“Get baked”: Local student’s stove-building trip fundraiser

That’s one side of the T-shirt that West Seattle student Michelle Baker and her group from Seattle University is selling to raise money for a trip to Nicaragua next month – there, they’ll build safer cooking stoves. Here’s a photo from a student trip last year:

Michelle explains:

This is an amazing opportunity for us as students working towards a just and humane world. Our team is officially named Friends of Nicaragua and we are a student-led group that will go for two weeks at the end of June to work with a local (to Nicaragua) non-profit organization based in Managua. The non-profit is El Porvenir (meaning The Future in Spanish) and rural Nicaraguan communities come to them with proposals for work that needs to be done in their individual community. This can be anything, from building stoves in their houses so they aren’t living in smoke-filled huts when cooking, to wells for water sanitation, to planting trees to make stable ground and to sell the wood ten years later.

They’re running short of money to make the trip, though, and that’s why they’re selling T-shirts, $10 each – send checks to 2731 44th SW, Seattle 98116. If you have questions, you can e-mail her: bakerm1@seattleu.edu

19 Replies to ""Get baked": Local student's stove-building trip fundraiser"

  • Chris May 5, 2010 (8:59 am)

    I apologize in advance for this but would it not be more efficient to help these folks by sending them the means to help themselves? Why is it necessary to go down there and dig wells, plant trees and build stoves? The “teach them to fish, etc.” adage comes to mind. Sorry, but it seems obvious to me if not exactly P.C.

  • me May 5, 2010 (9:19 am)

    i’m a little saddened by michelle’s choice of the phrase on the shirts, as whether intended or not, ‘get baked’ is, to almost anyone, a reference to a certain well-known illegal drug. i guess to me, it seems a little ironic, given that nicaragua is one of the countries in our world most ravaged by drug cartels and related troubles that have ruined and ended many lives over the years. i know, more serious drugs are typically at issue there. but, nevertheless. it bears saying….. just my two cents. i totally get the humor, though, if it’s intended. it’s fun. even if not, it’s still fun. i just wondered if the student might consider using another fun phrase, perhaps something a little more culturally sensitive. i applaud their work and willingness to serve!! :) you go, guys!

  • wsme May 5, 2010 (9:43 am)

    I agree on both of the comments before me. I feel they would benefit more from being sent resources, not from being ‘re-taught’ how to do the things they already do.

    And I immediately thought that the phrase was inappropriate as well in relation to drugs. I get where the pun could be intended, but not sure if it is related to the task that they are trying to achieve.

    Either way, they are doing more than a lot of us are to help others, so I do wish them the best in their efforts.

  • Chris May 5, 2010 (10:10 am)

    They are trying to sell t-shirts to raise money for their cause, and quite franlky this will sell. We sold “co-ed naked lacrosse team” shirts in college and it didn’t mean we all ran out and played that way.

  • bsmomma May 5, 2010 (11:15 am)

    I think it’s a very creative/catchy T-shirt! People that wear this will probably get good and bad comments thus giving the opportunity to explain! Free marketing, promotion, spreading of the word, etc…….It’s Genius in my opinion. And being the flower child of an “ex hippy” I think it’s hilarious. :)

  • CurlyQ May 5, 2010 (1:00 pm)

    I read the comments first, then I read the article, and I’m a little puzzled by some of the comments above. This is a volunteer group of students offering to assist a *local* Nicaraguan non-profit provide help already identified and determined *locally*. It hardly reads like this student-led (yay!) group has a paternalistic attitude, as implied in the comments. Would we say the same for groups going down to New Orleans to build post-Katrina housing, or post-earthquake Haiti, or clean up the beaches along the Gulf, or Nashville to help in flood recovery? I agree that some groups work harder at patting themselves on the back than helping impoverished people or areas struck by disaster, but this definitely does NOT read like one of them. It sounds like they’re very sensitive and responsive to the needs and wants of the Nicaraguan people.
    As to the T-shirt logo, I agree that a better phrase could have been used. It’s funny for about two seconds, but in my view takes away from, rather than adds to, their ultimate cause.
    But I do wish them luck and godspeed!

  • Mia May 5, 2010 (1:02 pm)

    I have lived in Nicaragua for 4 years. PC aside, to send money here for anything means the chance of it being used for the intended purpose is slim to none. It is important to have someone show the recipients how to properly build, use and maintain the stove. At the same time, instruct them on ventilation and sanitation. The percentage of people with asthma is staggering-often aggravated by poor ventilation, cooking practices, poor sanitation, using gas, diesel and plastic bottles to start and maintain cooking fires. There is no shortage of plastic in this country and very little is recycled except into the cooking fires. Wishing you success on your mission.

