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Interview: How Supernatural’s Misha Collins’ Gish Scavenger Hunt Changes Lives

Misha Collins attends the Paley Center for Media

Misha Collins attends the Paley Middle for Media's 35th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles "Supernatural" at Dolby Theatre on March 20, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

Misha Collins’ Gish scavenger hunt simply raised over 1 / 4 of one million to assist survivors of genocide, and it’s just the start.

Ten years in the past, Misha Collins’ life was very totally different. No youngsters, dwelling in L.A., and he’d simply been forged in a probably recurring position on a little-known present that had simply barely survived the 2008 writers’ strike. Going into its third season, Supernatural had left one among its most important characters, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), stranded in hell, and Collins was forged because the angel in a trench coat that saved him.

Castiel modified every thing for the present, gave it new power, and disrupted the established dynamics of the Winchester brothers in one of the simplest ways. Ten years later, Supernatural goes right into a virtually unprecedented fourteenth season, and Collins continues to be disruptive, vulnerable to altering the world, and excellent at saving lives (with some assist from his pals)—and that’s simply offscreen.

Collins has mobilized Supernatural’s fervent fanbase into unbelievable acts of charity and weirdness, and the extremely enjoyable and subversive technique has been via Gish (previously GISHWHES), a scavenger hunt that actually modifications lives, all whereas spreading creativity, kindness, and sending Christmas timber floating off with the assistance of helium balloons. Collins took a while to talk with us concerning the previous and way forward for Gish and the way, simply final week, the hunt modified the lives and circumstances of an unimaginable lady and her group.

“I first started being playful and interactive with the Supernatural fandom on twitter eight years ago,” Collins stated of the genesis of Gish, “because I had seen a lot of creative work being done by the fans, and I thought, well, there’s a lot of creative potential here that can be tapped into.”

Initially, Collins funneled that power into his charity, Random Acts, a totally useful 501(c)(three) devoted to funding and selling random acts of kindness all through the world, “but then that took on a new iteration with GISHWHES,” an admittedly awkward acronym for the Biggest Worldwide Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, the place groups from all over the world compete by submitting photographs and movies of, nicely, very bizarre issues and actions.

“The initial impetus behind it was to try to get other people to do the art projects that I had been carrying around in my head for a while and never got around to doing,” Collins defined, however he shortly noticed that “that creative energy was just an incredible well to draw from, and that there was a potential for a crossover between this creative fun that we were doing with this scavenger hunt and charity.” The outcomes have been loopy enjoyable, and typically simply loopy.

Now in its seventh yr, GISHWHES has rebranded as simply “Gish.” For this outing, Gishers have been in a position to make use of a brand-new app to trace the record of over 200 gadgets, from flinging pudding at one another to performing a nostril flute live performance at a youngsters’s hospital, to not point out posing as a domiKnitrix or gathering over 10,000 socks to donate to the homeless and break a world document. However probably the most superb factor Gish has finished is to make kindness, volunteering and usually making the world higher enjoyable.

“It’s just remarkable to be able to do that when we’re playing a game,” Collins stated. “I just sort of pinch myself that we are so fortunate to be able to do that.” From tens of millions of random acts of kindness to saving precise lives saved by means of a earlier yr’s merchandise that signed gishers up as bone marrow donors, Gish has really touched individuals. For the final three hunts, one record merchandise has requested Gishers to create fundraising pages to get people from outdoors their groups to donate to assist really change a life, and the outcomes have been unimaginable.

giles duley and olive

Olive and Giles Duley (picture: Giles Duley/Gish)

To vary these lives, Gish has partnered with warfare photographer Giles Duley, a survivor of a landmine explosion that left him a a number of amputee and a exceptional individual himself, who has devoted his life to turning consideration to a few of the darkest and most determined corners of the world. In line with Collins, typically Duley is dismayed when he returns to a spot he’s coated to see “those same people are in those same dire circumstances,” however he’s been capable of flip to Collins and Gish to vary that.

In 2016, Duley helped Gish determine a number of Syrian refugee households and relocate them to start out new lives. The next yr, Gish saved a dance faculty in South Africa, making certain that it might proceed years into the longer term, even after the founder handed away from most cancers.

