In Search of Truth and Beauty: Compassion, patronage and the continuum of giving

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BY JONI TAKANIKOS, Sept. 8, 2013

“A Story of the Importance of Patronage, Here, There and Everywhere”

Decades ago on the island of Manhattan, a young writer named Truman Capote, who had relocated from the southern part of the States, began to experience some success publishing his articles and stories.

His good friend Harper Lee, a young woman also from the south, relocated to the “island of possibilities.” She was a writer who made her living as a bookkeeper.

Capote introduced her to some of his NYC friends, who included a husband and wife who were quite wealthy. For Christmas that year, the couple gave Lee a year’s salary so she could stay home and concentrate on her writing. She did and produced “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that was important in its messages about the evils of racism and prejudice; and helped to change the culture and morals in the South, and throughout the United States. Both the book and the film continue to inspire new generations with its message of compassionate action.


Harper Lee never wrote another book during her lifetime, but thanks to patronage, she was able to write the one book that lived inside her, a book that reshaped our world.

When we allow ourselves to receive whatever help comes our way, in all of its forms, we step into the creative and generative field, where all things are possible, and all voices can be heard. In these days of interconnectedness, via the power grids, routers and social media platforms, we are presented a myriad of ways to give, and also become aware of the projects and needs of many.

A recent New Yorker cartoon included a wife lamenting to her husband that they would not be having steak because their Kickstarter campaign had not been funded. Even though we may feel a bit saturated with all of the “asks” we receive in our inboxes, I appreciate living in a world that is beginning to open more to the possibility that it’s okay to ask for not only what we need, but for what we want. After all, we can make choices about what we want to give to.

A wonderful and engaging fundraiser in this community once told me, “It is important to let folks have the opportunity to give.”

That door of opportunity is now open wider to include not just wealthy philanthropists, but also those of us who can give $15 and feel that we are supporting individuals or causes we believe in. Just like in the film, “A Wonderful Life,” when the disastrous fate of one family is saved, in one day, by their community all pitching in a few dollars each. It gave George Bailey and his family not only what they needed to survive their dire circumstances, but also the love that those dollars represented, and with that the Bailey’s flourished. In our island community we have many wonderful organizations we can choose to support with both our time and our dollars.

One of my favorite nonprofits from which I have benefitted directly is Hedgebrook, the Langley retreat for women writers from all over the world, as well as our tiny island, giving voice to hundreds of women who are forever changed by their Hedgebrook experience, enabling them to step out and create dynamic change with their words and deeds. Hedgebrook hosts its annual open house on Saturday, Sept. 14, a day that provides a wonderful peek into this powerful place, where new works are born and writers flourish. It is always a lovely afternoon of good food and music, as well.

My other local favorite nonprofit is the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, which helps locals get the health care they need, and pays for medical expenses that fall outside the insurance realm, such as ferry tickets for doctor visits. Friends of Friends holds its annual fundraiser, the Mr. South Whidbey Pageant, on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Freeland Hall. This event is one of the most delightful fall evenings you will ever spend, surrounded by community and the sweet, talented, brave and funny local men, who step up onstage at Freeland Hall to entertain a raucous crowd, strutting their sweetness to raise funds for Friends of Friends.

So whether it is a Kickstarter campaign for an artist or an organization, for your goddaughter or the kid down the street, who is in need of a musical instrument, or maybe the man in line at the pharmacy, who cannot afford his wife’s prescription, we live in a world where giving and receiving can become one circle, if we choose it to be so.

“Imagine all the people sharing all the world.” – John Lennon

Joni Takanikos is a Hedgebrook alum, and continues to be a grateful recipient of patronage, that has allowed her to travel, write and record her music.


  1. Joni, this was a fabulous post! I love the idea that we all have the power to contribute to each other’s success and creative passions. One of the things Iove about Kickstarter is the idea that even $1 is a meaningful contribution, a way to stand up and be counted as a supporter.
    Well said.

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