The 88,000 Project

Heather and I sat down on the Thanksgiving Day weekend and worked on our submissions for The 88,000 Project, the brainchild of Ashley Tobin. We each started with a blank piece of copy paper and finished with two very different submissions for this innovative project.


People who went through the wildfire experience are encouraged to share a portion of their evacuation or re-entry story, or anything that happened in between those two points. They can draw, write, colour, collage, anything that jumps to mind. The contributions will be put into a table top book and sold with a portion of the proceeds going to the United Way’s Community Campaign.

It is very important to Ashley that the submission are hand-written, not typed on a computer and printed.

“You get that warm and fuzzy feeling when someone hand writes something,” she said. “That’s the feeling I want when people open up this book is that they’re reading through these stories that someone took the time to put on paper.”

The only caveat is that in needs to be anonymous.

“I want people to be able to pick up the book and place themselves into any of these stories,” she said. To that end, submissions that contain specific names will not be accepted.

Tobin is hoping for a wide range of experiences and emotions, as that is what the situation generated.

As Heather and I diligently put pen to paper, it was clear we were taking two very different approaches to the same exercise. She started to draw pictures; I started writing.

To find out more, visit The 88,000 Project website or Facebook Page. To listen to a comprehensive interview with Ashley Tobin on the IMPACT radio show on KAOS 91.1, please click here.


Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online ( and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.