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Welcome to Flowers for Al and Don

On the afteroon of Thursday, Feb. 19, on Boing Boing, I read about this great idea. Basically, people are generously sending flowers to random gay couples waiting in line to get married in San Francisco. This is a brilliant idea, but I immediately recognized a problem. The flower shops apparently charge about US $45 to deliver these flowers. That's probably market value, but it's a bit steep for individuals who might want to help out (particularly if they're paying in Canadian dollars or other weaker currencies) but can't spare fifty bucks.

Hence, Flowers for Al and Don. We used a PayPal account to collect money, with which we bought bouquets in bulk for the couples in line. As we never planned for this to be an ongoing project, and with the recent court order halting marriages in San Francisco, we're suspending donations.

Total raised: US $14,312.68 from 894 people

Do you believe gay marriage should be legal in the US? Support Lambda Legal and the ACLU Gay and Lesbian Rights Project.


A self-portrait by Pike, 6, who helped deliver flowers. View more photos of Pike and his family delivering flowers.


[UPDATE: July 19, 8:55am PST] This project is now officially closed. If you're looking for something distracting, visit my home page.

[UPDATE: July 18, 10:30pm PST] Back in the spring, though a peculiar memetic convergence of goodwill and Internet technologies, we raised some money for gay couples getting married in San Francisco. Here's an essay I wrote about the subject. After the California Supreme Court put an end to things in California, we decided to donate the balance of the money remaining to a couple of related and deserving charities.

To my shame, it's taken me the ensuing four months to sort these donations out. This has been due to:

  • Extracting the cash from PayPal
  • Sorting out my credit card
  • Contacting and organizing the donations with the charities
  • Mostly, my own busyness and procrastination

However, the deed is finally done. We had US $2770.40 left to dispense with. We sent US $1670 to Lambda Legal, US $1000.00 to the ACLU Gay and Lesbian Rights Project and kept US $100 for transaction fees (including currency conversions) and admin expenses. Here's a scanned thank-you letter from Lambda Legal, and I hope to have a receipt from the ACLU shortly (I had to pay by mail to ensure the money went to the appropriate sub-group).

Side note: I was momentarily concerned when I misread the envelope from Lambda Legal. I read "Lambada Legal" and thought "Drat! They've finally caught me for dancing the forbidden dance!"

I'm turning off flowers@darrenbarefoot.com and posting this final update on http://www.darrenbarefoot.com/flowers/. Thanks to everyone who donated, who volunteered and who helped with making this insta-cause such a success. Special thanks go out to Todd, who I conscripted to be my volunteer wrangler, and to Patti and Kathy and her kids, who were tireless in their delivery efforts. Lastly, extra-special thanks to 6-year-old Pike, for his excellent self-portrait of himself dropping off flowers. If nothing else, there's a kid who's going to grow up without prejudice.

[UPDATE: March 15, 2:45pm PST] The focus has shifted away from San Francisco to Portland, where the Multnomah County (which includes Portland) has defied the state's governor and is continuing to issue licenses. So, we've hooked up with Portland Flora to deliver flowers to the local courthouse.

[UPDATE: March 11, 5:30pm PST] Huh. It seems the California Supreme Court has ordered an immediate halt to gay marriages in San Francisco. Bummer. As the donations have pretty much dried up anyway, I've suspended the PayPal donation button. We're planning on donating US $1000 to Lambda Legal, and $500 to the Lesbian & Gay Rights Project. That leaves about $2250 left for flowers. Tomorrow, we're going to try a little test run in Portland, Oregon. If that works, hopefully we can spend the balance of the money there in the next week or so. If not, we'll fall back on our plan as described in the FAQ: hold the money for a week to see if the landscape changes, and then donate the balance to charity.

[UPDATE: March 11, 5:20pm PST] I've updated the messages page with a bunch of new emails from couples who have received flowers, and added a photo of the flowers delivered by Church Street Flowers.

[UPDATE: March 4, 3:20pm PST] I've been remiss in posting updates this week, as my day-job has caught up with me. Regardless, I've updated the money page and added new a bunch of new photos (including the delivery of our wedding cake--thanks to Kathy et al). I'll be adding some messages and more updates later on tonight.

[UPDATE: March 2, 10:30am PST] Things are cooling off, donations wise. This is probably a good thing, given that we've got $14K. I've placed large orders with a couple of florists this week, and have several volunteer reports and photos to post. I hope to get to this later on this evening.

[UPDATE: February 28, 1:10pm PST] There's recent news of gay marriages being performed (free reg. required) in up-state New York. We're going to keep an eye on things over the next couple of days, and if they're still being performed on Monday, we'll, you know, send flowers.

[UPDATE: February 28, 1:05pm PST] Last night I did a radio interview with the Franc Decaro show on SIRIUS OutQ radio.

