Matthew Follett is campaign director for the Green House Network in Portland, Ore.

Monday, 20 Sep 1999

PORTLAND, Ore.

Life on the benefit concert trail is frustrating and mysterious. The Green House Network has planned a benefit concert for this Saturday night, in hopes that we can get the global warming message out to the public while making some money, but it is beginning to look like we might suffer a loss. Portland’s music market is over-saturated and promoters are losing money left and right.

The question this experience begs is: Does the publicity garnered offset the dent in the coffers of an organization that has minimal capital?

I have no answer, though the butterflies in my stomach remind me of the first time I swam competitively. If only our concert goes as well my race did.

On an experiential note, the positives of creating a benefit concert are immeasurable. We have learned what it takes to hit the pavement to really get a message out to an audience that is not normally active in the environmental field.

We have spent endless hours postering in stores and on telephone poles (an expensive proposition since we’re using post-consumer-waste recycled paper with soy-based inks), sending press releases to the media, putting advertisements in papers, talking to folks, getting one of the main radio stations to mention us on their community calendar, getting another radio station to sponsor our event, getting a blues show to give away comp tickets on-air (where they threw in a positive plug for our bands), convincing a band (the Zen Tricksters) to plug our benefit, and using email networks.

This grunt work has reminded me that the troubled state of our environment requires us to move out of our box in a multiplicity of ways. If we don’t reach out and bring the middle ground over to our side, we lose. That is the reasoning behind our concert and the Earth Day 2000 run we are planning.