to welcome her in. She spoke no English, but seemed very nice. She turned to me and said in Japanese, “Do you speak Japanese?”

Thankfully, I understood her question, and was able to reply, “I understand only a little.”

She found this to be very cute, and told me so, which I was also able to understand. Our broken conversation carried on for a few more minutes, mostly through my host who could interpret. She was a very nice older woman who I enjoyed talking to, if only for a few minutes. I neglected to remember my camera, so the poem alone shall have to suffice.

Languages collide--
a gap. I cautiously cross,
and meet with success.

I hope this completes the challenge--and I certainly had fun with it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dare: Face Your Fears (Part One)

The Challenge: Eat something you haven't dared to eat, meet someone you haven't dared to meet, and write your experiences in a poem.

Since I'm fairly fearless (at least when it comes to food and meeting people), I modified this one just a tad. I decided to eat something I hate (is abhor too strong a word? I think not!) and to meet someone that I wouldn't normally engage with.

The first part was easy as there are several foods that I really do not like. David helped me pick, and we decided on a strawberry. I have a very good, very deep psychological reason for this hatred, I promise. And in the last 15 years I've only eaten them twice. The second part was a bit harder because, although I'm an introvert, I'm not in any way shy.

We had a mini-moot of CleanPlacers on Friday, and I decided to complete the food portion of this challenge then. Kathy, a manager at Panera, was kind enough to provide me a whole strawberry. And I don't think she understood my predicament, because she found the biggest one she had!

Yes, the experience was horrible. I can now assure you all that my dislike of this popular fruit is not just from a bad experience years ago, but because the inside of a strawberry feels like grit while the outside is fuzzy. Food should not be fuzzy and gritty.

Here's the poem:


my enemy is
vivid red with small green seeds--
I have conquered you

For the second part, I decided to make friends with some of my fellow movie goers. I got tickets to see the three Lord of the Rings movies this month, and last week I got to know the only people ahead of me in line. This week, we met again. They are Becky, her daughter, Elizabeth, and her father, Frank. It was fun to get to know them. Sadly, Becky and Frank have to miss the last movie next week! They are closest to the camera here (Becky, Elizabeth, Frank).

Becky was a great purse guard, and also has a thing for chewy Sweet Tarts. You can learn a lot about a person just hanging out together in line!

My poem:

One Ring

J.R.R. Tolkien never could
have guessed
his fabled ring had the power
to find us all, power enough
to rule us, to bring us all,
and, in the darkness
of a movie theater,
bind us.

Yet here we sit, bright eyes filled
with awestruck wonder,
ready to cheer once again

And so completes my part of this challenge (we have four other challenge takers who are doing this!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Intro: Leah

Name: Leah, also known as Frost

Location: Near Estes Park CO, though not really there.
I don't travel a whole lot and make the most of exploring the places where I am at. I will be braving a trip to Seattle later this summer however.

Hello all!

I've been in Cleanplace for about 2 and a 1/2 years now. It pretty much rocks. Not only am I inspired to write, but recently a few magazines expressed interest in my writing. Never would I have been able to get anyone interested in reading what I wrote, beyond family and friends, without Cleanplace.

I decided to aid David's project because I am one of the people who can't go to Moot and want to help people who can't financially make it to go and enjoy themselves and help their writing improve. I also love a good dare. Most of my friends would tell you I'm fairly adventurous. Mom would say I'm reckless. I would love to take your challenges.

Around my home, I'm exploring every nook and cranny. Beyond that is a hokey cowtown, a urban hippie university area, a mountainous tourist hot spot, and a roadside music-festival, white-water kayaking flypaper. Estes Park in particular attracts people with its large elk herds, majestic mountains and hiking areas if any of those things interest you in challenges. I'm working on homework this summer to remedy lost time over the winter. In my free time, I'm tutoring through "I Have A Dream Foundation," painting, playing my cello, and hiking around with my two huge black dogs.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dare: Community Seams

The Challenge: I want you to give 1/4 of your wardrobe to the local hospice.

Since I am a bit meticulous about percentages, the first part of the dare saw me counting out my closet and dresser in order to determine what 1/4 of it would look like. The final count was 91 articles of clothing. After rounding it up, I realized I would be giving 23 things away.

I'd like to say this dare was completely easy, and that I have no silly attachment to my clothes whatsoever. But the truth is, I tend towards sentimental and illogical fondness for anything that carries in its seams a good memory. Clothes can be a bit of a scrapbook for me, and looking through them brought up a lot of fun memories.

