A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
~ Ghandi

SAVE the WORLD by Samya_Photography, on FlickrLast week, I touched a little on my Legacy Project. I know I haven’t gone into much detail about it yet and that’s because I’m still in the middle of figuring it all out and don’t want to put things out there that just aren’t ready yet. However, I have started a sort of outline for it that I’m hoping to get a little feedback on. Nothing is set in stone, just toying with some ideas.

(Note: You’ll notice references of Starfish in this post. To understand where that comes from, read the Starfish Story here).

Operation Starfish Part 1

I’ve decided to break things down into a few parts. My last post was a piece of Part 1. I wanted to start writing more about things that will change our world for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I still love sharing my experiences with you about WordPress, paying off debt, and living a life of freedom.

However, I want this blog to be bigger than that. I want it to be bigger than me. I want to ignite some serious change in the way we treat each other, other species, and the planet as a whole.

Ok, so what’s next?

Part 1 will be on-going. I will be sharing more resources and inspiration for making the world a better, happier place to be.


Operation Starfish Part 2

Tiny changes in one person’s mind can lead to changes to society as a whole.
~ The Butterfly Effect
Edward Lorenz, 1963

I personally want to know how to start an organization that fosters change and helps others. I want to know what’s the best way to start a fundraiser. I want to know how to start a non-profit. I also want to know what change I want to focus my energy on.

In Part 2 of my Legacy Project, we’ll be going into the how’s by talking to people that have done it already. I am beginning a bi-monthly series of posts where I’ll interview ordinary people who have made extraordinary differences in their communities. We’ll start small by focusing on change at the local level, or change that impacts a specific community, because I think it takes a lot more to get to the “change the world” level and I don’t want us getting overwhelmed before we even start! Baby steps…

Eventually, we’ll start interviewing people that are making bigger changes and affecting more communities. I probably won’t get too involved with the big charities that exist (World Wildlife Fund, Red Cross, The Humane Society, Doctors without Borders, etc.) for now. This is a place for ordinary folks like you and me to learn how to create change from the start.

I’ll also be doing some research into starting an organization that creates change and I’ll share what I find, so you’ll really want to tune in here.

Where am I at with this now?

I am contacting my list of interviewees right now. Do you know someone that has done something extraordinary? Maybe you know of a group of school children that raised money for something….or a single person who made an incredible difference for another….someone that’s helping to save the environment….

I’ve also created this list of questions to ask these “Game-changers.”

  1. Please tell us about your project, when you started it, and how it has made a difference for others.
  2. What inspired you to create change in this area?
  3. What does it mean for you, personally, to inspire change in this area?
  4. I think that many of us get inspired at one time or another to make a change somewhere, but a lot of us never do anything about it. Once you had the inspiration, how did you get started? What was the first step you took?
  5. Did you research to see if any other foundations or people were addressing these issues?
  6. What is your background? What did you do full time before this project?
  7. What were your fears starting out and how did you get over them?
  8. How did you acquire your first donations and how difficult was it?
  9. How much of your time does this project take?
  10. Were there times you thought to yourself “What am I doing?” Did you have second thoughts? If so, what kept you going?
  11. At what point did you realize that your project was actually taking off?
  12. How many people have you inspired to help (not just monetarily) in your mission?
  13. Have you gotten to see first-hand the results of your efforts (the reactions of the people you have helped, etc?) If yes, how was that for you the first time? Describe how you felt.
  14. Do you have plans to create other projects?
  15. Has your project inspired others to go out and create their own, that you know of?
  16. What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? What is the biggest challenge you face everyday? What is your biggest challenge right now?
  17. If people are inspired by your cause, how can they become involved, what can they do? (thanks David!)
  18. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

What else do you want to know from these extraordinary people? What do you need to know in order to start your own cause right now? Let me know in the comments below.

I’ll also be asking my interviewees to check the comments on their interviews so if you have additional questions as you read about their causes, you can ask them then.


