In this feature, we speak with vocalist Jordan Dreyer about their work with 826michigan and highlight all of the organizations they have worked with in-depth. As La Dispute continue to use their youth and energy to benefit the less fortunate, this on-going article will be updated to reflect their continued humanitarianism.
Why did La Dispute choose to work with 826Michigan?
I’ve known about 826 nationally and 826 San Francisco for some years now, kind of the obvious route, through reading Dave Eggers when I was in high school, and I’ve always been pretty attracted to the organization itself because I think it’s unique, in that it has a really creative approach to what it does — a very youth-oriented approach. It’s not like it’s just a program for creative youth; it is a program that is creative and youthful, I guess, kind of bizarrely and redundantly. So that was appealing to us, and trying to work with organizations that promote literacy has always been another important thing for us, so it kind of encapsulated multiple things we hold close to our hearts, and we also wanted to do something that was local, so we would see a more immediate impact. So rather than going through the national organization, we decided to work specifically with the one in Michigan.
Was there one particular point in La Dispute’s career that you guys decided you were doing well enough or you were influential enough as a band that you wanted to start supporting organizations you cared about? Was it something you thought about from the beginning or something that just kind of popped up?
It’s always been important to us to utilize the resources that we have as best we can. The first thing we did that was charity[-oriented] was we put Here, Hear III up for download by donation a few years ago for Christmas. That was really our first foray into charity, and it was really rewarding to be able to… we didn’t raise a ton of money, but to put it out there and give people the opportunity to help and raise awareness, no matter how much you’re raising fiscally, is a really satisfying thing. Everything goes a long way. Every little thing counts, I guess, so it’s been kind of how we operate as a band, as we just now have more resources to utilize. It’s expanded the ways in which we help out. We did stuff on our last European tour; we gave [a portion of] the merch we sold to an organization there, and when we were in Australia, we did the same thing, and the 826 thing has kind of been a work-in-progress for a long time. It’s kind of invariably woven into us right now, I think…
The other thing that’s important with us is to work with organizations that seem to have a lot of transparency and have people we can actually meet and talk to, rather than helping faceless multi-million-dollar non-profits. To be on ground-level, I guess… it’s been pretty cool.
Do you guys get any kind of a feedback loop, other than the profits you raise, regarding listeners who are encouraged to get involved because of your demonstrations?
Here and there. We did the thing a Well House a couple years ago; we played a show in Grand Rapids, our hometown, over Christmas, and we invited a representative from the Board of Directors and also one of the people who was living in one of the houses to come to the show and hand out information. We actually had a couple people volunteer, or offer to volunteer – I don’t know what ever came of it – but they were interested enough that they want and talked and collected information and applied to volunteer. Here and there, you’ll get it, I think, but it’s interesting this time around [with the 826Michigan project]; it really depends where we are. Sometimes we’ll sell a lot of packets and get a lot of feedback, and other times, I don’t think people know they’re there. It does happen, which is cool.
A Timeline Of La Dispute’s Charitable History
April 2012 — USA Tour + December 2011
Included in the limited edition packet for Conversations (pictured above), as described by a post made by La Dispute drummer Brad Vander Lugt:
– “Conversations” – an audio interview with Jordan about the stories and themes presented in Wildlife. The interview is also coupled with movements from Chad’s “Mixtapes” (which were ideas recorded on a dictaphone that would later shape some of the songs on Wildlife). Everything is open for interpretation by the listener, of course, but it does give a little more insight into the concept of the record.
– “Snapshots” — a zine of polaroids I’ve taken on various tours and studio sessions surrounding Wildlife.
– Screen printed poster designed by Mr. Adam Vass.
– 4 postcards: a Departure, a Letter, a Poem, a Broken Jar.
– The 826michigan OMNIBUS Vol. 2 — A fantastic and very unique collection of short stories and poems written collaboratively by 826michigan students. (Seriously, it’s awesome. There’s a story called A Shark Named Pistachio.)
– a select few will also include our “First Drafts + Sketches” zine.
There are only 150 of these packets, and when they’re gone, that’s it. $20 each. All proceeds go to 826michigan.
February 2012 — Australia
Teenage Cancer Trust
January 2012 — United Kingdom
Well House Community Living Of Grand Rapids
December 2009 — Grand Rapids, MI
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