But this was a good dare for me to begin with--not too bizarre or stretching. More like a little poke in the right direction. I reminded myself that memories live in the mind and heart, not fabric and thread. Then I folded up a boxful and brought them to our hospice.

The hospice itself is a bit like a worn, loved piece of clothing. It seems a little tired at the seams, but still fitting perfectly. The owners noticed me taking pictures outside and watched suspiciously through the window. Later, when I explained it to them, they laughed about how it had been a dare. "Two good causes at once," said the owner, smoothing the white hair out of her eyes. "Well kid, you can't really beat that."

We talked a little more about this community I was born into: the racial tension, poverty, long-standing feuds between families. We talked about how suspicious we are of one another, and how the younger generation might step in to fill the old gaps. Then she explained how the donations go into the community, how they hand-pick the neediest families and endeavor to meet their greatest needs. Before I left she shook my hand, and I thought it was a bit like putting two strong pieces of fabric together, making them fit so that they can serve another.

I think I will bring some more items there next Thursday. And maybe that is a bit of an excuse to talk to a wonderful woman who is working hard to provide for our community.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Intro: Mercy

Name: Mercy Burklin

Location: Tokyo, Japan (more specifically Higashi Kurume-shi)

Greetings, one and all.

I have been a member of CleanPlace for five years now. My entire teenage life has been happily spent adventuring and writing with the friends I met there and from whom I have learned so much. I am a high school student, but primarily I am an artist seeking to develop my skills and experiences in this crazy but beautiful world we live in.

One of my passions is for travel and new experiences, so I am looking forward to performing any dares that anyone should like to give me. However, it is preferable that the dares do not require a lot of money or travel, and if one can keep in mind that I don't speak the language here, that would be nice. Otherwise, I am quite open to any dare, especially if it involves something artistic or something that requires walking and exploring. I am very excited to be able to help others go on adventures through this project!

In this concrete jungle that is Tokyo, there are plenty of adventures awaiting me--and adventures that will begin with your help through this project. I anticipate your dares with pleasure.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Intro: Jordan

Name: Jordan Nikkel (a.k.a. Rivus)
Location: Stirling, Scotland

For the first time in years, I will not be sweating the hot Tennessee summer, because I am going to be studying abroad at the University of Stirling in Scotland, where I hear the average high in July is 67 degrees Fahrenheit! I have been a member of Cleanplace for five years now, and have gone to 3 of the 4 moots. Each one has always been one of the best weeks of every year—a time of comradery among old and new friends, fellowship among young Christians, and of course writing workshops. As such, I have joined Dare Us to Move because I want to help provide the financial opportunity for members of Cleanplace to experience that same joy and total immersion in God's love and wonder.

In that light, may I point out that I have a lovely black cloak (made by many of the members of Cleanplace in Texas) which I will be bringing with me tomorrow to Scotland. Feel free to include that in any photo challenges of your choice, and I'm sure the scenery will be lovely too. You should also probably know that even though I do enjoy writing, especially poetry and fantasy, writing is more of an outlet than a livelihood for me. Math and computer science are my majors at Vanderbilt University, where I am currently attending and will be entering as a Junior in the fall. I am also the coming year's director of Victory A Cappella, the Christian A Cappella group on campus. Music, like writing, is a very dear outlet for me, and I especially love music composition, theory, piano, and singing harmonies. So feel free to include music—perhaps even composing a little something in my notebook—in the challenges in any way, shape, or form.

So think up some challenges, and dare me to live a little while in Scotland this summer. The cause is noble, the rewards high, and I can't wait to see how God works through everything and everyone this summer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Intro: Joy

Joy Clark

Location: Rural South-East Texas

Greetings from a particularly warm state.

I have been a member of CleanPlace for two and a half years now, and from the onset it has been an adventure worth taking. I'm a college student studying music and word-crafts, and traveling whichever roads give me an inviting nod or smile. I am within easy driving range of Lousiana--so if you want a dare in a parish setting, I'm open!

I live and move among young, growing stories. It would be a lie to say I'm not excited about doing out-of-the-ordinary dares for the sheer story-potential-factor. But, having been to the CleanPlace conference, I know that this project could potentially grow so many stories besides mine! And imagining all the sapling stories out there, waiting to be grown--that gives me three times the reason to back this project.

I am open to all dares, and looking forward to three specific kinds: whimsical, inspiring, and exigent. Whimsical, because there can never be enough playing Mario Themes on grand pianos or serving of unbirthday cupcakes with 100 candles. Inspiring, because the whole point of this is bringing joy to others. And exigent because, quite frankly, I always need shoves out of my little wagon-trail ruts. Send me to volunteer at a museum, learn how to dance, or to talk to people I may pass every day without noticing.