Operation Starfish Part 3

Part 3 is where we’ll be igniting our own causes in our own communities and supporting each other. We’ll learn more about how to inspire others to help your cause and even how to one day “give up” your cause, handing someone else the reins, so that you can move on to starting a new cause!

In the next year I’ll be working on launching Operation Starfish, which will be an online community and learning center. More on that to come! Subscribe to stay posted on how this community evolves.


Hey, Let’s Start a Revolution!

I have a couple of requests from you. Please share with me your thoughts on the following:

  1. Do you know someone that has personally started a cause from scratch? Please let me know who they are and what they’ve done.
  2. Also what would you like to know from these extraordinary people to help you get started on your own community cause? What questions do you have that I haven’t asked above?
  3. I need a good name for this group of “game changers:” Game Changers? World Rebels? Starfishers? I dunno, obviously I really need your help here! 😉

Let me know in the comments below! Thanks!!

Small actions create big change.
~ The Dragonfly Effect
Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, 2010

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34 Responses

  1. Robert Wall on 15 Mar 2011

    I personally like “starfishers” for a name – or maybe “starfish slingers”? 😀 Alternatively, you could invert the analogy and focus on the other side. “Beachcombers”? “Shore Patrol”?

    Just a couple of thoughts!

    • marianney on 15 Mar 2011

      Wow that was a fast comment! 🙂 Hmm i like your idea of inverting the analogy. Thanks for the suggestions Robert! Glad you like “starfishers” i thought that would be kind of grasping at straws lol.

  2. Anne Sales on 15 Mar 2011

    Or what about “Goodwill Hunters”?
    Playing around with the name of the movie “Goodwill Hunting”. It kinda serves as a reminder that the extraordinary often clothes itself in the ordinary.
    Just an idea. 🙂

    • Robert Wall on 15 Mar 2011

      I think “Goodwill Hunters” is too close to the movie name. Ideally you want a name that won’t cause you problems down the road.

      As a completely goofy idea, how about “Starfish Liberation Front”? 😀

      • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

        Haha that is a little goofy! I do like it though. I did already buy the domains OperationStarfish.com and .org, but that really is a great name!

        Anne, that’s a cute idea, but Robert might be right, unfortunately.

  3. Jenny @ exconsumer on 15 Mar 2011

    Wow Marianne. You really are an amazing person. I’m seriously blown away by this project and I truly believe you will change the world.

    Right after I had my first son, I closed my small business and went back to school. While I was in school and before I went back to work full-time, I volunteered a lot through my church and I loved it. I organized a tent and coat drive for the homeless in downtown Columbus, made and served breakfast at a church in an underprivileged area along with some other things as part of the mission committee. Then when I went back to work, I just didn’t have the time or energy to continue. It makes me sad because I really did enjoy feeling like I was making a positive difference in people’s lives.

    Okay, back to you. Names. I really love “Starfishers.” It’s so simple and appropriate. 🙂

    • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

      Jenny, thank you! You are so sweet! 🙂
      The projects you have started sound amazing! I just may have to profile you in here because that’s exactly the type of change I am thinking about: at the local level, where we can all start fairly easily and then grow from there.

  4. jenny smythe on 15 Mar 2011

    I agree with Jenny. I like the name ‘Starfishers’ primarily because it is simple.

    I have a soft spot for charity and missionary work. I started a microloan project for women wherein I loan out $100 so that they can start their home0 homel based business (with zero interest). I piloted this idea in the Philippines with 4 women and I am hoping it will take off and hopefully I can duplicate it in other third world countries.

    I also randomly do a Sandwich Drive where I have a budget of $20 to feed 70 homeless men and woman.

    Charity work gives me a sense of purpose. It makes me feel alive again 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂

    • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

      Jenny, that’s great! It’s so nice to have such a community of givers here already! I’d like to talk to you more about your microloan program. Is it through Kiva or is it one you started on your own?