  • CurlyQ May 5, 2010 (1:06 pm)

    The other benefit of showing up rather than just sending resources (however important) is to build cross-cultural connections and develop lasting relationships. In my own travels, this has been more powerful than any class lecture or book in having a deeper understanding of situations around the world. In addition, there is nothing to suggest the locals a) already know how to build stoves, and b) aren’t helping alongside the volunteers (unless their 12 hour/day jobs picking coffee beans for Folgers or sewing cheap t-shirts for Walmart prevent them from doing so).

  • Michelle Baker May 5, 2010 (3:44 pm)

    Thank you for all of the comments! One of the reasons we have been working with El Porvenir is because it is a community based organization run by local people living in Nicaragua. Communities all throughout Nicaragua approach El Porvenir with a request to organize a community project and what sort of resrouces they need. This is where our student-led group comes in. El Porvenir only places groups in communties that SPECIFICALLY ask for volunteers to help with their desired project.

    As for the shirts-I do see both sides. We were going for the appeal of drawing attention. I am sorry if it offended anyone, it was not our intention at all.

    Again, thank you for all of the comments and feedback. If anyone has any further comments, please don’t hesitate to e-mail!! bakerm1@seattleu.edu


  • Wes May 5, 2010 (4:04 pm)

    I love hearing students getting involved in helping others!
    I think the t-shirt misses the point of what they are doing. Even reading about what they are doing and then reading the t-shirt, I still don’t get it.
    Working with teenagers, I see it as a more rebellious way to say something that they deem “cool” rather than the really cool thing they are participating in Nicaragua. Come on you are in college be more clever!

  • JULIE May 5, 2010 (4:24 pm)

    Just an FYI this young lady is a 2010 recipient of the Govorners Volunteer Award (1 of only 49 people) from Washington State. I love that she not only gives of herself to help others but she stirs a lively conversation. Our world needs a sence of humor in these not so funny times. I love the T-shirts!!! I am proud of you Michelle!!!!

    • WSB May 5, 2010 (4:28 pm)

      Congratulations to Michelle for that award too! And yes, stirring a lively conversation tends to be a plus these days – TR

  • amused May 6, 2010 (6:39 am)

    I don’t have money for t-shirts, I have to pay my taxes which seem to be going up, up, up.

  • Another Student May 6, 2010 (9:47 am)

    I am another student going on the trip… thank you all for your support! I just wanted to clarify, though, that the shirts are not without context. The back (which isn’t shown) has a picture of a stove and says “Building Stoves in Nicaragua Since 2006.) Again, thank you all for your support!

  • Phil Hughes May 6, 2010 (9:55 am)

    I have lived in Nicaragua for over six years and did Nicaragua activism back in the 1980s (in Seattle). In the 1980s I was more on the “sending things” (including money) side. Even if money/things reach their intended use, the experience of spending some time here is really important. Nothing can replace first-hand experience.

    I welcome people who want to learn more/help to contact me. I can be reached at nicafyl@gmail.com.

  • chris May 6, 2010 (7:10 pm)

    ok so the people that dont like the get baked on the front of the shirt your missing the point. they are short on money so they needed to design a shirt that would sell. making a shirt that said making stoves well sorry but thats not going to do anything for them. they are selling tshirts so they can go help with poeople health amoung other things. WHAT HAVE TO DONE TO HELP THE WORLD……………OR OTHERS LATELY. please help this students reach there goal by buying a shirt or donating money if you dont want a shirt. i have travled all over the world seen lots of other countrys. its an eye opening experience. its a great thing to leave the CUSHY american soil to see or help the world

    thank you love you michelle

  • Michelle Baker May 7, 2010 (8:23 am)

    Hello! Wow-I didn’t realize how much of a stir the t-shirts would make…controversy makes for great conversatin I guess. I am a little disapointed in the fact that so many people focused on what the shirt said instead of the bigger cause we are supporting and taking part in. But, I wanted to gives my thanks for everyone who supported me so far! I have sold over 30 shirts, making me $300 closer to the personal $1000 each student has to raise in order to fund the rest of the trip. If anyone has any other questions or concerns feel free to e-mail me!!

    -Michelle Baker

    • WSB May 7, 2010 (8:38 am)

      Michelle, if it’s any consolation, fewer than 1 percent of people actually write or read comments. And those who post are usually those with something of concern to say rather than “hooray.” So I suspect you were cheered in many more quarters than questioned. Nonetheless, getting people talking is good. Hope you make your goal. Do you have a PayPal link anywhere or some other way to donate online? – Tracy

  • Michelle Baker May 11, 2010 (12:47 pm)

    We currently do not have a paypal link, but that is something I will bring up at our meeting tomorrow (Wednesday). Great idea, Thanks!

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