The choosing is yours. I dare you to make it exuberant. And thanks for joining me in a journey.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Intro: Sarah C

Name: Sarah C (Miruial)

Location: Tyler, Texas

Hi ladies and gents!

My name is Sarah and I'm a 20 year old full-time college student who's been double majoring in photography and international business for the past three years. I'm also minoring in vocal performance and sing 1st soprano in one of my college's vocal groups.

I joined Cleanplace in January of 2008 after hearing about it for two years prior (I have friends who are some of the first members). Cleanplace has been a wonderful impact to me. Seeing how I--and other--members have grown into amazing young adults with some killer writing skills (hats off to our beloved and patient mentors) has been such a wonderful journey!

I posses a adventuresome spirit. I like any type of challenge, really. My mantra is that you can't have a true opinion of something till you try it. I'll eat what you want me to and do what you'd want me to . . . minus bungee jumping off of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil--I'm saving that for when I'm terminally ill!

I live in Tyler, Texas in a lakehouse. I love water!

Intro: Kurt

Name: Kurt von Laven

Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I have been a vicarious member of CleanPlace through my roommate, David, since September '09. I'm not a writer, but I'm jealous of those who are.

I am a wanna-be traceur-singer-mathematician studying computer science (specifically, artificial intelligence). With less charitable motivation, I've pulled a few crazy stunts during my recent stay in Madrid, including the one in the picture above, scaling the ramparts of a castle ruin in Sos del Rey Católico, earning €3.40 singing in the infamous Sol metro station, and hiking the final 110 km of the Camino de Santiago without purchasing any beverages (including water). I did not manage to tilt at any windmills. I've always wanted to search for a precise latitude, longitude, and elevation of a stranger's choosing if that strikes anyone's fancy.

Intro: Sarah

Name: Sarah
Location: Colorado Springs, CO


I've been a mentor on CleanPlace since September '07, and it's changed my life. I love all the teen writers, and the summer conference every year is really our time to connect face-to-face and dig deeper into writing.

I've lived in Colorado Springs my entire life, and I also happen to be a third generation native, which is pretty crazy. I know the city and the surrounding areas well, since my favorite thing to do besides writing and reading is taking rides all over Colorado Springs and into the mountains. I'm very familiar with my surroundings, but I'm always discovering new things and going to places I've driven by for years but never experienced.

I'd like to say I'm up for anything, but that's not totally true. I do consider myself semi-adventurous, and I'm ready to be challenged!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Donating to the Cleanplace Cause

Thank you for your interest in making a donation to this wonderful cause! You guys are awesome.

The best way to send in donations at the moment is via Paypal, using the button below. As long as Cleanplace is our primary cause, you can also use the Donate button in the side bar.

Thanks again!

Intro: Sara

Name: Sara (also known as NarniaPrincess, or Nia)
Location: Colorado Springs, CO, USA

I'm the current admin for CleanPlace, and when David pitched this idea, I thought it was a great way to expand how we share our stories! I've been on CP since April of 2007, and the reins have been in my hands since the fall of 2008. I'm always awed and humbled by the amazing writers we have.

While I'm staying at home this summer, there are lots of fun things around the Springs that would make for great dares (like kissing a giraffe...I'm serious, I'll do it!). And I do get around this fair state (at least up to Denver and Woodland Park) so anything in the mountains or around the Springs is up for grabs.

I look forward to seeing how far this project goes--come along for the ride!

Intro: David


Name: David
Location: Beijing, China

Hey, guys!

I get the prestigious spot at the bottom of the blog for my intro. My name's David, and at the moment, I am studying in Beijing!

The DUtM project was actually inspired by my crazy travel plans this summer--in fact, I'm only going to be in China for another week, and then I'll be spending half a month in Mongolia before heading back to the U.S. to work at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon. That is a crazy lot of crazy places, full of crazy people and crazy things to do--so I thought, what if I could bend that craziness toward something more? And here we are!

So hey. Go crazy!

Unfortunately the muse struck late--I would have loved to take some challenges with me to the various places in China I've visited over the last few months. But now, this is all I've got, so China challenges will have to be limited to the Beijing area. Fortunately, this city is chock-full of awesomeness. What's something you've always wanted to see here? Let me show it to you.

I've been a contributing member to the Cleanplace guild for about five years now. It is a fantastic organization full of fantastic enough people to pull me away from my Warm Springs internship for a week. I have watched the guild, and the conference in general, turn lives around--I'm so excited to do everything I can to give that experience to more people!