      Your sandwich drive sounds awesome too! What a small investment to help so many people! Imagine what you could do inspiring 100 people to give $20!

  5. Stacy on 16 Mar 2011

    This post was very inspiring and I think that there are a lot of people who would really like to do something (whether it’s volunteering or starting an NGO), but just don’t know where to start. It can be overwhelming sometimes. Having a community of awesome people to support each other and inspire others is a wonderful idea!

    Back to your name dilemma, though, Starfishers would be a great name!

    • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

      Stacy, that’s where I am at right now. I have never really started anything like this because I have never really known where to start or where to get support, which is why I figured I may as well start my own community 😉

  6. I love BIG goals. You can’t do big things without thinking big.

    I do have one piece of advice: Don’t start from a place of negativity. The world is a wonderful place that’s absolutely perfect just as it is. Nothing NEEDS to change. But the world can always benefit from the work of someone who wants things to be even better. There’s nothing that has to be done.

    I also like Jenny Smythe’s idea of doing things on a small scale. If you ever get discouraged because a big project isn’t yet getting anywhere, remember that you can change someone’s life right now by offering them whatever they need — money, love, attention, friendship…


    • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

      That’s a great piece of advice Gip and you’re absolutely right. I don’t want to come from a place of negativity. I guess I personally feel alarmed about where we might be headed, that it’s what sparked this whole project to begin with.

      Starting small is the key, then we can build from there!

  7. I agree with Robert and Jenny and Jenny. Starfishers! I love Operation Starfish as your blog name and then the folks doing awesome stuff as Starfishers.

    I hereby nominate Jill Foley as a Starfish. I don’t know that she’s started any programs, but her and her husband have done amazing work on a variety of fronts. Her other blog Thankful isn’t active anymore but she talks about some of the relief efforts they’ve been involved with. Amazing woman!

    And you’re an amazing woman too Marianney! I’m excited to see where this new venture takes you.

    • marianney on 17 Mar 2011

      Aww thank you so much Tanja, that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! However, I haven’t “done” anything yet, just talking about it so far 😉 But I won’t stop there, promise!

      Thanks for the nomination! I have seen Jill commenting on a lot of blogs I read and have been meaning to check her out. I will take a look at what she’s doing and see if she wants to get involved 🙂

      Thanks again! So glad you like the name too 😉

  8. Simply incredible Marianne! I think what you’re doing is fantastic and I’d be honored to help in any way I can. I was just thinking the other day about how all these blogs talk about changing the world but there’s so much more to be done beyond the words – a gigantic BRAVO to you for taking such an ambitious stand towards creating that change. Big goals, yes, but as we’ve seen with the Starfish story, even baby steps can make a huge difference!
    And as far as the name goes, Starfishers seems to be the consensus so far, but how about Revolutionizers? Just thought I’d throw that one into the ring too! 🙂

    • marianney on 17 Mar 2011

      Hi Tisha!
      Thanks so much for all the nice things you said! I would love your help when the time comes, so stay tuned!

      I hope that when this takes off, we’ll be able to get a lot of those bloggers to follow suit and take action too!

      I like the name Revolutionizers! I’ll wait and see what the consensus ends up being and let everyone know in my next post 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

  9. Hi Marianne,
    Love your vision for Operation Starfish. That’s a great list of questions to ask, maybe also could ask “If people are inspired by your cause, how can they become involved, what can they do?”

    Each of us is unique and each of us can make a difference in people’s lives. Seeing a need and then taking action to help in anyway we can- the 2 ingredients to creating a legacy.

    • marianney on 17 Mar 2011

      David, that’s a GREAT question! I will add it to the list now.

      You are so right. We all have the capability to make a difference no matter how small or large. We just have to do it! I hope you will join me 🙂

  10. Awesome. Simply awesome. I was completely feeling the whole “want my blog to be larger than me” feeling. Still am. I just started Hike A Lot, a non-profit to solely educate and inspire more people to get outdoors. As we travel to hiking/camping destinations, I hope it will expand far beyond anything one person could do. I’m excited about tomorrow, it’s bringing great things. Keep up this stellar work. I’m in.