[UPDATE: February 27, 9:17am PST] Stirling interviewed me (MP3) for KZSU radio and then, the next day, delivered some flowers for us. You can see her photos, I've added her report to our Messages page and posted her receipt to the Money page.

[UPDATE: February 27, 12:10am PST] I've posted some new messages and some new receipts. No new photos, yet, but they're on their way.

[UPDATE: February 26, 4:40pm PST] And we're at $12,444.78. Crazy. Later on tonight, I'm going to posting donor names tonight, as well as new receipts and hopefully some more photos. On Monday, as a slight change of pace, our tireless volunteer Kathy is going to drop off a wedding cake.

[UPDATE: February 26, 9:52am PST] Yowza! Things were cooling off in terms of donations yesterday. Then this Associated Press article appeared in, among other papers, the New York Times and the Guardian. We've had 59 donations in the past 8 hours, and they're coming in fast and furious. As such, it'll be a while until I can get everybody's name up on the list below. Apologies for that.

[UPDATE: February 25, 11:46pm PST] I've posted some new photos from Kathy's second flower run.

[UPDATE: February 25, 10:45pm PST] Sometime this afternoon, we crossed over into $10,000-land. Five days ago, I threw up this site thinking we might cobble together enough cash for a few bouquets. You've got to love a good meme, eh?

[UPDATE: February 25, 2:05pm PST] We're just $11 away from reaching $10,000! Your donation could put us over the top! I've also added a couple of touching messages from flower recipients to our Messages page.

[UPDATE: February 25, 1:04am PST] We're at US $9406.83! The pace of donations has slowed, but I'm optimistic about reaching US $10,000. With regards to the Lambda Legal, we've received about 20 emails from donors, and all but 1 have been in favour of a donation (though we'd still like to hear your thoughts). So, we'll probably go ahead with that. Watch this space for more info.

[UPDATE: February 24, 12:32pm PST] A brief financial update: We just placed big orders with two florists, bringing our total expenditures to US $4731.76. I've had conversations with both of them (in one case, the actual guy who delivered the flowers) and they've got his whole City Hall-delivery thing down to a science. They're going to distribute bouquets over the next few days. Combine this with our volunteer deliveries over the next couple of days, and I think we're good for this week. The rest of the money (minus, if we choose to do this, the donation to Lambda Legal) will be spent next week. Check out our Money page for more information, and I'll be posting more receipts as I receive them.

[UPDATE: February 24, 11:11am PST] I've been remiss in not recognizing my friend Todd, who has been generously assisting me with the wrangling of delivery volunteers. Todd has an entertaining weblog at HolaCola.net, which I heartily recommend. Here, incidentally, is the schedule of volunteers that he's keeping.

[UPDATE: February 24, 11:10am PST] A couple of people have emailed with promotional buttons for the site. Thanks to Sinta for this elegant button, and to City Mouse, for this nifty animated ad.

[UPDATE: February 23, 11:53pm PST] Several people have emailed us to suggest that we make a donation to Lambda Legal, the organization at the centre of the legal battle to ensure the right of marriage for same-sex couples. We think that it's a pretty good idea. The flowers will die, after all (and this is part of their charm), but the fight for equality will continue and could use the help. This wouldn't be more than 10% of the total donations, probably about US $1000. I'd be curious to hear opinions on this, if anybody has any thoughts. Incidentally, we're not suggesting this for the tax deduction--we're Canadian, so it's no use to us.

[UPDATE: February 23, 11:52pm PST] The plan going forward is this: we'll work with a few florists to deliver flowers to couples and the county clerk (who will give them to couples) over the next couple of weeks. This will be supplemented by anybody who wants to volunteer and deliver flowers.

[UPDATE: February 23, 11:46pm PST] I've created a new page which lists all of our expenditures, and includes links to receipts. I'll continue to update this page as we spend money and receive photos and receipts. Thus far, we've spent US $1,706.57.

[UPDATE: February 23, 11:15pm PST] If you're keen to delivery some flowers, but can't spare the cash, let us know. We may set up an account with one or more of the flower vendors at the San Francisco Flower Market, so that you can just pick them up and delivery them.

[UPDATE: February 23, 1:11pm PST] Our agents on the ground have paid off. Thanks to Jennifer, Flowers by the Bay, and Mariner and Co. Flowers for clarifying the situation. As I understand it, there is a small queue of couples waiting for their appointments. Additionally, there is someone from the County Clerk's office receiving flowers and distributing them to couples. To move things along, I placed an order with Flowers by the Bay as well.

