Give a Day was born as a response to floods in the city of Carlisle that left people stranded without food, or temporarily homeless.

Rebecca Solnit’s book A Paradise Built in Hell,1 charts civil society responses to disasters (natural or man-made) over 100 years, disasters like the San Francisco earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11.

Solnit found that disaster brought joy alongside the pain and loss. She cites American scientist Charles Fritz’s finding that during the Second World War people in heavily bombed cities were happier than those in the lightly bombed places.

Fritz’s radical premise was that ‘the everyday life is already a disaster of sorts, one from which actual disaster liberates us’.

Disaster disrupts the everyday, creates new forms of connection and new connections, and from this comes joy.

When we talk to people at the end of giving a day to their community, town or city, they feel something deep, something difficult to explain, something that stays with them for quite some time. We are speculating that they are experiencing joy, analogous to that experienced by people who come together after disaster.

Solnit argues that the personal is just one of the many types of love. People, she says, are looking for ‘larger selves and a larger world’. Give a Day provides the opportunity. It offers Love in Action.

1 Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell, Random House