If you know me, you know I’m a river steward. I actively put my life’s energy into restoring rivers like the Clackamas and Willamette. I’m an Advisory Board Member of We Love Clean Rivers. So for them, I work HARD to get donations for the silent auction, their main fund raiser, and I also work other events like Willamette Riverkeeper’s Great Willamette cleanup. But one event that gets special attention is the follow on event to the Clackamas River Cleanup – it’s called RiPPLe Effect and there, we sell art created from trash collected from the Clackamas River Cleanup!
RiPPLe 2009 was a bust because the location wasn’t ideal, and even worse, the date changed – all causing dwindling attendance. There was resentment amongst the artists. Bringing it up again this year was uncomfortable for Jenn Reilly, the RiPPLe organizer.
But I wanted it to succeed, and hatched a plan where I brought in KEEN Footwear, one of our primary sponsors and located in the Pearl District, into the scene. I’d been to events at KEEN Footwear’s Great Room – it’s a wonderful, fun, appealing, fully configurable open space available for events! Further, every first Thursday in the Pearl is “First Thursday Art Walk” when thousands of Portlanders are out looking at the galleries in the Pearl.
I put forth the idea that we put on RiPPLe PDX at KEEN Footwear on First Thursday in October. Jenn totally went for it. KEEN also went for it. One challenge we wrangled with was the fact that KEEN’s Great Room is on the 2nd floor – and it might hinder attracting street walkers. The hallway on the first floor was end to end of the building and empty. We got permission to use the ground floor of their building – closest to the street walkers – for the event. It is just perfect. Jenn worked HARD to get this event going – and it paid off. Way to go Jenn!
We busted out all the works for RiPPLe PDX 2010! 14 artists, 5 bands, slide show of 8 years of river cleanup photos, a YouTube video contest, three kegs donated by Sierra Nevada, food, and the KEEN Garage, where they sell shoes, would be open right next door, and KEEN would donate 10% of all shoe sales that day to We Love Clean Rivers!
Set up, the show, and take down was an all day affair. OMG a ton of work went into the event. But it was a blow out success!
I hatched another plan to send out a team of people onto the First Thursday street scene to generate buzz and attract guests! The idea was to dress up in brightly colored paddle tops, life jackets, helmets, festooned with KEEN stickers and grab attention to get people to come!
I even had us tow my Pyranha Burn whitewater boat, with lots of KEEN stickers on it, and fill the cockpit with beer cups and fliers for the event. It was perfect. People stopped and stared and we used that as an ice breaker to tell them about the show! I had NO idea that 13th, their street, was the main closed off street for First Thursday! WOW.
It was so much fun – music, art, even the KEEN Garage was fun. They even had a little keg of beer in there! Chris and I were in there and he actually sold his first pair of shoes to a guest!
Their “Garage” retail shop is a good example of branding. The KEEN brand is about using both new and recycled materials in everything, and the Garage follows that idea. They have used high school bleachers for seats and used library ladders to get to shoes.
This event pulled in a wide demographic. Art lovers, executives, seniors, kids! It was terrific and a win win for everybody!
The “graffitti wall” leave your mark!