[UPDATE: February 23, 12:01pm PST] I've heard rumours that there's an arrangements table at City Hall, where people can drop off flowers for the couples getting married. I've been trying to call the County Clerk's office to verify this, but haven't been able to get through. Can anybody on the ground in San Francisco confirm this? If so, email me at flowers@darrenbarefoot.com

[UPDATE: February 23, 11:57am PST] We're getting some play on Wired's website.

[UPDATE: February 23, 10:45am PST] Interesting fly in the ointment this morning. City Hall is now only conducting marriages by appointment. Obviously, this makes it more difficult to distribute flowers to couples when there are few or none standing in line. We're working on the best strategy on this, and we're open to suggestions. One option is to see if we can just decorate the rotunda at City Hall for the next week. Email us at flowers@darrenbarefoot.com.

[UPDATE: February 23, 10:15am PST] Kathy, Jamie and her kids kindly delivered a bunch of flowers this morning. Photos are here and the receipt for payment is here. Also, we've had deliveries from the good people at Mariner and Co. Flowers and Hoogasian Flowers.

[UPDATE: February 23, 12:50am PST] We're up to US $7363.35! I had originally hoped that we could distribute all of the flowers through volunteers, who would buy bouquets at the San Francisco Flower Market and deliver them directly. This is working, but it's kind of slow going. So, to move things along, I plan to place some orders with a few flowers shops as well--I've had several recommendations from locals.

[UPDATE: February 21, 10:15pm PST] About 60 hours after I uploaded this site, we've gone from $15 to $6,061.30. I continue to amazed by everyone's generosity. Thanks again to everyone who made a donation, or posted about this project on their site, or told a friend. It might be overstating it a little, but when I update the list at the bottom of this page, I think of a quote from a favourite Spielberg film: "This list is an absolute good." I don't mean to insinuate that we're saving people's lives--just that your donations are a selfless, symbolic act.

[UPDATE: February 21, 9:58pm PST] In addition to the countless weblogs that have discussed this project (thanks very much for spreading the word), we've gotten some media attention. I'm quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration required) and there's a piece on Everything2.

[UPDATE: February 21, 9:40pm PST] Because the weddings aren't running over the weekend, we had one set of flowers left over. The tireless Patti Beadles is going to drop them off tomorrow at the wedding reception of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, a pair of 80+ year old lesbians who just celebrated their 51st anniversary together, and who were the first couple to get married in SF. It's also a big community party for all the couples who have gotten married. More information on this event is here.

[UPDATE: February 21, 9:40pm PST] I've just posted a messages page with a few emails from people who have delivered or received flowers. Additionally, to prove that I haven't just taken the money and flown to Mexico, here are the first receipts from flower purchases. Once I get some more free time, I'll be creating a page that details all of our expenditures, with links to receipts.

[UPDATE: February 21, 4:00pm PST] As there are no weddings over the weekend, we're ramping up for deliveries next week. We're also working on setting up accounts at a couple of the flower vendors at the San Francisco Flower Market, so that approved deliverers can just pick up flowers and take them over to City Hall.

[UPDATE: February 20, 11:20pm PST] We've had about 10 volunteers for delivering flowers over the next few days, so we're in good shape there. There was good news today, in that a San Francisco judge failed to grant a stay, meaning that marriages can continue. Additionally, we may have another destination for the flowers.

[UPDATE: February 20, 1:49pm PST] Due to some meetings, etc, I'm going off the grid for about 6 hours. I'll be replying to email, posting updates and returning messages later on tonight. For time-sensitive media enquiries, leave a message at 604.682.4822 and I'll get back to you later this evening or tomorrow morning.

[UPDATE: February 20, 12:52pm PST] Our first delivery has been made (click for photos)! I've posted her account here. Thanks very much to Patti Beadles who made that happen. We're still looking for help with deliveries--visit the delivery page for more details.

[UPDATE: February 20, 10:55am PST] $2,456.06 US and rising.

[UPDATE: February 20, 9:32am PST] HELP! I need 5-10 volunteers on the ground who are willing to buy and delivery some flowers. See my delivery page for more details.

[UPDATE: February 20, 9:15am PST] Photos of the first flowers waiting to be delivered. More on this in a minute.

[UPDATE: February 20, 9:03am PST] Yowza! $1,938.65! I've updated the FAQ to explain what happens if the legal environment changes in San Francisco.

[UPDATE: February 19, 10:10pm PST] We're at US $972.12. Thanks to everyone for your generosity.

[UPDATE: February 19, 8:50pm PST] Thanks mostly to a mention on Boing Boing, the payments are coming pretty fast and furious. I'm amazed by everyone's generosity--we've received donations from over 40 sources, in amounts from US $2 to US $100.

[UPDATE: February 19, 8:45pm PST] I've moved some information to a FAQ page.

[UPDATE: February 19, 8:10pm PST] We're at US $570.80!

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