    • marianney on 17 Mar 2011

      Jody, that’s fantastic! I’m so sorry I haven’t stopped by your blog recently to know that, I took a little blog hiatus for about a week or so.

      I am excited to hear all about your non-profit and how you got started!

      • No sweat! Like you I’ve had it under wraps for a bit trying to get some things lined out. I only unleashed the post yesterday. Super excited about it.

  11. […] the 4 people to participate in the Starfishers interviews. 3 responded that they would happily contribute! First one is up next week so look for […]

  12. […] Life Set Free: How Everyday People Change the World – A little older than a week, but when you read the BIG ideas here, you’ll see why I […]

  13. Jo@simplybeingmum on 25 Mar 2011

    Late coming in on this one… I will be watching this space as charity and fundraising is my day job. Marianne if you need any advice, just drop me a line, I am not up on US Charity legislation but can do general advice. Jo

    • marianney on 25 Mar 2011

      Thanks Jo! I will definitely hit you up when the time comes! Thanks again for being my first Starfisher!

  14. […] Starfishers are amazing people who are making a difference in a community or in the world. To read more about Starfishers and Operation Starfish, click here. The purpose of this is to inspire us to begin projects of our own. I believe that many of us have […]

  15. […] effects.  Marianne over at A Life Set Free is working on an awesome blueprint for change entitled Operation Starfish that goes way beyond simple personal challenges, but they are definitely a part of the endeavor, […]

  16. […] Starfishers are amazing people who are making a difference in a community or in the world. To read more about Starfishers and Operation Starfish, click here. The purpose of this is to inspire us to begin projects of our own. I believe that many of us have […]

  17. […] Operation Starfish.  Each of us is unique and each of us can make a difference in people’s lives. Seeing a need and then taking action to help in anyway we can- the 2 ingredients to creating a legacy. http://www.alifesetfree.com/lifestyle-design/making-a-difference/how-everyday-people-change-the-world […]

  18. […] Starfishers are amazing people who are making a difference in a community or in the world. To read more about Starfishers and Operation Starfish, click here. The purpose of this is to inspire us to begin projects of our own. I believe that many of us have […]

  19. Jill Foley on 14 Apr 2011

    This is such a wonderful idea. I just popped over here for the first time today and love this series. I love the name, too! When I saw it I immediately thought of the starfish story – which is what I assume you want us to think of!

    I was also floored and humbled to see Tanja mention me. I did stop writing on my Thankful blog, but only to start up a new one that is more directed toward our family’s mission. I am an advocate for Compassion International, a Christian, holisitic, child-development ministry. I have been involved in this organization for 16 years and we currently sponsor 18 children around the world. I would be honored if you visited my blog (my new project) to see what I’m up to. http://www.compassionfamily.blogspot.com

    My other blog, Daily Bread, is more about my journey of minimalism, but this journey definitely sprung out of my heart for children living in poverty. http://www.jill-foleyjourney.blogspot.com

    • marianney on 28 Apr 2011

      Thanks Jill!
      I have taken a break from this project to take care of some personal needs but will contact you when I get back to it again soon!

  20. Nicoloe on 13 Jul 2011


    My name is Nicole and I love your website, and what you are trying to accomplish. My best friend Jen and I have created a website called http://www.machmovement.com. We are both on a mission to help Make a CHange (MACH) in the world, and also see who else is Making A CHange in the world as well. We love what you are doing, and I was wondering if maybe we could feature you on our website, under the MACH MOVEMENT section. It it’s something you are interested in, please let me know. We don’t make any profits off of it, however, it is our life’s passion, and we are wanting to spread the word, and make people more aware, of the positive things that are happening in life. Feel free to email us anytime, and we can go from there.

    Thank you so much,