GISH is an annual charity event and festival of creativity which has been happening for the last 10 years, or so. They describe themselves as:
GISH is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, a Guinness World Record-setting virtual event designed to bring out the weird, creative, and adventurous sides of people while doing good.
We did our first GISH in August 2020 and a smaller event this past May. Projects we’ve completed include a 24-carrot ring (not a typo), a territory acknowledgement, a concert poster pointing out that the Black Crows’ “Hard to Handle” was actually an Otis Redding song, feetloaf (again, not a typo), writing state governors in support of freeing innocent prisoners, and a crown of paper flowers. We’ve also contributed to thousands of dollars being raised to change people’s lives around the world. All in all, it’s a good experience.
In GISH, everyone is part of a team. You can build your own team of 9-15 people, or, if you can’t fill the minimum of 9 people you (if you signed up as an individual) or your smaller team will be placed with another team who hasn’t met their team-member minimum. For instance, in 2020, we signed up as individuals and got assigned to different teams. In May 2021 for the smaller event, we had a team short of the 9-person minimum and got assigned to another team that also needed members. The same thing happened to us this time.
This year, we got super lucky! We had 5 members of our team here in Vegas and got matched up with a team of 3 in Brussels, Belgium.* Yes, you read that right. Belgium. And boy-howdy did we hit the jackpot with this team! These three German girls in Brussels were a fabulous addition. They were all young, just out of high-school, and were blessed with energy, enthusiasm, creativity, talent, and not burdened with “day jobs.” They completed 60%-70% of all the challenges that our combined team selected. Score one for us!
Below is a recap of the projects that DeLyle and I took part in. The items are listed according to the numbers assigned by GISH. Enjoy! We certainly did.
#32 — Potato Ships
GISH Description: Potato Ships. This is not a typo. It must float. – Susan S.
D: It took two tries, but I finally was able to get my potato to float by carefully hollowing it out and coating the outside with oil. The masts were made of potato skins from baked potatoes (leftovers from my first attempt) attached with wooden skewers. I then filled the bathtub with water for the float test—so far so good. But who wants to see my boring bathtub??? So we quickly painted poster board and added batting for clouds. Shortly after we finished taking photos, the potato started to sink…but the challenge didn’t say how long it had to float, right?
#58 — Donation & Holly Crown
GISH Description: The GISH and Random Acts communities just lost one of our own to cancer: Holli was a dear friend, Gisher, and volunteer. She was also a longtime champion for food equity, so we’re taking up the mantle: Sign up to volunteer or make a donation to , the food bank where Holli devoted her time, or your local food bank or a food equity program while wearing a crown of holly, real or manufactured. Post a photo of you in your crown with proof of your donation on social media tagging @randomactsorg, #GISH, and #RandomActs4Holli.
D: One of the main reasons why I wanted to get involved with GISH is the chance to team with others to make a real difference in my community and in the world. I chose to give to my local food pantry, Three Square. I’ve worked with them before, and I know they do amazing (and very needed) work to combat hunger in the Las Vegas valley. The original challenge required a crown of holly, but after searching around, I couldn’t find any (real or artificial), so I decided to make one out of construction paper and cardboard. I did my best to honor Holly and her work.
#79 — Directional Sign
GISH Description: A post with multiple directional signs like on the classic TV show, MASH, with the location, photo, name, and mileage of all your teammates. – Nicole L.
J: I had a lot of fun with this. This whole piece is made from wood we had laying around in our garage. If you look closely, the orange-colored signs were actually remnants of the original catio. The post itself was “reclaimed wood” found in our previous rental and everything else was made of stuff laying around that was either from a failed project or just plain old scrap. Very proud that all the of this was built without purchasing anything. If you think this all looks slapdash, it was. Fortunately the slapdash-found-materials motif works great for both MASH and GISH. It’s a GISH-MASH!
#85 — Waffle House
GISH Description: Waffle House. No no, we mean a REAL Waffle House. Let’s see your best flapjack flophouse. Your best Eggo edifice. Your best hotcake homestead. Your best crepe condominium. You get the idea. – Dave L.
J: This one kinda kicked my butt, a little. I learned one important thing in this process. While I love cooking and love waffles, food art is not my genre. My first design was about twice as large as the end result. This is not surprising as our design ambitions frequently outstrip our abilities, after an afternoon us trying to treat the waffles like bricks and using sugar icing as mortar we scrapped the original design and went with this. This is built more like a house of cards and uses those bamboo skewers to hold everything together. The backdrop is the same DeLyle made initially for her Potato Ship.
#88 — Polished Coconut
GISH Description: Some things absolutely should be polished, and some things should not. Until now, it has been pretty much universally agreed that coconuts should not be polished. But we are never bound by tradition! Go polish a coconut. Like, to the point that it doesn’t even look like a coconut any more, but now it looks like a really-really-highly-polished coconut.
J: I’m weirdly very proud of this coconut. Even more so that the MASH sign. It was the last challenge I selected and the last challenge I took on. Turns out, that since a coconut is an actual tree nut, you can work with it the same way you work with wood. I sanded off all the hair, and using progressively finer grits of sandpaper smoothed out the surface. Then, I put two coats of boiled linseed oil on it to bring out the color. Lastly, I applied 3-4 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane. Boom! A highly polished coconut.
#130 — Team Grid
GISH Description: Gishers, I miss you all and can’t wait to reconnect and hug you. Meanwhile, check in: Have every member of your team take a picture of themselves somewhere or with something that symbolizes the region where they live and a sign that says “GISH TAKES (YOUR STATE/REGION/PROVINCE & COUNTRY)!”
D: This was a super-fun project because it involved everyone on the team AND I could work a bit on my Photoshop skills. This was also one instance where the rules were changed in the middle of the Hunt. Instead of “GISH Takes….”, we were instructed now to say “GISH You Were Here in….” So in some cases, we just slapped the new phrase on the poster; in other cases I had to Photoshop the new phrase in. Normally, Photoshopping is not allowed, but the new instructions explicitly allowed for this exception. I think you can tell which ones they were.
#160 — Sun Hat
GISH Description: Climate change has necessitated a wardrobe change. Using recyclable materials, create an impressive sun hat. Bigger is better when it comes to sun protection, so make it massive. Huge.
D: This was my favorite project, and it took the most time. I took the requirement to use recyclable materials seriously, so this hat is made of newpaper ads and cardboard, with a frame of aluminum wire. I coated the whole thing with Mod Podge to keep it together. The hat is now proudly hanging on our wall.
The GISH Montage
You can see the GISH Montage here to get a sense of how thousands of people spent the first week of August being creative, weird, and generally awesome. If you look fast you’ll actually see a member of our Brussels contingent in it. The one with the hair.
*Okay, you probably did the math and realized that 5 plus 3 is still not 9. Well, one of our team members actually signed up twice with a different login and appeared to be a non-participating 9th member.