This yr, Gish discovered a lady whose story was really extraordinary: Olive, who Duley met in Rwanda whereas documenting survivors of genocide. It’s an understatement to name Olive a survivor. At first of the 100-day Rwandan genocide, Olive was within the hospital in labor. “While she was in the hospital delivering her third child, she got the news that her grandparents, her parents, her two other children, and her husband and her siblings had all been killed,” Collins defined.

“Then, her hospital was surrounded, and over a megaphone, the militants ordered everyone in the hospital to come out. She hid her baby under blankets in an incubator and left the hospital.” From there, Olive and others “were walked over to an open-air marketplace where 1,200 people were slaughtered,” however not Olive. She hid beneath the our bodies of different victims for 3 days, till she was capable of return to the hospital to rescue her son, who survived.

Within the face of this horror, Olive returned residence to her village and adopted six orphaned youngsters. “But the thing about the Rwandan genocide is that the killers were walking amongst the population that had been the victims,” Collins went on. “They had been neighbors before the genocide and they stayed neighbors after the genocide,” and so on a regular basis, Olive would see the people who had murdered her complete household.

For most individuals, this may be an much more horrible burden to bear than the grief of what was misplaced, however Olive as an alternative did one thing extraordinary. She went to those neighbors, these killers, “and told them that she had forgiven them. And they over time began to help her rebuild her life. So, the men that killed her family, ended up helping her build her garden plot and fix her shack.”

Olive is a member of a farming collective of twenty-five ladies in her village, who have been “barely scraping by as subsistence farmers, because they don’t have enough acreage to grow enough crops to support their families,” Collins defined, which is the place Gish got here in. They dedicated to purchasing land, instruments, and market stalls for Olive’s collective.

When Duley delivered the information that Gish can be trying to assist her collective, Olive was surprisingly not thrilled, as a result of there have been three different collectives within the village. If Gish couldn’t assist all the ladies, she wasn’t positive she felt proper collaborating and was prepared to take much less to ensure the complete group would profit.

“That just threw down the gauntlet for us,” Collins stated. Gish set a aim of $100,000 dollars to assist 100 ladies. They raised over $264,000, buying farms and instruments for the 4 collectives in Olive’s village and 6 further collectives in a neighboring village. “We have raised enough money to buy enough acreage for them to make a living for themselves and their families in perpetuity,” Collins stated. “We did it through playing a game, and making paintings of Jensen Ackles’ face with melted skittles, which I think is remarkable.”

Although the 2018 primary hunt is now over, the gishing isn’t. On the Gish app, you possibly can speak with fellow gishers in your speedy geographic neighborhood, however extra importantly, based on Collins, “We’re also going to be issuing ongoing challenges throughout the year for people who register for next year’s hunt.” Subsequent yr’s hunt? Sure. Registration begins subsequent week!

“We’re going to be opening an early bird registration for next year, and those people that sign up for that will be able to participate in sort of year-round challenges and community-building events, that will keep us tethered to one another until next summer.” For those who can’t afford to play, apply for a Gischolarship, the place one other gisher will foot your invoice. “I don’t ever want anyone to be painted out of the experience because they don’t have money,” Collins assured me, as a result of Gish is for everybody.

I don’t assume anybody imagined, when Castiel made his iconic entrance ten years in the past, that followers can be saving lives and making skittle artwork in his identify, least of all Collins. “It’s surreal that I have the opportunity to reach enough people because I’m on this strange sci-fi show that will listen to me enough to go along with playing games with me.” Ever humble, Collins doesn’t assume this hunt is about him, or the prize: an all expense paid journey to an unique location. This yr, it’s New Zealand.

In Collins’ thoughts, Gish “isn’t really about me, it’s about people enjoying that experience and being a part of that community.” He understands how uncommon this chance is: “So few actors have the opportunity to be a regular on a show, let alone be a regular on a show that lasts a decade, let alone be a regular on a show that has such an incredibly devoted fanbase … It’s totally surreal, and I feel undeserving, but I’m happy to capitalize on it and I feel doubly lucky.”

Followers of Supernatural are definitely fortunate to have him and play alongside on this life-changing recreation.

(featured picture: Emma McIntyre/Getty Pictures)

Jessica Mason is a author and lawyer dwelling in Portland, Oregon captivated with corgis, fandom, and superior women. Comply with her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.

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