Card Project 2. Explanation

This was reported from my oldest friend, Judith Harway. Guerrilla art revealed. Brilliant, kind, and well received. Look at the comments under Card Project. They come from as far as London.

Everlasting thanks, Judy and all your co-conspirators.


My Ice-Bucket Challenge
My Ice-Bucket Challenge is a guerrilla art project created for the 2015 exhibit of the Midwest Jewish Artists Laboratory. More to the point, it was created for my brother, Michael Gollin, who is not a blood relative: we were born nine days apart, our parents were close friends, and we shared a practically perfect childhood full of summers running wild in the woods around Santuit Pond. Diagnosed with ALS in Fall 2012, Michael began blogging at, and I began to see the importance of helping his inspirational writing flow out into the world.

To that end, I paired brief, lyrical passages from with winsome illustrations by artist/activist Sylvie Armstrong (my daughter), and created a set of eight cards, each of which has a hand-written message on the reverse side (“This project is to spread awareness of ALS, the motor-neuron disease made famous by the 2014 Ice-Bucket Challenge. Since he was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, my brother has been blogging about the wonder and fragility of life ( In a sense, this is my personal Ice-Bucket Challenge – Please help us make good-will and encouragement go viral by leaving this card where someone else might discover and enjoy my bro’s words. And please visit — let us know where you found this card!”). In a hand-addressed envelope (“If you find this, it’s for you – Please open!”), each card was either left in a public place to be discovered by random strangers or given to a friend. For four weeks – April 27 through May 24, 2015 – I left cards around my hometown of Milwaukee, reaching a total of 305 cards distributed. During that time, visits to Michael’s blog soared, and comments expressing appreciation, solidarity, prayers, and love trickled in.



Documentation of My Ice-Bucket Challenge was included in “Living Waters,” an exhibit by the Midwest Jewish Artists’ Laboratory (Milwaukee, June 3 – July 31, 2015). The card templates have since been passed on to other siblings and loved ones, who, at the time of this writing, continue to place cards around the country, eliciting more readers and keeping the comments flowing in.

Judith Harway
Milwaukee, June 2015

My Ice-Bucket Challenge by the numbers:
Phase 1: April 27 – May 24, 2015 – Cards placed by JH.
Phase 2: After May 24, 2015 – Cards placed by Kathy, Maura, and other family.


Monday, 4/6 125
Monday, 4/13 30
Monday, 4/20 143
Monday, 4/27 394
Monday, 5/4 270
Monday, 5/11 503
Monday, 5/18 455
Monday, 5/25 187
Monday, 6/1 271
Monday, 6/8 248
Monday, 6/15 211+++++

NUMBER OF CARDS LEFT IN WHAT PLACES, April 27 – May 24, 2015 –

Coffee shops 54
Public libraries/bookstores 28
College campus locations 27
Community/nature centers 24
Friends/students/family 94
Little free libraries 18
Other (bus shelters, businesses, etc) 60
TOTAL: 305

9 thoughts on “Card Project 2. Explanation

  1. I am delighted every time I see a response on this blog based on a card I placed or gave. The now-international impact of the project is impressive. I have gone into a second card printing to supply my own branch of the Challenge. I thank and welcome all who read, post, share.

  2. What a wonderful expression of the power of love and life-long friendship, and the closeness of humanity, when called upon to link arms. I’m glad that I got to share in a few moments of that precious and eternal childhood.

  3. I found an orange envelope in the restroom of the Kopi cafe in Champaign, Illinois. I was intrigued by the words on the front, “if you found this, it’s for you”. The poem and painting inside were deeply moving, as well as the mission to promote ALS awareness.
    The entire project has inspired me so much, period. I wish the best to Michael Gollin, and everyone else with ALS.

  4. My aunt dar found this card at the sou wester restaurant at Peggy’s cove she is 73 and doesn’t have Internet so I’m helping her respond to finding the beautiful words and picture of a black kitty saying “a full life is one that begins in love, flows with love, and ends in love.” Thankyou your an inspiration to us all ❤ Love Debbie and aunt dar ❤

  5. I was given this card by my dear friend Marilyn Shank. Wishing Michael the best and sending positive thoughts his way

  6. I found this card in San Anselmo, CA, but live in Oakland. I plan to spread the beautiful prose and heartfelt inspiration to our community, which has much diversity and compassion. Sending lots of love from the West Coast. Live life today.

  7. After Judy created this beautiful project and vigorously pursued carefully surreptitious distribution accompanied by meticulous documentation, I joined her for a less secret but equally intentional, extensive phase two.

    Phase three began yesterday. All remaining cards are placed beside a book on Michael’s front table. The book, with a cherry tree on the cover to reflect that poem in Michael’s blog, includes an epigraph and seven poems selected with care and love by Judy. In it, friends and family are writing farewell messages to my little brother, who died this week, literally surrounded by loving family who sang and talked to him as, by his clear wish, the extraordinary measures that have sustained him for two and a half of the five and a half years since his diagnosis with ALS, were gradually withdrawn.

    Thank you to all his readers and all who touched his life. ***Michael Gollin***July 3 1957-November 20, 2017***

    Kathryn Gollin Marshak


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