Leading the Charge

Mimi Towle

WRITING THIS LETTER is an honor and I don’t take this chance to connect with our readers for granted. As my monthly deadline approaches, I usually start on a few drafts as events bubble up. This month was more like a bubble bomb — with the fires, outages and an unforgettable show of community.

Before the first flames of the Kincade Fire ignited, I was going to focus on how thrilled we were with the community participation we received for our Marin Gives Back department. I love the concept of the story (what your dollar buys for a specific amount of nonprofit donation), because it details the ways almost anyone can help, regardless of their budget. Philanthropy, which means “the desire to promote the welfare of others,” can often feel like an activity for the wealthy, open only to those with resources like family foundations that enable them to buy a table at a fundraiser.

I don’t have a family foundation, so for years I politely dodged the various invitations like
a graceful Muhammad Ali ducking and weaving, not because I didn’t support the cause, but because I couldn’t afford the ticket. Because of my experience, a few years ago I proposed a feature on giving back, which would describe possibilities for charitable contributions of various amounts. And after four years of developing the idea with associate editor Kasia Pawlowska at the helm, we’ve found over 40 opportunities to contribute — from a $50 donation to $10,000 — and no matter what the amount, it makes a positive difference in our community.

This brings me to my second draft. For the past two years I’ve been fortunate to be a volunteer philanthropic adviser for the EACH Foundation, started by Lionel Shaw. When a larger family fund disbanded, he and his siblings were charged with creating their own. Shaw’s has been called disruptive in the world of giving. The EACH foundation is a diverse group of 30 or so volunteers who are new to philanthropy and charged with making micro grants to groups in the Bay Area and Hawaii.

As Shaw says, the money in these foundations is intended for the greater good. Since its inception in May of 2016, EACH has granted about $4 million to over 600 nonprofits (three times the IRS minimum mandate). I like Shaw’s approach.

My third draft involves the PG&E power outages. As one of the 2.5 million powerless in the Bay Area, I floated along with the jetsam of Marin from Starbucks to Philz to find Wi-Fi and a charge. Meanwhile small businesses struggled, food spoiled, and yet locally spirits were generally good. I enjoyed listening to conversations between unlikely new friends sharing an outlet. If you were floating along with me, I’m not saying you were aimless or tossed aside, but as the days stretched on, it sure felt like our livelihoods were an afterthought.

If this month’s magazine feels a little lighter than normal, it might be because our Sausalito office was impacted (read: closed for lack of power) for several days during our ad-sales cycle. I can’t imagine the loss our restaurants or independent retailers endured. It’s hard to calculate the actual monetary loss for a small company in these circumstances. However, our losses pale in comparison to those of our neighbors to the north. At the magazine we’ve created some online resources with info on ways to help wine country businesses get back on their feet; please check out marinmagazine/winecountry.

As we head into the holidays and into a new decade, or a new normal, as I’ve heard people say, we here at Marin Magazine wish you all a happy, healthy, fully charged holiday. Thank you for reading.

Mimi Towle, Editor

Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.