Use your body

Has anyone heard that the economy is sucking hind tit these days? It’s pretty apparent to even the least fiscally responsible among us that the Nevada business model is broken. (OK, to put it in bureaucratese, our tourism and sales-based tax structure is flawed.)

We know that when it comes right down to it for individuals in this community, in a choice between buying food or medicine vs. cash support of local artists, arts groups or other nonprofit organizations, food and medicine is going to win hands down.

But what if it’s not only a choice between spending money here or there? One thing has become clear in this broken economy—when we’re spending less time on entertainment, like going to movies or restaurants, we have more time for other things.

So why not put a couple of hours a week into volunteer efforts?

Let’s be realistic about this. There are arts organizations that will die during this economic downturn, organizations that undeniably improve the quality of our lives. There are partially government funded groups that make our lives and the lives of our children better that are going belly up as Gov. Jim Gibbons offers non-solutions to our money problems. Heck, there are government programs that most of us support that are kneeling before the guillotine.

So, look around. Take the Nevada Museum of Art, for example. They recently cut back hours of service and employees. While we believe the museum and community is best served by a full-time staff, if enough people give a couple of hours a week, the museum may make it through these choppy waters in better position to take advantage of the economy that will arise out of this one’s ashes—and that may mean more jobs later.

Government agencies, too, can use the help. Maybe you can’t volunteer your time to help City Manager Charles McNeely spend that quarter-million-a-year salary, but the Parks and Recreation division can use some volunteer help in park cleanup or classes. Of course, it’s incumbent upon the city to figure out ways to use volunteers in off-work, not-during-government-hours hours. (Just as an aside, don’t you see a good many street islands that could use some guerilla xeriscaping? Some even already have water and could use some greenery—gosh, wouldn’t a tulip patch be cool in the spring? Please, no corporate logos.) To volunteer for the city of Reno, visit

And there are many groups around town, including churches and socially conscious organizations, that need help. Right now, the best place we could find for a clearinghouse of groups needing volunteers is on the REI website, which can be found at Just plug in your zip code and area of interest.

Finally, we know that everyone is trying to make dollars stretch, but if there was ever a time when small, independent artists and art groups could use a hand, the time is now. Many artists will arrange an affordable monthly payment schedule. Every dime will help even the biggest local groups.