Thank you for your support, and for traveling with me down this crazy road!

Fundraising Goal, Summer 2011:

The first sponsored cause of the project! is a volunteer-run writers guild targeted toward mentoring young writers from early high school through college, helping them improve their writing skills and work through the publishing process. Every summer the guild hosts a national conference in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, CO.

Our proceeds for this first run will sponsor scholarships for guild members who otherwise would not be able to attend the conference. Our goal is to reach $2000 in total donations by the end of July!

Challenge-givers can contribute easiest via Paypal button in the side bar.

Thank you for your support!

Dare Us to Move

Welcome all, and thank you for visiting Dare Us to Move!

Visiting what now?

Dare Us to Move is an experiment--an interactive travel log combined with community fundraising. The premise is simple:

1) Think of something that would be really cool to do--riding a wave off the coast of Hawaii, striking a pose in front of a medieval castle, composing a haiku on top of Mt. Fuji, shoveling the driveway of an elderly neighbor...

2) Post your challenge here, along with a pledge: a monetary amount you are willing to donate to charity upon completion of your challenge. Please include your email (if you don't want to share it in comments, simply email us at way, we can notify you when your dare is completed!).

3) A DUtM participant will take up your challenge and record the experience in pictures, and maybe a written journal. The challenge-taker will post the story here so you can see your challenge in action, and then your donation will go toward helping us fulfill our goal!

That sounds crazy.

It most definitely does.

We're banking on the idea that as fun as it is to hear about the cool places your family has been to and the cool things that your friends have done, it's even more fun to get to participate in those things yourself. We want to make our adventures a collaborative effort, and then turn that energy toward supporting a good cause.

Alright--how do I get involved?

DUtM consists of two vital parts: challenge-givers, and challenge-takers. We need both to make this work, and fortunately, both jobs are buckets of fun.

To become a challenge-giver, all you have to do is come up with a challenge (see our guidelines below) and post it on this blog. If you'd like, you can challenge a specific challenge-taker by posting your challenge as a comment to their introduction post. Additionally, you can email your challenges to Don't forget to include with your challenge your pledge: it can be whatever amount you think the challenge merits, down to a minimum donation of $10. (See the next post for our current fundraising goal.)

To become a challenge-taker, contact us at to let us know you'd like to join. You'll need a Blogger account so we can add you as a blog author, so include your contact information. Then, write an introduction post telling a little bit about yourself, why you're getting involved with DUtM, and where you're located. If you'd like, you can also provide some guidelines about the sorts of challenges you can or can't take--but remember, this is about collaborative adventure. Don't be afraid to stretch yourself!

But I don't travel very often...can I still help?

Of course! You'd be amazed at the cool things to be done right at home, no matter where you are. The only requirement is a willingness to join in and make a difference.

The Rules:

1) Challenges must not be illegal
2) Challenges must not be hazardous or infeasible
3) Challenges may be modified at the discretion of the challenge-taker

Rule 1 should hopefully be rather self-explanatory; as great as it is to go crazy and help a good cause, we would rather not get deported for it.

Rule 2 should likewise have an obvious motivation in that donations are supposed to go toward charity, not toward hospital bills. Really crazy challenges ("Have brunch with President Obama") have the potential for much awesomeness, but please try to gauge your donation according to the amount of time and effort that completing the challenge will require, and please be understanding if extremely involved challenges go unanswered.

This rule also touches on a deeper theme that I want to mention: we would prefer challenges to be more "Bucket List" than "Animal House." While "dress in drag and do the hula while singing B-52 lyrics in the middle of a faculty dinner" makes a great frat-party dare when everyone is too drunk to care, the motivation behind DUtM challenges should be to inspire people to go and do cool things in cool places, not to humiliate themselves in public.

And lastly, Rule 3 gives players the ability to tweak challenges that need tweaking--either to abide by the other rules, or to accommodate the situation. Our purpose isn't to alienate people, so we may modify challenges to avoid offending locals. Also, changing circumstances may prevent us from performing the challenge exactly as written, so we'll do our best to improvise while still adhering to the spirit of the challenge.

So what does a good challenge look like?

Here's some examples of the sort of thing we're looking for. Feel free to pledge these if you like!

- Hug a sheep in the Scottish countryside
- Practice taichi with locals in Beijing
- Eat a local delicacy
- Tilt at a windmill in Spain
- Discuss true happiness with a total stranger

Thank you again for paying us a visit! We hope you'll take a moment to check out our current cause, and to take a look at the challenge-takers who have thrown their hats into the ring. Thank you for your support!